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Rustically Worn Carved and Painted Totem Pole Item # F7626
Bright and graphic, this shoulder-height totem is exemplary of pole art from the Northwest coast and Alaska. The totem features a figural carving of a Man character, with clasped hands. His red hat indicates an origin likely in the Columbia River region, where the Native American nations of Makah, Chinook, Clatsop, and others wore pointed hats woven of cedar bark.
In both the mid 19th and 20th centuries Native American culture and art became a fascination for those that had previously (and continuously) been their oppressors. During the second wave of that trend, the colorful and graphic nature of Native American pattern enjoyed a particular vogue, because those elements played into the style of the 1950's and '60's.
A note on date: because of the extensive aging of this carving, and since it is carved from slow-aging cedar, we think this piece could be as old as the late-19th century. The style of the carving, and the fact that the characteristic hat is included, also makes us think it was a piece done for ceremonial tribal use, not for tourist trade, which again would support the idea of the piece being earlier. However, the bright colors of the painting were usually not seen until the post-WW2 years of the mid-20th century, and it may be possible the piece dates from then, though its also likely that it is an earlier carving that was re-painted at that time in a cruder palette.
- Historical Style: Traditional
- Condition Notes: The worn and weathered nature of this piece is part of its charm and character. There is extensive loss of wood inside the top of the pole, which is hollow, and the wood is very soft and fragile. Some woodpecker and bug damage at the top, but the insects have been neutralized and are no longer in the piece. Because of the possible age and significance of this piece, we decided to simply preserve it as best we could, with minimal intervention to alter the piece from its original condition.
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Rustically Worn Carved and Painted Totem Pole