Title: Cradle

Date: ca. 1900
Culture: Algonquin, possibly Passamaquoddy (Northeast Coast)
Credit: Gift of Drs. Nira and Leonard Levine
Material: Birch bark
Size: 37.25” H
On View: Yes

Birch bark is an abundant and versatile material used by Northeast and Great Lakes tribes for a variety of purposes. It’s strong, odorless, lightweight and resistant to decay: In short, the perfect material for constructing canoes, shelter, and containers.

Objects are made by cutting, folding, and stitching sheets of bark together. The outer layers of bark are often scraped away to reveal the lighter, inner bark to create some sort of design. By the nineteenth century, native artists began creating birch bark items specifically for sale to non-natives. This cradle is an excellent example of the commercialization of those items based on traditional forms.

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