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Pipe Bowl representing Owl

Arts of the Americas

These Native American objects represent just a few of the items made in the late nineteenth and the early twentieth century, primarily for sale to dealers and collectors to satisfy the growing market for indigenous products. Finely coiled baskets like the example by the Maidu weaver Mary Kea’a’ala Azbill were in great demand, as were Zuni Kachina dolls. The desire for Eskimo objects such as the ivory pipe engraved with a whale-hunting scene was accelerated by the Klondike Gold Rush in 1897. To appeal to non-Native patrons, Native artists invented new designs using trade materials such as the glass beads forming the embroidered floral arrangement on the northeastern puzzle bag (so named for the way its pieces fold together to keep it closed). Other artists used traditional materials but tailored designs to non-Native aesthetics, as seen in the porcupine-quill box. The Navajo quickly adapted to the Spanish introduction of silver coins and silver mining in the seventeenth century, embellishing their traditional wrist guards with hammered silver. Some artists retained both traditional materials and designs but produced greater quantities of popular items such as the Plains owl pipe bowl made from Catlinite (red pipestone).
MEDIUM Catlinite or pipestone
  • Place Made: United States
  • DATES early 20th century
    DIMENSIONS 3 3/4 x 5 3/8 in. (9.5 x 13.7 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Arts of the Americas
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Cynthia Hazen Polsky
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Catlinite or pipestone pipe bowl carved in the form of an owl perched on a rectangular bar. Beak, tufts, eyes, and legs carved with details of eyes and feathers indicated by incised lines. The back of the bowl, under the bird, is carved with a serrated edge and turns up at the end as though that owl had a tail. The area around the opening in the owl's head is blackened. A pipe stem would be added to this bowl for smoking. Catlinite is only found in the Minnesota region in what is called Pipestone National Park with mining rights reserved for Native Americans. Use of pipestone is restricted to Native Americans.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Plains (unidentified). Pipe Bowl representing Owl, early 20th century. Catlinite or pipestone, 3 3/4 x 5 3/8 in. (9.5 x 13.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Cynthia Hazen Polsky, 80.98.2. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 80.98.2_view2_bw.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 80.98.2_view2_bw.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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