Ursamajor2

Bear

January 11, 2015 , In: Art History, Culture, Folklore, General, Indigenous
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Bear is one of the most represented animals in human cultures throughout time, all over the world. There are many meanings and interpretations. I am most drawn to american indian depictions, stories, and songs.

Vintage Ursa Major star map print

Bear is one of my totem animals, and holds the north coordinate on my medicine wheel. Bear represents (for me), a time of healing and meditation, of embracing the dark days of Winter as a precious time to hibernate and reflect inward, in preparation for the renewal of Spring. The long Winter nights – the dreaming time – are a strong component of Bear presence, along with the stars we gaze upon, hinting at a deeper universe.

Ursa Major by Speakerine / Florent Bodart

Bears Star, by ArtGalla

Stargazey Bear by Jo Wright of Bear Print Design

Bear has been represented in human art for thousands of years. And this includes beads and jewelry. I am focusing primarily on art here, along with a few samples of beads that have been inspired by Bear.

Hopi Kachina Mask: Hon / White Bear Kachina

Spirit Bear Mask by Brad Starr
Haida Sea Bear Mask, Metropolitan Museum of Art 

Tlingit Totem Pole; photo by Tim Bean

Ancient Haisla Bear totem; photo by Pete Ryan

Hopi Kachina: Hon, White Bear

Zuni Bear Fetish by Bernard Homer

Zuni Bear fetish in my collection by Bernard Homer

Star Gazer Bear – Zuni Fetish by Jimmy Yawakia

Bear charms by Kylie Parry

Little Brown Bear by Rebekah Payne / Tree Wings Studio

Black Bear charm by BeaKaz 

Ceramic Bear by Claire Lockwood

Aurora Bear by Naos Glass

Polymer Bear pendant and jewelry by Luann Udell.

Bear Totem by me (Karen Totten / Starry Road Studio)

Here is an anisnaabe song: Spirt Bear Song. Not too much to see in this video as the camera is positioned behind the drumming circle. But the song comes through nicely. 🙂 I invite you to find a quiet moment and allow your heart to join in the drumbeat, and let the song sink in.

I hope you enjoyed this brief tour of Bear. How does Bear figure in your own life and work? I’d love to hear!

Karen Totten

Karen has worked professionally as an artist and designer for over 30 years in a variety of creative disciplines: architectural design, illustration, art direction, mixed media art, interaction design. She currently works full time as a User Experience (UX) Design Principal for an international consultancy. When not flying to work every week, her other passions are ceramic art, sketching, and occasionally, jewelry design. “For me, the creative life, from UX to fine art, has always been one of exploration and adventure. As the daughter of an air force navigator, I grew up a traveler. To this day I am intrigued by stories and motifs that transcend time, culture, and geography.“
  1. Reply

    I loved seeing all the different representations of bear and the ideas of resting, dreaming and looking inward during the winter. Thank you for sharing this.

  2. Reply

    Really inspirational post; thank you for including the drum circle, Spirit Bear Song. I feel hibernation entering my heart now. Good night.

  3. Reply

    Glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

  4. Reply

    I really enjoyed the blog and photos of the bears' representations. Thanks for putting it together.

  5. Reply

    I have seen so many of those Native american Bears in person out in the PNW!! brings back memories!! I love your little bear charm and the choice of glazes that you use- gives sucha rich textural feel!!

    • Reply

      How lucky you were able to experience them in person! I hope some day to visit the area. And thank you for your comment about my Bear totem pendant. 🙂

  6. Reply

    Wow, that just blew me away! Thank you for all of that amazing art nerd research. I love nerds, BTW.

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