The 'Spirit of Haida Gwaii' sculpture is the largest and most complex piece ever produced by Northwest Coast Native Aboriginal artist Bill Reid (1920-1998). It is 20 feet long by 11 feet wide and 13 feet high. Bronze castings named the 'Black Canoe' and the 'Jade Canoe' are on display at the Canadian Embassy in Washington D.C. and the Vancouver International airport respectively. The original white plaster casting shown here is on display at the Museum of Civilization in Gatineau near Ottawa, Canada.
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There are thirteen figures portrayed on this canoe as they seem to fill the boat to overflowing capacity. At the bow is the Grizzly Bear who is facing his wife, the human Bear Mother, the first paddler on the port side. Between them are their two bear cubs. Just behind the Bear Mother is the Beaver, the second paddler and one of the Raven's uncles.
Behind the Beaver is Dogfish Woman, part human part shark and the third paddler. Across from the Bear Mother is the first paddler on the starboard side, the Eagle. Just beneath the Eagle is the Frog.
The second paddler on the starboard side behind the Eagle is the Wolf. The Wolf has his hind claws on the Beaver's back while this teeth are in the Eagle's wing. Behind the Wolf is the third paddler, a human called the Ancient Reluctant Conscript.
At the stern is the Raven who is also holding the steering oar. The center of the canoe sits the Shaman and Haida Chief Kilstlaai who is holding a staff with a killer whale on top.
Crouching under the Raven's tail is the Mouse Woman who is the traditional guide for those who travel between the human world and non-human realms of Haida mythology.
This 'Spirit of Haida Gwaii' sculpture is located at the end of the Grand Hall and visitors walk all around this impressive piece to marvel at it from all angles - see the museum video clip. A portrayal of the 'Spirit of Haida Gwaii' is featured on the Canadian twenty dollar bill.
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Another large statue by Bill Reid on display at the same museum is his orca killer whale piece named 'Chief of the Undersea World'. He has also done many beautiful art paintings including one on display at the Mississauga Civic Centre.
Northwest Coast Native Aboriginal artists are producing some stunning artwork these days. Imagine such a piece displayed in your home. See Northwest Coast Native Aboriginal art carvings or Northwest Coast Native Aboriginal art prints at very affordable online prices at Free Spirit Gallery.
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