Northwest wall totems - matched pair (in size) - 41" x 12". Adz-carved cedar totems, hollowed-out back; style for own use; 19th century. Old repaint, estimate at the time of transfer, 1920s. Possibly cut down from larger totem, but patina on both ends matches back, so do not think so. Highly visual. Priced as a pair.
Description: Wall Totem #8 Two figures
There are 4 separate regions related to Northwest Coastal Art/Carving styles and techniques.
Northern Style: The pre-dominant tribes in this area are Tlingit, Haida and Coast Tsimshian.
Mid-Coast Style: The pre-dominant tribe is the Kwakwaka’wakw.
West Coast Style: The pre-dominant tribes are the Nuu-chah-nulth and Maka on the Olympic Peninsula.
South Coast style: Comprised of the Coast Salish and many of the tribes in the Seattle and Portland area.
Each of these styles have similar design elements. However, there are various strong and subtle differences that can help to identify them. The two northern styles, North Coast and Mid-Coast, tend to have more angular and dramatic features. The West Coast and South Coast styles tend to have softer features, and less dramatic angles and lines.
The designs on this totem pole suggest Southern Style, especially around the eyes and the beak of the bottom figure, which appears to be Raven. The design is highly simplified, and facial details are painted instead of carved. Because the carved areas are more flowing instead of angular, the feel of this small totem pole is Southern Style. The hollowing out of the back helps reduce weight, so that it can be hung on a wall instead of planted in the ground.
Raven is a communicator. It carries one’s prayers up to the Creator. It is also a Clan symbol, and has many mystical abilities. It is said that Raven is responsible for giving us the Sun, Moon and Stars, that he stole from an old chief who was hiding them.
Raven is depicted as holding his beak, which suggests the keeper of secrets, or one who can keep a secret.
Above Raven is a design that appears to be Bear. This small totem could represent both the elders of a family, and simply be symbolic of that. Often, this kind of pole would be hung in the home, to honor both the mother and father of the family.
It could also represent some aspect or characteristic of an individual that is highly regarded. For example, Raven is a prankster, and likes to play jokes on others, whereas Bear is strong and protective. These traits could describe a member of the family, who is being honored by the pole. One who has a strong spirit or personality, but who also is fun loving, playful, and likes to play pranks.
Because this pole is small, with only two figures, it is more of a decorative pole for the interior of a structure.
Description: Wall Totem #9 two figures
This short, adze carved and painted wall totem appears to be of the South or West Coast style. The top figure is unknown, and there is little reference information to give a clue as to what it may portray.
The bottom figure is Frog. The top figure appears to be holding Frog, and the hands have five digits, which would indicate that the top figure could be a human design.
Frog is about Transition, or embracing change in your life. Frog is born in water, and has gills to start with. As it matures from a tadpole, the gills are replaced by lungs, and Frog becomes an air breather. Because Frog lives in two worlds, it is often a symbol of a Shaman. Frog is revered for its adaptability, knowledge and ability to transcend two worlds. Not just physical worlds, but the supernatural and spiritual realms as well. Because Frog is very vocal, he is seen as a great communicator, and a voice of all the people. Frog also represents wealth, and is often seen holding a copper ingot.
This pole could be a medicine pole for a Shaman, or could represent an individual who is a spokesman for the tribe.
PERIOD: 19th century
SIZE: 41" x 12"