This sculpture captures the moment Wasco rises out of the lake.
There was a high-ranking woman who had a son-in-law that she deemed to be very lazy. In reality, he was quite industrious, but he fueled her belief by stopping his work or pretending to be sleeping every time she came near. She voiced her negative opinion of him often and publicly.
Near the village was a deep lake and there had been sightings of a large mysterious creature known as Wasco. The son-in-law begins a fast to clear his body and mind. He visits the lake and climbs into a crook of a tree branch reaching over the water and sees the Wasco pass beneath him with a spiraled spear sticking out of his nose — then it was gone. As he continues his fast, a great bird lands on the branch of a cedar tree and tells him how to capture this creature and the power that it possessed.
He made a trap, which was essentially a large log, split to the centre point and fallen so that it was suspended far over the lake. The two points were pried apart with rope and two large fishing spears mounted into the ends. Two children, who were not yet of an age to talk, were taken from the village and dangled by ropes above the trap. When the monster rose from the water to take the bait, the ropes prying open the trap were cut driving the spear points into the Wasco. The children were returned unharmed to their families.
When the Wasco was caught, the son-in-law takes his skin and puts it on, transforming himself into the Wasco. He dives into the water and finds a tunnel that takes him out into the ocean. There he encounters a spring salmon, which he deposits onto the beach in front of his Mother-in-law’s house. He removes the suit and returns to human form, but at night will often again become the Wasco, venturing out into the ocean to capture increasingly larger and more difficult to capture sea-life, beginning with salmon, halibut, sea lions, and smaller whales — always depositing them in front of his Mother-in-law’s house. She comes to fancy herself as a great shaman and the gift of sea life is her prayers and prophecies coming true.
One night, the Wasco encounters a large and powerful pod of killer whales and engages in a hard-fought battle, eventually defeating two of them, but he has taken a severe beating and manages only to crawl ashore before collapsing. The villagers arrive in the morning and were amazed to see not only the whales — but also the large powerful Wasco. On closer inspection, they stare into the eye of Wasco and see the face of her son in law. After the son-in-law recovers, he steps out of the skin. His mother-in-law loses her prestige and in a state of great embarrassment she flees the village.
Christian was born in Queen Charlotte City and raised in Old Masset, Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia). He is from the Dadens Yahgu’7laanaas Raven Clan and his Haida name is Kilthguulans (Voice of Gold). He started carving argillite at the age of fourteen under the direction of his father, Morris White. He studied the work of the great masters and especially of his great-great-grandfather Charles Edenshaw. A self-supporting artist since the age of seventeen, Christian shows an advanced knowledge of Haida forms and an emerging personal style based on narrative story telling and strong use of inlays of various materials, even in his earlier pieces.
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