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Square Box and Cover

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 Birch bark, porcupine quill
  • Place Made: United States
  • DATES early 20th century
    DIMENSIONS 4 3/4 x 7 1/2 x 6 11/16 in. (12.1 x 19.1 x 17 cm)
    COLLECTIONS Arts of the Americas
    ACCESSION NUMBER 43.201.161a-b
    CREDIT LINE Anonymous gift in memory of Dr. Harlow Brooks
    PROVENANCE Prior to 1936, provenance not yet documented; before 1936, acquired by Henry Harlow Brooks of New York, NY; by 1943, acquired from the estate of Henry Harlow Brooks by an anonymous donor; October 26,1943, gift of an anonymous donor to the Brooklyn Museum.
    Provenance FAQ
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Quilled box with an arched lid over a rectangular base. It is executed in a complex geometric design in greens, browns, cream and yellow. It was probably made for the high-end tourist trade.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
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