Thursday, June 25, 2015

Decorating and Finishing a Totem Pole - Part Three

(Part three of a four part series.)

Welcome back, ax xoonie!  (My friend)

Totem pole decorations, done by these Alaskan native people, were primarily painted three colors, Red, Black and Turquoise.  Paint ingredients were readily obtained and processed from elements in the world around them.

Totems were placed at the dwelling places of each clan, almost as a sign, or address pole.  The designs told their story and were basically part of their identity (We might say, today, part of our 'brand').  Each story is told from the top down. Each figure is a section of the story.

These pictures show the nearly finished totem, being painted.

Take a closer look, see the paint cans?  Our guide, Joey, said that it easier to buy the ready made paint these days, than to use the old process of having the native women chew salmon eggs and minerals to make it!  :)

Another picture of the size.  See the notch in the bottom of this pole?  Modern regulations will not allow poles to be set in the ground like the people used to do.  This notch is for a steel pole set in cement to secure and attach the pole.  Even so, the people will no longer use the old methods of team work to set the pole up, but will bring in a crane and have a huge party (called a potlatch) to celebrate!

Part four tomorrow about other art and decorations that the native peoples used.


Memories for Life said...

Very cool! It's sad that they can't use some of their old techniques. But it's also nice that modern things like actual paint and cranes are available to make the process easier :)

Paige @ Little Nostalgia said...

This series is so educational! I didn't realize the poles acted like an address of sorts.