Ts’msyen artist Morgan Asoyef’s 2023 “Celestial Circle” Royal Mint coin is all about the sun and the moon.
Containing both matte black and gold, Asoyuf said the coin represents diverse life cycles and their importance to traditions in the Northwest.
Asoyuf is an acclaimed artist who grew up on the North Coast and now lives in North Vancouver. She won a Mint design contest to put her art on the 2023 “puzzle piece” collectible coin, which is 10 ounces and gold plated.
“We called it the celestial circle because it’s basically both the sun and the moon design in one,” she said.
“The shapes of waves on the outside, which is sort of representing like the duality like the moon cycle, the way that it affects the waves and our entire cycles of life.”
The “puzzle piece” coin contains depictions of the wolf, orca, raven and eagle Ts’msyen clans, with the sun and moon in the middle of the coin. Asoyuf is from the orca clan, and calls the Skeena her home, returning to the region every summer.
“It’s a coin that’s got duality as a main theme, like the sun and the moon. Those are two huge things just as a human that affect our lives on a daily basis,” she said.
“And in Northwest Coast art obviously we have a lot of focus on these cycles that affect our animals, our lives, our people; how we live with that. It’s not just the Western idea of time.”
Asoyuf said that she and other Northwest Indigenous artists are allowing the general public to get a glimpse into their cultures, while also replacing art that had been stolen away from traditional territories.
“I think that what we’re doing is a lot of spiritual and political power, just like it did pre-contact,” she said.
“A lot of Northwest Coast artists are working really hard to replace all of the stuff that was stolen and that and is in museum collections all over the world. Our youth don’t have access to our people, they may not be able to see them, but we’re like ‘ok, we can just remake these.’ We’re very adamant that for the culture to continue.”
The “Celestial Circle” goes for $1,599 on the Royal Mint website. It is currently sold out.