Beaded Bag

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This beaded bag is decorated on both sides with intricate bead work. One side depicts a lone flower on a yellow field surrounded in a light and dark blue frame. The opposite side of the pouch shows two pairs of birds collected around another flower, also outlined in various bluish tones. The blending of colors offers a bright composition and makes for good contrast, and these elements together make for an overall beautiful piece. The pouch itself is made from tanned hide, likely from a deer or bison, and was softened to allow for a draw string to seal the top. This bag was made by hand in the mid nineteenth century and calls back to the expert craftsmanship of the time.

A bag like this would likely have been used to carry pipe tobacco. Smoking was often considered an important aspect of the various religious ceremonies within Native American culture. Tobacco itself was thought to have held certain spiritual properties, and despite it being casually used by many tribes, it was never treated flippantly. Pipe bags and tobacco bags would be used both to hold the items used in ceremonies which involved smoking, or to carry personal pipes and pipe tobacco. Of course, bags such as this one would also be carried to simply hold onto food, small tools, or consumable possessions. These bags would normally be decorated such as the one above, using beads. Other forms of decoration included older quilling techniques, dying the hide, or use of other various animal fibers. Typically, such decoration would showcase scenes and depictions from some element of nature, be it plant life or an animal.

Item #: 0114