One day long ago, a blind man was fishing for halibut off the Queen Charlotte Islands. A mischievous raven flew over and decided to pull a prank on him. Diving beneath the water, the raven tugged on the fisherman’s line. Thinking he had caught a halibut, the old man drew in his line only to find the hook empty. Annoyed by the happenings, the blind man threw the line into the sea, but this time when the raven tugged on the line, the old man was ready and gave a tremendous jerk on the line, catching the raven’s beak in the halibut hook. The raven struggled but he was firmly caught and finally his beak broke off. When the blind fisherman drew in his line and felt the raven’s beak, he didn’t know what to do. He pondered the situation on the way back to his village. By the time he had reached the village he knew he had to return the beak to the raven, despite the foolish pranks he played.
So that the raven might have the best chance of seeing his beak, the blind fisherman placed the beak high atop the tallest totem pole in the village. The raven was flying around looking for his beak. He was very embarrassed that he had lost it, and fearful that he would be seen without it. Suddenly, the raven saw his beak on top of the totem pole. He swooped down, grabbed his beak and hurriedly stuck it on, but he missed his face and stuck it on his chin. That is why, in this print, the beak protrudes from his chin down the center of his body.
Born in 1949, Gerry Marks grew up in Vancouver, largely unaware of his Haida artistic traditions. Subsequent to meeting Haida master-artist, Bill Reid and discovering, at the young age of twenty, the fine metalwork of his grandfather, John Marks, he began to focus his energy on understanding this tradition.
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