Unknown maker, Nuu-chah-nulth
Cedar bark, spruce root, grass, dye
Collected by Israel W. Powell between 1880 and 1885
Donated by Heber R. Bishop
American Museum of Natural History 16/725AB

In the 1860s, Nuu-chah-nulth women started a cottage industry weaving small baskets (piika-uu), basketry-covered bottles, and other fine woven objects for the expanding curio trade. They typically decorated utilitarian baskets with geometric rather than pictorial designs, although they had long utilized canoe motifs in whaling scenes on basketry hats. This wrapped-twined basket features conventional geometric patterns along with what appear to be Euro-American ships and Native canoes. Its interior shows vibrant colors and little to no sign of use, suggesting that it was produced for and consumed within the tourist market. With the influx of foreigners to the region, weavers adopted innovative forms and motifs—including those derived from Western wares and ships—to maintain their products’ aesthetic desirability. Boat imagery provided a common theme appreciated within First Nations as well as Euro-American cultures. Just as both Native canoes and foreign ships were the means of transportation for commodities, this woven container/commodity became the means for the circulation of boat imagery between cultures.

Click here for a discussion about this object (Ron Hamilton)

Tags for Interactive Tag Cloud: ship imagery, souvenir