Syllabic Translator

i u a pi pu pa ti tu ta ki ku ka gi gu ga mi mu ma ni nu na si su sa li lu la ji ju ja vi vu va ri ru ra qi qu qa ngi ngu nga lhi lhu lha

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Norval H. Morrisseau, R.C.A., ᐅᓵᐚᐱᐦᑯᐱᓀᐦᓯ



acrylic on MDF, each signed in syllabics, each signed in Roman and dated 81 verso, unframed

Each panel 22" x 28" — 55.9 x 71.1 cm.

Acquired directly from the artist,
Northern Intruders, Winnipeg, MB, 1998,
Private collection, 2007,
Private collection, Canada

In a private correspondence, Alan Swanson of the Northern Intruders Gallery, proposed that this diptych depicts the artist, the figure in blue, receiving his Ojibwa name, ‘Ozaawaabiko-binesi’ or ‘Copper Thunderbird.’

In the book cited above, Morrisseau recounts the story of the naming ceremony. After a grave illness, the artist was taken to visit a medicine woman. “She had already administered all the power she could, so there was only one thing left to do. This is the highest sort of power that can be given to anyone that is sick: and that is to give him a new name, a powerful name. [...]

So at that special moment, she gave me a new name, the name of Copper Thunderbird. That was a very, very powerful new name; and it cured me. From then on I changed, because that was a name whose power you could actually feel. Copper is a very sacred metal, and here you can imagine a Thunderbird, a huge massive bird all made of copper, and he was actually flying!

My name was changed to Copper Thunderbird. I sign my paintings Copper Thunderbird.”

Estimate: $4,000—6,000

Auction Results

Auction Date Auction House Lot # Low Est High Est Sold Price
2015-11-16 Waddington's 72 4,000 6,000 4,800.00

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