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Little is known about John Robson until the late 1860s when he succeeded his uncle as Chief Giatlins, a Raven lineage chief in Skidegate. At the same time he inherited Grizzly Bear's Mouth House, one of the most splendid buildings in the village. Robson was a noted carver of totem poles from the late 1860s until the custom of raising large poles ceased around 1885. He also produced many house models and works in argillite.
Robson married Qwa'Kuna, the widowed mother of Charles Edenshaw. He taught his stepson many carving skills and worked on a number of poles with him, which explains the points of similarity in their styles.
One fine example of the artistic collaboration between Charles Edenshaw and John Robson is an elaborately carved memorial pole in front of ‘House Upon Which Storm Clouds Make a Noise’ in Skidegate. The top figure of a Whale is similar to the one on Chief Skidegate's interior pole. John Robson later made a model of it for John R. Swanton. The two carvers may also have worked together on a large mortuary post raised in 1879-80 by Chief Skidegate and his wife in honour of Chief Skedans.
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