Inuit and First Nations Art
November 25 — 30, 2023
Auction begins to close at 7:00 pm ET
Private Collection, British Columbia
The Tlingit and their neighbours–including the Haida–historically used ladles to transfer food from huge serving bowls to smaller, individual bowls, from which a single person ate using a spoon. Most, if not all large historic feast ladles were made for people at the top of the hierarchical Tlingit society, a society in which material wealth was closely tied to status.
Often elaborately decorated on their handles and sometimes, as in the present example, on their bowls, large decorated ladles demonstrated the wealth and prestige of their owners, and documented important stories that were their prerogative to display.
The present ladle is embellished on each of its constituent parts and includes both incised and deeply-cut three-dimensional designs. The materials from which the ladle is made, horn of mountain goat and dall sheep, copper, and abalone, are from a diverse range of origins, and some would have been acquired with great difficulty and expense, heightening its value.
Anne-Marie Victor-Howe, Feeding the Ancestors: Tlingit Carved Horn Spoons, (Cambridge: Peabody Museum Press, 2007)