TRIBUTE TO THE CHIEFTON
Limestone Carving at the Entrance to Little Whale Cove
The Killer Whale. The Killer Whale is always regarded with respect an awe by the Northwest Coastal Indians. He is the subject of much fantasy and superstition. Legends encourage living in harmony with these mammals. The Killer Whale is given to show respect and awe. It's the symbol you'd give to someone who brings harmony to your life.
Words from the Artist:
The sculpture, "Tribute to the Chieftain" was carved at my studio in Portland, Oregon from three one-ton blocks of Indiana limestone, cut and shipped from the quarries around Bedford, Indiana. I chose Indiana limestone because of its durability and its ability to fit into a natural surrounding--much better than marble.
The hardness of the stone is similar to marble, but much less brittle, making it weather well in our climate. The carving time I spent was around six months. As the sculpture progressed it went through some major and minor revisions from the original drawing that I felt was necessary for the composition and balance of the sculpture. The sculpture depicts an Indian chieftain dressed in a killer whale headdress and a robe of cedar bark with symbols of the whale woven into it. The hawk rattle that he holds in his right hand is his particular clan symbol.
The pillar the chieftain stands on has four killer whale masks with the dorsal fin above. The masks face the four directions -- north, south, east and west -- and are a balance between the human and killer whale. This was to bring the whale closer to the human on the spiritual level, where all living things are equal, and where it could be understood and spoken to. The bottom pillar is carved with 8 whale fins, depicting the four major and four minor points of the compass.
The sculpture, as the coastal tribes thought, is to bridge the gap between the human world and the spirit world of the whale, the sea, the wind and all other things in nature......to become one with it, to understand and to have empathy.
October 8, 1996
Don Wilson was born in Southwest Washington and grew up in the coastal fishing town of Ocean Park. For the last forty years he has worked as a sculpture in Portland, Oregon and had done numerous commissions for public works and private collections.