Welcome to the General Objects section of the Lee Coleman Collection.
Living Room Display
Living Room Display
These are objects from the everyday lives of many cultures. These objects are displayed in the living room. While there are many artifacts and rugs throughout Lee’s home, the living room forms the center piece of Lee’s home. Each of these “vignettes” represents a part of the display in the living room.
Large tapered cylindrical basket of birch bark from the northern plains, like Minnesota or thereabouts. Probably not very old, within the last 50 years, but beautifully made. In front, two Alaskan Eskimo lidded grass baskets, left one with red thread decoration alternating with turquoise thread design severely faded, thus better looking than the original synthetic colored stuff. One on the right with heavy coils with grass wrapping, and interesting carving of walrus head on top, appears to be wood dyed black to imitate a stone carving.
A group of small baskets from northern California, some coiled, some twined. The ladies sometimes would have fun trying to make smaller and smaller little ones, and I have seen some as small as the nail of your pinkie.
When you are facing the fireplace in the living room, this is the wall to the right. Below the rows of artifacts is a sideboard I made early in my woodworking adventure. Each of these images, like all the others, has a special story. Below you can find additional vignettes from the part of my collection.
Small Inca pouring vessel, a Nazca (Pre-Inca) vessel from the south coast of Peru, and another pre-Inca item, a hat from the Hauri-Tiwanacu near Lake Titicaca, using a loop stitching method of weaving.
Santa Clara Pueblo pot, Zia Pueblo pot, Tsimshian Cedar root basket with beargrass imbrication design.
In this cabinet (junk mahogany with Claro walnut panels) are holy relics from America’s greatest contribution to world art and culture — jazz. Similar ones line the entire living room, totally about 3000 LP’s, and when I need the kind of consolation I talked about in the homepage, it is here that I often go first.
This group of objects from the north (Alaska or Greenland) has come from a variety of sources, from Bath, England (the old and rare whalebone mask on the left) to Copenhagen (the elegant Greenland kayak model on the bottom). I made the case at the top, using old redwood in order to give the objects a quiet background. Some of the objects are children’s toys and some are real working tools.
From the bottom, a Greenland kayak, with all the accessories being genuine scaled down versions of real hunting tools. The other two model kayaks are Alaskan Eskimo style, with sea mammal hide . The upper parka is of seal gut, just as the real ones are. The three masks are whalebone.. The one on the left is very old and unusual, and I love the one in the middle. The skewed expression is something shamans do in their dances, as a sign of heightened emotional state.
Native American baskets, left and center ones from northern California and right one from the Tlingit of southeast Alaska. The design is an example of false embroidery, in which the design does not show on the inside. Like most examples of the best Native American baskets that are available today, they were made to be sold because traditional work was no longer available. Soak up the bittersweet flavor of the pride that went into such beautiful work, despite the inherent humiliation in selling to tourists looking for curios.
A new basket by Norma Fox of Oakland, CA.
Walrus tusk cribbage board, Inuit (“Eskimo” acceptable for Alaskan natives but not Canadian) Their choice, right?
Wonderful small shallow basket from the Panamint tribe in the Death Valley area. These people live in oa truly harsh environment, yet created masterpieces of weaving, that is until their culture was brought to the brink of extinction by greed and carelessness of conquering outsiders. Native peoples around the world are down, but not out. Shall we take some responsibility for our ancestors’ mistakes?
A lidded miniature from the Klamath river area of northern California, 2” diameter. 476 shows the inside of the lid, still with the original color because of protection from light
A little wonder, as so many of the Pomo baskets are, with about half of the quail top-knot feathers missing. Fine, fine stitching.
Miniature Maidu, from the northern Sierra foothills, with redbud for the reddish decoration.
Top shelf has baskdets from Alaska Eskimo, then two from N. California, then Yokuts (central California), a birch bark basket from French influenced areas of Great Lakes.
Chancay (pre-Inca), Peruvian coastal group, Goat head vessel, then Moche (Pre-Inca) stirrup vessel , and last an Amlash (ca. 1000 BC) beaker pouring vessel, north Persia.
Top shelf- Vicus (Pre-Inca) vessel, mostly broken pieces that I was able to re-assemble. Then a Chorrera (Pre-Inca) vessel, then West Mexican vessel with dog heads, and Huari (Pre-Inca)s vessel.
Lower shelf- Three Bunraku Japanese puppet heads, came to me with hair almost gone but JCollector of Santa Barbara put me on to a Japanese expert who restored the hair. All are pre-Meiji (early 19th century).
