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Extremely Rare 18th c. Native American Ladle

Extremely Rare 18th c. Native American Ladle

An extremely rare 18th c. Native American ladle in original surface.

Formed from a solid block of maple burl wood into a curvilinear bodied profile. A generous, almost oversized size bowl is formed at its base in circular fashion with a gently tapered edge. The bowl is angled and shaped in such a way to accommodate the aspects of of intended function such as holding food or medicine contents and features a chiseled edge at its propereft side for liquid drainage.

Atop the bowl is a shaped handle decorated with an applied pewter effigy made of trade leaded pewter set into the handle in the form of what can be interpreted as a frog. Notched into the very top sits the head of the peeking frog with legs reducted into and thinned in thickness to represent a crouched, climbing position, likely representing its triumphant journey and struggle in the forest.

Clan animal or totemic representation remain the basis for the purpose of applying various animals or figures on early effigy ladles. The frog is a well respected, almost Godlike creature in Native lore and one surviving example collected by Francis Densmore in the early 20th c from a Teton Sioux (see Plains Indian sculpture : A Traditional Art From America's Heartland p. 155) affirms a medicine doctor or "medicine man" function. Accounts of frogs being used and collected by the Cayuga for medicinal purposes for babies is evidenced in "Amphibian and Reptile Lore of the Six Nations Cayuga by Frank G. Speck, Ernest S. Dodge" and could likely serve the function of totemic symbolism. The reason for the application of an effigy formed from trade pewter remains a mystery when compared to other effigies carved from the solid, but remains consistent with trade metal craft of the period (see THE ORIGINS OF TRADE SILVER AMONG THE LEN APE: PEWTER OBJECTS FROM SOUTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA AS POSSIBLE PRECURSORS by Marshall Joseph Becker)

Although in bowl form, a stylistically similar frog effigy can be seen pictured in "North American Burl Treen by Steven S. Powers" more than likely representing a similar totemic demonstration of effigy craft.

Stylistically, this example likely serves an identical purpose of being a medicine ladle owned by a medicine man but is formed in a much earlier, pre-reservation period. A link between the ladle collected by Francis Densmore and this one can be made by the fact of Seneca tribal relocation from eastern OH and western NY to Oklahoma along with the practice of medicinal craft remaining consistent at a generational level.

While not being able to definitively pin point historical accuracy due to lack of provenance, it can be well assumed under cross referencing known information that this ladles orignal function can be grounded in medicinal and personal use by a medicine man of Seneca, or possibly more broadly, Six Nations origin.

Remains in an overally excitedly original state of condition with a few fissues being consistent with age and use. Retains extrodinarily fine surface elements present.

An extremely interesting, rare and important example of 18th c. Native American craft suited for the collector seeking high quality organic Native American crafted material. Seneca or Six Nations in origin. Ca. 1750. 9 1/2"T.

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