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Preview image of work. birch bark and split spruce root,  Covered Box 26382


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Covered Box

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Bear Family ; Unidentified Basket Maker, Penobscot Nation of the Wabanaki Confederacy


Covered Box

Creation Date



early 19th century


6 1/2 x 11 1/4 x 7 1/8 in. (16.51 x 28.58 x 18.1 cm)

Object Type


Creation Place

North America, United States, Maine

Medium and Support

birch bark and split spruce root

Credit Line

Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, Maine


This artwork may be under copyright. For further information, please consult the Museum’s Copyright Terms and Conditions.

Accession Number


This oval box represents the material culture of Wabanaki people—Abenaki, Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscot—living in what is now Maine and Canada’s Maritime Provinces. Attributed to the Maliseet Nation, it is made from the bark of white or paper birch, which continues to be a reliable and useful material that Wabanakis use to craft an array of objects. The double-scroll motif on this box, a typical Wabanaki design, was scratched into the soft fibers to reveal the lighter bark within. The skill needed to create this form attests to the artistry of Wabanaki craftsmanship. Beginning in the seventeenth century, European explorers and settlers marveled at birchbark’s versatility and Native Americans’ use of the material. Inscriptions on the inside cover includes the date 1834 and “Bought of Dr. Bear[s] [?] of Prospect,” providing a rare reference to the Native family associated with the box’s origins.

Additional Media

Additional Image 3/4 side, end and top
3/4 side, end and top
Additional Image opposite side
opposite side
Additional Image inside box and lid
inside box and lid
Additional Image side