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Burl Bowl, Great Lakes, Mid-19th century or earlier

Burled ash, steel, copper rivets


A densely figured shouldered burl bowl with heavy internal scaring and variegated patina from generations of use. Period breaks with a historic repair dating to the late 19th or early 20th century.

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. One of the few academic works that touches on the subject, Art of the Red Earth People by Gaylord Torrence and Robert Hobbs, addresses the use of burled wood bowls among the Mesquakie of Iowa, noting that the very wood these objects are made from is thought by some to be sacred, and embodied with Manitou power.



Length:15 5/8”

Width:10 3/4”

Height: 6”


Private collection, Kansas


Detroit Institute of Arts, No. 81.117 – See: Great Lakes Indian Art, Penney, Wayne State University Press, 1989, fig. 17

Peabody Museum of Archeology and Ethnology, No. 05-19-10/64744 – See: Wooden Bowls of the Algonquian Indians, Willoughby, Peabody Museum, Harvard University, 1908, fig. 28



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 mid-19th C or earlier Great Lakes Burl Bowl, burled ash, steel, copper rivets

  • Please contact Dealer for more information



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