Three Ancestral Jugs and a Tlingit Comb

My friend Lucy had the very clever idea of making up a Bingo card consisting of works to be found at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. What a treasure hunt it was, taking me to corners of the Met where I’d never ventured.

At the head of the post, you’ll see one of her brilliant finds, a comb (Tlingit, Native American ca. 1840). The wall plaque at the Met states, in part:

“The bear on this comb is a clan emblem. Its raised paws activate its presence and its snout—as well as that of the small bear between its ears—has been transformed into a humanlike nose and mouth.”

Margaret MacDonald’s Roses (1915) textile design struck me as a copacetic accompaniment . . . but of course you needn’t agree.

I have also spent a good bit of time with variations on an Ancestral Jug (New Mexico or Arizona, 19th-20th C) for which I can find no online image. Below are three variations on the theme. The first is paired with Jeroen Krabbé’s Bosrandweg Dalfsen-V (2003).

This next is paired with Paul Klee’s Movement of Vaulted Chambers (1915).

The last is paired with Alexandre Altmann’s Willow Tree by the River.

I haven’t come up with a “definitive” use of the Ancestral Jug, at least not to my satisfaction, but I console myself that it’s the journey and not the destination (or so they say).

To accompany you on your journey, should you choose to take it, I give you Bach: Sacred cantatas – BWV 31, 34, 51, 191 | Raphaël Pichon & Ensemble Pygmalion, with grateful thanks to my wonderful music comrades, Bert and Curt.

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