Date: Mid 19th century or earlier
Dimensions: 25″ x 9.5″
Description: This cradleboard is an unusual find with the inlaid cross that appears to have strong Spanish Colonial influence with the accented cross ends. The cross is painted a deep teal blue that appears to be mineral based, perhaps copper based. To each side of the cross marching down the slanting sides are 4 suns with crosses superimposed like the Zia sun. The board is early as it has been chipped carved and not saw cut and the patina has that rich feel that appears with well aged wood. Running one’s hand across the shinny back side, you feel the undulations from the adze marks created by chipping away at the wood. I’m very curious how smooth and shinny the back side is compared to the front where the baby was held. The best explanation I have for this is that this smoothing down of the wood must have come from all the rubbing of the board against the mother’s back. It would be like decades and decades of rubbing cloth, in this case woven blankets, along the wood surface like a natural polishing. The cross bar for the neck is well aged and shaped to receive the baby’s neck and head. The smaller size also suggests an earlier date as babies were smaller in the 19th century.
Condition: The age shows on this piece and missing are other parts that would have augmented both the support of the baby – the leather lacing that would have criss-crossed over the baby – and the hoops to protect the baby should the board fall to the ground. Nevertheless, this parsed down version of a cradleboard is all the more beautiful for its simplicity.