Object photography

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Object description

  • Pennacook artist
  • Sculpture, made 16th century, excavation 1830
  • Basalt
  • Salem, Massachusetts, United States
  • H: 4 5/8 in, W: 2 1/2 in, D: 5 in (H: 11.7 cm, W: 6.3 cm, D: 12.7 cm)
  • Gift of Miss Bessie Eaton, 1898
  • E50296
  • Captures a bear's energy, even while sculpted as a very simple form
  • Probably represents a clan ancestor or protector

This rare and early sculpture of a black bear was likely created just before the first epidemics decimated Northeast Native populations, following contact with Europeans. Native Northeastern people revered bears for their great strength and believed in their spiritual powers.


This unusual bear sculpture is made of basalt. The sculpture was created using the technique of "pecking" one stone against another, creating small dimples that merge to form contours. The bear rests on two 'paws' and a back tail. His rounded back curves upwards to a thick neck, two ears, and an upturned nose.

Exhibition History

  • Gifts of the Spirit: Works by Nineteenth-Century & Contemporary Native American Artists, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA.; November 14, 1996 through May 18, 1997
  • Uncommon Legacies: Native American Art from the Peabody Essex Museum, Washington State Historical Society; October 11, 2005 through February 09, 2006