Sunday, March 23, 2014

Dentalium + Nub

     From the random things in my pockets file: A kid who had attended one of my classroom demos earlier in the semester for a high-school art class passed along an amazing stub of a pencil to me, for which he was quite rightly proud of - nothing says "aspiring talent" than such evidence of effort... definitely got the lead out.   
 Also if you look back at the portrait of Morris Thompson as painted by James L. Grant Sr. (posted here) you can see some curious objects along the frame. While working at APLIC I was asked what they were by some visitors who were commenting on the pattern. I didn't have the faintest idea - which was enough of an excuse to set off on another quest for knowledge of trivia, as every day is a learning day....
     I knew the overall object depicted was that of a chief's sash, embroidered with traditional Athabaskan beadwork, but perhaps the white things were fashioned from ivory or bone... even a fang or claw perhaps? Turned out to be the shell of a mollusc - a dentalium, or "tusk shell" - and it is of significant cultural significance to the Athabaskan people and other Native Americans.

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