The Moundville Duck Bowl-arguably the most beautiful piece of prehistoric Native American art ever discovered in the United States—has come home. Sculpted out of a single massive piece of stone, its creator adorned the rim of the elegant bowl with the graceful neck and head of what appears to be a supernatural bird creature. Called by its excavator, Clarence Bloomfield Moore, “a triumph of aboriginal endeavor, the ‘Portland vase’ of prehistoric art in the United States,” it remains unique in its execution and form. Some of the nation’s great museums have displayed the Duck Bowl or “Bird-Serpent Effigy Bowl,” as it has been called recently. Until now this important artifact has not been in Alabama since Moore found it at Moundville 105 years ago.
Unlike most of our Alabama neighbors, the men in our family did not shoot deer, doves, or quail. My grandfather, Mac, and my father, Ted, did not hunt at all. My uncle, Stewart, owned no gun; our family did not approve of guns (the influence of my pacifist grandmother, "Miss Rose").
Stewart not only lived in a déclassé neighborhood; he engaged in a déclassé form of hunting. Possum hunting lost class when the southern gentility, aping the British as usual, took up fox hunting. That left possum hunting to poor folks in need of food. After they caught a possum, they fattened it for a few weeks, butchered it as they would a pig, boiled it, baked it, and served it with rich gravy and sweet potatoes.
What would Miss Rose say if Stewart brought a sack of possums to her kitchen? Unimaginable!
From the Vault
Read complete classic articles and departments featured in Alabama Heritage magazine in the past 30 years of publishing. You'll find in-depth features along with quirky and fun departments that cover the people, places, and events that make our state great!