Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Canoe Depictions at Abbe Museum

In my previous post, I introduced the Abbe Museum of Bar Harbor and ran photos of its sole bark canoe. We'll stay at the Abbe in this post, looking at various depictions of canoes on display there. (Click any image to enlarge.)

The Indian god Glooskap. From display signage: "Is Glooskap still living? Yes, far away; no none knows where. Some say he sailed away in his stone canoe beyond the sea, to the east, but he will return in it one day."

Another sign reads: "Glooskap built a stone canoe. He worked a year at it. Then he dried meat and so provisioned the canoe with food and water. Along with his grandmother woodchuck, Glooskap sailed across the sea. This was before White people had ever heard of America. The White Men did not discover this country first at all. Glooskap discovered England, and told them about it."

So there!
Mail pouch by Tomah Joseph, Passamaquoddy, 1890. Birch bark and ash. Upper left shows four canoes near a shoreline with a flagpole. Lower right shows a groundhog sitting in a stone boat. The the other figure in the boat is not identified.
This picture and the next two: Model canoe, ca. 1900, probably Micmac. Birch bark, rattan, cedar, ash, porcupine quill decorations on side. Models like this were built in large numbers by Mt. Desert natives as tourist souvenirs. Accuracy was clearly not an objective in these models: they were meant to represent canoes in a general way for an undiscerning audience, and the decoration was probably more important than the canoe's shape or construction.
It does look nice in plan view though.

Colored quill decoration on the sides.

Above and below: bark boxes showing canoe images, also typical tourist-trade goods.
This photo and the two following: Large Wabanaki birchbark canoe model (probably about 28 inches LOA) by Harry Jordan, ca. 1930. Birchbark, ash, maple, cedar, pitch. Paddles and poles of maple.
Elaborate binding of the gunwales near the ends. I'm unfamiliar with the flap that's lashed atop the intersection of the gunwale ends -- it's not like the wulegessis, that folds under the gunwales and overlaps the top of the hull sides..
This view shows the headboard clearly, and the unusual way it's bound in place.
This photo and all that follow: four nicely made dioramas show Wabanaki subsistence activities through the four seasons. The winter scene showed no canoes and is not included here. The first two images are, I believe, fall, the next two are summer, and the final two are spring, but I didn't take good notes and I may have these mixed up. In any case, they're nice believable depictions of canoes in prehistoric native context. (For scale: the human figures are about 5 inches tall.)

Building a canoe.

Pulled up on a beach for repairs.

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