Birchbark container

Northern Athapaskan, AD 1860s
From British Columbia, North America

Containers like this are made in much of the circumpolar region. It might have been used for collecting berries, for other food or for water. The container is made of birchbark, with the rough exterior of the bark facing the inside. The rim is made of wood. It is stitched with split root, and has thong handles made from animal skin. It has been suggested that the geometric design of chevron-like bands mimics porcupine quillwork.

In North America, Northern Athapaskan peoples in the interior of British Columbia, such as the Chilcotin and Wet'suwet'en (Carrier), are noted for the scraped decoration on the exterior of such containers.

This example is one of the earliest to be collected. It was obtained at Fort Simpson on the coast of British Columbia before 1868, perhaps from Coast Tsimshians who were travelling into the interior to obtain fur to trade with the Hudson's Bay Company.

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More information


J.C.H. King, First peoples, first contacts: (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)


Height: 20.000 cm

Museum number

AOA 1566


Christy Collection


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