Ruby Creek stone figure


This carved stone bowl from the Ruby Creek area on the Lower Fraser River is a real enigma. It is what is called a seated human figurine bowl, and has been assumed to be part of the early stone bowl complex of Southwestern BC dating to around 2000 years ago. The bowl was originally found about 1880 by a private citizen, and was acquired by the Royal BC Museum in 1917.

Carved of a steatite or clorite-like material, the figure has unique facial features that are different from other stone bowls found in southern BC. The evidence shows that it was carved with metal tools. Is it an ancient artifact carved with iron tools, or is it of more recent manufacture?

We are left with three competing hypotheses regarding its origins: (1) The bowl was made after the 1790s, when iron tools were well distributed on the Coast, and before the mid 19th century, when machine-cut files were generally more available. (2) It dates to a pre-contact period, and the First Nation who made it had access to iron files from shipwrecks or from long-distance trade around the Pacific Rim. (3) It was traded from far away or came from a shipwreck.

This object selected by Grant Keddie. View Profile »