This spectacular bride's box by Aaron York, Abenaki artist is one of a handful of brides boxes he has made. Most of the others are in museums including the prestigious McCord Museum, Montreal, QC, Canada. This is a larger bride's box and the two hummingbirds hover above a lady slipper flower, the wild elusive queen flower of the Northern Woods. Behind the hummingbirds you see into a valley with trees; evergreens and hardwoods. Surrounding the hummingbirds are traditional Wabanaki designs including double curves, cross hatched triangle shapes with trifoliate designs atop them.
Inside the lid is a chip carved 4 directional symbol with what Aaron tells me are eyes at the tips of each direction. This makes it almost a "flyfot" the symbol of the 4 winds. On one longer side Aaron has incised "Aaron York, Abenaki, Nulhegan Tribe (Nulhegan band of Abenaki), Segwan (Spring) 2017 On the other longer side Aaron has inscribed "Nanatansisak Love", AIACA ID: AY-NA-BB07" Traditionally among the Abenaki and perhaps other of the Wabanaki tribes, these were given to brides. Aaron kept ot the theme of love and brides with the hummingbirds in love, the ladyslipper and other floral motifs. An important piece, one of Aaron's masterworks.
Aaron gave me the following description of this intricate, amazing chip carved top, bent wood bottom Bride's Box "Nanatansisak Love" (Hummingbirds Love)"
*Details: 1. Art piece name= "Nanatansisak Love" (Humming birds Love)
- American Indian Arts and Crafts Act (AIACA) piece ID number : AY-NA-BB07 - Aaron York; Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk Abenaki Tribe
Dimensions: Oval shape, 5.5" tall, 9.25" wide, 16" long (Large Brides Box)
Top Lid = Solid basswood, Highly embellished with single blade Wabanaki chip carving, with a secondary "bas relief" recessed with chip carving within. 2 levels of chip carving. "Bas Relief is taking an awl and hammering areas within the art work below the the majority of motif adding 3 dimensions. Hammering compresses the wood fibers giving an amazing texture.
Bottom = Solid eastern Black Cherry
Side Hoops (top and bottom) = Solid, flame figured, Black Cherry, boiling water bent.
Side Hoops fastening= Birch wood pegged (first box I have made using only pegs. difficult but stunning). There is NO modern hardware (metal) in this piece.
Side Hoop closure = Geometrically sewn cotton cord.
Finish = Hand rubbed Tung oil, mixed with powdered pipestone from the prayer pipe I made last year. Another first...AMAZING. The pipestone dust settles into the carving adding great contrast with a deep, warm red tone. it also lightly stains the non-carved areas with a warm red tone. The tiny particles of pipestone dust give the piece a very old looking patina.
Pipestone source : Pipestone National Monument, Pipestone, MN. Travis Ericson's (Dakota) family quarry 2010.
Total Hours: Aprox: >120 hours.*
Bride's boxes, oval bentwood boxes with fitted lids, are an old Wabanaki art form. (Wabanaki confederacy includes Abenaki, Maliseet, MicMac, Passamaquoddy, & Penobscot. These 5 tribes reside in 1 or more of the following; Maine, Vermont and Eastern Canadian provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Some of this remain, mostly ones with painted or vegetally stained traditional motifs. Very few chip carved bride's boxes have survived. One is mentioned in and pictured Frank Speck's book, "Penobscot Man" and is said to be an "old example of the wooden-hoop box by the Penobscot in the Heye Collection. (The Heye Collection is the foundation collectionof the National Museum of American Indian)