University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Athropology


Author: William Wierzbowski

Walrus Ivory Pieces: Eskimo Artistry Unbuttoned

What in the World

By: William Wierzbowski

Hunting or fishing gear? Amulets or charms? Gaming pieces? These walrus ivory objects, delicately carved bas-reliefs with images of either a seal or a walrus head, fall squarely within the long carving tradition found among the Inupiaq-speaking Bering Strait Eskimo of northern Alaska. The ivory objects are, in fact, buttons. We have 14 of these buttons in […]


Beaded Bags: The Persisting Power of Beadwork Traditions

What in the World

By: William Wierzbowski

Since 1998, the American Section of the University of Pennsylvania Museum has been involved with the National Museum of the American Indian’s Native Artist Fellowship Program. Those native artists selected for the program trav­el to the east coast to research muse­um collections in New York, Phila­delphia, and Washington, DC The University of Pennsylvania Museum has […]


Matches’s Sketchbook

Native American P.O.W. Art from Fort Marion

By: William Wierzbowski

In 1891, a small sketchbook with thirty-one drawings entered the collection of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (then the Free Museum of Science and Art). The book was purchased from Matches, a young Southern Cheyenne man at Fort Marion in St. Augustine, Florida, sometime between 1875 and 1877. Matches was part […]


The Beaver Bowl

beaver bowl

By: William Wierzbowski

This wooden bowl was collected among the Kaskaskia (a sub-group of the Miami people) by George Turner, a judge in Illinois Territory in 1795. Collected along with three wooden pipestems and a catlinite pipe bowl, these are the oldest dated objects in the ethnographic collection of the American Section of the Museum. Turner collected two […]


Yupi Dazi

Fish-Skin Tartars of the Amur River Delta

By: William Wierzbowski

The Amur, or “great river,” is one of the longest in the world with its source deep in the interior of Asia. It empties into the Pacific Ocean in southeastern Siberia at the Sea of Okhotsk, which is north of the Japanese island of Hokkaido (home of the Ainu) and Sakhalin Island. A major ethnological […]