Sunday, August 12, 2012

raven stealing the sun

Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.
— Buddha

This is my first story-based temari. The design is inspired by the mythology of the Native American tribes of the Pacific Northwest, many of whom have variations on the tale of Raven, the Trickster. The sun and the moon and other precious objects were hidden away in a box, and the world was dark. Raven, through mischievous trickery, finds a way to steal them, and thus brings light to the world.

The sun is formed from the traditional rose garden pattern, while Raven is three layered (traditional) spindles. Thread wrap in brass yellow, S12 division in metallic gold and silver. Embroidery in yellows, oranges, reds, black and silver. The quote by Buddha is in the bell box, along with 33 brass rings. Circumference: 11 inches / 28 cm; diameter: 3.5 inches / 8.9 cm. Completed 11 August 2012 (no. 136).

Sold to benefit

Just one example of the many tales:
Long ago, near the beginning of the world, Gray Eagle was the guardian of the Sun, Moon and Stars, of fresh water, and of fire. Gray Eagle hated people so much that he kept these things hidden. People lived in darkness, without fire and without fresh water.
Gray Eagle had a beautiful daughter, and Raven fell in love with her. In the beginning, Raven was a snow-white bird, and as a such, he pleased Gray Eagle's daughter. She invited him to her father's longhouse.
When Raven saw the Sun, Moon and stars, and fresh water hanging on the sides of Eagle's lodge, he knew what he should do. He watched for his chance to seize them when no one was looking. He stole all of them, and a brand of fire also, and flew out of the longhouse through the smoke hole. As soon as Raven got outside he hung the Sun up in the sky. It made so much light that he was able to fly far out to an island in the middle of the ocean. When the Sun set, he fastened the Moon up in the sky and hung the stars around in different places. By this new light he kept on flying, carrying with him the fresh water and the brand of fire he had stolen.
He flew back over the land. When he had reached the right place, he dropped all the water he had stolen. It fell to the ground and there became the source of all the fresh-water streams and lakes in the world. Then Raven flew on, holding the brand of fire in his bill. The smoke from the fire blew back over his white feathers and made them black. When his bill began to burn, he had to drop the firebrand. It struck rocks and hid itself within them. That is why, if you strike two stones together, sparks of fire will drop out.
Raven's feathers never became white again after they were blackened by the smoke from the firebrand. That is why Raven is now a black bird.

Ella E. Clark, Indian Legends of the Pacific Northwest (2003: University of California Press).


  1. What a wonderful legend I love old tales, myths and legends, and your temari is beautiful!