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Category Archives: Native American/Indian

Zuni Buffalo Dance Bookends by Freddie Leekya

Zuni Buffalo Dancer and Drummer. 8 .5”, local rock (zuni stone) carved figures, wood base and upright. Sculptor, Freddie Leekya, painting by Edward Lewis. 2011.

This is the perfect time to tell the story behind our Freddie Leekya Bookends. Freddie Leekya is the grandson of renowned Zuni Master Carver, Leekya Deyuse.  The Albuquerque Museum of Art History exhibit, THE LEEKYA FAMILY: MASTER CARVERS OF ZUNI PUEBLO, runs until September 24, 2017. The exhibit features 350 works by the Leekya family gathered from individuals and galleries and from major museums such as the Heard Museum, the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, the School of Advanced Research, the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. Click here to see the NEW MEXICO magazine post  “Stories in Stone”.   We are looking forward to visiting this exhibit in a few week’s time.

In 2011, we visited Zuni Pueblo bringing with us our Leekya Deyuse frog bracelet and ring to show. We had arranged our visit ahead of time with the Zuni Pueblo Visitor Center. We had a magical day.

Leekya Frog Bracelet and Ring made of carved turquoise set in silver.

We were introduced to Robert (son of Leekya Deyuse) and Bernice Leekya (masters of silver and gold jewelry) and Sarah Leekya (daughter of Leekya Deyuse) who was still carving a bit at that time and who when she put my bracelet on her arm almost didn’t give it back. Sarah also called us back to her home to share with us some additional carvings by her father and to have her son show us the hand drill Leekya used in carving his figures.

Four treasured carvings purchased from Sarah Leekya in 2011. Badger, Fox, Fox and Bird.

We visited Freddie Leekya at his studio. He was working on two figures which are now in our collection. Our daughter-in-law fell in love with a Zuni rock carved bear by Freddie.

 

That Christmas Bob was gifted with the Zuni Buffalo Dancer and Drummer Bookends. They were specially ordered from Freddie Leekya. The Buffalo Dance is a social dance and is often performed at festive gatherings. Here is a link Dave Hinkle’s youtube video of the dance being performed in Gallup, New Mexico.

 

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Indian Encampment Bookends

Indian Encampment:  Bronze.  Height 5.25 inches.  Shopmark:  AC with a line between the two letters, a copyright sign and the number 108.

Indian Encampment:  Electroformed Bronze.  Height 5.25 inches. Circa 1910.  Shopmark:  AC with a line between the two letters, a copyright sign and the number 108.

We saw this pair recently and were very surprised.  We thought we had already seen all the Indian bookends, but this pair was new to us.  It is probably very rare.

An Indian holding his pipe sits with his back against a large tree trunk, with a fire circle at his feet.  Two tipis are in the background.  The scene is enclosed in an art-nouveau or aesthetic style frame. It has the feel of a George Caitlin painting.

Photo of Bookend Shopmark

Shopmark on reverse of Indian Encampment Bookends. Foundry has not been identified.

Tipis were houses for the plains Indians.  Each tipi was constructed from supporting poles, tied at the top to give a cone shape and covered with tanned bison hides.  A tipi could be disassembled and carted away, pulled by dogs or horses.  Portability was very important because these people were nomadic and followed the herds of bison across the plains. The tipi on the bookends is representative of what artists in the early 20th century thought tipis looked like, it does not show flaps for a smoke hole and is therefore referred to as a stylized cone according to the author of “Historic Photos of Tipis” website.

Photo of Indian and Tipi

Indian and Tipi with additional Tipis in background.

 

 

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Guardian Spirit Bookends

Photo of Guardian Spirit Bookends

Northwest-Coast Indian Guardian-Spirit Bookends.  Red Cedar and paint, Height 6.5 inches, probably folk art, probably twentieth century.

The figures on these bookends look like movie animation creatures, but they represent traditional guardian spirits of the Norhwest Coast Indians.  Guardian spirits protect their owners from evil spirits and from dangers in general. We have owned these bookends for a number of years and during that time our home has been safe from evil or damage, so, obviously, the bookends are powerful and doing their job.  We will keep them, and continue to enjoy their protection.

 

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Bookend Collector News

Booth # 2533 will feature bookends at the Baltimore Summer Antiques Show  , August 20 – 23, 2015. Former members of the late Bookend Collector’s Club are invited to contact Brenda D at Bdiaz33@aol.com.  She has all the latest information and a show promotion code to share. Perhaps bookend enthusiasts that are attending the show can get together for a breakfast or dinner.

The Baltimore show is always a treat. Several years ago we purchased this pair of coveted bookends from a dealer whose shop was one of our haunts in California. To think those bookends travelled 2000 miles east so we could buy them!

Indian Holding Lance. 8”, bronze plating on gray metal. Inscription: Shop mark of Jennings Bros, 1996. Circa 1923. Reference: Pg. 85, Fig. 197 in BOOKENDS, Objects of Art and Fashion.

