Glenbow Museum - Where the World Meets the West

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Title: Birch Bark Basket

Date: mid 20th century

Creator: Unknown

Additional Creator Information: Nehiwyan (Cree)

Medium: birch bark, dye, roots, porcupine

If you look closely at the quill work and the inside of the basket, you can see how intricately the porcupine quill work is. How would an artist decorate birch bark with porcupine quills?

During the process of fastening the porcupine quills to the birch bark, small perforations are made in the bark with an awl that is just a bit smaller that the quills. These perforations follow a pattern that has been drawn on the bark with a blunt-pointed object, usually made of bone or antler. The perforation is made immediately before the quill is inserted.

This work is done while the bark is still wet. When the bark dries and contracts, the quills are held tight. A thin piece of bark is fastened on the inside of the basket, protecting the cut ends of the quills and adding a neat finish to the inside.

- Gerry Conaty

Collection Area: Native North America

Rights Holder: Collection of Glenbow Museum

Catalogue No: AP 585 A-B

Image No: P0017384

Learn More:
This artifact can be used in conjunction with Nehiwayak: Traditions of the Cree People education guide from the online teacher's resource series 21st Century Learning: Links to Our Collection.


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