Haida Art

Assembled by Barb McMillan

Historical / Cultural Significance: Haida Narrative

Before there was anything, when the whole world was dark, there lived the Raven. The Raven had always existed and always would. The Raven overheard a man inside a house saying, "I have a box and inside the box is another box and inside it are many more boxes, and in the smallest box of all is all the light in the world, and it is all mine and I'll never give any of it to anyone, not even my daughter." The Raven wanted the light and he thought and he thought how he would steal the light. He decided to transform himself into a pine needle. He made sure to drop down and flow down the river just in time to be caught in the daughter's basket as she was getting a drink of water. The Raven with his magic powers made her thirsty and she swallowed the pine needle. At that moment, the Raven became a very small human being who grew and grew.

Raven was born a baby boy. He grew into a strange looking boy, but no one could see him. His Grandfather grew to love him. The boy protested noisily to see the boxes. His Grandfather instantly refused his grandson's request, but in time yielded and the Grandfather opened the smallest box with the ball of light and tossed it to his grandson. The grandson changed from his human form to a huge, shiny black shadow, wings spread and beak open, waiting. The Raven snapped up the light in his jaws, thrust his great wings downward and shot through the smoke hole of the house into the huge darkness of the world. The Eagle saw the Raven and chased him around the world. The Raven tried to avoid the Eagle and dropped half the light. The light broke into pieces and bounced back into the sky and became the moon and the stars.

Principles and Elements of Design

The sculpture's texture is smooth, and the rounded form flows like liquid gold. The design's beauty comes from its simplicity and brilliance. The shadows create depth and give the sculpture life. The sculpture's curving conturs and symmetry give this work of art elegance. It is truely an orb that casts light into the world.

"Raven Bringing Light to the World" by Robert Davidson b. 1946, White Rock, British Columbia Gilded Bronze, ed. 1/12, 30 cm dia.

Integration into Music/Dance/Drama

These sculptures could be integrated with drama by re-enacting the myth, "Raven Steals the Sun." In art, children could make a sun mask for one of the children to play the sun. A large cardboard or paper-mache sun could be constructed and painted for the staged setting. Hand drums, flutes and rattles, could accompany this drama quite nicely.

You can also link to...

West Coast Native Art

Komokwa, Masks, Killer Whales

Kwakiutl Masks

Tsimshian Art


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