The Chief Portable Phonograph


Meet the Chief! Before his recent trip to Vancouver, Reese and I looked up portable phonographs on Craigslist in Canada. We found a machine being offered up by the first owner, a man in this 90s who had bought it early in his life from a department store in Vancouver.
The potmetal on the reproducer is cracked and shot from so many years of being kept by the ocean, but other than replacing it, the machine is in perfect condition! Look at how beautiful and vibrant the felt is, and the only cosmetic flaw in the inside is on the figure’s headdress where the nub on the turntable has rubbed.

Look closely. What an incredible design! At first we were alarmed, but determined that this machine was very late 20s or early 30s, and would therefore most likely be a Native American sacred symbol.

Swastika’s as decoration or good luck emblems: Clara Bow in a cloche; Native American basketball team jerseys

From Wikipedia:
The swastika shape was used by some Native Americans. It has been found in excavations of Mississippian-era sites in the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys. It is frequently used as a motif on objects associated with the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex (S.E.C.C.). It was also widely used by many southwestern tribes, most notably the Navajo. Among various tribes, the swastika carried different meanings. To the Hopi it represented the wandering Hopi clan; to the Navajo it was one symbol for a whirling log (tsil no’oli), a sacred image representing a legend that was used in healing rituals ).A brightly colored First Nations saddle featuring swastika designs is on display at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum in Canada.

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One thought on “The Chief Portable Phonograph

  1. what a beautiful machine. and it’s so sad that the swastika has been swallowed into the cultural imagination of a symbol of evil and death thanks to the nazis (albeit perhaps appropriately so). so few people know of its rich history in many other cultures. it’s such a strong design, sad it has been tainted.

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