A Display of Feathers
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Notes from DaVic Gallery: The Inuit explain the flat face & short beak of owls, in the story of a beautiful young girl who was magically changed into an owl with a long beak, as an owl, she became frightened & flew into the wall of her house & flattened her face & beak. Some tribes referred to death as “crossing the owl’s bridge”.
We see here the owl very proud to show its beautiful feathers painted by the raven:
The Raven and the Owl were good friends and both have stark white plumage. Raven becomes bored with his plain coloring and asks Owl if she is bored with being white as well. Owl responds that she is also unsatisfied by her coloring. Raven proposes that the birds paint each other’s plumage so that they are no longer as white as the snow around them, and Owl agrees. Raven paints Owl first, drawing gray circles of various sizes all over his friend’s feathers. When he is finished, Raven is overcome by what a good job he has done and steps back so that Owl may look at herself. Turning his head to the sun and staying as still as possible, Raven then waits while Owl paints him. Once Owl has finished, she begins to admire her work. However, when she looks back at herself she realizes that Raven now looks more beautiful than she does. Owl accordingly goes over to the lamp from which Raven had taken the burnt-fat and pours the remnants over Raven. Owl then flies away; Raven shrieks after her, “Oh, you sharp-clawed Owl, oh, you keen-eyed Owl, what have you done?! You have made me blacker than soot, blacker than night!” From that day on every raven has been black.