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Bag with 65 Inlaid Gambling Sticks (QsEn)

Arts of the Americas

CULTURE Gitxaala
MEDIUM Bag: Hide, bone, pigment Sticks: Wood (maple?), pigment, abalone shell
DATES 19th century
DIMENSIONS Bag: 8 3/8 × 7 × 2 3/8 in. (21.3 × 17.8 × 6 cm) Each stick: 5/16 × 5/16 × 5 1/16 in. (0.8 × 0.8 × 12.9 cm)  (show scale)
COLLECTIONS Arts of the Americas
CREDIT LINE Museum Expedition 1905, Museum Collection Fund
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Hide bag containing 65 wooden gambling sticks. The bag is made from a repurposed painted hide with red and black designs that include an eye and fin. It also has a long hide strap that terminates in a carved and polished bone ornament resembling a tooth. The strap wraps around the bag. The gambling sticks are carved of maple (verify) and decorated with various lines and bands in black and red. 8 sticks have small abalone shell inlays. Collector Dr. Newcomb supplied Brooklyn Museum's curator, Dr. Stewart Culin with several gambling sets. There are few descriptions of how this gambling set would have been played so Dr. Newcomb’s notes are quite valuable. "When bundle of sticks is indicated as holding the trump, the sticks are thrown down on the sloping exterior of the mat one by one, thus showing the content of his hand." These were reported to belong to Chief Shakes. Despite their perfection they were made with no machine tools. Nine of them have abalone shell inlaid whose game function is unknown, the rest are painted. The hide bag container for the sticks was made from an older object, perhaps a tunic or hide armor. The design is hard to make out but might be part of a face. According to Newcombe the painted mat has a design of a killer whale, identifiable by its blow hole and flukes. The panting style is similar to that of Heiltsuk artists, found near Kikatla. Gambling mat is 05.588.7249.
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Gitxaala. Bag with 65 Inlaid Gambling Sticks (QsEn), 19th century. Bag: Hide, bone, pigment Sticks: Wood (maple?), pigment, abalone shell, Bag: 8 3/8 × 7 × 2 3/8 in. (21.3 × 17.8 × 6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Museum Expedition 1905, Museum Collection Fund, 05.588.7348. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, CUR.05.588.7348_component01.jpg)
IMAGE component, CUR.05.588.7348_component01.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2023
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