Sucker Decoy

  • John Cross, Sucker Decoy, 20th century, carved, incised, and pyroengraved wood; tinned iron sheet; painted ferrous eye hook; lead weight; glass eyes and mouth, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Alastair B. Martin, 1999.67.4

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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
Sucker Decoy
Artist
Date
20th century
On View
Dimensions
1 3/8 x 6 3/8 x 2 3/8 in. (3.5 x 16.3 x 6.0 cm)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of Alastair B. Martin

Mediums
Mediums Description
carved, incised, and pyroengraved wood; tinned iron sheet; painted ferrous eye hook; lead weight; glass eyes and mouth
Classifications
Keywords
  • Animal – fish
Object Number
1999.67.4
Palette
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI

More from artist

20th century
carved and painted wood, painted copper sheet, ferrous eye hook, lead weight, and glass eyes

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ca. 1940
carved and painted wood, non-ferrous sheet metal, ferrous eye hook, lead weight, and glass eyes
20th century
painted wood with metal
20th century
carved and painted wood, tinned iron sheet, ferrous eye hook, and lead weight
20th century
carved, incised, pyroengraved, and stained wood; galvanized iron sheet; ferrous eye hook; lead weight; and glass eye