Thursday, October 14, 2010


The intriguing cod-in-a-coffin picture I used today comes from an item in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. In particular it is part of the 'Commercial Fishers: Atlantic Cod' section of their 'On the Water' exhibition.

It was made by fisherman Dan Murphy of Dunville, Newfoundland. Made in response to Canada’s moratorium on cod fishing, Murphy sold these items at local flea markets and from his home. This folk art cod-in-a-coffin, carved from wood and lined with fabric, represents the death of many Newfoundlanders’ livelihood. The fishing ban was declared on July 2, 1992, in an attempt to replenish the distressed levels of North Atlantic cod.
The moratorium was extended indefinitely in 1993, giving jobless fishers little hope for a return to their way of life. According to a 2007 study, the North Atlantic cod population was estimated to be at one percent of its 1977 numbers.

European fishermen in the 1500’s reported the Gulf of Maine waters so thick with cod that a man could walk to shore on their backs.

1 comment:

Lauren Argue said...

The "Cod-in-the-coffin" is a double representation of not only the depletion of cod, but also the effects the restrictions on fishing cod, had on the fishermen that had based their lives on this occupation.

-Lauren Argue