Birch-Bark Biting

Birch-bark biting is the art of dentally perforating designs on intricately folded sheets of paper-thin bark.

Birch-Bark Biting

Birch-bark biting is the art of dentally perforating designs on intricately folded sheets of paper-thin bark. The technique is known to have been practised by Ojibwa (or Chippewa), Cree and other Algonquian groups who used birchbark extensively in fabricating domestic containers, architectural coverings, canoes and pictographic scrolls. Bark biting was a casual art among Aboriginal women, a means of experimenting with designs that might later be translated into porcupine quill or bead appliqué on bark containers or hide clothing (see Quillwork). It was a form of recreation or friendly competition.

More recently, through the work of Cree artist Angelique Merasty of Amisk (Beaver) Lake, Saskatchewan, bark biting has achieved the status and market of a fine art. Merasty's own technical virtuosity and visual repertoire have greatly amplified the traditional range of rudimentary geometric designs to include rich curvilinear floral, insect, animal and human figures.

See also Native Art.


Further Reading

  • Elizabeth McLuhan and M. Zoccole, Wigwas: Birch Biting by Angelique Merasty (1983).

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