Sturgeon Decoy

  • Unidentified, Sturgeon Decoy, 20th century, painted wood with metal, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. and museum purchase made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson, 1986.65.57

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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
Sturgeon Decoy
Artist
Date
20th century
On View
Dimensions
4 1/2 x 21 1/4 x 7 1/8 in. (11.3 x 54.0 x 18.0 cm.)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. and museum purchase made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson

Mediums
Mediums Description
painted wood with metal
Classifications
Keywords
  • Animal – fish – sturgeon
Object Number
1986.65.57
Palette
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI

More from artist

2nd century A.D.
glass

Jar

20th century (pre-1974)
glazed stoneware
probably 20th century
painted wood with painted metal
ca. 1875
carved and painted wood with metal
before 1997
ca. 1675-1725
carved and painted wood

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ca. 1940
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