Tsimshian, Native American

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 746

One of the most prized products from a successful hunt was the fat from whales, seals, and fish, especially eulachon (candlefish). Used to give flavor and additional calories to foods, these oils remain an essential part of the Tsimshian culinary repertoire. This bowl once held eulachon oil and features the projecting head of a bird, possibly a raven. Such a finely detailed dish would have been reserved for important guests during a potlatch ceremony or other feasting occasion. The carver has imbued his quotidian creation with an otherworldly essence: a face, whose gaping mouth forms the rim, is apparent when viewed from above.

Bowl, Wood, Tsimshian, Native American

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