Arts of the Americas
On View: American Art Galleries, 5th Floor, The Americas’ First Peoples, 4000 B.C.E.–1521 C.E.
Bird stones have been largely found along the eastern coast of North America, from as far north as Nova Scotia, and as far west as the Mississippi River. There are many theories about the objects’ function. Were they associated with religion? Were they fastened to clothing to indicate status or stage of life? Were they ancient game pieces or handles for a spear thrower (atlatl)? Bird stones are typically carved from exceptional types of hard stone, and the quantity of surviving examples existing today indicates their popularity.
1 3/4 x 1 1/2 x 4 in. (4.4 x 3.8 x 10.2 cm) (show scale)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alastair B. Martin, the Guennol Collection
Carved greenstone bird with a sloped neck; long, up-turned beak; and two large disc-shaped eyes that protrude from head on slender stems. The tail flares out from the body, which rests on two perforated supports suggesting legs.
Hopewell. Bird Stone, 1500-500 B.C.E. Mottled greenstone, 1 3/4 x 1 1/2 x 4 in. (4.4 x 3.8 x 10.2 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alastair B. Martin, the Guennol Collection, 63.198. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: , CUR.63.198_view01.jpg)
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