How to celebrate 150th Canada Day (Totem-Pole sign)
Here is our 10th of 150 posts about 150th Canada Day. Today we bring you information on an icon instead of a city. We will bring information about cities, icons, landmarks and other exciting stuff related to Canada on daily basis until 1st July 2017.
Totem Poles were not created by all Native Indian tribes. The Northwest Indian Tribes produced the Totem Poles. These tribes located in the Pacific Northwest Coast of British Columbia and Southeastern Alaska.
What is Totem Pole
These are wooden sculptures carved into large trees by cultures of the indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America. Totem Poles are carved and painted with symbols and totems or figures such as animals. These figures represent the emblems of clans or families and relate to their belief in Totemism.
Totem is an emblem same as a plant or an animal that have spiritual significance and watches over their family or clan or tribe symbolizing their guardian spirit or helper. The word Totem came from the Ojibwe (Chippewa) word “odoodem” meaning “his kinship group”. BTW, Totem Poles were not worshiped however, they inspired respect.
Totem Pole Types
House Frontal Poles
This pole is 20 to 30 feet tall. This is the most decorative pole. It’s carvings tell the story of the family or clan who own them. These poles are also known as heraldic, crest or family poles. You might see these poles outside the clan house of the most important village leaders. These poles will have watchman figures carved at the top of the pole to protect the pole owner’s family and the village.
Another type of house frontal pole is the entrance or doorway pole. This pole is attached to the center front of the home and includes an oval shaped opening through the base that serves as the entrance to the clan house.
These interior poles, typically 8 to 10 feet in height are usually shorter than exterior poles. The interior poles support the roof beam of a clan house and include a large notch at the top, where the beam can rest.
A clan house can have two to four or more house posts, depending on the native group who built it. Carvings on these poles, like those of the house frontal poles, are often used as a storytelling device for children and help tell the story of the owner’s family history.
The rarest type of Totem Pole is a mortuary structure that incorporates grave boxes with carved supporting poles or includes a recessed back to hold the grave box. So it is among the tallest, reaching 50 to 60 feet in height, and therefore, the most prominent pole.
The Haida and Tlingit people erect mortuary poles at the death of important people in the community. These poles may have a single figure carved at the top, which may depict the clan’s crest. However, carvings usually cover its entire strength. Ashes or body of the deceased person are placed in the upper part of the pole.
This type of pole usually stands in front of a clan house. This pole is erected about a year after someone dies. The clan Chief’s memorial Pole is raised at the center of the village. Traditionally, the memorial pole has one carved figure at the top, but an extra figure may also be added at the bottom of the pole.
Memorial Poles may also commemorate an event.
Carved by the Kwakwaka’wakw (Kwakiutl) and Nuu-chah-nulth (Nootka) people. These poles include a large carving of human figures, some as tall as 40 feet. Carvers placed welcome Poles at the edge of a stream or saltwater beach to welcome guests to the community, or possibly ti intimidate strangers.
I will stop here and will bring you part 2 of Totem Pole signs tomorrow. Until then stay tuned.