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Native American Art

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Grease Dish

2 1/4 x 5 1/2 x 11 3/4 in. (5.7 x 14 x 29.8 cm)

Unknown, Nisga'a
First Nations (Canada)

Object Type: Woodwork
Medium and Support: Cedar, opercula (sea snail shell) inlay
Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Nathaniel T. Whitcomb
Accession Number: 1983.18
Location: Currently on view
Link to this object

The eulachon fish, a type of smelt with a very high oil content, was dried then pressed for its oil. This oil (still used today in cooking and flavoring) was placed in a grease dish on the table, into which diners would dip dried fish and other delicacies. This dish is decorated around the rim with opercula, the highly prized ornamental part of a snail shell.
[Gallery label text, 2009]

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