[What Are These Symbolic Structures Called?]
May mga bagay sa mundo na, bagama’t pamilyar at madalas nakikita, hindi binibigyan ng pansin ng maraming tao. Hindi alam kung ano ang silbi, tawag, o isinisimbolo ng mga ito. Walang panahong alamin o walang pakialam? Subalit kung interesado kang mapalawak ang iyong kaalaman, sipag lamang sa pagbabasa ang katapat niyan.
To some people, many significant or seemingly inconsequential structures—although familiar and commonly seen—are too trivial to ponder on. Many others ignore them perhaps because these things have no special or direct meaning in their lives. However, knowing and learning about the things and occurrences around us is very empowering. This updates our intellect and perception. It keeps us in touch with the continuously evolving and changing bodies of knowledge. Digging deeper into the meanings of things, we realize that all have the potential to become useful and handy.
Be an active participant in an intellectual discourse or mind-challenging conversation and have the initiative to broaden your knowledge by reading. Readers today, leaders tomorrow. Don’t be stuck being a pathetic eavesdropper at gossipmongering gatherings.
Commonly Seen but Often Ignored
In Canada, there are a number of symbolic structures that are commonly seen but whose names and meanings seem to elude the awareness of many people. In fact, out of the 10 persons whom I asked if they knew what the humanlike stone image seen above is called, only two were able to respond with a correct answer. The rest could only scratch their heads and utter a ‘stupid-me’ grin.
So now, let me share with you some of such structures, each of which has become a part of Canadian culture.
Inuksuk (plural, inuksuit), which means “something that acts for or performs the function of a person,” is a human-made stone landmark, used by Inuit (the Inuk people) and other peoples of the Arctic region of North America, from Alaska to Greenland. In the past, it may have been used for navigation, as a point of reference, a marker for hunting grounds, or as a food cache. In northern Alaska, it is used to assist in the herding of caribou. The structure serves as a symbol of Inuk culture as well as of Nunavut, as seen on the flag of this Canadian territory. In recent years, the inuksuk has also begun to be recognized around the world as an iconic Canadian symbol, having been adopted to form part of the logo of the 2010 Winter Olympics, which is taking place mainly in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The inuksuk has also come to symbolize friendship and cooperation and the strength and ingenuity of the people of pre-modern Canada. The largest inuksuk may be found in Schomberg, Ontario.
Totem poles are monumental sculptures carved from large trees. Their construction is believed to have started in North America, with preserved examples dating as far back as 1880. The meanings of the designs on totem poles are as diverse as the cultures that make them. Totem poles may recount familiar legends, clan lineages, or notable events. The carvings may illustrate stories, commemorate historic persons, represent shamanic powers, and provide objects of public ridicule which constitute symbolic reminders of quarrels, murders, debts, and other unpleasant occurrences. While some totem poles are erected to celebrate cultural beliefs, others are built as artistic expressions. Although recognized worldwide as a part of Canadian culture, totem poles—or at least structures similar to totem poles—are found also in the cultures of the Maori people of New Zealand and of the Ainu people of Hokkaido, Japan, and of Kuril Islands, Russia. Some of the world’s tallest totem poles are in British Columbia.
Haystacks or hay bales. Hay is a generic term for grass or legumes that have been cut, dried, and stored for use as animal feed, particularly for grazing animals like cattle, horses, goats, and sheep. It is the preferred feed when or where there is insufficient pasture on which to graze an animal, when grazing is unavailable due to weather (such as during the winter), when lush pasture by itself is too rich for the health of the animal, and during times when the animals are kept in a stable or barn, thus preventing them from accessing pasture. Because Manitoba is a prairie province, stacks or bales of hay are a common sight especially in the farmlands beside highways outside of Winnipeg. These simple yet comely structures may be regarded as a symbol of Manitoba’s vast and rich pasture and abundant livestock.
Qilin. If you’re a regular shopper at any of the number of Chinese stores here in Winnipeg or elsewhere, you have surely noticed those dragon-like statues “guarding” the gates or doors of such establishments. You might have supposed that they were there for good luck, considering that luck and other symbols and expressions of positive feelings are a big part of East Asian cultures. If you supposed so, then you are right. These mythical chimera-like creatures are called qilins. They are believed to bring about serenity, prosperity, or good luck. The earliest references to the qilin are in the book Zuo Zhuan, ‘Chronicle of Zuo,’ published in 5th century BC. In the multicultural Canadian society, the qilin may be regarded as a symbol of the Chinese-Canadian business community.
Sa Madaling Salita
Ang bawat bagay na ating nakikita ay may kanya-kanyang kahalagahan. Sa pamamagitan ng pagbibigay-pansin sa mga bagay na ’to, nadaragdagan natin ang ating kaalaman.
Or, in Simple Words
Every thing in this world has its own significance. By taking the time to learn about these things, we broaden our knowledge, empowering ourselves. Remember, Knowledge is power.