Object photography

View of the artwork on display in 'Gifts of the Spirit: Works by Nineteenth-Century & Contemporary Native American Artists'; Peabody Essex Museum; November 14, 1996 through May 18, 1997.
Click image to enlarge +

Object description

  • Northeastern artist
  • Bowl, 19th century
  • Wood
  • New York, United States
  • H: 6 1/2 in, dia.: 17 in (H: 16.5 cm, dia.: 43.2 cm)
  • Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Williard C. Cousins, 1960
  • E36435
  • Carved from hardwood, possibly elm due to its elongated grain
  • Unusually large and deep for a burlwood bowl

Carved from a burl, which is a large knot or growth found at the root of a tree or its branches, this type of bowl was carved throughout New England and New York by highly-skilled Native artisans. The wood fibers go in many different directions, as it is interlocked and twisted, which makes it very challenging to work with. At the same time, the intertwined grains gives the surface a fantastic, mottled appearance, coveted by artists and collectors, and the grains ensure that the wood won't split, rendering the container completely waterproof.