Salmon Mother Sees Ghosts

Salmon Mother Sees Ghosts

Alder, Horsehair, Abalone, Acrylic
11 ½" H x 11" W x 8" D

Indigenous artwork on the Pacific Northwest Coast often incorporates figures and animals that are related to crest symbols. Crests have been passed down through families and have varying meanings depending on the context and association with a nation, clan, or family. The figures depicted in contemporary Northwest Coast Indigenous artwork also have varying meanings but there are some common characteristics from a range of sources, including oral histories and artist descriptions.

Salmon was a fundamental food staple to many, if not all, nations in the Pacific Northwest. As sustenance and nourishment, Salmon is often viewed in connection to regeneration, health, and life. The salmon is regarded as a sacred and highly respected creature embodying resilience, abundance, and the cycle of life. One of the more symbolic associations of Salmon is its connection to the concept of abundance. The annual migration and return of the Salmon to their ancestral spawning grounds can symbolize the cyclical nature of life and the continuous renewal of resources. Salmon can be identified by small pectoral and dorsal fins, scales, and the presence of eggs or roe.

Humans appear in many oral traditions across the Northwest Coast, often as heroes and legends. These figures are depicted in many ways. Some figures might represent a chief or shaman while others an ancestor. Ancestors are incredibly important in Northwest Coast culture; thus, you will often see human portraits in the artwork depicting an ancestor figure. Free standing Human figures can range in size from small amulets to large scale poles several feet high. As amulets they are often a guardian symbol whereas the larger human figures can represent a welcoming figure. Human-like personifications of sun and wind are common in Northwest Coast artwork as well.


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