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| The Pointing Man |
An Doon A Kovarakcee
|Monumental statue in Shadze-Ma|
|The statue viewed from the town of Urne|
|The Pointing Man points - zoom in for more details|
|Constructed||2nd century BCE|
|Dedicated||12th June 1898|
|Owner||People of Shadze-Ma|
|Manager||Shadze-Ma Heritage Service|
|Ferries||5 tourist ferry operators|
The Pointing Man (An Doon A Kovarakcee in Shenavroon) is a monumental bronze and copper statue located on a small island near the town of Urne in Shadze-Ma. The statue was designed and built by unknown architects. It was found lying in shallow water in the Inner Sound of Shadze-Ma in 1867 and twelve years later, in 1879, it was raised from the seabed. Between 1897 and 1898 it was lifted onto a pedestal with a giant crane in one of the most advanced engineering operations of its era.
The pedestal base it now stands on is formed by a former defensive fortification constructed during the colonial occupation of the islands by Ionadàlba. The island on which the statue stands, formerly known as Eelan Gaivikc (Sand Island) is today known as Eelan Sorkcan (Pedestal Island).
The statue depicts a bearded and naked muscular man with an outstretched arm whose hand points to a distant horizon. His other arm rests on his hip and he is sculpted as if about to step from the pedestal. The statue stands 36 metres from the foot to the top of the head. From the base of the pedestal to the top of the head, the height is 71 metres.
The statue is an icon of Shadze-Ma. It is shown on the coat of arms of Shadze-Ma and depicted on Shadze-Ma currency and stamps. Small models of the statue are sold as souvenirs on the islands.
The statue was administered by the Shadze-Ma Lighthouse Sisterhood until 1901 and then by the Department of Love; since 1954 it has been maintained by the Heritage Service. It was closed for renovation for much of the 1950’s. In the early 1990s, it was found to have deteriorated to such an extent that a major restoration was required. The statue, including the upper pedestal and base, was closed for a year from January 2012, so that the foundations of the pedestal could be re-enforced. Pedestal Island itself has never been closed. Public access to the statue’s head has been barred for safety reasons since 1946. From 1953 to 1974 the head housed radio-transmitters and recievers, allegedly used by the
Origin In style, it is similar to other statues and artefacts discovered in the Harda Archipelago. Dating of some of the archaeological sites where artefacts of a similar workmanship and style have been found places its origins in the second century BCE. It was not found associated with a shipwreck and it has been speculated that the statue was intentionally sunk beneath the sea. This has led to hypotheses that it depicts the sea god, Karwalej, one of the gods of the pre-colonial Köpā peoples. The copper from which the statue is constructed is likely to have come from quarries or mines in the Shadze-Ma archipelago; ancient flooded mine workings were found beneath the sea on the north coast of the island of Kizmanda in 1987. It is not known how the statue was built or moved. It has been speculated that it was constructed on a barge and towed to the site where it was sunk, never having been free-standing until raised in the 18th century.
Recent archaeological work suggests that the site in which the statue was found may have itself been some form of underwater pilgrimage site. In 2006 a clay tablet was found in mud on the island of Nerizen depicting mono-finned divers swimming underwater with a depiction of the Pointing Man nearby. The tablet is of unknown origin. An alternative theory, that the tablet depicts mermen and mermaids has also been proposed. An inscription on the tablet is currently being analysed by the linguistics department of Arksbury International University in Gobrassanya.
The statue was discovered in 1867 by the pioneering diver Alfonse Capulin de Ramos. Diving wrecks in the Inner Sound of Shadze-Ma in search of pirate treasure, his diary entry for the 17th January 1867 records the discovery:
Kooranamajah! Today most extraordinary discovery. A huge finger, the length of my arm, pointing through the limpid water. To surface? The finger is attached to hand. The hand to arm and to something massive beneath. Here in 5 fathoms, silent, rests a behemoth beneath the waves! I dive deeper and find torso, legs, one detached. And crowning all, his great head, with empty eyes through which the fishes swim.
Although his discovery was disputed, irrefutable proof was presented to the Royal Academy of Ionadàlba in 1873. Copper plates were raised from the bottom of the sound and in 1874 the left foot was recovered in a salvage operation. This operation resulted in the death of Capulin de Ramos.
SalvageGarland Capulin d’Ancosta, a benefactor and cousin of the diver Alfonse Capulin de Ramos who had discovered the statue but had been killed in an early salvage operation.
