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Impearls: HIC 4.11: Wooden implements

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Earthdate 2005-11-12

Wooden implements   by A. L. Kroeber

The only box known to the Yurok was a more or less tapering cylinder of redwood, from 2 to 4 feet long, hollowed out from the top.  A lid covered the opening and was lashed on.  Occasionally a rectangular specimen is to be seen, but the usual old form is the cylinder.  It is difficult to explain this peculiar shape, unless by a transfer of the canoe-making technique.  The boxes served to hold obsidians and other dance valuables and were normally transported by canoe; but a square receptacle would have lain on the round bottom of the boat substantially as well as the round form.  (Pl. 15.)

Rectangular platters or trays for deer meat, and huge finger bowls carefully used after a repast of the same, were made of wood.  The former are often white with hardened fat and black with smoke and dirt.

From redwood or other lumber were also made the only two movable articles of furniture ever reported from aboriginal California: a round block stool, from 3 to 9 inches high and somewhat flaring (pl. 19), of which several stood in every better house, and a pillow for the sweat house (pl. 10).  The latter had somewhat the shape and size of a brick stood on edge with the ends a little spread and the top side hollowed.  The stool, although in the living house, was used chiefly by men, who among the Yurok rarely follow the general Californian custom of sitting on the ground.  Even outdoors they look about for a log or stone, and in default, kneel, squat, lean, or stand.  This little habit is a powerful indication of a well-settled mode of life.  In the Southwest it sharply marks off the town-dwelling Pueblos from their nomadic neighbors.  In neither region does the custom extend to women.

The standard fire drill was made — both “man” and “woman,” as the Yurok call the two parts — of willow root.  (Pl 77.)



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