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Quill Box: Traditional Starfish Design


This traditional style porcupine on birch bark box/basket is by Martin Dana, Passamaquoddy. The 8 legged/sided starfish design is a very traditional NE design seen on centuries old quill work by both Passamaquoddy and MicMac.

This is 2 7/8" in diameter and 2 1/2" high

Here Martin Dana has used white porcupine quills to supply the background for the deep red, blue and yellow dyed quills making the starfish design on the lid. On the sides of the overhanging lid you can see the brown tips of some of the quill and there are blue quill X's on the overhang at the tip of each "star" point. At the top of the bottom of the box/basket are light and dark blue quill diamonds outlined in natural white. Below that the brown quill tips are near the top edge and the white ends start from the bottom.

Martin has signed and dated the bottom of the basket using both his name and his maker's mark. This is done with "burnt work" - another historic birch bark decorative technique using a heated tool to "etch" the birch bark.

Martin Dana, Passamaquoddy is one of the few Wabanaki artists doing fine quill work boxes/baskets (These are referred to as either box or basket both currently and historically). Quillwork done by the Wabanaki historically was elaborate and lovely. Quillwork on birchbark was by the Wabanaki pre-European contact.

The Wabanaki confederacy includes the 4 tribes residing in Maine, the Maliseet, MicMac, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot. The Abenaki of Vermont and eastern Canada are the 5th tribe of the alliance. The Maliseet, MicMac (Mi'kmaq Canadian spelling) and the Passamaquoddy also have land and reside in eastern Canada.

Starfish design quill box
Starfish design quill box top
Starfish design quill box open
Starfish design quill box signature
Weight: 1 lb