Monday, March 30, 2009

Historic Paddle Illustrations - Lahontan

Louis-Armand de Lom d'Arce de Lahontan was a French officer who traveled extensively in New France in the 17th century. Upon returning to Europe, he wrote an extremely poplar book entitled Nouveaux voyages de Mr. le baron de Lahontan dans l'Amérique septentrionale. A english translated version, New voyages to North-America (1905) is available for download as a PDF (24 MB). There is a brief section that explains the design of a typical paddle (without mentioning tribal affiliation) as well as crude sketch that seems out of scale with the text description.

LaHontan's illustration of a paddle

"The paddles they make use of are made from Maplewood, and their form is represented in the annex'd Cutt. The Blade of the Paddle is twenty inches long, six inches broad, and four Lines [1/3 inch] thick. The Handle [shaft] is about three Foot long, and as big [thick] as a Pigeons Egg"

What struck me however, is the chevron style decorative pattern on the blade which seems consistent with some of the earlier decorations posted in the Codex canadiensis and by Champlain.

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