Bird Effigy Feast Bowl

17th century

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The spiritual and cultural traditions of Woodlands peoples are powerfully embodied in feast bowls of this type. Carved from the burls of trees deemed sacred, these beautifully proportioned objects functioned as ritual vessels in nearly all religious ceremonies. The highly abstract, minimally carved bird’s head emerging from the rim of this work depicts a raptor, thereby establishing its identity as a Thunderbird, the great guardian spirit so often represented in Woodland art. The fragmented rim, eroded paint and glowing luster indicate great age and long use, revealing that this ancient bowl was revered for generations.

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  • Title: Bird Effigy Feast Bowl
  • Date Created: 17th century
  • Physical Dimensions: w435.1 x h177.8 x d381 in
  • Culture: Northeastern Woodlands, Algonquian
  • Type: Sculpture
  • Rights: Gift of George Terasaki, Gift of George Terasaki
  • External Link: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
  • Medium: Wood (elm) and pigment

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