The Cherokee’s love for wood carving was born out of necessity. Like other cultures, Native Americans carved wood for a variety of reasons, from making items for use in our homes to creating masks for traditional dances. Then and now, ladles, spoons and dough trays were popular carved items, as were pipes, which are carved from both stone and rhododendron root. In the not-too-distant past, skilled artists began using cutting-edge technology to create stone carvings. Today, most stone carvings are purely works of art, to look at and, sometimes, even to wear. From tiny animal figures to large sculptures, from representational to more abstract work, our Cherokee artisans are creating unique, collectible and authentic Native American art.
A major influence
It is virtually impossible to talk about Cherokee carving without invoking the name of noted carver Amanda Crowe (1928-2004), who taught art and carving at Cherokee High School.
The niece of famed Cherokee carver Goingback Chiltoskey (1907-2000), who taught woodworking at the high school, Crowe left Cherokee for about 12 years, earning degrees from DePaul University and the Art Institute of Chicago. She also studied with sculptor Jose de Creeft at Institute Allende in Mexico. Then she returned home and devoted almost four decades to teaching the next generation of Cherokee artists and carvers. Crowe taught more than 2,000 students the basics of design, material selection and how to use tools and various techniques. Her influence, one writer noted, turned what had become a minor craft in Cherokee into a major industry.
Today, work by Cherokee carvers can be found in private and public collections worldwide, including Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. In addition, these contemporary Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian carvings can be viewed and purchased at our Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual store in historic downtown Cherokee NC. We’re located near the entrance/exit to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway. View our gallery here for a few samples of what we have in our store. Contact us if you are looking for a particular type of carving, we’ll be happy to help.