- Museum number
Spindle whorl, cut from maple wood. Roughly circular, or disc shaped, and slightly convex, the outer curved surface is deeply carved with a scene of two raptorial birds holding fish surmounting a human figure. The whole scene is symmetrical about the vertical line of the figure, whose head abutts the hole for the spindle. Above the figure are two fish held belly to belly vertically in the claws of birds, facing each other, the beaks nearly touching; these may be bald eagles, though with ears the scene may also depict Thurderbird-like creatures. The wings and the tails of the birds flow together to fill the edges of the disc, enclosing the figure. The bodies of the birds are are carved with faces, similar in size and form to the main figure. Style of carving is tradiaitonal Coast Salish with the well developed use of U forms, particularly for the feathers and fish gills. The two bird eyes are differently carved, that on the right is perhaps executed with greater definition. The spindle whorl shows considerable age, patination and use, and the spindle hole is very worn, smooth on the upper raised area and surrounds. A small section of wood was broken off and is missing, before first photography in the 19th century. Attached is a post-accession paper label.
Diameter: 21 centimetres
Height: 2 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- A 19th century glass negative may have been made of this spindle whorl; Franz Boas may have made a rubbing from it (now in the American Museum of Natural History, NY?) and included it in one of his 1890s publications [to be checked and confirmed].
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1980-1981 1 Sep-30 Apr, Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia, Canada; Salish Art: Visions of Power, Symbols of Wealth
2008-2009 24 Oct-11 Jan, Seattle Art Museum, Washington, S'abadeb-The Gifts: Pacific Coast Salish Art and Artists
2009-2010 20 Nov-8 Mar, Royal British Columbia Museum, Victoria, Canada, S'abadeb-The Gifts: Pacific Coast Salish Art and Artists
2017 23 Feb-27 Aug, London, BM, "Where the Thunderbird Lives"
- Good, apart from the missing section at the bottom
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- The naval voyage on which this and the rest of this accession from 1861 is still unknown, but it is likely to have been in the period 1840-1860, the decades of maximum Royal Navy interactions with First Nations on the coast of British Columbia.
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number