2 Native Haida Indian Legends That Live On In Art
Some of the most beautiful pieces of Native Indian art are actually stories brought to life in stone, silver, wood, or other materials. The value of the art is partially in the craftsmanship and beauty of the pieces, and partially in the traditional stories they portray. Read below to learn more about two stories commonly portrayed in Native American Haida art and how to identify them.
Raven Steals The Sun, Moon, And Stars
There are many versions of this story, but the legends all say that the first humans struggled enormously in the world because they were without light. It was being hoarded in a box by an old man who refused to share.
Raven, a Trickster God, saw the suffering (and an opportunity for some fun), and decided to do something about the problem. Using his magic, he convinced the old man that he was the old man’s grandchild. Once the old man was fooled, he let Raven play with the box, and Raven promptly grabbed the ball of light in his beak and flew away with it.
Depending on the story, the light became the sun, the moon, and even the stars once Raven dropped it in the sky.
To add this story to your collection of Native Art, look for a piece that depicts a large beaked bird with a round ball in his mouth. Depending on the piece, you may find a small image of an angry man (sometimes hidden on the bottom) – the old fellow who’s still angry at Raven for stealing the light!
Frog Brings Mankind Knowledge
There are numerous stories about frogs in Native American culture, most of which stress the importance of being polite to them. They are the keepers of knowledge and bring luck to those that respect them.Their big eyes see many things and their wide mouths and long tongues are signs that they keep many secrets – some of which they’ve shared with mankind over the centuries.
Because frogs dwell on both land and water, they’re seen as messengers of the spirit world and their song contains magic. In at least one legend, Frog loaned his skin to a man so that he could use its magic to learn to hunt – which kept early humankind from starving!
When looking for frog art, look for wide round eyes and a large mouth. The tongue of the frog is sometimes extended, indicating that the frog is ready to whisper magical secrets about the world to someone – if that person knows how to listen! If you find a piece that shows a man hunched down underneath a frog, then the artist is retelling the story of the warrior the frogs taught to hunt.
When you collect traditional Native American art from a place like Cheryl’s Trading Post, knowing the stories behind the symbols helps add an extra depth of meaning to each piece that you own.