We have a pole in the centre of our yurt. More correctly, we have two poles. Before you judge too harshly, these poles are neither dancing poles, nor firemen’s poles. They are prospective totem poles.
If moving from a middle-class home in suburbia to a Mongolian tent in the backwoods of Manitoba was not sufficiently unusual, we have incorporated a more clearly defined oddity in the living area of our yurt. Two spruce poles, crowned by a cross-member pole and crowned with a spiral of collar ties for the free-span truss boards, form our tribute to the iconic Pacific First Nations artefacts.
Granted, our future totems are significantly smaller than the mammoth totems along the Pacific Northwest coast. At an average diameter of 8 inches, they are paltry in size. They were also redundant in the yurt structure, as the roof assembly had sufficient strength without the addition of the centre posts and collar ties.
These totem poles, though, have a much more social purpose. On a counter adjacent to the poles we have an assortment of carving chisels and shaping knives. At our official “yurt-warming” party, scheduled for later this year, we will launch the first “community carving” in Manitoba (or so we believe). Guests will be invited to choose a spot, select their tools, and carve the gargoyle, icon, angel or creation of their choice – no limits. Of course, space is limited, as is time. Accordingly, future guests will be invited to add their own touches to existing carved artworks, or create their own in new space on the poles. Required is individual accountability: each carver will be asked to carve his/her initials in that masterpiece. In this manner, we will have a record of our guests’ visits, an insight into their creative sides, and the most original artwork available.
Cave and rock paintings, innukshuk statues and totems were all communications tools as well as expressions of individualism in our early Canadian culture. It is our intent to continue that tradition, in our little corner (or circle) of the country, and give vent to our friends’ creativity. Want to contribute your own ideas? How about sending us a drawing, photo or sketch of the icon that you would like to see gracing the totems in our yurt. We will be posting photos of the progress on these unique structures, beginning early next year. Let us, and our friends, bring your artistry to life!