Spirit Helpers Pole
EXHIBITION:Spotlight On: The Giant Pacific Octopus
Both the Brown Bear and the Octopus are strong spirits. They are often associated with shamanism.
On this pole an octopus is shown at the bottom with a slightly curved beak and large eyes. Four of its tentacles, covered with suction cups, surround an ancestor figure wrapping around the ancestor’s arms. The other four tentacles disappear behind the shaman figure and then reappear at the top of the pole. All eight of the tentacles end curled around spirit faces with individual expressions and face paint.
The central figure of a shaman is wearing an apron with an eagle design painted on it. His feet have claw-like toes indicating an ability to transform into a spirit bear. He is holding a staff with the carving of a personal spirit helper on it.
At the center top of the pole are two figures. The bottom one is a brown bear spirit. The bear’s front claws hang over the octopus tentacles at either side of bear’s face. The bear’s hind feet, with long claws, appear on the shaman’s shoulders.
The human-like face, above the bear’s face, with hands holding onto the octopus tentacles, indicate the brown bear’s ability to take on human form. The pole is red cedar and the colors are created with acrylic and pigments.