November 14, 2009

Corey Moraes - Raven Brings Fire to Man

Corey Moraes' recent cuff bracelet Raven Brings Fire to Man is a technical and stylistic achievement. Every surface of the piece has been carved, textured, crosshatched or gouged, and the oxidization emphasizes all of these impressive details. The bracelet represents an abstract interpretation of the coastal legend Raven Brings Fire to Man. The legend is as follows:

After making the land, Raven decided to make Man. He took clay and sand from the beach and formed First Man. When he was done, Raven decided to fly around the entire world to see what he had created. While on this journey, Raven wondered if there was anything he should give man to make his life easier. Then he realized that he had forgotten to give man fire so that he could cook and keep warm.

Raven called to his friends and asked if they knew how to obtain fire. Seagull said that he had seen fire once at the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, what is now called Katmai, and so Raven asked for a volunteer to bring the fire. Wood Owl agreed because he had a longer beak than the other birds and could carry a firebrand without burning his feathers. So Wood Owl flew far across the waters to the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, which was comprised of many small volcanoes.

Owl found a long firebrand and picked it up in his long bill and then began to fly back. However, before he got there, the firebrand began to burn his bill. Wood Owl wanted to drop the stick into the sea. It was so hot.

Just then, Raven flew up to him and shouted “Don’t drop the firebrand! If you do, it will be extinguished by the water!” So the small owl kept flying, even though it hurt very much. Finally, Raven and Wood Owl arrived to first man and dropped the stick. The fire had burned most of the owl’s beak, so only a small, sharp beak remained. The smoke had also changed his voice so that he could only make a shrill whistle.

Thus, fire – with its positive and negative elements – was given to Man.

One could view the flames as representing the fire, the owl as representing the Wood Owl in the story, and the human skull as representing First Man.

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