Carved Face Vintage Wooden Box - Pacific NW Coast Native Designs
- Vintage item
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This handsome vintage box has hand painted designs in the style of those used by Pacific Northwest Coast Native Americans. Termed 'formline art,' it is distinctive and easily recognizable by its flowing, curving dark outlines, used by First Nation peoples to decorate their belongings and their art objects.
The rectangular box itself is made of a variety of walnut, nicely made, with rounded, beveled edges on both the lid and the bottom. The long sides of the box are each painted with a bird with elaborate feathers. One end panel is also decorated, while the hinged end is not. The four corners of the lid have scrolled designs, but the focal point of the lid is, of course, the sculpted native face. This does not resemble in the least the exaggerated, colorful faces carved on ceremonial masks from the PNC tribes, although there are some similarities in the arched eyebrows, protruding eyes, the long nose flattened at the tip and the pointy lips. It is more likely that it is the artist's impression of an actual person. The face is decorated with an animal of some sort on the forehead and almost-matching designs on each cheek. None of the artwork on this box is directly attributable to a specific tribe, which is why we say they are "in the style of."
The box is in very good condition, both the wood and the designs adorning it. The lid and the base measure 4 3/4 inches wide and 7 3/4 inches long. The box itself is about 3 inches tall; the carved face adds another 1 1/2 inches or so in height. The interior measurements are 3 inches by 5 3/4 inches and the box weighs almost 1 1/2 pounds. The metal hinge probably had previously been used when it was installed on the box. The left bottom edge of the top section of the hinge has separated from the bottom part, which makes it slightly uneven and fragile. We have left it as found, but unless the hinge is replaced (which is a simple task), we do not recommend the box be used for storage, which would mean opening and closing the lid often. Rather, it should be displayed as the work of art that it is.