A carved turtle is atop this talking stick by Erik Sappier, Penobscot/Abenaki carver. An incised flower is at the mid center front of this stick. Erik Sappier's work is included in a recent Abbe Museum's exhibit.... "Emergence: Root Clubs of the Penobscot Nation". The Abbe is in Bar Harbor Maine and recently became an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institute.
This stick is exquisitely detailed. Erik uses traditional designs with several variations on a traditional style chip carved talking stick, most are design elements that have been used by Erik's ancestors for centuries.
This talking stick has at top the carved turtle. Turtles have great meaning to the Wabanaki peoples (Wabanaki Confederacy includes both of Erik's tribes, Abenaki & Penobscot - also Passamaquoddy, MicMac and Maliseet). Turtles feature in many legends and are one of the clans of many of these tribes. This carved turtle is very nicely done and it's shell features 13 scutes- as do the shells of real turtles.
The bark is left on top part of the stick, as is done on many traditional chip carved works. The area around the turtle has bark carved away leaving a bit of bark below the turtle. Beneath this is a band of incised lines that encircle the stick just below the bark. That band is repeated. The flower has 5 incised petals, it has a stalk below it that has chip-carved leaves. Between the petals of the flower are star designs. The stalk of the flower arises from an incised triangle with chip carved diamonds on either side. Two ash branches also arise from the triangle/chip carved diamonds and frame the flower/stars design. These sit atop the band of incised lines, actually 2 bands with a band of incised triangle designs between - these bands encircle the stick. Beneath the bands, on bottom front of stick is a series of chip carved diamonds and incised diamonds. At the sides of this design are lovely chip carved designs - looking a bit like tulip flowers. 4, on each side.
Lower part of back of the shaft has and ash branch atop a double curve design ... flanked by star designs. This is on top of the encircling bands described above. Below the bands is another chip carved ash branch.
On the upper back in a medallion carved out inside top bark is Erik's maker's mark, his initials EJS. with the S making a lightning bolt and 3 star designs next to the S. -
This stick is 12" long and about 1.5" in diameter. It is one of Erik's more detailed works. You will receive information on talking sticks with this piece.
The traditional designs have been used for centuries by the Wabanaki (Confederacy of 5 tribes - 4 of which are in Maine- Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, MicMac, and Maliseet and the Abenaki which are in Vermont and NE Canada)
Erik Sappier is Penobscot and Abenaki (of the Woodstock New Brunswick tribal band of Abenaki) He grew up living on Abenaki land in New Brunswick in the winters and summers he spent on Indian Island - the Penobscot Nation - near Old Town Maine. He is a lifelong friend of Joe Hugga Dana and recently apprenticed with Hugga. Joe "Hugga" Dana is the son of Stan Neptune and was taught by his father to chip carve. Stan is the leading authority on Maine Indian chip carving, root clubs and walking sticks. In the process of learning Penobscot myths, history, legends and stories from Senabeh, a religious elder and root club carver, Stan picked up chip carving. So - Erik has is the latest to learn the craft that Senabeh taught.
Talking sticks were used in tribal council meetings, the only one who could speak was the one holding the talking stick.
Talking sticks were decorated, but only here in Maine and eastern Canada do the designs include chip carving. Chip carving is unique to the North East among Native Americans. The design on this talking stick is Abenaki/Penobscot and is Erik's way of making this stick a blend of both his native traditions. (Or aboriginal traditions as they would be called in New Brunswick Canada)
The chip carved leafed branches you see on this stick are similar in Senahbeh, Stan Neptune, Joe Hugga Dana and Erik Sappier's work. These branches and leaves were a subject of conversation between Hugga and Erik recently. They say it is a brown ash which is a sacred tree to the Northeast Native Americans - it figures in their creation myth... they were made by an arrow piercing the brown ash tree and the splinters became the people. Please check out all the pics in the slide show to see several traditional designs around this stick.