Animals to represent East and West
January 19, 2021 7:28 AM   Subscribe

For a craft project, I'm trying to think up animals that could represent "East" and "West". (For context, "North" and "South" are going to be polar bears and penguins). I would need to find fabric with these animals, so nothing super specific please. Any ideas?
posted by ReadNTravel to Pets & Animals (31 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
For a US context, "West" makes me think of bison.
posted by kevinbelt at 7:33 AM on January 19 [1 favorite]


In the UK our world maps put the Americas on the left (west) and Asia on the right (east), so I'd go with a raccoon or a skunk for west, a giant panda for east.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 7:34 AM on January 19


buffaloes for west, lobster for east
posted by mermayd at 7:34 AM on January 19 [2 favorites]


In a international context, tigers make me think of East - is this US reference or international?
posted by mercredi at 7:35 AM on January 19 [2 favorites]


Pandas or tigers for east, bison or antelope for west.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:37 AM on January 19 [5 favorites]


If it's US only then Grizzly Bears vs. Lobsters.

If it's international, bison vs. pandas.
posted by bondcliff at 7:37 AM on January 19 [9 favorites]


(I’m guessing OP doesn’t mean just the US, which is not traditionally lousy with penguins)
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:39 AM on January 19 [22 favorites]


I think you need to get a lot more specific. Polar bears are ONLY found in the north. Penguins (the species we're most familiar with at least) are ONLY found in the south. There are buffalo and antelope analogues all over.

Tigers are only found in the Eastern Hemisphere.
Giant tortoises are only found in the Western Hemisphere.
posted by phunniemee at 7:49 AM on January 19 [12 favorites]


Since east and west are highly context dependent in a way north and south aren’t because of human habitat, I suggest maybe instead going with something from the Pacific Ocean and another from the Atlantic Ocean. Maybe for diversity since you have a mammal and a bird you could do a reptile (so maybe a Galapagos tortoise) and a fish (so maybe, like a blue marlin? I don’t actually know what fish are only in the Atlantic.)
posted by Mizu at 7:53 AM on January 19 [6 favorites]


If ‘west’ means the Americas, you can have jaguar, cougar, llama, sloth, toucan, macaw, hummingbird, quetzal, tapir, giant anteater, armadillo… Bald eagle I guess although the political overtones are a bit on the nose.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 8:03 AM on January 19 [3 favorites]


Hummingbirds are a uniquely New World family found in north and south which are easily recognisable and attractive so that might be my choice personally.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 8:06 AM on January 19 [5 favorites]


I like the Virginia opossum for the western hemisphere (the only member of the South American marsupial lineage extant in the US and Canada). Gila monsters are rad if you're mammalled out, and I like the giant tortoise too. (On preview, llamas! On additional preview, hummingbirds!).

Also, if your fabric hunting extends to the Spoonflower marketplace, you'll be able to find just about any animal you like (Virginia opossum, gila monster, so many llamas…)
posted by wreckingball at 8:08 AM on January 19 [1 favorite]


Alpacas and kangaroos have distinct silhouettes and they wouldn't be difficult to find as fabric patterns.
posted by sukeban at 8:21 AM on January 19 [3 favorites]


I am in the US, but wanted to leave it open. I thought about pandas for East, but wasn't sure if there would be squicky overtones about using "the East" for Asia.
This would be for a present, not any type of commercial use, so I'm looking for fun, interesting animals.
Thanks for all the ideas so far. There's many I hadn't thought of.
posted by ReadNTravel at 8:57 AM on January 19 [1 favorite]


I thought about pandas for East, but wasn't sure if there would be squicky overtones about using "the East" for Asia.

