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Whirligig with Woman Churning and Man Sawing

1920s Unidentified cut, turned and painted wood; metal; cloth; porcelain doll parts 27 1/2 x 33 x 11 7/8 in. (72.0 x 83.8 x 32.0 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Museum purchase from the folk art collection of David L. Davies 1992.1.6 Not currently on view

Luce Center Label

Farmers created whirligigs to entertain their children and decorate their gardens. These colorful, animated devices also added an element of fun to an otherwise demanding life in rural America. This piece shows the everyday activities of churning butter and sawing wood. When the wind blows, the lady’s arms move up and down and the man’s saw moves back and forth. The large painted arrow on the back of the whirligig suggests it was also used as a weather vane.


Figure group

Occupation - domestic - cooking

Occupation - industry - lumber

sculpture - assemblage

folk art



readymade - toy