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Box

Location

NEW BRUNSWICK or NOVA SCOTIA

Culture

Mi'kmaq, possibly Maliseet

Title

Box

Date

1830s-1840s

Materials

Bark, spruce root, porcupine quill (or moosehair?), wood

Dimensions

4.5 cm (h.), 7 cm (diam.)

Credits

Purchase, Deirdre M. Stevenson Fund, inv. 2011.23.1-2

Collection

Decorative Arts and Design

Europeans were quick to recognize the quality of the Mi’kmaq and Maliseet peoples’ quillwork, and, in the nineteenth century, these communities produced boxes decorated with quills that were sold in England, as well as in the Caribbean and the United States. Constructed of bands of bark covered with spruce root and embellished with quilled diamond-shaped motifs on its sides, this round box provides an ideal example of the traditional technique. Since geometric patterns were also generally the rule for the decoration of lids, it is quite exceptional in its use of floral motifs, usually associated with the moosehair embroidery of the Quebec convents and the Huron-Wendat community of Wendake (Lorette). Bringing together European and First Nations traditions, this beautiful Mi’kmaq, or possibly Maliseet, box is a wonderful illustration of intercultural exchange. Stylistic analysis enables it to be dated to the 1830s–1840s.

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