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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Raven And The First Men - Museum of Anthropology

One of the museum's highlights is a contemporary sculpture created by the late Haida craftsman Bill Reid: the Raven and the First Men. The sculpture, which has become one of Vancouver's most important symbols, is located at the center of a rotunda. It depicts the Haida legend that tells the story of Mankind.

According to the story (or at least one of several versions ) life started when a Raven flew to earth and found the earth covered in snow. He then stole the sun from the gods and created animals, forests, rivers and oceans. One day, on a beach, the raven found an enormous clamshell with five men in it. The raven coaxed them into leaving the shell with the promise of a prosperous life. Hesitant at first, they eventually emerged from the shell, becoming the first Haida men. Eventually, the raven told them where to find women. "As a third generation person who was brought up in Vancouver, I am really enjoying your Vancouver blog! ....... I think Bill Reid should be recognised as an artist, not a craftsman. His jewellery, carvings and prints are known as the best of his time. I lived near UBC as a child. My Dad used to take me out to see Bill---he used to carve in a shed where Totem Park is now, and he would tell us all stories about the things he was carving. We were all enchanted. In later years I heard him speak at the Anthropology Museum. He talked about the Raven and Clamshell. He said the "rearend " with the feet sticking out was a Haida man trying to climb back in!" Margaret Ryall

Location:University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC

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