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Drumming the Dawn -Root Club


This large root club carved by Erik Sappier, Penobscot/Abenaki features traditional chip carved designs as well as incised carvings of a drummer, drumming to the rising sun and a fisherman with fish spear and pollack. The carved face is that of Wabanaki man. The sharpened roots include an eagle head, a bear and an arrowhead.

This root club is 33.5" long, the root top is about 7" across at widest and about 5" deep. PLEASE CLICK ON PHOTOS BELOW TO SEE ENTIRE PHOTO - 2nd one shows the root club in it's entirety from front for example.

The root club is a truly Maine Indian item - There just don't seem to be examples of these in any other area. Made from the root ball and trunk of a small birch tree, the root club has been documented to have been made pre-European contact. Traditionally used as weapons some later ones were thought to have ceremonial or spiritual use. The traditional carving on root clubs is an ancient skill which was nearly lost - but discovering that these could be sold as "tourist items" or "souvenirs" around 1900 -1930, Maine Indian carvers of that era began incorporating designs that sold - including painting them and using Plains Indian type headdresses on the faces that were traditionally carved on some root clubs. Place and tribal names appeared on the handles - as tourists liked mementos of where they had visited.

Here Erik has carved a more traditional style club, with a large carved face in the burl. This particular gray birch he has carved has unusual reddish streaks in the wood which enhance and add interest. The root points are carved like and eagle head, a bear and an arrowhead. As most traditional root clubs do, this leaves some bark on below the face. The man seems to wear a collared shirt. Below the bark is a chip carved triangle, with chip carved feathers or leaves hanging from the sides. This is a traditional design placed in the usual place. Beneath this is the incised drawing of a drummer, drum in one hand, drum beater in the other - facing the rising sun. (The Passamaquoddy refer to themselves as the people of the dawn as the rising sun first is seen in their land, the most Northeastern point in the US). Next in the middle front is another chip carved traditional design which I have come to call the "feathered shaft" Under that is a small star design which appears above a fisherman with a traditional fishing spear in one hand and a pollock fish in the other. Passamaquoddy means "gathering place of the pollock) Around the feathered shaft and below the fisherman, and encircling the bottom of the root club shaft are ash branches. Several are located on the sides and back of the shaft as well. The ash branch design is one of the most traditional and frequently used on root club handles.. The ash tree figures in the Penobscot and Passamaquoddy creation myth... Mythical creature Glooscap shot and arrow into an ash tree, splitting it and out of the split emerged "the people" ... legend of how humans came into existence. The ash is a sacred plant to these tribes.

On the center back of the shaft Erik has placed another "feathered shaft" - this one at it's top has incised carved realistic feathers. Inside the shaft are 4 double curve designs. The double curve is a traditional motif and Erik uses it in a design above the feathered shaft as well.

His maker's mark on this club is an "S" inside a chip carved turtle outline. MORE PHOTOS including maker's mark, root projection carvings of eagle, bear, arrowhead - etc - available on request. Very hard to show the entirety and complexity of a round item in a flat photo. Email me thru link below and I will gladly send photos to your email address.

Erik Sappier, Large Root Club, - Face
Erik Sappier, Large Root Club,  front
Erik Sappier, Large Root Club, front triangle
Erik Sappier, Large Root Club, Drummer
Erik Sappier, Large Root Club, feathered shaft front
Erik Sappier, Large Root Clubb, fisherman - pollock
Erik Sappier, Large Root Club, double curves
Erik Sappier, Large Root Club - Eagle & Bear carved root points
Weight: 4 lb