Traditionally, bent box could be elaborately carved and decorated, depicting clan symbols and hereditary stories, but could also be left plain or very lightly decorated, depending upon its purpose. For example, the Tlingit made red corner bent boxes for inter-tribal trade. Without crest designs, these boxes could move between owners without conflicting with an individual’s clan identity.
Reflecting on this style of box, Bill Holm shared, “These red-corner boxes are of a special kind. At first glance they look plain and not too exciting because of their simple decoration and the plainness of the wood. But, when we look at them in detail, they’re really pretty grand. From a structural point of view, they’re sometimes the best of the bent-corner boxes” (Form and Freedom, 1975, p. 137).