• Formline Bentwood Box

    Dean Heron

    $800.00 CAD

    Red Cedar wood, Acrylic paint

    Specific and unique to the Northwest Coast People is the bentwood or bent-corner box or container.  A most outstanding item of the First Nations people, it is a made from one single plank of wood through a lengthy steaming process – a method strictly adapted by the coastal peoples.

    The center portion of the container was kerfed or steambent to form four sides where corners are desired.  The wood was made pliable with heat and moisture and then bent to form a four-sided shape.  A separate base and unusually-shaped lid was carved to complete the box.  The box shape was secured to a bottom piece of wood which has been grooved on its edges.

    Bentwood boxes were traditionally produced by Native peoples from the western coastal regions of North America, commonly called the Pacific Northwest Coast, including parts of southern Alaska, western British Columbia and southern Washington.

    The boxes and chests were used as storage containers, the water-tight ones for holding hot rocks and water for cooking and the canoe boxes to fix into the bottom of a dugout canoe.  The highly decorated ones as were also symbols of wealth. Ranging in size from small to large, these utilitarian objects were often presented to a couple with the intention of forming a union.

    Boxes would be either decorated with a carved design or left undecorated. Sizes varied from small to large depending on the use. Some boxes were made specifically for cooking food over heated stones. Other boxes were made for storage of dried fish, fish eggs, dried berry cakes, nuts, seaweed, as well as to keep oil of seal, whale or eulochon.

    These containers proved to have multi-utilitarian purposes and were an important item of the Northwest Coast Native tradition and culture.