Native American, Pacific Northwest, Bella Coola, British Columbia, ca. mid 20th century CE, made by Richard Dicks (active second half of 20th century). A beautiful, lidded, spruce bentwood box clad in gorgeous embossed copper sheet on the lid and sides, with soft leather lining the interior. Traditionally, bentwood boxes were used for storing and serving water and foodstuffs. Today, many are made as beautiful pieces of art. Richard Dicks is a First Nations artist who lives in Bella Coola and who is particularly known for his bentwood boxes and copper work. His description of the iconography on this piece is provided below. Size with lid: 11" L x 20.5" W x 11" H (27.9 cm x 52.1 cm x 27.9 cm)
TOP - Thunderbird, the most powerful of all the spirits, the personification of "Chief". He lived high in the mountains, and when hungry he ate whales. Distinguishing features are the curled appendages on the top of the head (power symbols). FRONT - Bear, flanked by Ravens (in the ears). Because of its strength, power, and human-like qualities the bear was referred to as "Elder Kinsman" and treated as a high ranking guest. ENDS - Raven transforming into a human. Because of the perception of the oneness of all Earth's creatures, the people of the Northwest Coast held the belief that animals could supernaturally change their appearance at will, and take on a human form or another animal's appearance. BACK - A frog transforming into a raven so that it can fly with the Thunderbird.
Provenance: private Newport Beach, California, USA collection
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Light patina on copper surfaces, with very slight bending to edges. Leather is in nice condition. Felt on base of box not contemporary to the piece.