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Bent-corner Box with Killer Whale Design

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 Sea snail opercula, plant fiber, cotton twine, yellow cedar (?), pine (?)
DATES late 19th–early 20th century
DIMENSIONS 8 1/2 x 19 1/2 x 17 in. (21.6 x 49.5 x 43.2cm)  (show scale)
COLLECTIONS Arts of the Americas
CREDIT LINE Museum Expedition 1905, Museum Collection Fund
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION This bentwood corner bowl was made by the distinctly Northwest Coast process called kerfing. A single plank of wood is first trimmed, notched , steamed and bent. The bottom and sides were then pegged or sewn together with tree root. Finally the bowl is decorated with carving, painting and adding operculum shell trims. The large bowl would have been used for dried food. The abstracted design on the sides represents a killer whale.
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Haida. Bent-corner Box with Killer Whale Design, late 19th–early 20th century. Sea snail opercula, plant fiber, cotton twine, yellow cedar (?), pine (?), 8 1/2 x 19 1/2 x 17 in. (21.6 x 49.5 x 43.2cm). Brooklyn Museum, Museum Expedition 1905, Museum Collection Fund, 05.588.7312. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 05.588.7312_bw.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 05.588.7312_bw.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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