Friday, August 17, 2012

Rotaynah—An Akron Whispering Giant

Peter 'Wolf' Toth. Rotaynah. Akron, O. 1985. photographed 15 August 2012.
Peter Toth was born in communist Hungary. His family left in 1956, eventually coming to Akron, Ohio after being in refugee camps.

His first Indian monument 5
½' high and carved in the stone at the base of a cliff on the California coast at La Jolla, and completed in February of 1972. The ocean has reclaimed it.

He came back to Akron and completed one at Sand Run Park. That, and all, subsequent ones have been in wood. Currently, these number 73 in North America, and one in the homeland. Seventy-three Indians, and the first Christian Magyar king, Stephen. Toth in learning American history empathised with the plight of Indian, and saw something of it in his Magyar nation.

He became committed to carving at least one Indian in every state of the United States, and all pro bono gratis. It has been forty years, and these monuments have had different fates. The first one drowned, the second was vandalised and is gone, another was destroyed by lightning. The biggest destroyers have been ants and termites. The weather has not always been kind. Some he has repaired. Rotaynah [#51] had his feathered headress removed, and parts have been patched with plastic, aerosol foam. Rotaynah was carved to succeed the destroyed Sand Run statue.

Toth roamed about America as a gypsy. The television shows Real People, and Ripley's Believe It or Not! had segments on him. Toth wrote a book, "Indian Giver". By 1988 the series, Trail of the Whispering Giants, was largely complete. In 2008 he began an extended series with the Hungarian statue, his last Indian was Tecumseh at Vincennes, Indiana. More are planned.
face in red oak
There is a family resemblance to many in the series. Some have carvings on the other side. The great majority are more than twenty feet high; some with feathers (as formerly the one above) almost double the height. They have been carved out of several species.

Some people have really enjoyed them and have planned their vacations to see one, and another, and one more. It has only been forty years, but the condition, and even the whereabouts of some is sketchy. Local pride and care has been varied.
parts of the statue has been patched with solidified plastic construction foam
See: the series list, an enthusiast's site, a video, a foto sharing site.
postscriptum: late August 2018, the statue deteriorated so much that it was announced it would be put into storage with the previously removed feathers

1 comment: