Saturday, 24 March 2012

Beaver Manda and Totem

It was cool and cloudy today so I went to the Museum of Civilization to sketch.  This pair of contemporary and traditional beavers are in the Great Hall.   I think of beavers as frantic little engineers, but these fierce creatures, without a doubt, must be warriors.

The Beaver Manda in the foreground was carved by the Haida artist, Jim Hart, in 1995. Jim Hart apprenticed with the incredible Haida sculptor Bill Reid and also made the Three Watchmen, which I posted a sketch of, back in December.  I understand a manda was usually symbolic of one of the clans and might grace a trading box or grave.  This contemporary interpretation is about 2.4m long and unlike traditional poles, is horizontal and three dimensional.   It is carved from one enormous piece of  cedar and reminds me of a sphinx poised to spring into life.

Behind is the Beaver Totem, with a stick in it's mouth, which was probably made about a century earlier as a Haida Chief's house post (interior support).

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