M1868 | Rosary

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Eastern Woodlands
Aboriginal: Maliseet
1840-1860, 19th century
Wood beads, bone, cotton thread, varnish
2 x 60 cm
Gift of Mr. David Ross McCord
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Rosary (14)
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Initially, the Malecites and Mi'kmaqs welcomed the European missionaries and colonists arriving on their shores. Many converted to Catholicism in the early 17th century and started making rosaries and crucifixes using traditional materials. These peoples nevertheless quickly took up the fight to preserve their traditional beliefs and their land.

Keys to History

Although the Mi'kmaq first welcomed the new arrivals-the colonists, soldiers and missionaries-they quickly realized that they would have to fight to hold on to their land, their culture and their beliefs. "The place where you are, where you are building dwellings... where you want, as it were, to enthrone yourself, this land of which you wish to make yourself now absolute master, this land belongs to me. I have come from it as certainly as the grass, it is the very place of my birth and of my dwelling..." (Statement by Mi'kmaq elders and chiefs to the Governor of Nova Scotia. Letter from Father Maillard to Father du Fau, October 18, 1749, Archives du Séminaire de Québec).

  • What

    Rosaries are used to guide the recitation of prayers. Each prayer is represented by one of the beads, which in this rosary are made of wood and bone. Several of the bone beads are shaped like a human hand.

  • Where

    This rosary of Maliseet origin comes from the east coast of Canada.

  • When

    This rosary was made in the mid-19th century.

  • Who

    The rosary was created by a Maliseet artist. It is based on those of European origin, made of wood, bone and glass beads, which circulated in Canada in the mid-19th century.