Indian Holding Lance. 8”, bronze plating on gray metal. Inscription: Shop mark of Jennings Bros, No. 1996. Circa 1923. Reference: Pg. 85, Fig. 197 in BOOKENDS, Objects of Art and Fashion.

 

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Cigar-Store Indian Bookends

Photo of Cigar Store Indian Bookends

Cigar Store Indians: Iron. Height 9.5 in. Inscription: The Strata Group 1988. There is a Strata Group in Baltimore, but they deny issuing these bookends. The foundry remains unknown.

Cigar-store Indians have a long history.  They appeared first in England in the seventeenth century with the arrival of tobacco.  The English knew that the new import of tobacco coming into the country was derived from the tobacco used by American Indians.  They responded by stationing carved wooden Indians outside the new tobacco shops as advertising figures.  In the eighteenth century, life-sized wooden Indians appeared outside American tobacco shops.  Today antique carved wooden Indians are valuable collector’s items and are quite rare.  Wooden Indians are no longer seen outside tobacco shops, and shops like these are nearly gone.

There is, however, one pair of recently-produced bookends to remind collectors and tobacco lovers of the wooden advertising Indians of bygone eras.  Each Indian of this pair presents a handful of cigars because Indians holding cigars were commonplace and were called cigar-store Indians.  The bookends are not carved of wood,  and they are novelties rather than serious art work,  but they are cast in substantial iron, and they are fun conversation pieces  Recent iron bookends are somewhat unusual because relatively few pairs of iron bookends were produced after 1930, and today new bookends are frequently of resin.

 

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Indian War Dancers Bookends

Each bookend shows one Indian beating a drum and one Indian dancing with a knife in one hand and a tomahawk in the other.  The depiction obviously seems to be a war dance or more generally a weapon dance, probably ceremonial.  Most, or perhaps all, American Indian weapon dances were performed en masse with the dancers moving in a circle.  A single dancer with a single drummer probably does not show any traditional ritual dance.  More likely, the figures probably stem from the artist’s imagination.  Regardless of authenticity or the weapons shown, these bookends are outstanding as examples of action in sculpture.

Photo of Indian Dancer and Drummer

Electroformed Bronze: 8.5 inches.  Inscription: Paul Herzel.  Pompeian Bronze. Circa 1919.

We purchased these very rare bookends from a private individual who contacted us after seeing our request in the BOOKENDS WANTED section of this blog.

 

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Rare Alaskan Indian Bookends

Tsimshian Eagle Bookends:  Red cedar wood,  Height 7.25 inches, Carver:  Casper Mather, circa 1940.

Tsimshian Eagle Bookends:  Red cedar wood,  Height 7.25 inches, Carver:  Casper Mather, circa 1940.

 

These Eagle Bookends were carved by Casper Mather ( 1876-1972) of New Metlakatla and Ketchikan, Alaska. We purchased them, this past year, as having been carved by Eli Tait, another carver from New Metlakatla. In researching them we found a photo postcard of Casper Mather posing with his carvings and showing very similar bookends at his feet.  It soon became clear that while Eli Tait and Casper Mather had very similar carving styles there were also distinct differences, and we are now confidently attributing these bookends to Casper Mather.

Photo of Casper Mather in regalia with some of his carvings.  Note the pair of Eagle bookends at his feet that closely resemble the bookends in this post.

Photo of Casper Mather in regalia with some of his carvings.  Note the pair of Eagle bookends at his feet that closely resemble the bookends in this post.  Photo courtesy of Steve Akerman.  Original photo postcard by Otto Schallerer of Shallerer’s Photo Shop, Ketchikan, AK

Mather was a member of the Tsimshian (Indian) cultural group and of the Episcopal Church group that emigrated with Father William Duncan from Old Metlakatla in Canada to found New Metlakatla on Annette Island, Alaska. Casper was 11 years old at the time of the move in 1887. As part of the move to Alaska, Father Duncan encouraged the emigrants to divest themselves of the old ways. Many tribal objects were destroyed and public display of tribal art was discouraged.  Mather was without formal training as a carver.  Steve Akerman’s website, Early Totem Carvers of New Metlakatla, is dedicated to those early carvers that kept the Metlakatla style of carving alive:

Today Casper Mather is regarded as a prominent Tsimshian carver who helped keep Tsimshian traditional art forms alive during his lifetime.  These eagle bookends were probably carved when Mather lived in Ketchikan, where he moved in the 1920s. Mather was a founder and a preacher in Tsimshian and English at the Indian Episcopal Church in Ketchikan. He led a full and varied life – packer on the Chilkoot Pass, Ship Master and Guide in Alaskan Waters, blacksmith, and Carver. Click the links below to read more about Casper Mather and about New Metlakatla.

Remembering Casper Mather, Master Carver, Remembering Alaskans Series.

The Founding of Metlakatla, by Dave Kiffer.  Stories In The News, Sit.News, Ketchikan, AK

 

 

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