Sunday, April 23, 2017

"Weymontachie" Atikamekw Paddles

La culture matérielle des indiens de Weymontachie by Norman Clermont (‎1982) contains a grainy image of paddles made by members of the Weymontachie Reserve (now Wemotaci) in Quebec. These are straight sided working paddles although one of them features an elongated grip with carved vine motif.

La culture matérielle des indiens de Weymontachie 
Norman Clermont (‎1982) 

A second sketch appears in the book providing a closeup of the decorative element...

La culture matérielle des indiens de Weymontachie 
Norman Clermont (‎1982) 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Historic Paddle Art: C. Krieghoff: Untitled Oil with Chevron Paddle

The Galerie Bac's web gallery of Cornelius Krieghoff (1815-1872) features a rare painting by the Canadian Artist. The untitled and undated oil showcases a shoreline camp scene with bark wigwam, a canoe and a slender paddle blade with a simple chevron motif on the blade.

Cornelius Krieghoff
Date Unknown

Paddle Closeup

Krieghoff's other works containing paddle imagery (see all posts HERE) continue the motif. One other specific work, Indians in the Employ of the Hudson's Bay Company at a Portage (1858) also features a paddle with a similar chevron decoration.

 Indians in the Employ of the Hudson's Bay Company at at Portage
Cornelius Krieghoff - 1858

Paddle Closeup

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Musees de Beaux-Art (Rennes) - Mi'kmaq Model Canoe & Paddle (1794)

From this page on artifacts from New France is a rare glimpse of an old Mi'kmaq style birchbark canoe model.  The model was assumed to be collected by Christophe-Paul de Robien (1698-1756), a French enthnographer and historian. After the French Revolution, his personal collection inherited by his descendants was seized by the state and distributed to what became the Museum of Fine Arts of Rennes. During the inventory process, it was inscribed with a date of 1794 but the original construction date is unknown.

Modèle de canot avec rame
Inv 794.1.782
Museum of Fine Arts     RENNES

Accompanying the canoe is a single paddle with a pole grip and a decorated blade. Although faded, it appears that half the blade was painted with a red pigment creating a simple "yin/yang" effect.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Historic Illustration - Jacques Bidault - Pirogues et Pagaies, 1945

From La Bibli du Canoe website is an excerpt from a 1945 publication entitled,  Pirogues et Pagaies by Jacques Bidault. Page 139 contains sketches of various paddles. Unfortunately apart from the brief figure captions, no signification details are provided.

The first paddle is reminiscent of  Innu shaped paddles. The second figure is labelled as a "Pagaie chippeway" and looks to be a resketching of the "Chippewa Woman's Paddle" from the Smithsonian complete with knots on the shaft and grip area..

Bureau of American Ethnology
BULLETIN 86 - Chippewa Customs
Plate 53

The final paddle sketch (figure 138) contains some decorative etchings and a hole in the flattened grip area. Unfortunately, it is simply listed as an "Indian Paddle" with no other clues to the specific origins.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Paddle Themed Chessboard

My older son has recently taken an interest in playing chess so thought it would be a good idea to have some sort of set ready for rainy camp days.  There are plenty of foldaway, magnetic boards or other travel chess sets out there, but wanted to use some scraps and make a homemade version.

The wanigan I made a few years back had an  11"x14"  birch art panel used as a sliding internal tray. It would now serve double duty as the removable board for play.

Wanigan with inner tray

The checkerboard pattern was marked out with 1-1/8" squares. Over a leisurely few days, the appropriate squares were burned at high heat. Decided to fill the remaining space on the rectangular tray with burned images of the two heirloom paddles for my sons.  One is dark with negative pyrography, the other a light paddle burned in a positive image so it kind of fits the whole dark vs light theme in chess.

My sons' heirloom paddles

In retrospect, I should have sanded the birch panel surface with a finer grit before doing the burn as the board was a bit lumpy and it is blotchy in places. But it'll work for a functional game. Here's a photo before a light, waterbased varnish was added to protect the surface.

As far as pieces go, I ended up replicating a simple block design found on line (credit to Lanier Graham) ...


Made my light pieces from basswood and the dark pieces from cherry scraps. Sort of changed the piece for the King by adding another cut and making the top a four pointed crown. I've repurposed a sami-style coffee bag made from suede leather to carry the 64 pieces. Anyway, here is the finished set ready for our upcoming trip planning on the May long weekend...

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Historic Photo: Iroquois Decorated Ceremonial Paddle

From the Smithsonian Institution Research Information Service (SIRIS) comes this photo featuring a decorated Iroquois (Mohawk) ceremonial paddle dated circa 1891...

Iroquois Tribe: Portrait of Viroqua's Oldest Brother, Jesse Martin, and his Great Niece
CULTURE: Iroquois Mohawk
DATE: prior to 1891
CITE AS: Photo Lot 24 SPC Ne Iroquois Mohawk NM 24145 00782400, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
DATA SOURCE: National Anthropological Archives

The paddle features a dual tone motif, sometimes seen in other artistic renditions or model samples. This earlier post featuring a painting by James Peachey dated to 1785 shows Iroquoian paddlers on Lake Ontario with similarly themed paddle decoration.....

Southeast view of Cataraqui (Kingston) on Lake Ontario
James Peachey, James Peachey collection
Library and Archives Canada, accession number 1989-221-5, C-001511
1 watercolour / aquarelle : watercolour and pen and ink over pencil on paper
August 1785

Decorated Paddle Closeup

Decorated Paddle Closeup

New York's Metropolitan Museum of the Arts has a bark canoe model with similarly decorated paddles in their collection dated to pre-1845 (original post HERE) although of course the pigment has faded with time.

Canoe Model with Accoutrements
Ralph T. Coe Collection, Gift of Ralph T. Coe Foundation for the Arts, 2011
Accession Number: 2011.154.6a–p

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Museum Volkenkunde - "Eastern Woodlands" Paddle

The Museum Volkenkunde (National Museum of Ethnology) in the Netherlands has a full-sized  "Eastern Woodlands" paddle in its collection. Details of the origins are vague but it features a straight sided blade with a small flattened grip.

Origin: Northeast , Canada
Dated: 1900-2000?
Dimensions: 4 x 11 x 160 cm
Object number: RV-4892-1a

I had to resort to Google Translate in order to understand the descriptive paragraph. Here it is below:

The canoe was propelled into the Northeast with paddles where the paddler kneeling on the bottom of the vessel. Canoes in many activities were like hunting, fishing, gathering wild rice and used in historical period for the fur trade. For white fur traders canoe was the means of transport par excellence and is today the North American sports canoe based on the model of the traditional indigenous people of the "Eastern Woodlands."

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