M18509.1-2 | Container with lid

Container with lid
Anonyme - Anonymous
Eastern Woodlands
Aboriginal: Huron-Wendat
1865-1900, 19th century
Birchbark, moosehair, cotton thread, dyes
5.3 x 6.3 x 9.4 cm
Gift of the Estate of Miss J. J. MacFarlane
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Container with lid (68)
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Keys to History

Embroidery with moosehair, as seen on this pretty little birchbark box, is not an art that is easily mastered. Unlike conventional embroidery thread, moosehair must go through several steps before it can be used, according to the Wendake artists Thérèse Sioui and Marie-Paule Gros-Louis. The raw material is first combed and sorted into small bundles that are tied with cord, then washed in mild, soapy water, rinsed, dried and dyed, before a final rinsing and drying.

The moosehair, of various lengths, is then ready to be embroidered, a process that requires the frequent and repeated addition of more hairs. Once the piece is finished, the places where hairs overlap should not show. Several different stitches might be used in one piece. For all these reasons, this art requires more skill and patience than conventional embroidery.

  • What

    This small birchbark box decorated with moosehair embroidery could be used to store almost anything. It is decorated with a variety of embroidery stitches, including a straight stitch on the edges. The motifs were first drawn on the bark, the holes were punched and then it was embroidered.

  • Where

    This box is typical of the objects designed for the tourist market and sold mainly in Wendake and Quebec City.

  • When

    This pretty birchbark box was made between 1865 and 1900.

  • Who

    Huron-Wendat women made these superb birchbark containers. The Mi'kmaq made similar ones, but theirs were decorated with porcupine quillwork in geometric motifs.