Woman’s Workbox With Lid (USA), Created before 1870s
This is a Woman’s Workbox with Lid.
A Yup’ik woman’s toolbox safeguarded some of her most precious instruments and materials. Small scrapers and awls; sinew, fiber, and scraps of yarn to sew with; and needle cases and other small objects would have been found in this personal container (gungasvik).
Yup’ik men made the chests, each one unique. This well-crafted box has a solid top and base, with an oval body that was formed by boiling and bending a narrow lath of wood. The walrus-ivory handle and inlays are incised with concentric circles, a Yup’ik design that symbolizes levels of the cosmos. The container’s other function—as a heavily used cutting board—is revealed by the numerous scratches on the bottom. The chest’s owner simply turned the box over to cut pieces of skin or sinew for sewing.
It is credited
Collection of Edward W. Nelson, 1879, Gift of Edward W. Nelson, Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, E36240.
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Its dimensions are
H x W x D: 10.2 x 24.1 x 10.2 cm (4 in. x 9 1/2 in. x 4 in.)
This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Tools: Extending Our Reach.