Skip to Content
n3596-first-nation-art-tlingit-headdress-finial.jpg
Views

Headdress Finial

Tlingit
Southeast Alaska

ca. 1840-60

wood, abalone shell, pigment, hair
height: 9”

Inventory # N3596

Sold


Essay

Small carvings representing the dorsal fin of a killer whale, or orca, were made to fit into the top of carved wooden hats fashioned in the form of woven spruce root hats (see example here). Carved by the hand of a masterful traditional artist, this elegant finial when standing erect, would be elevated above the heads of a gathering, making visible the identifying symbol of the family crest of the owner. The inlay of iridescent abalone shell in the eyes and forward teeth enabled the carving to catch and reflect the firelight of a ceremonial house as well as the sunlight of an outdoor gathering. The long wisps of hair attached to the back edge of these finials was often the hair of a respected female relative, thus bringing additional status and honor to this venerable object.

Previous
Amulet N3892

Tlingit
Southeast Alaska

ca. 1820–40
N3892
Sold