Killer Whale Clan Mask by Al Zantua, Tsimshian and Haida Nation
Killer Whale Clan Mask, 2017 Al Zantua, Tsimshian and Haida Nation alder, abalone inlay, pigment 15" high x 8" wide x 6.5" deep 23.5" high x 8" wide x 6.5" deep (on stand)
The Gisbutwada is the name for the Killer Whale clan in the language of the Tsimshian. Killer Whale's are sometimes called Sea Wolves. They are like wolves in that they live and hunt in a close family unit or pack. Wolves and Orcas are believed to be able to transform back and forth. They are also closely related to humans, and are thought of as protectors and healers of humans. It’s believed Humans that have transformed into Orcas sometimes swim close to shore when they miss their old life. It’s good luck to be splashed by an Orca.
Al Zantua worked as an art teacher in Chief Leschi School, a Native American tribal school located in the Puyallup Valley near Mount Rainier in Washington. He taught traditional carving in cedar, using motifs handed down through generations. As well, the students use tools they have made themselves. Zantua takes every opportunity to showcase his students work, and when possible, takes them to various exhibitions where they show their masks and paddles along side of his master works.
In 2012, the University of Puget Sound received fourteen model totem poles from the Kenneth McGill Family Collection. Two of the carvings in this important collection are by Al Zantua, and were directly commissioned by the McGill family from the artist.