Joe Polis was Thoreau's Native American Penobscot guide employed for one of his travels to the Maine North Woods . Maine folklorist Fannie Eckstorm, whose family had a close acquaintance with the Penobscot Indians, remarks that Polis had "a mind that knew the advantage of control of unseen forces and the reputation for being a shaman" (The "Domestic Air" of Wilderness: Henry Thoreau & Joe Polis in the Maine Woods, By Thomas P. Lynch)
Anthropologist Frank Speck's discussion in Penobscot Shamanism:"Every magician [such as Polis] had his helper which seems to have been an animal's body into which he could transfer his state of being at will. The helper then is known by the term baohi'gan, a very interesting term which may be explained as meaning 'instrument of mystery"
From Thomas Lynch:
"One might readily speculate, and speculate is all one might do, that Polis's baohi°'gan was an owl. Note that before discovering the phosphorescent wood, Thoreau was awakened by the hoot of an owl, and that at several other points of the journey Polis imitates an owl's hooting: "a cat owl [Great Horned Owl] flew heavily over the stream, and he, asking if I knew what it was imitated very well the common hoo, hoo, hoo, hoorer, hoo, of our woods"
"I rejoice that there are owls...
It is a sound admirably suited to swamps and twilight woods which no day illustrates, suggesting a vast and undeveloped nature which men have not recognized." Henry David Thoreau
7-1/2" x 4-1/2", hand stamped, hand dyed fabric, owl and cloud photographs on fabric, blue jay feather, acorn caps, pine cone.