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"The Fur Companies have lately introduced the use of oars, in propelling
the canoe but the natives employ the cedar paddle, with a light and slender blade. See fig. 14, plate 2. In either case, they are steered with a larger paddle, having a long handle, and a broad blade. See Fig. 2, plate 2."
Decorated Canoe Paddle
This handmade paddle has a nicely carved handle and an amber painted blade decorated with a diagonal black stripe on the front and back.
5.5” w, 65” h
"The Alutiiq kayaker (canoeist!) kneeled rather than sat in his baidarka (Russian for little boat) and used a single bladed paddle, from a more upright position. The shape of the paddles were long and pointed as to enter the water quietly while hunting. As the blade was fully half the length of the paddle, the surface area needed for power paddling was there when needed . just as if shifting into a lower gear. the shape also was beneficial in that it moved easily through the wind while being brought forward."
A fine and very rare rainforest paddle with traditional diamond patterning in ochres to the front and back of the bi-convex ovoid 'head', with an undecorated carved wood handle. Paddles such as this are clearly related in shape to the traditional rainforest clubs, which in their early 20th century incarnations were also painted with ochred designs related to those on the large shields. As opposed to those traditional large softwood shields, which were used in warfare, these later variants, together with the smaller early 20th century rainforest shields, were used purely ceremonially, usually in dance. There are very few examples known of this 'dance specific' paddle format, as opposed to 'fighting format' artefacts (clubs, shields, boomerangs) brought over into the realm of ritual by appropriate decoration.
Published: Christie's catalogue Australian Aboriginal Art, Melbourne, 30 August, 2005 (lot128).