'Namgis artist John Lancaster grew up in the small fishing village of Alert Bay, located on Cormorant Island off the northeastern coast of Vancouver Island. His family crests include Wolf and Sun. In 1986, John began learning to design and engrave jewellery with indigenous designs representing his cultural teachings and traditions. His cousin Alfred Seaweed was instrumental in teaching him the skills employed for fashioning jewellery from silver, copper and gold.
Jennifer began selling John Lancasters work in 1991, as a volunteer in the Campbell River Museum. She later met him while working for Ellen Portman of Crescent Moon Gallery, and was delighted to purchase from him directly when Copper Moon Gallery opened in 2004. John Lancaster resides in Victoria on southern Vancouver Island, and continues to create beautiful and timeless adornments. We accept custom orders for this artist.
Copper & Silver Killer Whale Pendant by John Lancaster
Killer Whale is a traveler and guardian. Symbolizing both power and beauty, Killer Whales are significant of love and kinship, as they mate for life, travel with their pods and are fierce protectors of their young.
The Haida believe that Killer Whales are equivalent to humans, and that their undersea world societies are deeply complex. Killer Whale belongs to both the Eagle and Raven moieties of the Haida. Killer Whale is depicted differently, depending on affiliation to a particular clan. Killer Whales associated with Eagle Clan have a white stripe across the base of their dorsal fin, whereas those correlated with Raven Clan are black and do not have the stripe. If a Killer Whale has a hole in his fin, it is because he is associated with the supernatural realm. In design, the hole is marked as a round circle.
Killer Whales are considered Ancestors of many tribes on Vancouver Island, and as such, are thought to live in deep undersea villages, where they can take off their skin to emulate human beings.
Killer Whale remains one of the most commonly depicted motifs in Northwest Coast Art, perhaps second to Raven – an indication of prominence and importance.
Cheryl Shearar Understanding Northwest Coast Art (2000)
Conversations with Ehattesaht Artist Cecil Billy