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Starfish Design quillwork birchbark box c/1860-80


This MicMac quillwork box dates between 1860-1880. It is in near perfect condition. The "8 Legged Starfish" design on the top of the lid is a traditional and beloved MicMac quillwork design.

The bright blue and pink quillse were dyed with aniline dye - and thus date this as post 1860 (when aniline dye became available and widely used by MicMac quillworkers) - the spruce root wrap on the lid overhang, the wooden pegs fastening the birch bark to the wooden bottom and the chevron design of the quills on the side indicate this was made pre-1880.

This is 4.75" in diameter and 3.5" high. It has the only tidal sweegtrass braid on a quillwork birch bark basket I have ever seen. There is a sweetgrass braid at the outer edge of the lid top where the overhanging lid is then wrapped in spruce root. Another braid is wrapped on the basket itself, just where the overhanging lid and the basket meet.

There are 2 quills missing on the lid - look closely, you may have a difficult time finding where those are. On the side in one area where the chevron centers meet there are two missing blue quills, two pink and a bit of the tips of 5 others have been damaged. The rest of the side quills are in quite good condition and you can turn it so you can display a perfect appearing box.

I have been told that the smaller designs in blue and pink quills between the arms of the starfish have meaning - but while the MicMacs I have asked about this agree these hold some meaning, none knew how to "read" them.

Last photo is a close-up showing one of the small wooden pegs attaching the birchbark side to the wooden bottom.

Starfish design quill box
Starfish design quill box, side
Starfish design quill box, close
Starfish design quill box, open
Starfish design quill box,  wooden peg
Weight: 1 lb