Nem Oost Kollem
by Eric Whollem
mixed media on paper
detail from 'Birth of the Eyes of Space'
Copyright by the artist
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A Goddess With Child
CONCOW MAIDU CONCEPTS IN THE ART OF ERIC WHOLLEM
This image is a detail from a larger work, entitled 'Birth of the Eyes
of Space,' a mixed media work on paper.
The title is derived from the Concow Maidu language. 'Nem' means
'big.' 'Oost' means 'belly.' And 'kollem' is 'woman.'
There is a large granite dome in Butte County, California, named by
the Concow Maidu: 'Oost Ho,' or 'Belly Rock.' It is a symbol of a
great Goddess in pregnancy. Traditionally the rock symbolizes both
birth and death, as the Maidu used to roll the bodies of the deceased
in baskets off this high granite dome that overlooks the Middle Fork
of the Feather River. This river is called Supi Poboku in the local
The Concow Maidu have legends of the Great Women Spirits who
were creatrixes in the beginnings. Up on Indian Creek that flows
from Indian Valley in Plumas County there is a rock outcrop that
represents the menses of one of these Goddesses. This site is sacred
especially to the Mountain Maidu.
Some tribal leaders of the Maidu are women. Although the Kuksu
Secret Society was originally for men only, very frequently we find
women in the role of tribal leaders today.
Readers interested in my posts on the Maidu may want to view:
Much of my Goddess imagery is found in my Ceramic Sculpture. 'Nem Oost Kollem' is a work that was created shortly before I began my serious clay work in 1988. Through much of the 1990's my art was increasingly three dimensional. See my Goddess Art on this link:
Mixed media painting.