Type:  Modern Art, Ted Orcutt

Location: Macdoel, California



MoST ID: 2794

Pedestal Link: https://une.pedestal3d.com/r/0ZjvNKkBSt

Model Author:  Emma Watt

This obsidian point was made by the Karuk First Nations flintknapper, Ted Orcutt (1862-1946), who made obsidian points and large bifaces in northern California.

The point is a ‘fantasy’ shape, in that there are no equivalents in the archaeological record. It is reminiscent of effigies made in Mesoamerica. The point was coated in white powder to decrease its reflective qualities, as an aid to making the 3D model.

Ted Orcutt was born in 1862 on the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation near Weitchpec on the Klamath River, California, and was member of the Karuk First Nations. Ted began knapping at the age of 14, and was apprenticed to his mother’s brother, who was a specialist flintknapper for the Karuk people. He made extremely large obsidian bifaces—up to 122 cm (48 inches) long—for the White Deer Dance renewal ceremony, and also made obsidian bifaces and points for collectors and tourists. The large bifaces were probably made by an indirect percussion technique. He continued flintknapping until his death in 1946. He is buried in Lakeview Cemetery, Macdoel, in Siskiyou County, California.

Ted Orcutt, ca. 1930s, with one of his obsidian dance bifaces.

Ted Orcutt, ca. 1940s, with one of his exceptionally large dance bifaces.


Ted Orcutt dressed for the White Deer Dance and carrying two large obsidian dance bifaces he made, ca. 1910s. The image is on a postcard with Orcutt’s signature.