On the top front is a woman's face. She is wearing a traditional Wabanaki peaked cap. An incised flower is at the mid center front of this stick and traditional motifs and chip carving decorate the rest of the lower part. Erik Sappier, Penobscot/Abenaki has work 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 beautifully 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. Here Erik breaks with tradition - using a woman's face on the top of the stick. Traditionally men, turtles and occasionally other creatures are depicted there. Erik was the first to carve a woman's face and as far as I am aware - he is the only carver to do so.
The Wabanaki peoples (Wabanaki Confederacy includes both of Erik's tribes, Abenaki & Penobscot - also Passamaquoddy, MicMac and Maliseet) used many of the designs on this stick.
The bark is left on top part of the stick, as is done on many traditional chip carved works. The area around the woman's face has bark carved away leaving a bit of bark below the face. Beneath this is a band of incised lines that encircle the stick just below the bark - the lines create triangles, each with a chip carved triangle within. The flower has 8 incised petals, it has a stalk below it that has 2 chip-carved leaves. Around the flower are star designs. Below the flower are 3 diamond shapes made of chip carved triangles. Top and center diamond have ash branches attaches and going out to the sides. (more on ash branches below) There are also incised leaves with elongated chip carved centers dangling from the sides of 2 of the triangles. Chip carved diamond shapes are between the diamond shapes.
Lower part of back of the shaft has an ash branch with a star design above. This is right below the encircling band described above.
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 11.5" long and about 1.25" in diameter. It is unusual because of the woman's face - but traditional in the rest of the work. 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.