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Belt Cup

Penobscot(?)
Maine

ca. 1825

wood

height: 4 ½"
width: 3 ½"

Inventory # W1500b

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PROVENANCE

Marvin Sadik, Scarborough, ME

Exhibited

The Art Gallery of Ontario, 2005-2009

By the early 19th century, Euro-American settlement extended along the coast of Maine. The interior region remained largely inhabited by the Abenaki, Maliseet, Mi'kmaq, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscot peoples, collectively known as the Wabanaki (‘People of the Dawnland’). The Wabanaki frequently acted as guides to the region’s river islands and lakes for non-Natives. Travelling the extensive waterways of the interior by canoe, carved cups were used to scoop fresh drinking water. The exceptional design and execution of the present canoe cup suggest that it was a presentation piece rather than a utilitarian tool. A masterfully carved sculptural human figure is seen pushing against the back of the ladle. Its surface treatment is uncommonly tactile: rather than exhibiting a perfectly globular shape, the ladle is purposefully carved to reveal a rugged surface reminiscent of a mountain, invoking perhaps a mythical origin story. Only the base is flattened to contain the artfully incised name ‘Pierrean Thoine’ as well as an image of a wild boar. The name likely corresponds to that of its first French Canadian or Métis owner, possibly an explorer or fur trader in the region.