We’re back in North America for Art Around the World today. We’ll look at a totem pole from the Tlingit, an American Indian tribe from the Northwest Coast of North America (Canada and Alaska).
Totem poles are super tall sculptures made from the trunk of a tree, usually cedar. The designs are usually stylized animals done in an abstract and bold way. The poles often include animals common in the Pacific Northwest like bears, eagles, whales, salmon, owls, wolves, etc. These animals have lots of symbolism that is usually specific to certain clans. The totems told the clan’s stories and was a physical representation or symbol of the clan.
Totem Poles at Totem Bight State Park — Here is a great website with more information about totem poles, the symbolism, and more.
For more information, also check out this video about Totem Poles:
I love these. I really want one in my house. Okay, that’s it. 🙂
Art Discussion Questions
- What animals do you see? Describe the design of the animals. What shapes do you see?
- Why do you think they chose to show animals?
- What could each of the animals symbolize?
- How would it feel to stand in front of this totem pole? What would you think about?
- Why do you think the Tlingit made this totem pole?
Totem Pole Project
Take a look at this totem pole art project at this awesome blog I just found. This lesson has the students make totem animals from construction paper, and they are so bold and fun! The blog also has a PowerPoint and lesson for you to download! Love it.
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