© McCord Museum
Anonyme - Anonymous
1760-1780, 18th century
Wood, lead and brass inlay, brass wire, hide strips, bird quills, pigment
9 x 3.5 x 17.5 cm
Gift of the Natural History Society of Montreal
© McCord Museum
Keys to History:
THE ABORIGINAL DIPLOMATS' TOOLS
This rare effigy pipe bowl is a work of exceptional skill and beauty. The bowl has been carved to represent a man's face, and includes painted designs that suggest the presence of tattoos or war paint. The ears are slit and wrapped with brass wire - a practice among certain Aboriginal people described by 18th-century European observers. Fine bird quills are affixed to each side of the face. The horse-like creature curving behind the head may represent an Underworld manito.
Aboriginal diplomats were adept at creating networks of symbolic kinship, which allowed strangers and Europeans to be received and addressed as "relatives". Gifts were exchanged to both establish and strengthen these ties. The peace pipe, or calumet, was an important element in the protocol used by diplomats. By showing a calumet, a diplomat could walk safely among enemies, and when negotiations were successful a full calumet ceremony ratified the peace.
This is a rare and early pipe bowl made of wood with lead and brass inlays. The bowl has been carved to represent a man's face, and includes painted designs that suggest the presence of tattoos or war paint. The horse-like creature curving behind the head may represent an Underworld manito. The pipe stem is missing.
The style of this pipe bowl, including the features depicted on the effigy, suggest that it was made in the Eastern Woodlands, possibly in the region of the Great Lakes.
Based on comparisons with a number of carved pipe bowls in other museum collections, it is likely that this pipe was carved sometime in the period from about 1760 to 1780.
This pipe bowl is carved in a style that resembles the work of Aboriginal groups living around the Great Lakes, possibly the Anishinaabe. The pipe was collected by Sir George Duncan Gibb (1821-1876), who was born in Montreal and served as Librarian and Curator of the Natural History Society of Montreal.