"Makaha Manatee" - watercolor and ink on paper, 12" x 16"
I was recently fascinated by a National Geographic article on Hawaiian surfers and their ancestral surfing heritage. Imagine being raised to ride the waves from a young age, feeling confident and fearless on a surfboard in wild water and experiencing the ocean as a second home! Now I am a strong swimmer and happy out on the water, but usually in a boat or on a jet ski. Likely this is the result of having a dad who specialized in lectures on "DANGEROUS THINGS", of which people riding large waves over coral reefs and rocks would certainly quality for the full course lecture.
During the course of the article, the men were depicted with traditional Polynesian tattoos, applied by traditional methods (tapping on a sharp comb dipped in ink). These markings are graphic, gorgeous and cover much of their bodies. Being a mark-maker with an interest in tribal symbolism, the images of these tattoo'd men stuck with me long after I had recycled the magazine issue.
It was time for me to ink another manatee for my menagerie, and the marriage of Polynesian tattoos with manatee could not be resisted. Now manatees do not naturally exist in Hawaii, but somehow I thought this strong bull manatee with his fierce tattoos (versions of the Polynesian "Poi'i") would feel right at home amongst the surfers.
So what does the manatee itself mean? If a manatee is your animal totem, it's time to slow down and swim with your emotions. Allowing yourself to feel fully the depth and breadth of your emotions will eventually free you from them, leaving the baggage behind so you can move on to better things. The manatee totem also brings trust with it. Trusting your path even before you can see it in front of you. There is also encouragement to trust your intuition , combine it with your emotions and physical sensations to get a full picture.
A slow and steady course, followed with conviction and courage, will get you where you want to be. And that is great advice for a Monday.
This piece is available. Currently unframed. Inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jen Walls and her imaJENation