Collectors seek rare Indian carvings


When white man first contacted the Indians of the far Northwest regions, British explorers were among the first there to claim land as their own.

Captain Cook visited the region in the 1700s and obtained artifacts to take back to England.

Beginnings of art. This area of the United States and Canada had quite a few Indians as permanent residents, and had plenty of hands to maintain a plentiful lifestyle. As a result, there was spare time for community expression in art forms. Most art forms were given as gifts.

By 1820, white explorers and casual travelers began to become interested in the Indian art objects and prices began to be asked for former gifts.

Before an artisan would satisfy his or her wants and desires, items were made for the tourists’ desires.

Indian art is rare. Due to climatic conditions, notably the extreme damp atmosphere and location, ancient Indian carvings are extremely rare.

Especially interesting are the artifacts relating to the Indians’ religious ceremonies. Collectors choose these over ordinary tourist materials.

The art form practiced by these Northwest tribes and others can be classified as somewhat abstract. Artisans, especially those employing procedures their ancestors utilized, today produce art that may closely reveal ancient artifacts.

Some articles may have been produced in the early 1900s and up to mid-century.

Two perspectives. There are possibly two trends of thought concerning Indian art. The older collectors and those seeking artifacts of traditional and historic merit claim the modern carvings are now mere trinkets for tourists, with no ancestral meanings.

The contemporary collectors are satisfied with artistic traditions evident in the revived aesthetic art forms. The truth is every artistic object created by hand and mind labor is art.


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