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U990.14.466
Artist / Maker : David, Joe
Title : Serpent Dancer
Date (Execution) : n.d.
Geographical Origin : Opitsaht, British Columbia, Canada
Cultural Group : Nuu-chah-nulth, Tla-o-qui-aht
Style / Period : Western Modern 1900-1950
Medium / Material  : Serigraph
Support / Technique : paper
Object Type : screen prints
Visual Description : serpent like figure in centre of the page. Made in red and black. Upside down mans head in the bottom of the tail.
Accession # : U990.14.466
Width (cm) : 40.50
Height (cm) : 50.70
Depth (cm) : 0.00
Mandatory Credit : Canada Council for the Arts Acquisition Grant, Purchased from the Collection of Vincent Rickard
Artist Statement : The slow beat of the circular skin drums quickens after the WELCOME DANCER has signaled the start of the Potlatch. Two dancers, each wearing a sea-serpent headdress and cape, take to the floor of the "big-house"in front of the assembled guests. Excitement quickens with the pounding drums for this is a fast paced, complex dance only performed by those highly skilled in the dance art. With hands on hips, the cape flares out as the body of each dancer twists like the serpent. The singer keeps pace with the drumming. The two serpents twist and writhe around each other, leaping firelight flames. Tradition demands that the headdress be lifted upwards throughout the entire dance. To allow it to drop would be to shame the dancer and the family having the right to the serpent crest. The dancers separate, capes still whirling to the fast drum beat. With heads held high, flashing this way and that, they move away in opposite directions before dancing to the center again. There, interacting to each other, they skillfully twist their bodies in serpent-like fashion moving one around the other. Through dance they have, in essence, been transformed into serpents. The SERPENT DANCE is repeated until danced four times. (statement provided by Pacific Editions) The writhing movement and up tilted headdress of the SERPENT DANCER is beautifully expressed in this design by Joe David which catches the dancer in mid-twist, hands on hips. Notice one arm and hand is human, the other depicts the claw of the sea serpent, symbol of the transformation from human to creature, as is the human head at the bottom the serpent. Design elements within the body represent the rib cage. (statement provided by Pacific Editions)