Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Finished Beothuk Quiver

The Beothuk birch bark quiver reproduction is finished!  This will end up in a freshly updated exhibit for Dildo Island alongside the Beothuk bow and arrow reproductions that I worked on earlier this year.  The quiver is 74 cm long, with a top diameter of 11 cm and a bottom diameter of 9 cm.  Its made from a single sheet of rolled birch bark.  The original peel of birch bark was approximately 50 cm longer when I took it off the tree and the pieces cut from the ends were used as applique fringes around the top and bottom of the quiver.  All of the stitching is done with spruce roots.  There is no glue or modern binding materials used anywhere.  The stain is red ochre, water, linseed oil, and egg.  The strap is a strip of caribou raw hide ribbon about 2 and a half times as long as the quiver.  Its not permanently attached, but is long enough that it can be wrapped and tied around both ends of the quiver and adjusted to a number of different lengths.  I'm not certain how it would have been worn over the shoulder, across the back, or at the hip, so I wanted the strap to be versatile.

I'm not quite sure what to make of the bow-tie.  The only illustration that I have to use as a reference shows a ribbon-like strap tied around the top of the quiver and wrapped around the tube.  I think this is partly a cartographic liberty as the illustration accompanies a map of the Exploits River.  I don't know whether to take the bow-tie literally, but what I did take away from the drawing was the approximate width, weight, and exaggerated length of the strap.  It also gives the impression that the strap was not permanently fixed to the quiver, but wrapped around and tied in place.  I tried to capture the feel of the ribbon-like strap by using a strip of thin caribou rawhide.  Overall, I like the weight of the strap, the paper-like quality of the strap suits the cardboard-type weight of the quiver itself.

Here's the reproduction next to the original reference drawings.  There are things that I like about it, but I can also see a few things that I might modify in future quivers.  The conical taper could be a little sharper.  The width at the top looks good, but it could be a little narrower at the bottom.  I'm happy with the stitching details at the bottom of the quiver, although I might try stitching across the bottom in a sort of star or spiderweb pattern with the spruce roots next time.  I have that sort of stitching inside the bottom of the tube to hold some extra birch bark discs in place at the base of the quiver to protect the bottom of the tube from the arrow points.  The stitching up the side looks good, although I might make it just a hair smaller and tighter in future builds.  Incidentally, this is the first time that I've notices how the Beothuk arrows are shown with their fletching extending past the nock on the end.  I've looks at this image a dozen times and never noticed that detail before.  I'll need to modify the fletching on future arrows.

I'm not sure how many arrows you'd want to store in something like this.  If you wanted to cram as many in as possible, then you could probably fit a couple dozen in, maybe more.  But to actually access them easily, then perhaps a dozen or so would be more practical.  The tapered points made from hammered iron nails would be much easier to withdraw from the tube than the earlier barbed stone points.  In terms of keeping the arrows dry  - there is no indication in the reference drawings of any sort of flap or cover.  I didn't seal any of the holes for stitching the the spruce root through the birch bark, so water should drain out the bottom without too much trouble if you got caught wearing it in a downpour. Birchbark is naturally waterproof and the ochre and oil staining will only help make it even more weather resistant.

Before the ochre went on, the birch bark seemed bright and fresh and new. 

The ochre stain adds a lot of depth and character to the reproduction.  I think a person's first impression might be that its a leather quiver, but if you look closely you can see the telltale birch pattern beneath the rich red ochre staining.
Photo Credits: Tim Rast


  1. Is this one or another like it for sale??? I am 6'6" and shoot 32" long arrows and all the quivers I find are only 20-25" deep...I'd like something longer so my arrows are less likely to fall out if I run, lean over, etc...This is a Beautiful Quiver!!!

    1. Hello - sorry for the slow reply. Plumbing problems in the house this past week. This quiver has sold, but I may be able to make another one this fall. If you are interested in talking about a quote and timeline, my e-mail is


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