The operation involved two massive barges, attached to the seabed with specially constructed legs. The lifting cranes were steam-powered and consumed large amounts of coal.
The operation could only be conducted in perfect weather and was postponed briefly a month after its start, and for a longer period during the winter of 1878. During this period the statue was initially half immersed, but gradually sank back into the water. The lifting was finally completed in 1878 and the statue was loaded on a giant, specially constructed, barge. It was transferred to the harbour of Yshon and placed in dry dock while work and archaeological investigations were carried out by the University of Yshon and Arksbury International University of Gobrassanya.
In 1881 an appeal to restore the statue was launched by the Prime Minister of Ionadàlba, However, in 1882, Shadze-Ma entered into negotiations on independence from Ionadàlba seeking a diplomatic resolution. With the financial difficulties that Ionadàlba found itself in negotiations concluded with the ten-year ‘power divestment’ period, whereby Shadze-Ma committed itself to outright purchase ‘without reservation, of its territory and landes’. This process was not concluded until 1905, but effectively the islands were self-governing from 1892 onwards. The raising of the statue was therefore partly an expression of the new freedom the islanders celebrated. The bulk of this came from individual donations from people around the world, many in nearby Pasalia, who donated an average of one dollar each. Attempts were made to finance the construction of the pedestal and erection of the statue through government funds in Shadze-Ma, but these were vetoed by the shenavroon parliament. There were few large investors in the project, but substantial donations of iron and steel from factories around the world. This, as well as the loan of vessels and cranes, allowed work to begin in summer 1893. Work was carried out in Yshon’s docks to provide the statue with an internal framework that would be able to support its own weight, particularly to re-enforce the outstretched arm. Lattice-works of girders within the statue’s torso which connect to the arm gave it sufficient rigidity to withstand storms and high winds.
The structure used was not completely rigid to prevent stresses accumulating in the skin and leading eventually to cracking. A secondary skeleton was attached to the centre pylon. To enable the statue to move slightly in the winds of the inner sound and as the metal expands on hot summer days the support structure was loosely connected to the skin using flat iron bars which culminate in a mesh of metal straps, known as "saddles", that are riveted to the skin, providing firm support. In a labour-intensive process, each saddle had to be crafted individually. To prevent galvanic corrosion between the copper skin and the iron support structure, the skin was insulated with asbestos impregnated with shellac.
Work on the statue was completed by November 1896, but due to lack of funds and delays in completing the pedestal, erection did not begin until 1897.
The statue was originally raised with its outstretched arm pointing at an angle of 194 degrees south. On the night of 16th March 1901 the statue rotated 11 degrees east, with its arm then pointing 183 degrees south. Although there were anecdotal reports of the statue’s movement, information about the rotation of the statue was concealed and in June that year speculation in the press that the statue was suffering structural failure was denied by Shadze-Ma's Department of Love.
On 10th October 1910, in broad daylight, the statue rotated 36 degrees to the west. It was observed by an Ingerish tourist in Yshon, Daphne Vale:
As we took tea in the (fairly miserable) tea shop in the ‘town’ of Urne a remarkable event took place. I was on the point of placing the scone in my mouth when, in a matter of seconds, the whole of the colossal statue pivoted on its axis. As well as by myself, the phenomenon was witnessed by a number of Urnites the bravest of whom, jumping in his boat, sped out to investigate. The weather was calm and still and there was not a breath of wind. I had never before in my life seen a naked man rotate so quickly. To this day, I am at a loss to explain it.
Throughout the 1910s and 1920s a number of fake postcards showing the statue in different aspects were produced, some showing the statue pointing with his left arm rather than his right. No further rotations were observed until 1925; claims that the statue rotated by one degree to the east in 1918 are thought to relate to structural failure in one of the statue’s internal lattice works.
On the night of 2nd March 1926 the statue rotated 176 degrees east, almost a half circle. It has been speculated, alternatively, that the statue rotated 184 degrees west. The rotation was not observed, but a maintenance worker spending the night on the island was woken by ‘a colossal rumbling noise’ and investigated, finding that the entrance passageway to the interior of the statue now led into the open air, the statue’s foot no longer being aligned with it. Investigations by the Department of Love came to no published conclusion about the event. Seven other occasions of the statue rotating have been observed, most recently in April 2016.
