The Best of Burning Man: The Top Ten Series (#7)… The Man and the Temple

The Man at Burning Man dominates the Playa and serves as a landmark for lost Burners.

The Man at Burning Man dominates the Playa and serves as a landmark for lost Burners.

I’ve now been to Burning Man for ten years starting in 2004 and will be going again in 2015— assuming I get two tickets and a vehicle pass. (I missed 2011.) In preparation for this year, I have been doing a top ten series. Today I am going to feature two structures that epitomize Burning Man: The Man and the Temple.

Series 7: The Man and the Temple

If the Man reflects the history and continuity of Burning Man, the Temple reflects its spirit. The vast majority of Burners visit each of these large structures at least once during their week at Black Rock City. The Man dominates the Playa and provides a familiar landmark for both new and returning participants. Its roots date back to 1986 when Larry Harvey and a few friends burned the first Man on Baker Beach in San Francisco.

The Temple, a more recent creation, dates back to 2000 and can change dramatically each year in its appearance. Thousands of Burners leave messages on its walls, primarily saying goodbye to loved ones who have passed on.

Both the Man and the Temple are destined to be burned at the end of the week, the Man on Saturday night and the Temple on Sunday night. I will cover both of these events in my next blog.

Peggy, Tom Lovering, Beth Lovering, Don Green, Ken Lake and I took the following photos. My selection is designed to present an overview.

The Man's normal skeletal look took on a new shape in 2015, like he had donned clothes.

The Man’s normal skeletal look took on a new shape in 2014, like he had donned clothes.

The Man's more skeletal look, which is how he has looked as long as I have been going to Burning Man.

The Man’s more skeletal look, which is how he has looked as long as I have been going to Burning Man. I assume that the nine foot version that Harvey burned in San Francisco resembled this guy.

What has changed about the Man each year has been his base.

What has changed about the Man each year has been his base.

One year, he was perched on a flying saucer.

One year, he was perched on a flying saucer. The bases are designed for exploration— both outward and inward. This year’s base included a slide exit. It was fast. I went flying at the end.

I am not sure how to describe this base. Thorny, perhaps.

I am not sure how to describe this base. Thorny, perhaps.

The Temples at Burning Man are unique and quite beautiful.

The temples at Burning Man are unique and quite beautiful.

This Temple has a decided Oriental look. A number of Burners were present early in the morning.

Dawn brought a number of Burners to this temple.

And this one resembled a sand dune.

This temple resembled a sand dune.

One of the first Temples I saw at Burning Man.

One of the first temples I saw at Burning Man.

This temple was pyramidal in shape.

And finally, a temple in the shape of a pyramid. NEXT BLOG: The Man, Temple, and other things burn.

15 comments on “The Best of Burning Man: The Top Ten Series (#7)… The Man and the Temple

  1. Love these temples! My favorite may be the sand dune since I wouldn’t have guessed that was a temple. How tall is the actual man statue? It’s hard to tell. You said the first one was nine feet. Is it the same today?

  2. The creativity is astounding.
    Why did they ‘clothe’ The Man? The base for The Man that donned clothes isn’t as elaborate as the previous ones.

    Btw, have you already been to burning man this year? A typo perhaps in your photo caption: The Man’s normal skeletal look took on a new shape in 2015, like he had donned clothes. 2014? 🙂

    • Whoops… typo is right Timi, a mental typo. 🙂 I shall go change. I haven’t seen any explanation as to why they clothed the Man. They also removed his base. It will be interesting to see if the trend continues this year. –Curt

  3. I like the thorny base for the man, and the sand dune. Though I suppose there will be photos galore from this year’s event, I do hope you and Peggy get to go, so we can your take on the next installment.

  4. I am blown away by the heartfelt creativity. The temples especially – so beautiful and inspired. When are they constructed – do people go in beforehand and set them up before BM weeks starts? Or what? Thanks.
    Alison

    • They do go in early, Alison, but they are often finishing the project the first few days of the event. And yes, they are beautiful, from the inside as well as the outside. –Curt

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