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Woman’s Workbox With Lid (USA), Created before 1870s

This is a Woman’s Workbox with Lid.

This object is not part of the Cooper Hewitt's permanent collection. It was able to spend time at the museum on loan from National Museum of Natural History as part of Tools: Extending Our Reach.

It is dated Created before 1870s. Its medium is carved wood, walrus-ivory inlay.

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.

  • Needle Case (USA), Created before 1947
  • carved, incised, painted wood; incised tundra swan wing bone (humerus).
  • National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution, 21/800.
  • 17.2012.3

Our curators have highlighted 3 objects that are related to this one.

  • Needle Case (Germany), 1815–35
  • label: stamped leather covers, painted silk leaves lined with wool.
  • Gift of the estate of Mrs. Lathrop Colgate Harper.
  • 1957-180-48
  • Needle Case (Germany), ca. 1820
  • label: painted cardboard covers, silk leaves lined with wool.
  • Gift of the estate of Mrs. Lathrop Colgate Harper.
  • 1957-180-45

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.

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If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Woman’s Workbox With Lid (USA), Created before 1870s |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=19 September 2021 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>