top of pin has seated stylized bear eating a salmon, held vertically; bear has rounded ears; round inlaid abalone eyes; pick-like pin

Blanket pin, late 19th century

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Tribes that live in the northern section of the Northwest Coast are known for their highly refined sculpture. Characterized by low-relief carving, these northern tribes, which include the Tlingit, often feature clan symbols as their subjects. The bear is a central theme in Tlingit art, and is considered a close relative to humans. Because of this, bears are believed to have special spiritual powers and are, therefore, worthy of respect. Though a small, utilitarian object, this pin brilliantly represents the style and iconography of Northwest Coast tribal traditions. Shallowly carved in abstracted, geometric forms, the sacred bear is shown holding a fish. In addition to the fastidious carving, the artist further embellished the pin by inlaying a piece of mother-of-pearl for the bear's eye. This pin would have been used to fasten a textile that was draped over the shoulders and around the torso. Worn on the chest, the image of the bear would have been proudly displayed.

Details
Title
Blanket pin
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2011.51
Curator Approved

This record has been reviewed by our curatorial staff but may be incomplete. These records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@artsmia.org.

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top of pin has seated stylized bear eating a salmon, held vertically; bear has rounded ears; round inlaid abalone eyes; pick-like pin