t'aaGuu (Copper)

About this object

History of use

Coppers can be named, displayed, and transferred in accordance with ceremonial privilege and protocol. Historically, within potlatch economies, coppers would rise in value each time they were purchased, ceremonially presented, and strategically re-sold or given away. Among the Kwakwaka’wakw, coppers were sometimes cut or broken during rivalries. Some of these were riveted together and used again, their value then having to be re-established.

Cultural context

status; wealth; ceremonial; potlatch

Physical description

Traditional shield-shaped whole copper with a T-shaped raised design element that divides the bottom section in half and separates the top section from the bottom. Bear imagery painted in black on the upper portion. The lower half of the copper is divided down the middle, bisymmetrically, with a ridge. The oval eyes are surrounded by a tapering oval within an ovoid. Above, there is a pair of inverted u forms within a larger one at either top side with a pair of ovoids in ovoids in between them. Bear has a bulbous nose with large nostrils. The open v-shaped mouth shows sixteen teeth. The paws are an ovoid with four digits and an oval in between them.