Bentwood boxes are a traditional item made by the First nations people of the North American west coast including the Tsimshian. These boxes are generally made out of one piece of wood that is steamed and bent to form a box. Traditional uses of the boxes was varied and included storage of food goods, clothing and for burial. They were also used for cooking, with a protective part for the bottom, and hot stones were added to the water and food until it boiled, then replaced by other hot stones. They also carried and stored fresh water, fish oils, and other foods in them.
Boxes had a wide variety of uses, such as for cooking, food storage, packing precious regalia, and as burial chests for the royal families. They are currently made in two styles. One is in the form of a chest, which has the main design on the front and a secondary one on the back. These are painted and carved. The side designs are signatures and symbols, which the owner recognizes as his. The other shape is a square box, where all sides are equal. The design is placed directly on one corner and is split to both sides of the box. It is called a corner box. The covers are mostly inlaid with opercula shell.
Shaman´s corner box, with power animal to protect the shaman´s sacred objects. it is called a corner box, because the designs are fitted into the 2 corners, being folded over each side. Very special boxes and designs.
Red cedar, opercula shell, paint.
Gonakdet, is the sea chief of wealth and is usually carved on a chief´s treasure box. Where he keeps his most prized regalia + headdress, often these boxes were display also and used for sitting upon. A sign of prestige.
Red cedar, paint
Corner bentwood box, very special, as these were used by shamans to keep their sacred objects in.
Red cedar, opercula shell, paint
Orca bentwood box, Orca design, used by the chief for his regalia and other pieces.
red cedar, opercula shell, paint.
The design represents the 2 salmons which come home every 4 years, one is a female and the other is male, you tell the difference. They battle their way up the rivers against many things, such as fishers, bears, birds, and today against sport fishers, dams, logging areas, and many other obstacles, and the many of the runs are disappearing or died off.
Box is out of western red cedar