This Wasgo or Sea Wolf Story Box is a hand carved Argillite Box by the Haida Artist Greg White Lightbown. The box has three Wasgos and one carved human on the sides, as well as a supernatural Wasgo / Sea Wolf carving on the top and 4 frogs carved and attached to the base. The box represents the Haida Lazy Son-in-Law Story, which is added below. The frog feet of the box represent the supernatural connection between man and animal. The box including the frogs on the base is about 5 1/2 inches or close to 14 centimeters long, 4 inches or over 10 centimeters wide and about 7 inches or close to 18 centimeters high. The carving weighs a little over 1.1 kilos or close to 2 1/2 pounds. The price includes shipping to the USA and Canada.
The Lazy Son-in-Law Story as told by the Haida Carver James Hart:
Wasgo lives in a lake behind Skidegate village, which is connected to the ocean, so that he can come and go as he pleases to do his exploits. A young man who lived in the village close to where Wasgo lived decided he wanted to kill it and take on its powers. So he started training secretly and planning to capture and kill the supernatural Wasgo— very dangerous being. He would leave his house in the late evening to train in secret, leaving his newly wedded wife’s bedside to sneak out of the house and continue his training without anyone knowing. When he was ready and the time came to go after Wasgo, he went down the coast to the next village and kidnapped a young child to use him as bait in the capture of Wasgo.
He went up to the lake with the boy tied up, got himself a log and split it into two halves, and then tied the ends with line that he’d brought with him. Then he sprung the tied-up log and held it open with a stick in the centre. He tied a thin pole off of one of the halves leaning toward the centre and this is where he tied the young boy, dangling. He pushed it out toward the centre of the lake and waited. When Wasgo was coming home he spotted the child and came rushing toward the surface to grab it. However, as he broke the surface toward the child who was dangling, he hit the stick causing the log to clamp shut on him. Not grabbing his prey, he proceeded to dive down toward the bottom of the lake, thrashing around. Trying to break free from the trap, he eventually exhausted himself and died, floating to the surface. The young man who set the trap pulled him ashore and proceeded to skin him, removing the skin very carefully. By putting the skin on he became Wasgo and took on his powers.
While he had been secretly training, the young man would arrive back to his house early in the morning and then go to bed. This caused him to sleep in for the better part of the day. His mother-in-law started to question this. She thought he was being lazy and began to grumble. His wife, who was her daughter, would stick up for him. It became excessive and went on day after day. So now, in the evening, the young man would still go out to the lake where he had hidden the skin of the Wasgo. He would take it out of its cache, and climb inside the skin, taking on all the powers of the Wasgo and swimming off into the ocean for his supernatural exploits. He wanted to start leaving food for his village. He started by leaving salmon on the seashore in front of the village so it would be there when the villagers woke up in the morning. The first morning he left five salmon. When the people woke up and eventually found the five salmon lying there, they rejoiced with their lucky find, cooked it up and ate it. The young man joined them in the feast of the early evening. As they were sitting around eating, enjoying the food, his mother-in-law made a wish there would be more food in the morning. So her young son-in-law heard her wish and decided to fulfill it. Late in the evening, he sneaked out of the house without anyone knowing to go put the Wasgo skin on again. He put his skin on and swam out into the ocean, having fun and being powerful and supernatural. Then he decided to catch the food for the village. This time he caught ten salmon and laid them in front of the village for everyone to find in the morning. When the people woke up and headed down to the beach and found ten salmon, they rejoiced! They were happy and the mother-in-law remembered her prediction. When everyone was feasting, she again decided to predict more food for the next morning—ten salmon, one seal and some cod. The son-in-law heard her and all of it was on the shore in the morning. The mother-in-law became even more excited because she started to believe she had some power. The people rejoiced with the food, they feasted and prepared it for storage. Again that evening, while they were feasting, she made another prediction that more food would be left in the morning. This time it would be two seals, twenty salmon and ten cod. It was the same thing—they feasted and prepared the leftover food for safekeeping. While everyone feasted the mother-in-law became bolder and bolder in her predictions because she believed she had acquired power, making more predictions of more food to be left in front of the village the next morning.
This went on night after night, day after day. The village became very rich because of this, and the mother-in-law grew bolder with her predictions. One night she said, “we want five seals, five sea lions and a whale.” They appeared in the morning and the people feasted again and prepared it to be stored. This time, the mother-in-law predicted there to be two whales the next day, left in front of the village.
The young son-in-law went out in secret and found the two whales and killed them. He dragged them through the water back to the village, left them in front of the village and swam off to Wasgo’s home where he took off the skin and hid it in his secret spot. He returned to the village and went to bed in the same pattern. His mother-in-law woke before her sleeping son-in-law. She was really mad now, but her daughter was still sticking up for him. That evening at the feast the mother-in-law predicted three whales to be left in the morning. The son-in-law heard this and of course, he stole away late in the evening, put on the skin and swam out into the ocean to hunt for three whales. Now Wasgo is a powerful supernatural being—very strong. He can catch and kill these whales, but even for Wasgo this is a big job. The whales are very big and heavy in the water. He caught one and handled that. He caught two and handled that. He caught three and he could handle that also. Even for Wasgo this was a lot of work because he then had to drag them back to the village through the water—they were very heavy and it was very slow going. He managed to get them on shore one at a time. Just as he dragged the last one on shore the sun came up. The deal the entire time was that when he put on Wasgo’s skin, he had to return it to its hiding place before the sun came up. So when the sun broke the horizon and hit him, he fell over dead, lying half in and half out of the water. When the people woke up and checked the shore, they saw a strange creature lying there beside the dead whales. The people were all excited for the whales, but also at seeing this strange creature. They were mulling it over, including the mother-in-law, wondering what the creature was. Then the mother-in-law’s daughter said to everybody, “I know what it is.” It was lying in the water, the water surging in and out, making its lips move. The daughter walked over to the head of the creature, lifted up its lip and exposed her husband inside. Her mother let out a huge gasp because she believed all this time that it was she who had great power that enabled all this food to appear in front of the village. She realized it was in fact her lazy son-in-law causing this to happen all this time. So she fell over dead with shame.