carved and painted wood with glass beads and metal 2 1/2 x 11 x 3 7/8 in. (6.4 x 28.0 x 9.8 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. and museum purchase made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 3rd Floor, 28A
Luce Center Label
North American hunters have used decoys for centuries. Native Americans made decoys from reeds, clay, and stuffed skins to lure migrating birds within range of their arrows or spears. European pioneers adopted this technique, and by the early nineteenth century both commercial and sport hunters used carved wooden decoys. Craftsmen shape and decorate decoys either to imitate the desired bird’s prey or “trick” them into thinking it is safe to land.
Animal - amphibian - frog