The art of the Northwest Coastal people, like the aboriginal Tlingit and Haida of Canada, is striking with its bold black and red designs. Its wide, swooping lines and powerful-looking imagery often provoke a strong reaction in viewers, whether native or not. However, the symbols used in the art are also meant to convey a message. Before you buy a piece for yourself or someone else, here's what you should know about a few of the most common symbols that you'll see in the art of that region.
The Wolf Or The Killer Whale
Both the wolf and the killer whale represent fidelity and family in Northwest Coastal art. Wolves and killer whales both mate for life, care for their young, and maintain strong family or group connections.
A piece of art with either of these symbols would be appropriate to hang in a family room or the entrance way to your home as a way to represent how important you consider your family to be. This would also be a great gift for someone who organizes charity events, a community leader, or a personal mentor who has been a mother-figure or father-figure to you.
The Frog Or The Owl
Frogs and owls are both associated with the spirit world, divine power, and magic. Since frogs live both on land and in water, they're seen as a connecting point between the spirit world and the human world. They can tell secrets about the spirit world in their song. Owls are the symbolic guardians of the spirit world and can see ghosts. Their ability to see in the dark is linked with their ability to see the future as well.
Aboriginal art with either a frog or an owl on it would be perfect for someone who is spiritual or a believer in the supernatural. It's also perfect for someone whose profession requires a little bit of special skill and knowledge. A writer who listens to his or her subconscious while looking for story ideas might appreciate a gift like this. So would a stockbroker who has to find a way to intuit the financial market in order to be successful.
The Butterfly Or The Dragonfly
Both butterflies and dragonflies symbolize personal transformation and beauty. Butterflies represent the sort of change that comes after a period of struggle, and dragonflies represent the ability to change quickly. They represent emotional and mental change just as much as they do a physical transformation.
The association with change makes art with this imagery in it appropriate for anyone who has recently undergone (or is about to undergo) a major lifestyle change. It would be a beautiful gift for someone who has just had a child or someone who has left a difficult relationship. It could also be symbolic of a new job in a new city, representing your hopes for a positive future.
These are just some of the symbols that you'll find in the aboriginal art out of the Northwest Coastal area. For more information, contact Gallery Phillip or a similar location.