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Dimensions (inches): fcs-214
Carved from small birch trees, uprooted and turned on end, root clubs were a tradition of the Maine Indian Penobscot and Passamaquoddy tribes. Originally carried as a weapon, though sometimes made for ceremonial use, post-1870 these were generally carved by the Penobscot to be sold in the tourist trade. With great color, form, and patina, this particular example dates right on the cusp of that 1870 date line, or within the last quarter of the 19th century. The carved face has exceptional folk qualities that transform as you turn it around. The back of the head has great texture from the natural root. The root ends are carved into points that make it practical for use as a war club, but at the same time resemble either a feathered headdress, or, individually, the sort of peaked caps worn by some of the men and women of the Maine tribes. The Penobscot became part of the Wabanaki Confederacy, an alliance of Native American people that included the Passamaquoddy, Micmac (Mi’kmaq), Abenaki, and Maliseet Indians, who occupied Maine and parts of Canada. The name Wabanaki means “People of the First Light” or “People of the Dawnland,” referring to the fact that they lived where the sun rose on North America.

The shaft of the club is chip-carved and incised between the head and the grip. Both of these things are typical of Penobscot root clubs, which often had human faces with the eyes and eyebrows painted. In this case, some of the hair is painted as well. The shaft is stained red to give it color and distinguish it from the face. The surface is as wonderful as the form. In all, a great example of 19th century, Native American folk art, with a very well designed, custom-made mount for wall display.

Condition: There is a natural split in the handle from shrinkage of the wood, but the club is extremely sound.
Primary Color: natural, reddish-brown
Earliest Date: 1870
Latest Date: 1895
For Sale Status: Sold
Price SOLD
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