Object photography

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Object description

  • Huron and Wyandot artist
  • Calling card tray, about 1840
  • Birchbark, moose hair, cotton
  • Niagara Falls, New York, North America
  • L: 8 3/4 in, W: 7 3/4 in, D: 1 5/8 in (L: 22.2 cm, W: 19.7 cm, D: 4.1 cm)
  • Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles D. Carey, 1990
  • E77743
  • Blending of indigenous and Western aesthetics and ideologies
  • One of many Native-made tourist souvenirs sold at Niagara Falls in the late 18th and 19th centuries

French Ursuline nuns who came to Quebec in the 17th century taught silk-floss embroidery to the indigenous women -- Huron, Wendat, Haudenosaunee, and more -- living in the region. The silk thread was expensive, so Native women as well as the nuns favored embroidering with dyed moosehair, a material long used by Natives. Native women incorporated the nun’s floral, faunal, and plant iconography, which was considered more "civilized" than the earlier "pagan" geometric and stylized figural motifs. This tray was likely sold as a souvenir at Niagara Falls, a popular tourist destination. Four embroidered vignettes on the tray’s sides depict Native people smoking pipes, and walking through the forest with dogs and birds. The central panel depicts a fox with a bird in his front paws.