Halibut Hook, Eagle design by Edward Earl Bryant

Halibut Hook, Eagle design by Edward Earl Bryant

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Have a look at this piece - it's just superb!!! 

Edward Earl Bryant (Hagwil-Gàax), a Tsimshian Artist from the Gitando Clan / Raven crest, was born in Lax Kw Alaams, a small native village on the Northwest Coast of BC. (please have a look at the detailed biography, provided below)

He carved this absolutely incredible piece of a Halibut Hook – very rare find, especially in this quality!!! – The spike is made of animal bone, EAGLE design, cedar hook.. and THAT Eagle looks like it's on a mission, don't you think? The expression says it all....

The Hook comes with a small hand carved red cedar "Hand" which is also inlaid and it holds the hook nicely when displayed. (the hand does have a minor restoration, invisible, professionally done)

Measurements: 12” x 8” x 2”

Wooden halibut hooks, used as an Indigenous method of catching halibut on the Northwest coast of North America mixes expert craftsmanship with spirituality. The hooks were rigged to hover near the ocean bottom where the big fish feed, tethered to a stone sinker below and to a wooden buoy or inflated seal stomach above. A human or animal image was carved on the hook to entice the fish to bite. Fishing for halibut was seen as a kind of war.

The artist see’s a personal satisfaction in taking the same steps to make these hooks as the ancestors did and then being successful, too. It’s a good feeling knowing that what you created has provided. And provide they do, the fish bite. The hooks are perfectly designed for how their targets feed: halibut don’t delicately nibble at their meals; rather, they suck up their prey like mini-Hoovers. If a halibut senses something undesirable in its mouth, it’ll spew it out with gusto. When that something is a barb, the act of ejecting it drives the spike deep into its maw. Escape is virtually impossible.

The practice of making halibut hooks has been handed down through generations. Carvers use their hands to determine the angles and dimensions, which some believe allows them to target fish of different sizes. A recent study exploring how and why the dimensions of hooks have changed over time found that early hooks, dating 1860 – 1930, caught fish between nine and 45 kg, sparing the juveniles and the most prolific breeders, thus sustaining the species for future generations.

To make the hooks, carvers shape two pieces of different wood into arms: yellow cedar is traditionally used for the upper arm because it’s buoyant and halibut are apparently attracted to the smell, while a heavier wood, such as Pacific yew, anchors the bottom. The pieces are lashed together with twine, though braided bull kelp and cordage made from cedar bark or spruce root were historically used. “You’ve got to tie it super-tight or the hook will come apart, the halibut will twist it around to show you that you didn’t do it right…..Herring or octopus is typically used for bait. 

...Enough said.... please have a look....:o)

Photos of This Piece

About This Artist

Edward Earl Bryant (Hagwil-Gàax), a Tsimshian Artist from the Gitando Clan/Raven crest, was born in Lax Kw Alaams, a small native village on the Northwest Coast of BC. He was raised and has been taught traditional values including his...Artist bio and other available works »

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