'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 Sun Earrings by John Lancaster
Sun is Chief of the Sky, and is known for having tired feet, having walked across the heavens each day. The Sun is a significant ancestor, and is a powerful crest among some high-ranking families.
The story about the light begins when the world was in darkness. Raven knows about an old man who has a secret, and Raven desperately wants to know what it is. He notices that the old man’s daughter sometimes comes out to get water from the river, but Raven cannot see any entrance on the house. One day, he transforms himself into a pine needle and drifts down the river, floating into the daughters water bucket. The girl drinks the pine needle in her water and becomes pregnant with a child. This child quickly wins the love of his grandfather, and learns that the old man is keeping many boxes that are within other boxes. The grandfather gives the child the first box, and the child cries until his grandfather gives him many boxes that are within other boxes. Eventually there are so few boxes protecting the light, it can be seen glimmering from within the center box. When grandfather refuses to appease Raven's final tantrum, he transforms himself back into the infamous and lecherous creature he is, and he steals the box before escaping through the smoke-hole in the ceiling.
Eagle sees Raven and knows he is pulling off wicked shenanigans of some sort. He pursues Raven, who cannot contain his jealousy. Raven makes a quick decision to drop the box, for if he cannot keep the box for himself, Eagle certainly cannot have it.
As the box shatters on the ground below, the sun, moon and stars are released - and the world that was in darkness can thank the hero-trickster Raven for bringing the world light.
Sun is most commonly depicted face-forward, with 6-8 long rays shrouding his face. Sometimes Sun is illustrated from a side-angle, with the rays protruding forward.
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