Fish Decoy

  • Unidentified (American), Fish Decoy, ca. 1930s, iron, copper, lead, wood, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Alastair B. Martin, 1999.67.6

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Carved fish decoys are one of the earliest forms of American folk art. Hunters around the Bering Sea first used small bone or ivory decoys for ice fishing around 1000 AD. They believed that the decoys embodied the innua, or inner spirit of the fish. The practice spread to upstate New York and the Great Lakes, where it became a tourist industry with many communities growing around prime fishing areas. Ice fishing was banned in 1905, however, because the popularity of the sport had brought about a serious decline in large game fish.

Title
Fish Decoy
Artists
Date
ca. 1930s
On View
Dimensions
1 1/2 x 6 1/2 x 2 1/4 in. (3.7 x 16.4 x 5.8 cm)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of Alastair B. Martin

Mediums
Classifications
Keywords
  • Animal – fish
Object Number
1999.67.6
Palette
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI