Have you ever wondered why cigar shops have Native American figures and how they are connected to tobacco?
How it became the symbol of a smoke shop can be traced back to the seventeenth century when Native Americans introduced tobacco to the European masses, they became representative of the industry. Thus, a displayed image of a Native American was used to promote people selling and exchange of tobacco.
The Native American's acknowledged the tobacco leaf in a spiritual and traditional way to connect with each other. The Europeans were intrigued and amazed by the tobacco's effects and how it brought everyone together to connect and celebrate. Tobacco is still used today as a spiritual offering for traditional ceremonies by many tribes.
The Europeans used wooden Native American statues, also known as “Virginie Men,” to promote their products establishing a sense of authenticity for the shop's products. The pioneering batch of Native American statues resembled something fictional because European wood carvers hadn't seen a Native American before, by the time the statues reached America it had become the image of "Virginie Men."
The Declining Use of Statues began around the 1900's and signified an end to this traditional form of advertising; city streets were becoming more congested, bystander often mistreated the wooden Native Americans statues, and various cities enacted laws ordering two feet of open space in front of each store. As a result, wooden Native Americans were thrown.
Today, the Native American statues are not as popular as it once was, they tend to be in museums or private property. One of the main causes for its withdrawal out of the market was the sensitivity of the subject in the respect that they were being used for advertisement and not beneficial to the Native Americans. Before it was a persuasive advertisement to inform the local and non-English communicators of what was for sale, now it represents a more complex message, evoking both admiration and criticism.
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