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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Dalhousie takes another swing at replacing ceremonial mace

An open call for designs back in March only resulted in three applications, all of which were rejected.

Posted By on Wed, Jun 7, 2017 at 12:06 PM

The mace disgrace will be replaced, posthaste. - VIA DAL
  • The mace disgrace will be replaced, posthaste.

After its first effort fell short, Dalhousie University is once again asking the public to design a replacement for its ceremonial mace.

The school is hoping to swap out its oak-carved graduation horcrux for a symbol that better reflects Dal’s diversity and values. A request for proposals issued this week is seeking submissions from the city’s artists, artisans and designers.

It’s the second time the university has put out an open call for designs. A previous attempt back in March only inspired three applications. Dalhousie spokesperson Lindsay Dowling says none of the ideas was up to snuff.

“These proposals did not meet the mace re-visioning committee’s requirement to produce a ceremonial object that is both functional for Dal’s convocation and induction ceremonies and/or that reflects the university’s values of inclusiveness and diversity,” explains Dowling in an email.

The 1.4-metre mace is derived from historical European symbols of authority and has been carried ahead of students and faculty during graduation ceremonies since 1950. It’s covered in silver and enamel, adorned with carvings of fish and flowers, and topped with a Scottish earl’s crown.

The ritualistic weapon also includes amongst its engravings a rose, thistle, shamrock and fleur-de-lis—representing England, Ireland, Scotland and France, respectively. The plants symbolize the four “major racial groups” of Canada, according to original mace designer Richard Lorraine de Chasteney Holborn Saunders.

Dal’s RFP says the new ceremonial symbol has to be “robust and durable,” portable and free of sharp edges. The university is also encouraging designers to think “beyond traditional forms.” Applicants should feel free to consider such potential items as baskets, drums and “vessels that represent the sharing of libations.”

Dalhousie has budgeted up to $60,000 to cover all costs in bringing the new ceremonial object to life. It’s hoped the mace will be replaced in time for the school’s 200th anniversary next year.

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