Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Historic Paddle Illustrations - Codex canadensis

I've been searching old books for artist prints documenting some of their paddle shapes and decoration. As Graham Warren writes in Canoe Paddles: A Complete Guide to Making Your Own early native paddles are frustratingly difficult to research given that many have not survived through the centuries. Most documentation has been in the form of European explorers who often crudely represented the paddles in out-of-scale drawings and sketches.

One fascinating historical document with such imagery is the the Codex canadensis, a 79-page document written circa 1700. It is believed to have been written by Louis Nicolas , a French missionary in Canada in the late-seventeenth and early-eighteenth century. The codex is illustrated with 180 drawings of First Nations peoples, plants, mammals, birds and fish of Canada

Collections Canada has a site setup to view all the illustrations in this piece of Canadian heritage. Here are some shots below that show some of the paddle forms and decorations encountered by Nicholas. I'll be posting more on other historic paddle illustrations soon.


Anonymous said...

This is a great find. I've been inspired by your website over the last year that I've been following it. I have a Voyager paddle that I built out of Basswood a couple of years ago that decorates our home. I think I'm going to attempt to add a design to the blade.

Thanks for the inspiration.

Murat said...

Glad you're enjoying the blog. I've been a frequent visitor to your site and am looking forward to your amazing Great Lakes journey this summer. Would love to see your finished paddle when your done.

Happy Paddling,

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