Totem poles are a northwestern coastal art and religious art form of the Salish, Haida, Tsimshian Keakeaka’wakw, Nisga’a and the Nuu-chah-nulth tribal units. Typically, they are made of red cedar, an abundant Pacific Northwest species found in the forests of Oregon, Washington and British Colombia of Canada. Totem poles commemorate ancestry, histories, people or events. The display beings, crests of animals that mark a family’s lineage and validating the powerful rights and privileges held by the family similar to the coats of arms of European nobility.
Tribal Totem Pole Animals
The stylized human, animal and supernatural are represented. The totem serves as a visual relationship of kin, family crests and clan membership. The thunder bird is the clan symbol of the Thunderbird Clan of the Kwakwaka’wakw families of Vancouver Island. The clans include the eagle, grizzly bear, thunderbird, killer whale (Orca) frog, raven and salmon. Like many of the monuments in European history and culture the totem can commemorate an event or pay homage to an important person. They can be painted or left ala naturelle displaying the natural wood fibers and grain.
Royal Family Totems
Into family history. For Americans 80% of our western European ancestry will include at least a knight or two or can be traced to a Royal family of some sort. Those of us who share English ancestry are nearly guaranteed to have some royal connection. Many real and fanciful creatures are found in Heraldry, the study of family coats-of-arms. It would be interesting to have your family royal connections immortalized in a totem pole. A conversation peace.
Or you can translate these crests into similar denizens of Native American folklore, religion or stories.
Mythological Figures on Totems
The creatures can be dragons, wyvern, griffins, hippogriff, unicorns. Pegasus and gargoyles would be a distinctive European mythological totem. Or maybe you just want to collect in one pole the creatures of the American wilderness, deer antelope, mountain lion, bison and bears just to name a few. The list and combos are nearly endless, but a unique design is priceless. A Greek or Roman mythology theme with harpies, Pegasus, minotaur, centaurs, hydras and other mythological creatures would be an attention getter as well.
Asian & African Totems
As mentioned, the themes are virtually unending and imagination your only limitation. The Chinese, Japanese and other Asian cultures have a vast repertoire of fanciful creations as well. Then there is Africa, cape buffalo, elephant, rhino, lion and leopard. The big five of dangerous game animals, if you’re hunter or just into nature safaris.
Lastly, we will mention a paleontology theme. Ice age critters, dinosaurs, sea or flying reptiles. Or an endangered species totem. A California condor, saber tooth, mammoth, great bison, short nosed bear and a dire wolf. Instead of a stump removal, turn it into a carving or totem. There is no height specification for totem. So, when you get ready to address that big tree, consider carving a high stump instead of removal.
Totem Chainsaw Carvings in Las Vegas, Nevada, Helena, Montana & Nampa, Idaho
Carve Me a Bear! Chainsaw Carvings has created totems in the past as well as bears, wolves and other creatures that share our world, hearts and imaginations. Contact Clark the Carver and see what he can do to bring your own personal totem to life.