- Museum number
Model dugout canoe made of wood with a low prow and a cross bar in the centre, around the rim of the canoe is a long line of small white glass beads.
Height: 13 centimetres
Length: 79.20 centimetres
Width: 15.70 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- This is an early miniature of a westcoast-style canoe, a type produced in large numbers by the Nuu-chah-nulth, Makah and Salishan peoples of Vancouver Island, Puget Sound and the Olympic Peninsula. This example was most likely collected on the west coast of Vancouver Island.
The miniature is finished to a high standard in yellow cedar, shaped by an expert carver well-familiar with this design of canoe. As with all miniature canoes from this region, the bow and stern are not in proportion to the hull by comparison with a full-sized canoe. The gunwales have shell beads inlaid from bow to stern.
The westcoast canoe design features a high square stern and a jutting elongated bow with a triple-pointed bow. On a full-scale canoe these would be additions to the dug-out trunk, although on miniatures (as here) they are usual integral to the original piece. It is unpainted and highly polished. It may be a miniature reproduction of a chiefly whaling canoe.
Whale hunting, usually for the Californian gray whale, was the most respected activity among the groups of the west coast of Vancouver Island, the preserve of chiefly families and the focus of much ceremonial, social and commercial activity. Whale hunting was an extremely arduous and hazardous activity, and a hunters trained, physically and spiritually, for years in order to be able to pursue such large quarry.
The circumstances under which Belcher obtained this miniature are unknown, but typical encounters between chieftains and European officials at this time suggest that the miniature would probably have been either a gift from the chieftain to his distinguished visitor, or the result of a valuable trade.
(Jack Davy, 15/12/2016)
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: Am1986,Q.38