Tahayren, or Charles Edenshaw, became one of the first professional Haida artists of the modern era. His work includes totem poles, jewellery, and sculptures that share stories of his culture. In 1971, the board designated Tahayren a National Historic Person, saying he “was the foremost of the Haida carvers at the time when their art first achieved international recognition.”
Born in 1839 in Skidegate on Haida Gwaii, off the coast of mainland British Columbia, Tahayren learned traditional carving skills from his uncle. His art was deeply rooted in Haida culture and ceremony; his professional art career arose as a result of interest from anthropologists and collectors in acquiring his works. The board says his “personal, ‘modern’ style, in argillite and silver, extended the traditional range of Haida art.”
The artist also worked with wood and ivory, and his wife, Isabella, wove baskets and hats that he would paint. Tahayren’s work influenced other artists, including his great-grandsons Reg and Robert Davidson and his great-great nephew Bill Reid. Tahayren died in 1920 in Masset, on Haida Gwaii. His art is displayed in museums around the world.