'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 Raven Pendant by John Lancaster
Though Raven is considered to be the wanton, sneaky, mischievous trickster, he is also an important messenger and go-between the spirit and human world, as he is credited with many positive outcomes regardless of his infamous shenanigans, including discovering mankind in a clam shell, bringing salmon to the people, and releasing the sun, moon and stars to the world that was previously in darkness. He is the most famed of all creatures on the Pacific Northwest Coast.
The Haida are divided into the Eagle and Raven Clans. Each moiety has their own hereditary rights to certain crests, while they also share some crests. Shared crests include the Killer Whale, Hawk, Raven and Sea Wolf. Other crests, such as the Eagle, Beaver, Frog and Dragonfly belong exclusively to Eagle Clan, while Grizzly Bear, Black Bear, Moon, Shark and Wolf are exclusive to Raven Clan.
Within these two moieties are a number of lineages belonging to each side. Social organization among the Haida is matrilineal, and dictates that marriages must only take place between moieties, but not within them. Children inherit their clan from their mother, as well as property, dances, stories, and songs. Even Chiefs receive their title through their maternal line.
When Eagle and Raven are depicted together, they symbolize the joining of these moieties through love and marriage. Unlike western symbolism of love in hearts and knots, the Haida symbol of love is significant of social ties and ancestral history in imagery of these majestic birds.
Franz Boas Indian Myths & Legends from the North Pacific Coast of America: A Translation of Franz Boas' 1895 Edition of Indianische Sagen von der Nord-Pacifischen Kuste Amerikas (2006)
Cheryl Shearar Understanding Northwest Coast Art (2000)
Campbell River Museum & Archives
Museum of Civilization Online Resources
Conversations with various Northwest Coast Indigenous Artists