USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘statue’
general
Material

The Horse Statue

The Main Piece
Folk objects have been symbols for memories, past loved ones, and important places one has been to for ages. Their value is decided not monetarily, but by the owner. For instance, the porcelain horse statue Demie owns is not worth a lot monetarily, but because of its age and its passage through generations of family members, she finds it to be irreplaceable. To be more precise, the horse is a representation of her great, great, grandfather. Her family keeps it in the living room as a reminder of their ancestry and where they came from.
Background Information
My informant is Demie Cuo, a current undergraduate student at USC and friend of my close friend, Elizabeth Kim. The statue was brought to the states from China, it being one of the few possessions he owned. She is unsure why he brought the statue of all things, but it obviously meant a lot to him. Therefore, Demie cherishes it just as he cherishes it in respect for her great, great, grandfather. Her mother told her about the horse since it stems from her side of the family. Demie enjoys having the horse there because it makes her feel connected to her culture and ancestors even if she did not have the opportunity to meet them. She would also hope to pass down a folk object that would preserve her existence.
Context
She, Elizabeth, and I were relaxing in my dormitory sharing stories of our life back home. She casually brought up that if we were to ever visit her, that we would see this odd statue in living room. She began to explain the significance of it and why it was there.
Personal Thoughts
The idea of preserving my existence truly intrigues me. I had no idea that a folk object could mean that much or do so much for a family. It brings to light what small actions such as keeping a horse statue can do. I found it interesting the she placed value in the horse simply because it meant so much to her great great grandfather, even though she had never met him. It is obvious that ancestry and culture mean a lot to Demie and her family.

Folk speech
general

Onomastic – Massachusetts

The informant presented me with the following account of an onomastic name for a statue at her high school:

“This is about the penis statue at Phillips Academy Andover. Um, I did not name it that—I just wanna say that first of all—I didn’t even start calling it that until I almost left, even though I had been there. Essentially it was this statue that . . . it looks, it looks like . . . yeah, it’s pretty—it looks like a penis! But its, um, its appropriate name is the Bicentennial Statue, and it’s, um, it was actually to c—um, I guess, sculpted to commemorate the combination of, of I guess Phillips Academy with, um, Abbot Academy down the street. Um, Phillips academy was at the time an all male school, and, um, Abbot Academy was an all-female school. Um, and then they combined in 1978, I’m pretty sure.”

She says of the statue’s epithet, “Um, it was kind of just used all the time, like, ‘Oh, I’ll meet you by the penis statue,’ or just—that’s what it’s called, no one called it the Bicentennial statue.”

When asked when she would call the statue by its onomastic name, the informant said, “I wouldn’t, generally? Other people would just—um, in general you try not to, um, tell that to, um, people who are visiting the school and are prospective students, you kinda just . . . you call it that to other students. You might mention it to a teacher, but that’s a little more—what? What’s it called? I, I wouldn’t, personally, but some people are a little more loose with that kinda thing?”

The informant doesn’t entirely approve of the statue’s onomastic name: “At first I just thought it was really stupid and immature, and, um, kind of as the years went on I started realizing—first of all I figured out which statue they were actually talking about. And when I actually saw it, I was like, ‘Okay. I guess I could see that.’ But like, it’s just really curious to me, like, why . . .”

There’s a kind of poetic justice in the marriage of a girls’ school to a boys’ school being celebrated with a statue that looks like an erect penis, and that may be part of why, aside from the statue’s shape, the students gave it that particular onomastic name. If one subscribes to the theory that high school students are immature, then there’s that explanation, too.

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