Mazinibaganjigan

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Contemporary birch bark biting by Kelly Church (Odawa-Ojibwe)

Mazinibaganjigan (plural: mazinibaganjiganan) or Birch bark biting is an ancient folk art made by the Ojibwe (Anishinaabe), Odawa, Cree, and other Algonquian peoples who use birch bark, by biting down on small pieces of folded birch bark to form intricate designs.[1]

Name[edit]

It is also known as mazinashkwemaganjigan(-an) (by Northwestern Ontario Ojibwe) and ozhibaganjigan(-an) (by Wisconsin Ojibwe). In English, this has been described either as "Birch bark bitings" or "Birch bark transparencies."

Process[edit]

Using the eyeteeth to bite, the bite pressures can either pierce the bark pieces into a lace or just make certain areas thinner to allow for light to pass through.[2] If the bark piece is carefully folded, symmetrical designs can also be made onto it.[3]

Uses[edit]

Many of the designs that are used contain symbological and religious significance to the Ojibwa. Though the practice almost died out, there are an estimated dozen practitioners left in Canada and the United States, some of whom display the craft in contexts outside of their original intentions to show evidence of this ancient practice. Birch bark bitings can be used in storytelling, as patterns for quillwork and beadwork, as well as finished pieces of art.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The Canadian Encyclopedia: Birch Bark Biting
  2. ^ Densmore, p. 184.
  3. ^ Densmore, pp. 184-185.

References[edit]

External links[edit]