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Headdress Frontlet

Arts of the Americas

MEDIUM Wood, abalone shell, ermine skins, sea lion (?) whiskers, flicker feathers, eagle down feathers, cord, felt, pigment
  • Place Collected: British Columbia, Canada
  • DATES 19th century
    DIMENSIONS 14 1/4 x 7 1/2 x 9 1/4 in. (36.2 x 19.1 x 23.5 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Arts of the Americas
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 05.588.7413
    CREDIT LINE Museum Expedition 1905, Museum Collection Fund
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Tsimshian (Native American). Headdress Frontlet, 19th century. Wood, abalone shell, ermine skins, sea lion (?) whiskers, flicker feathers, eagle down feathers, cord, felt, pigment, 14 1/4 x 7 1/2 x 9 1/4 in. (36.2 x 19.1 x 23.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Museum Expedition 1905, Museum Collection Fund, 05.588.7413. Creative Commons-BY
    IMAGE overall, 05.588.7413_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Headdress frontlet with a wooden bear crest, set within a frame, and painted red, green, and black. The back is unpainted. The frame as well as the bear's eyes, teeth, and paws have inlaid sections of carved abalone shell. Long ermine trailers hang down the back and sea lion whiskers stick out from the top. The headdress would have been worn for a Welcome or Peace Dance. The face's thick, heavy, black eyebrows help to corroborate this attribution. A fistful of eagle down feathers would be placed inside the center of the frontlet. As the chief danced and bowed and greeted his audience, the feathers would float out of his headdress symbolizing peace and friendship. In Tshimshian this was known as Am-halait or "power from the Sky." CONDITION: The object is in fair and stable condition. Special care in handling the piece should be taken for it was treated with arsenic in the past.
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    Headdress Frontlet