Haida totem pole under construction in Seattle

IMG_2094

Maybe I thought that totem poles were just … carved? No way! Today this is a precision art, as these Native American artists in Seattle showed in late summer 2011. They use precise measuring tools, levels, and carpentry aids familiar to the masters of high end interior finish. The master carver keeps a detailed notebook and design catalog.

Although most poles, like most Northwest Indian art today, focus on depictions of wildlife, these red cedar giants were originally more social, announcing kinship groups and even serving to shame debtors and scofflaws (like the U.S. government when it broke treaties).

For more information, read this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Totem_pole

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