A Maori ceremonial steerinf oar with typical carved motifs. at the top, a dance or theatrical mask from the Kwakwaka’wakw (Kwakiutl) (top). Then two Japanese masks. The first the mountain god (Tengu) of good fortune, and then a dance mask (Hannya) representing feminine outrage ( a woman abused, neglected or otherwise mistreated) undoubtedly well justified by today’s standards, at least.
A Moche fish stirrup vessel, then a priest (his head ornament is characteristic) of the Moche, typically seen in images of a ceremony in which prisoners are bled and their blood presented to the priest in a drinking cup. Last a seated figure from West Mexico.
“But what about earthquakes?”, you ask. Most of the objects are attached with fishing lines and/or museum wax beneath.
The three heads are from Japanese bunraku puppets, that are about 3 to 4 feet tall and manipulated by controllers dressed in black, on stage. These are early 19th century, as shown by the lack of any articulation of the jaw. Between them and the Chinese doll is a ceremonial feast spoon, probably Tlingit.
A whimsical Kiwi bird made from a gourd by a Kiwi (New Zealander) in Auckland. Head and feet of wood
A whimsical crane from a gourd and bamboo legs. Very Japanese, from a gift shop selling pottery.
Feast spoon from the Tlingit of Southeast Alaska. A magnificent example of carving from a native carver of relatively recent times, as good as any, from any age. Table beneath by yours truly, and lighting by Falcon.
Two views a beautiful miniature coiled basket by the Pomo tribe of northern California. World renowned for their baskets, this one is coiled rather than twined. A full sized basket of this shape would be used as a burden basket, suspended by a tump line across the forehead, and used to gather berries, nuts, etc. Women’s creation for women’s work. A little treasure, for sure.
Two views of a small basket for trinkets or whatever; twined, from northern California. Main material most likely Hazel or Willow. Fern root sometimes used for dark color. Or mud soaked. Alder is common for brownish orange.
Just like the big ones from Washington state, imbricated design with loops, over cedar root foundation.
Three views of small Alaskan Eskimo grass basket, always coiled, and this one with knob on top of the lid.
Chimu (Pre-Inca) vessel, low fired ceramic, then an argillite model totem from the Haida Indians of the Pacific Northwest. Next, a Kwakawakw dance mask, carved and painted wood and abalone shell. Last, a Chancay (Pre-Inca) woman.
On the left side of this image, a small model totem pole, SE Alaska, wood, probably 1920s. The two vessels to the right of that are from the Mississippian culture, American Southeast, ca. 1500 AD.
A Nazca solid figure, three small Peruvian vessels from the south Coast, a wooden Chancay grave mask with mollusk shell eyes, and a male Chancay turn or pouring vessel. All pre-Incan.
Another view. The relative size of the objects in this vignette is clearer. A Chancay male figure to the left.
This is one of my earliest pieces, a copy of a winning entry done in Colorado. Apologies to the original maker, whose name I forget but who graciously allowed me to view it in his shop and take measurements. On top is a whimsical version of the kiwi bird, done by a kiwi working out of Auckland, New Zealand, then a new basket by Norma Fox of Oakland, and finally a crane from a gourd, with bamboo legs—very Japanese.
Another view of the table showing the legs. Rug from the Iranian town of Bidjar or environs, where Kurds make some of the most beautiful rugs in the world.
Chinese doll, ca. 1900, and two Hopi Kachinas, first a fairly new one and then older one, probably early 20th century.
Pre-Inca (probably Huari) vessel depicting a priest holding a Spondylus shell. How could this not have to do with fertility, given that the Spondylus mollusk, once opened, is a most vivid representative of female genitalia?
Next is a votive (religious offering) bowl from the Huichol in western Mexico, made from waxing the inside of a gourd and then placing very small beads in the wax. These are common tourist items now, but the older ones like this can be very attractive.
Finally, a stirrup vessel from the pre-Inca Vicus people. All those wonderful black bases throughout the collection are by Sheridan Oakes of San Francisco.
Little tourist carvings from Eskimo/Inuit of circumpolar region
Another perfect specimen from the Pomo, once again in the coiled technique. Surely a woman of distinction made something as perfect as this!
That unattractive blue-green is a dead giveaway that a synthetic dye was used.
Larger than the other Eskimo grass baskets in the collection, this one is 6” in diameter, with interesting loops incorporated in the body.