H x 11" L
This mask, by Alfred Robertson,
is carved from red cedar. The piece is skillfully carved and
displays exquisite detail. All of the lines have been cut, the
carving is deep, particularly around the Thunderbird's eyes,
the colours are traditional, and the mask has been adorned with
traditional cedar bark hair.
The jaw is articulated and
makes a wonderful "claping " sound when the control
lever is pulled.
Birth Date: August 17, 1950
Birthplace: Kingcome Inlet, B.C., Canada
Alfred Robertson was born
August 17th, 1950 in Kingcome Inlet, British Columbia, located
off the southern coast. This area is representative of the Kwagiulth
Nation. Alfred was taught to carve by his father, William Robertson,
and has carved with his brother, Sampson Robertson, from whom
he learned this technique. He has been carving Northwest Coast
artwork for many years.
Alfred carves in yellow and
red cedar wood. Presently, he resides in Nanaimo and carves on
a full-time basis. In his spare time, Alfred teaches basic carving
skills to elementary school children. Alfred is one of many Northwest
Coast Native artists who is preserving the carving traditions
of his people.
In the time long ago, it is
said that animals shared many of the same qualities as people.
Once a giant killer whale ate all the salmon in the ocean. Humans
began to starve. Although the chiefs begged the whale to leave,
it repeatedly mocked them. Finally, a congress of the greatest
chiefs was convened.
After a time, a great wind
blew in from the sea and lightning flashed, thunder roared. The
chiefs felt the presence of a great invisible spirit. "If
I were to help you, what will you do for me? the spirit
asked. The chiefs promised, for all time, to reproduce the spirits
likeness as a sign of admiration and respect. Thus, satisfied
with their promises, Thunderbird appeared.
He was an enormous manifestation
with lightning flashing from his pointed talons and thunder rolling
from his sun-blocking wings. Snatching up the Killer Whale the
raptor spirit dropped it into the land where it solidified into
a mountain. Native carvers have kept their word ever since.