Ethnology Collection - Quill Basket

The Art of Porcupine Quillwork

The Mi’kmaq have long used porcupine quills and birch bark to make objects of great beauty. The technique involves inserting the tips of the quills into holes made in wet bark, which contracts as it dries, holding the quills firmly in place. Artists then cut the bark into different shapes. This quill box is one of the oldest in our collection. We think it was made for a resident of Elmsdale in the 1800s and was given to the Nova Scotia Museum for safekeeping in 1931.

Object type: 
Quill Box
Object #: 
Collection name: 
Date (age/made): 
19th century
Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia
Porcupine quills coloured with synthetic aniline dyes (available after 1860), spruce root and sweet grass.