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Burl Bowl, Northeastern Woodlands / Iroquois-Algonquin, 19th century or earlier

Burled elm, steel or iron staples



A round burl bowl with the open sinusoid-like figure typical of elm. Heavily burnished exterior, and dry interior. There is one period break in the bowl extending down from the lip 3 5/8” in the bowl interior. On either side of the break there are heavily eroded remnants of three steel or iron staples from a historic repair.

Highly prized objects, that were labour intensive to manufacture, historic burled wood bowls from throughout North America often remained in use for generations. Bowls were repaired and re-repaired as necessary to keep them in functional service.

 Little is known about the ritual or ceremonial context of the many related forms of bowls produced by the historic Indigenous inhabitants of the North American Great Lakes and Northeastern regions. Some bowls incorporate figuration in the form of effigies, sometimes explicit, and other times highly abstracted. Others bowls, such as this example appear spare, and show an absence of extraneous sculptural elements.
Bowls of this form defy precise dating. The choice of material, size, and character of the surface present in this example might be considered in relation to a bowl once referred to as “King Philip's Samp Bowl” (call number: Wood 01. East Stacks) in the collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, attributed to the Wampanoag and dated circa 1655-1675.



Length: 15 1/4”

Width: 16 1/4”

Height: 5 1/4”


Private collection, Kansas


Massachusetts Historical Society. Wood 01. East Stacks, MHS artifact No. 0601--See: Wooden Bowls of the Algonquian Indians, Willoughby, Peabody Museum, Harvard University, 1908, fig. 27


We will donate 10% of this sale to a Canadian organization supporting Indigenous education and mental health, addressing the legacy of the Residential School System, and promoting reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians. Clients will have their choice in supporting one of the following charitable organizations:


The Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund

A 19th C or earlier Northeastern Woodlands/Iroquois-Algonquin Burl Bowl, elm

  • Please contact Dealer for more information



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