Personally I don't think this is squicky at all. I mean obviously it's historically kinda arbitrary and a bit Eurocentric that we put America on the left and Asia on the right on maps, but Asia as "the East" and Europe/the Americas as "the West" is so well established at this point that I don't think anyone would consider it offensive.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:28 AM on January 19 [1 favorite]


"historically kinda arbitrary and a bit Eurocentric that we put America on the left and Asia on the right on maps"

It adds an entirely different level of context when you remember that several non-Western languages read right-to-left...
posted by stormyteal at 10:13 AM on January 19


I immediately thought Bactrian camel (Mongolian - East) vs Dromedary (Arabian - well Near East but West if you’re from Afghanistan ... oh well)
posted by BAKERSFIELD! at 10:27 AM on January 19


East and west are completely arbitrary, so there will never be an absolutely correct answer. But to me, picking animals like pandas and bison (or llamas) helps overcome this in that they're animals found only on the eastern or western parts of their respective continents, rather than say hummingbirds which are found throughout the continent.


Giant tortoises are only found in the Western Hemisphere.
And islands in the Indian Ocean.
posted by Superilla at 10:33 AM on January 19 [2 favorites]


Horseshoe crab (maybe even blue crab?) and Dungeness crab would work, though good luck finding the fabric...
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:45 AM on January 19


To get away from the context-dependency of East/West, you could think of it as East=sunrise, West=sunset. What animals are active early in the morning, and what animals are active in the evening?
posted by oxisos at 10:51 AM on January 19 [5 favorites]


As an Asian, I read your question and thought “please not pandas for East.” So at least one person with uncomfortable feelings about it.

How about apes? They’re old world only, and cover north and south in the Eastern hemisphere. Or elephants.

Bison also came to mind for west.
posted by umwhat at 11:11 AM on January 19 [3 favorites]


It might be a stretch, but if you want universal 'East' and 'West', maybe you can go with some sort of sunrise/sunset theme. The sun rises in the East everywhere and sets in the West everywhere*. Maybe songbirds to represent sunrise, and ... I can't think of any animals that universally represent 'sunset'.

*Except at the poles where East and West aren't defined anyway
posted by Hatashran at 11:54 AM on January 19 [1 favorite]


Bats for sunset. If you keep it geographic, I'd go for elephants and llamas/alpacas - very distinct silhouettes for both.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 11:56 AM on January 19


As an Asian (Indian) person, elephants or tigers would be less side-eye inducing representations of East to me. I agree with the suggestion of llamas for the West, but bison would also work (with the caveat that I would include a sidebar about the takeover of North America by settler colonialists, because of how bison were hunted almost to extinction, but that's just me.)
posted by Tamanna at 12:17 PM on January 19 [1 favorite]


Cougars are found in the entirety of the western hemisphere so if you don't do tigers for east you could do cougars for west. Hummingbirds are also good and should have interesting patterns available.
posted by fiercekitten at 5:54 PM on January 19


Or you could do quadrants of the standard Mercator projection (which, yes, is problematic but also everywhere). Bison for northwest, alpaca/llama or hummingbird for southwest, tiger or elephant for northeast and kangaroo, koala, emu or kiwi for southeast.
posted by Athanassiel at 11:46 PM on January 19


Another species for east which is still traditional but slightly less obvious: Red-crowned Crane.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 12:41 AM on January 20


Another vote for an elephant or lion for East rather than a panda, which... yeah.

For West, I would go for a bighorn ram.
posted by athirstforsalt at 2:13 AM on January 20


Another Asian here, another vote for "anything but panda" for the East.
posted by notethisbean at 11:58 AM on January 20 [2 favorites]


How about a coyote for the west - a very distinctive silhouette and pretty much universally recognized and associated with the American west?
posted by flowergrrrl at 7:55 AM on January 21


Thank you very much for all of your help.
I will go with west and east coasts of the US since those are defined and I can be comfortable with my options.
For the east I'll go with lobsters and for the west I'll use California Sea Lions. (Both of those have connections to the giftee). And as a backup for the west, I'll keep bison in mind.
posted by ReadNTravel at 9:49 AM on January 21


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