An Analysis Of Morrisseau's Ojibway Stories

788 Words4 Pages
Where Jacobson works with animalistic symbolism, Morrisseau expresses the Ojibway worldview within his work through the use of narratives. Morrisseau’s grandfather Potan was known as a Midewinini and Jissakan, a shaking tent seer, and was well versed in the traditional stories and teachings of his people. One aspect of the Ojibway world view is the importance of narrative, which was told by the elders of the community. These narratives “were instrumental in teaching about history and morality. The Ojibwa narratives were used to pass on knowledge,” (Wobodistch, 15) This oral tradition that was meant to carry on the wisdom of one generation to the next. The narratives “were also intended to be entertaining so that the audience, which was supposed…show more content…
Not only animals, but also other beings such as trees, rivers, and even manitous (Ojibwa for “spirits”),” (Wobodistch, 20) In the Conquest of the Thunderbird the viewer is exposed to what appears to be a scene within a story. A giant thunderbird is struggling against, perhaps battling a giant serpent, as smaller infant thunderbirds rest on top of adult one’s back. Since the thunderbird is considered an important manitous to the Ojibway, the painting could be taking the symbolic imagery of the traditional narratives and conveying a concept of the protection of cultural values through these. So where Bear Medicine Healing focuses on animal symbolism, Conquest of the Thunderbird focuses on telling a spiritual…show more content…
Morrisseau referred to himself as an artist and as the Copper Thunderbird Shaman. When his grandfather Potan came and took him out of Saint Joseph’s, Morrisseau became inspired and began to depict the prehistoric art found on the rock walls by his home, and the works his grandfather showed him within the Medewiwin birch scrolls. However, the depiction of these images was taboo, and the elders scolded him for it. Later, when Morrisseau was being treated for tuberculosis he began to draw these images once more, encouraged by the doctors who were unaware of the taboo. After his recovery, Morrisseau ignored the taboo and began to paint. During this time, Morrisseau had a dream, where “the manitous came to him, and in a traditional naming ceremony declared him Miskwaabik Animiiki, Copper Thunderbird.” (Native Art in Canada) This name became of importance significance for Morrisseau due to the traditional belief of the Ojibway, the Copper Thunderbird was a shaman that appears only every seven-hundred years. This further exemplifies the importance Morrisseau placed on the Woodland Style, and in his work Conquest of the Thunderbird. He believed it was his duty to convey these legends and beliefs in his work, and his determination set him on his path. The piece shows his determination and his own personal conquest as the Copper Thunderbird

More about An Analysis Of Morrisseau's Ojibway Stories

Open Document