Bird mask of the Tsimshian people, used in initiation ceremonies. Artist unknown; 19th century. Collected in Nisga’a territory at the mouth of the Nass River, British Columbia, Canada; now in the Louvre.
Raven is a central character
in many Northwest Coast myths. Deceitful, dark and manipulative, he is known as
a trickster and existed in the world before now, when the roles of humans and
animals were not so well defined. Able to change form from animals to humans to
spirits, raven easily moved between the many worlds believed to exist. While he
accomplished many feats, one of his most outstanding was bringing light to the
world. Frustrated with living in a dark world without a smidgen of light, Raven
discovered that the Sky God held light in a secret box in his house in the
Sky. He began plotting how to steal the light. According to legend, he
disguised himself as the Sky God’s (Keeper of the Light) grandson in order to
gain access to the magical box that held all of the light in the world–the
Sun, the Moon and the stars. In the end, he fooled the Sky God and released light
into the world.
Naas shagi yeil s'aaxw (Raven at the Headwaters of Nass hat) from the Tlingit people of the Pacific Northwest. Carved from maple; decorated with paint, shells, hair, and baleen. Artist unknown; ca. 1810. Now in the Seattle Art Museum. Photo credit: Joe Mabel.
John Singleton Copley (1738-1815)
“Watson and the Shark” (1778)
Oil on canvas
Located in the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC
The painting is based on an attack that happened in Havana Harbour in 1749. Brook Watson, a 14 year-old cabin boy, lost his leg in the attack and was not rescued until the 3rd attempt. Watson would go on to become a Lord Mayor of London.