The installation of a system that would be able to rotate a weight such as this statue is, that is, over 200 tonnes, while maintaining stability would have been beyond the capability of the most advanced engineering of its day and would be a major challenge even today. I propose two hypotheses: 1. the statue is not made of copper, it is not an ancient artefact, and its weight is substantially less than 200 tonnes, or 2. the statue indeed weighs this, or even more, but it is moved by powers greater than our own.
Analysis of samples taken from the surface of the statue in 1984 indicated that it was indeed made of copper. However, a documentary aired on Shadze-Ma Electronic And Radio Communications Company (SMEAR) in 1995 purported to show that there was only a thin veneer of copper over a matrix of other material. The documentary-makers were unable to identify what this material might be.
Hrönhrön by the Tlönic logia of Tayfir, an archaic Logia affiliated to the Mlejnas school. According to the radical metaphysical ideology of the Mlejnas school of Tlönianism, hrönir (-pl) are artefacts that indicate the presence of other universes. A hrön, when correctly identified, shows the true nature of reality. In these terms, hrönir are important as quasi-religious artefacts and places.
The claim of the statue as a hrön was gradually accepted by other logia and schools and by the year 2000 around two thirds of orthodox Tlönists accepted the statue as an authentic hrön. Together with the important Tlönist site of North Karg (the location of the Non-Clock), the Pointing Man has made Shadze-Ma, particularly the islands of Urne, Helon and Karg, a pilgrimage site for Tlönists.
Following each rotation there has been speculation among Tlönists as to what the statue may be pointing at. The angle of pointing itself has been a subject of debate, but the orthodoxy is that the angle is taken as a line from the elbow to the central tip of the index finger. The angle is generally calculated from GPS or from aerial imagery. The most recent rotation has been associated with religious locations in the Ardisphere, particularly the small village of Samosata (map). Theories on why this location should be important have been linked to the Church of San Pablo (Iglesia San Pablo) in the village. However, an alternative theory links the pointing to the Temple of the Smile (Templo de la Risa) located not far away.
In recognition of the statue as an ‘art installation’ which had ‘profoundly influenced conceptual art in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries’ the statue was awarded the 2010 Şąnrąn Jkŏ Prize for Modern Art. Shadze-Ma Heritage Service, as guardians of the statue, refused to accept the prize. The prize committee was condemned by Tlönists as ‘religiously insensitive and culturally inappropriate’.
It is shown on the coat of arms of Shadze-Ma, with two statues, one pointing with his right arm, the other with his left.
A version of the statue appeared in the 1989 science-fiction film ‘Udenarrat’ as a mysterious object found on the planet Mjandakum. The statue as depicted in the film is an artefact with an unknown origin found in a ruined city.
Access and tourismPedestal Island and the statue are reached by ferries from the towns of Yshon and Urne. There is no charge for landing on the island, but ferry operators charge varying prices for the trip, which are sometimes described as ‘extortionate’. Except by special permission there is no access to the interior of the statue, but visitors are able to walk around the island and gaze up at it.
Landing on the island is subject to security checks by the Shadze-Ma Coastguard.
Over 50,000 visitors per year visit the statue. Shenavroons consider an annual visit an important part of their culture. A major festival occurs in June each year involving fireworks, music and dancing.
The Shadze-Ma Heritage Service has been responsible for the statue since 1954. A commission on the statue's left foot was also set up in 1987 and has since made a number of recommendations.
In 2013 lasers were installed in the statue's eye sockets for the first time.
(as viewed from the ground on Pedestal Island)
|Height of copper statue||121 ft||37 m|
|Foundation of pedestal (ground level) to top of head||233 ft||71 m|
|Height of hand||11 ft 10 in||3.6 m|
|Length of index finger||6 ft 11 in||2.1 m|
|Head thickness from ear to ear||10 ft 0 in||3.05 m|
|Distance across the eye||2 ft 6 in||0.76 m|
|Length of nose||4 ft 6 in||1.38 m|
|Right arm length||49 ft 10 in||15.2 m|
|Right arm greatest thickness||12 ft 5 in||3.8 m|
|Thickness of waist||23 ft 3 in||7.1 m|
|Width of mouth||2 ft 8 in||0.81 m|
|Height of pedestal||111 ft 8in||34 m|
|Weight of copper used in statue||60,000 pounds||27.22 tonnes|
|Weight of steel used in statue||250,000 pounds||113.4 tonnes|
|Total weight of statue||450,000 pounds||204.1 tonnes|
|Thickness of copper sheeting||3/32 of an inch||2.4 mm|