Collection: The Eagle Symbol

The Eagle can be spotted by its robust, large stature and strength. Respected for its intelligence, power and extraordinary vision, Eagle is among the most important beings in art and mythology. The spirited creatures are revered as powerful hunters who, unlike the giant Thunderbird, do not have the strength to hunt Killer Whales alone (Shearar). Instead, Eagles are said to gather for co-operative whale hunting expeditions. They are also often depicted with Salmon, one of their favourite foods.

 

Indigenous Significance of the Eagle Symbol

In many regions, Eagle clan families are traditionally the most prominent, and Eagle chiefs the most powerful (Shearar). The sacred feathers and down are believed to have healing powers. Shamans used the strong creature’s feathers and down in a variety of ceremonial and ritual contexts, including when honouring a respected guest (Shearar). 


Some Haida stories and legends depict Eagle and Raven as close companions. The trickster Raven and strong Eagle often serve as alter egos to one another. Among Haida and Tlingit, Eagle and Raven are the two clans. Eagle is one of four main crests among the Tsimshian, and one of three major Heiltsuk crests (Shearar).

 

Artistic Characteristics of the Eagle

In Northwest Coast artwork, Eagle is identified by a powerful beak whose upper half ends in a strong downward curve, which may “ recurve,” or hook back toward the body. Eagle has no ears, or small ears, which sometimes indicates a Supernatural Eagle. Often Eagle is shown with ovoid eyes; split U feather, wing and tail feather motifs; and sharp, curved talons (Shearar). 

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