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Traditional Style Snout Spirit Root Club - with eel head


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. Very small ones, less than a foot long are thought to have been shaman's clubs. The first carving was done to make the projecting roots sharper, more deadly. The traditional carving on root clubs is an ancient skill which was nearly lost.

One of the most intriguing styles of traditional root clubs is the spirit club. These have mythological "spirit" faces carved in the burl or one or more of the roots. At times the only carving done to enhance and show the spirit is rudimentary carved eyes and mouth - others more carving is involved. The spirit club carving merely enhances the face that the carver has already seen in the wood. The type of spirit club seen here is a "snouted spirit club". This one also has ears. You can see that ears and the "snout" are slightly carved roots, already in the burl. Stan adds brass tacks for eyes, as was done as early as the mid-1700's.

PLEASE click on the photos below to see the entire picture. The second one shows entire club... and all others show more than can be seen unless you click! It is difficult to show the beauty of this round item in flat photographs.

This club is 31" long and the root burl is approximately 5" in diameter. At the top there is a root which Stan has carved as an eel head (Stan Neptune is of Penobscot eel clan and uses an eel shape as his maker's mark). The top of the head is carved with a cross-hatched diamond pattern and the bottom of the head has an ash branch carved in it. See both in photos 4 (head) and 7 (ash branch on bottom) below.

The top of the handle of the club has 4 chip carved triangles, each with a chip carved diamond at bottom that has a trifoliate leaves design beneath it. Under each triangle is an ash branch growing from a replica of the chip carved triangle pattern above it. The ash branch is a very old traditional chip carved design. The brown ash is a sacred tree to the Northeast Native Americans and figures in the Penobscot creation myth... the Penobscots were made by an arrow piercing the brown ash tree and the splinters became the people. So this is a traditional and a sacred design. The chip carved triangle pattern at the top is repeated at the front bottom. In between the ash branch pattern and the bottom is a vine design with chip carved leaves that spirals around the handle. Floral designs with long chip carved petals separate the vines on the handle. All designs on the handle are very traditional

Stan's signed at the bottom back of the handle "Neptune over his maker's mark, the eel, and under that the date.

Snout Club, Stan Neptune
Snout Club, Stan Neptune - all
Snout Club, Stan Neptune - chip carve triangle
Snout Club, Stan Neptune - Eel head closeup
Snout Club, Stan Neptune, ash branch
Snout Club, Stan Neptune, vine design
Snout Club, Stan Neptune, ash branch under eel head
Weight: 2 lb