True Whale Copper
Kwaxala’nukwame’, Amos Dawson, Mamalilikala (Village Island) and Iwakalas, Harry Hanuse, Mamalilikala (Village Island)
Gwa’yamkan is the largest copper in the collection. George Hunt recorded it as belonging to Amos Dawson and Harry Hanuse, both from the Mamalilikala. The name of the copper is Gwa’yamkan “True Whale” however, the etched design appears to be a bird with a defined beak and ears on top of the head. The face of the copper is well worn and the design is hard to interpret. It is said to be a smooth-faced or a “white man’s copper” and is therefore worthless. However, its history also indicates that in 1922, the copper was valued at $250.00 which conflicts with the value of smooth-faced coppers.
Metal, Copper; Paint
53.0 cm x 91.0 cm
The copper is the largest in size in the collection. It has a well-defined “T”. The copper is painted black with an incised design on the face and diagonal lines representing “ribs” on each side of the “T” or backbone. The drawings are etched through the black paint to reveal the metal below. The lines of the design are a deep reddish color; this could be from the oxidization of the copper or an underlying red paint. Although the name of the copper refers to a whale, the etched design seems to be a bird with a defined beak and ear-like crests on top of the head. The face of the copper is well-worn and the design is hard to interpret. Black, copper.