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Model of a boat

Model of a boat

Place: Nootka
Category: Music & play

wood, Nootka Sound, northern Pacific, l. 32 cm, w. 6.8 cm, h. 4.4 cm, Inv. Am 831

Humphrey No. 230: ‘Model of a Canoe, from King George’s Sound, on the North-West Coast of America.’

Just like the large Nootka dugout canoes, which were up to thirteen metres long, this model also exhibits the typical form of the beak-like protruding bow, the upper tip of which is notched. The steeply raised stern, which rises above the height of the side walls, has been broken off. Traces of tool marks can be recognised over the entire surface. While Zimmerman (1981: 79) reported that ‘their canoes in this region [are] attractive and designed according to a European style, and also are sometimes quite large’, Ledyard (1963: 71) mentioned that the boats were always hollowed out with chisels. In contrast to other dugout canoes, they do not in fact appear to have been hollowed out by fire (Drucker 1951: 82). The other observers of the third voyage also described how some boats were fitted with sewn-on, raised sides, and were sometimes painted (cf. Beaglehole 1967, IlIa: 316; Illb: 1102, 1409-10; cf. Joppien/Smith 1985-88, III/1: 81-85, PI. 96, 98-99, 102; lll/2: 434, 440-43, 452-53, 465-66, 3. 190-91, 3. 197-200, 3. 212-14, 3. 227-29). From later sources, it can be gathered that these boats (of varying sizes) were used for transport purposes in particular, as well as for fishing, whaling, and in battle (Drucker 1951: 83-85; cf. Jewitt 1974: 62f.; Sproat 1987: 62f.).

Although the large boats of the Nootka were often described and illustrated in the written sources on the third voyage, the models were mentioned neither in these nor in later sources. That they must have existed in great numbers is shown by the fact that at least nine were sold at the auction of the Leverian Museum, one ending up in Cambridge (now missing), another in Vienna, and two in Berlin (Leverian Museum 1806: No. 215, 606, 847, 2647, 2811, 6400, 6730; 625; Force and Force 1968: 143; Kaeppler 1978a: 277; Feest 1995: 158-60; Briesemeister et al. 1992: 128, No. 12.9, 12.10). Vancouver and Malaspina also collected similar models of boats from the Nootka in the eighteenth century (Gunther 1972: 205 f., No. 6-8; Sánchez Garrido 1991: 113, No. 83). The Göttingen example is the smallest of these models. Haberland (1979: 200), who described and illustrated the Göttingen piece, believed that the models served as toys. Although remaining a definite possibility, there is absolutely no proof of this. Christian F. Feest


Beaglehole, John Cawte, The Journals of Captain James Cook on his Voyages of Discovery The Voyage of the Resolution and Discovery 1776-1780, Hakluyt Society, Extra Series, 36, 1 u. 2. vol. 3, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1955-1967 IIIa and IIIb.

Briesemeister, Dietrich, Amerika 1492-1992. Neue Welten - Neue Wirklichkeiten. Eine Dokumentation, Braunschweig, 1992.

Drucker, Philip, The Northern and Central Nootka Tribes, Bulletin 144, Bureau of American Ethnology, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, 1951.

Feest, Christian F, ‘Cook voyage material from North America: The Vienna Collection’, Archiv für Völkerkunde, Vienna, 1995, vol. 49, pp. 111-186.

Force, Roland and Force, Maryanne, Art and Artifacts of the Eighteenth Century, Honolulu, 1968.

Gunther, Erna, Indian Life on the Northwest Coast of North America as seen by the Early Explorers and Fur Traders During the Last Decade of the Eighteenth Century, Chicago and London, 1972.

Haberland, Wolfgang, Donnervogel und Raubwal. Indianische Kunst der Nordwestküste Nordamerikas, Hamburg, 1979.

Jewitt, John, The Adventures and Sufferings of John R. Jewitt. Captive Among the Nootka. 1803-1805, [1824], in Derek G Smith (ed.), The Carlton Library, vol. 76, Toronto, 1974.

Joppien, Rudiger and Smith, Bernard, The Art of Captain Cook’s Voyages, 3 vols in 4 parts, New Haven and London, 1985-1988.

Kaeppler, Adrienne L, ‘Artificial Curiosities’ Being An Exposition of Native Manufactures Collected on the Three Pacific Voyages of Captain James Cook RN [Exhibition catalogue], Bishop Museum Press, Honolulu, 1978a.

Ledyard, John, John Ledyard’s Journal of Captain Cook’s Last Voyage [1783], JK Munford (trans.), Corvallis, 1963.

Leverian Museum, Catalogue of the Leverian Museum, London, 1806.

Sanchez Garrido, Araceli, Indios de América del Norte (Otras culturas de América), Museo de América, Madrid, 1991.

Sproat, Gilbert Malcolm, The Nootka. Scenes and Studies of Savage Life (1868), Vancouver, 1987.

Zimmermann, Heinrich, Reise um die Welt mit Cap. Cook [1781], Insel Taschenbuch 555, Frankfurt a. M. 1981.

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