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Material: Yew wood rattle, yellow cedar handle, acrylic paint
Dimensions: 127 mm (5 inches) vertical x 50.8 mm (2 inches) hotizontal
- "A crest belonging to many different Haida Clans. Killer whale is a powerful being that lives in the Ocean realm is apart of many Haida stories." - Haida artist, Raven Thorgeirson.
- This design features a “Sgaana”, also known as orca or killer whale, which is a symbol of community, family & intelligence. Orcas travel the ocean realms in groups, further cementing their symbolism of community and togetherness.
- It is believed that the killer whale people have an analogous society to humans under the ocean, and there is where the first totem poles & longhouses originated.
In Haida mythology, there are many stories involving the underworld. One such story is called boy riding killer whale, which depicts a man who has to jump on the back of a killer whale to rescue his wife from the underworld.
About the Construction:
The top part of the rattle was constructed using bentwood box construction techniques, meaning the box part of the rattle is all one piece of wood and was bent into a box form through steaming. Bentwood boxes of all sizes were used along the northwest coast to store treasured regalia, gathered food & supplies.
To give the rattle sound, artists use a variety of mediums, such as rocks, shells & metal ball bearings, so that when the rattle is shaken a unique sound is produced. The exact materials used by each artist differs, giving each rattle a unique sound.
About Yew Wood:
The material used here, yew wood, is also significant. Yew wood is only found in old growth forests, making it hard to come by. In these pieces you can see a beautiful grain of light & darker coloured yew wood. Yew wood was also used for medicinal purposes & healing. This wood is one of the stronger woods found on the northwest coast & was used for making paddles, fishing hooks & shields for going into battle.
Meet the Artists:
Raven Thorgeirson (Pearson LeBlanc), Haida Nation (design & painting)
Raven Thorgeirson is from Skidegate, Haida Gwaii and is from the Naa Saagaas X̲aaydaGaay Eagle clan. Raven got her beginnings in Haida art working with Robin Rorick and Ben Davidson after graduating high school. For her post-secondary education she attended Emily Carr University of Art & Design and Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art. She has also worked at Haida Gwaii Museum and enjoys learning about her culture and sharing it with others. She now carves monumental Haida art with master carver and chief, Jim Hart and his crew.
In her work Raven strives to share a story that engages the audience’s curiosity, memories, and imagination. She also wants to share the visual language of her culture, like her ancestors did for thousands of years.
Peter Wayne Gong, Squamish Nation, Coast Salish (rattle construction)
"I am a Coast Salish artist and member of the Squamish Nation. I grew up on Whonnock reserve #1. I have always been interested in my culture and as a child spent many hours on the Fraser River fishing with my uncle, he would tell me the stories and legends that he grew up with. Through these experiences I find the inspiration to stay true to my art. I am a new artist and mostly carve masks, though I work on all sorts of pieces in my carving studio at my home in Mission, British Columbia. My most common medium is red cedar, though I do work with many types of wood and will work in Ivory as well."