Sucker Decoy

  • Buddy Wayman, Sucker Decoy, after 1940, carved and painted wood, aluminum sheet metal, ferrous eye hook, and lead weight, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Alastair B. Martin, 1999.67.2

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. During the Depression, many hunters and fishermen turned again to fish spearing for survival. The decoys from this period are simpler, focusing on realistic shapes, colors, and movement rather than fanciful decoration (Steven Michaan, American Fish Decoys, 2003).

Title
Sucker Decoy
Artist
Attributed to Buddy Wayman
Date
after 1940
Location
Dimensions
2 187 182 38 in. (5.518.06.0 cm)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of Alastair B. Martin

Mediums
Mediums Description
carved and painted wood, aluminum sheet metal, ferrous eye hook, and lead weight
Classifications
Keywords
  • Animal – fish
Object Number
1999.67.2
Palette
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI

More Artworks from the Collection

Fish Decoy

20th century
carved wood, galvanized iron sheet, ferrous eye hook, and lead weight

Perch Decoy

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carved and painted wood, painted tinned iron sheet, non-ferrous eye hook, painted ferrous tack eyes, and lead weight

Trout Decoy

ca. 1930s
carved, painted, and varnished wood; painted plated iron sheet; painted ferrous tacks; and lead weights