- Museum number
Composite ornament, with a circular shell gorget to go on the chest, and a long back ornament consisting of two panels of quillwork. The gorget is made from a large piece of white univalve, curved, probably marine and so traded from the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic. Attached to it through two holes near the centre, are skin thongs with loomwoven imitation-wampum straps. These are approximately 70 beads long, and three beads wide on four warps of skin?, wefts of fibre? The ground is dark blue, with three white crosses on each strap. The two straps are tied onto a thin metal, zinc? strip, from which is suspended the first quillwork panel, executed in the netted technique of paired alternating warps, probably also of fibre. The design in black and white on an orange ground shows two thunderbirds, the tips of their wings joined with white and blue lightning over their heads around the top of the panel. The panel is edged in red stroud cloth, followed by an alternating band of black and white imitation-wampum beads. Below the panel are two series of quill wrapped thongs, the upper layer, wrapped in blue quills, ending in metal [zinc?] cones filled with orange hair, joined to the second series of thongs, wrapped in white, black, orange and blue quills. These in turn are attached to a second narrow rectangular/horizontal metal [zinc?] strip, from which is suspended a second quilled panel, similar to the previous, with further quill wrapped thongs, ending initially in hair-filled metal cones, as previous, and then in a loose fringe of white/orange/blue/orange/white quill-wrapped thongs ending also in orange hair-filled metal cones.
- Production date
Height: 13.50 centimetres (lower quilled panel)
Height: 123 centimetres (overall)
Height: 13.25 centimetres (shell gorget)
Height: 15 centimetres (upper quilled panel)
Width: 15 centimetres (lower quilled panel)
Width: 17.50 centimetres (overall)
Width: 12.75 centimetres (shell gorget)
Width: 17 centimetres (upper quilled panel)
Depth: 3 centimetres (overall)
- Curator's comments
Laura Peers thinks that this piece is a companion piece to one in the McCord Museum, #M740.
Additional description etc. by JCK 31/10/1995; see JCH King `Thunderbird and Lightning' BMP Ltd 1982
McEwan 2009, pp. 42-43
Wampum Gorget. Alqonquin, Ottawa, Canada AD1700-1820
Prestigious items were worn as symbols of male status. Many were crafted from wampum, made of strung beads into combinations of figurative designs and abstract motifs and invested with meaning that was shared by both makers and owners. This composite ornament was designed to be worn with the circular shell gorget on the chest and the two panels of quillwork hanging down the back. The gorget was fashioned from a large species of marine shell - probably conch - and likely to have been traded in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Attached to it are skin thongs with imitation-wampum straps, woven with a dark blue background punctuated by white flashes. The design on the back panels consists of a pair of black thunderbirds with outstretched wings outlined in white on an orange background. Above, a jagged bolt of white and blue lightning zigzags energetically over the heads of the two birds from the one wing-tip of one to the wing-tip of the other. The panel is edged in red stroud cloth (wool), followed by an alternating band of black and white imitation-wampum beads. Below the panel are two series of quill-wrapped thongs ending in metal (possibly zinc) cones filled with orange hair.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1976-1977 7 Oct-16 Jan, London, The Hayward Gallery, Sacred Circles: 2,000 Years of North American Indian Art
1977 16 Apr-19 Jun, Kansas City, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Sacred Circles: 2,000 Years of North American Indian Art
1982-1987 Jun-Jan, Museum of Mankind, Thunderbird and Lightning: Indian Life in North America, 1600-1900
1999 25 Jun-2001 1 Sep, BM Room 26; Gallery of North America, Case: "The Northeastern Woodlands"
2012 15 Dec - 2013 12 Apr, De Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam, The American Indian: Art and Culture between Myth and Reality
- Good, but the artefact is very fragile, particularly at the thongs around the neck.
- Acquisition date
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
CDMS number: Am1893C2.6992 (old CDMS no.)