Tlingit Woodcarving main content.

Tlingit Woodcarving

Part of Northwest Coast Hall.

Tlingit wood-carved ladles, vessels, and boxes, representing birds and mammals

Tlingit men made boxes from two pieces of wood. A thin cedar board was kerfed (grooved) in three places and then steamed so that it could be bent at right angles along the grooces to make the sides of the box. The edges were sewn together with spruce root to form the fourth corner. The box-maker then sewed a thicker board to the sides to form the bottom. Sometimes he bent the sides further to make them bulge outward.

The Tlingit carved dishes and large ladles from a single piece of wood, using chisels and knives. The dish could take the form of a mammal or bird lying on its belly or back; one end formed the head, the other the tail, with feet or wings at the sides. The edges of the dishes were often decorated with seashells.