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Crow/Sun-Wolf/Moon Design Bent Wood Box


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  • Hand painted cedar bent wood box
  • 6.5 x 6.5 x 10 inches tall (including lid)
  • Richard Shorty was born in 1959 into the Northern Tutchone First Nation. Richard is a self taught artist whose unique style combines elements of traditional and contemporary design
  • Dance, story telling and celebration are important elements within Yukon First Nation culture. Tlingit and Tutchone are matrilineal nations, divided into moieties, or kinship groups, these groups consist of two main clans, Crow and Wolf. Social relations rest on reciprocal obligations between the opposite clans. These obligations are often played out during marriages or deaths at potlatches where the rich oratory culture is expressed through drumming, singing and story telling.
  • Bent wood boxes are created by steam heating one side of a piece of wood, usually cedar. The wood is gradually bent to form the sides of a box from a single piece of wood. This design made these boxes seal tight and become air and water tight, making them useful for holding berries, herbs and other foods for preservation. They were sometimes painted or carved and used at potlatch ceremonies. 
  • Raven created all people and animals, but they lived together in darkness. Raven hears of an old man's daughter who has two cedar boxes, each containing a sphere of light, one bright, one less so. Raven turns into a Hemlock needle and falls into the river where the girl drinks him. He transforms into a baby and is born to his much loving mother and grandfather who give him all he asks for. He asks to play with the boxes and the spheres inside, and opens the dim box and throws the orb through the smoke hole into the dark sky where it chips, creating the moon and the stars. His family are not happy but love him so much they forgive him. He transforms back into Raven the creator and takes the bright orb. Raven opens the box and gives light to the world by casting the sun high into the sky with his beak. The people are scared and scatter to the four corners of the globe, creating the earth as we know it today.