Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Symbolism in Penobscot Art

Found another great resource of First Nation art which features many examples of the double curve motif often used to decorate paddles and bark canoes - Symbolism in Penobscot art (1927) by Frank Gouldsmith Speck published by the American Museum of Natural History. This wonderful resource discusses some of the origins and significance of these motifs in Penobscot Culture. It contains some sketched representations of various forms as well as some black and white photos of baskets, garmets, knife handles and other objects. Here's an example:

What caught my eye however is a tiny photo and caption on page 43 which describes a piece of birchbark used as a stencil template to make symmetrical patterns on a paddle blade. It seems so obvious and practical instead of drawing these things freehand but it never occurred to me to simplify the decoration process.

Anyway, for folks wishing to replicate these intricate designs hope this paddle resource is useful to you.

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