Tradition, Change and Survival: Mi'kmaq Tourist Art
Anonyme - Anonymous
1870, 19th century
Ash splints, fibre
9.5 x 15.5 x 25.6 cm
Gift of Mrs. James H. Peck
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Basket (375)
Keys to History
Part 1 - Art of the Mi'kmaq, Valuable Knowledge
The Mi'kmaq, who live along Canada's east coast, have long made objects that are practical, meaningful and aesthetically pleasing using a variety of complex techniques. Examining these objects helps us to recognize the creativity of these Aboriginal people and the dynamism of their culture, which has always been open to change. Each finely worked piece is testimony to knowledge that goes back many thousands of years.
The Mi'kmaq are skilled in the use of the resources provided so generously by their lands, which are covered with forests and border the Atlantic Ocean. To create everyday objects, the Mi'kmaq often use wood: the bark, branches and young saplings of maple, oak, ash, birch and cedar trees.
This fancy basket is made with wood splints. The decorative motif is inspired by the periwinkle (jikiji'j in Mi'kmaq), a small mollusk that abounds along the seashore.
In the 19th century, the Mi'kmaq travelled far and wide to sell their art, in particular, their baskets. This one comes from Rivière-du-Loup; it may have been produced there or in the Gaspé and subsequently sold to a tourist or collector.
The basket was probably made during the second half of the 19th century.
Mi'kmaq baskets always carry the mark of the artist who made them. Even if the collectors and buyers who acquired the baskets in the 19th century neglected to record the makers' names, basketmakers can recognize each other's distinctive styles.