Collection online

wampum / bead / bag

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    Am1878,1101.625

  • Description

    Square pouch or bag constructed of skin and cloth, the front covered with a large panel of loomwoven glass imitation wampum, black ground, white details, with a strap also of imitation glass wampum. The bag face, of 26 horizontal rows of beads on 27 warps, has three white heaxagons at the bottom, and six white diamonds at the top. The sides of the bag are edged in orange quillwork in zig-zag line technique, followed by a row of imitation-wampum, five beads deep, three black in the middle and one at either end of white: these may have been woven on the bias and applied as a strip, or may be spot-stitched onto the bag. The bottom of bag is also edged with a row of imitation-wampum, on the bias, eight beads deep, white at the ends with six black beads in the middle. The top cloth edge of the bag above the panel was formerly decorated with a row of alternating black and white imitation-wampum beads, and 4 small crosses of four white and one black bead each, of which two on the right hand side survive. The outer edge of the bag was originally decorated with rows of orange hair-filled metal cones, most of which are now missing, except at the bottom. The strap has six warps, for five rows of black imitation-wampum, with nine white diamonds evenly spaced along the length. The warps are of skin, and wefts perhaps of a native wool or vegetal fibre. A substantial number of beads are missing from the strap.

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  • Ethnic name

  • Date

    • 18thC
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Length: 74 centimetres (with strap)
    • Width: 19 centimetres (of bag)
    • Height: 18 centimetres (of bag)
    • Depth: 2 centimetres
    • Length: 90.5 centimetres (display board)
    • Width: 30 centimetres (display board)
    • Depth: 5 centimetres (display board)
  • Curator's comments

    J.C.H.King 'Thunderbird and Lightning' 1982,p.66-7 describes this as follows: 'an eighteenth-century bag decorated with a panel of imitation glass wampum'. Glenbow Museum 1987 p 48 illustrates a similar bag with the following information: 'Shoulder bag. Mohawk type, 1776-1778. Black-dyed skin, cloth, glass-imitation wampum beads, vegetable fibre, porcupine quills, animal hair, metal cones L: 69.5 (overall), L: 18.0, W: 19.5 (pouch). Collected by August Wilhelm Du Roi. Braunschweigisches Landesmuseum, FRG VM 7250. This bag represents a type of pouch - of which there are only a few examples - that was popular for a brief period in the late 18th century. It was collected during the American Revolution by a German mercenary soldier. The diagonal weaving of glass imitation-wampum beads is innovative, but the geometric motifs and use of large panels of beads are carried over from shell wampum objects of the early-contact period.' There is no explanation, however, of why this should be of 'Mohawk type'. The label attached to the bag has a note in JCKing's handwriting: 'c. 1720-1740 beads of this kind found on archaeological sites. Dr [John?] Witthoft 18.viii.76'. S R Meyrick collected in the first quarter of the 19th century; C Wainwright has published on his arms and armour, and interior decor. Meyrick acquired materials that may have come through the collections of W Bullock, and A Lever. [Additional description, comment etc. by JCK,19 & 26/10/1995]. see JCH King `First Peoples, First Contacts' British Museum Press 1999.

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  • Bibliography

    • Cartwright et al 2012 bibliographic details
    • King 1999 p.48 bibliographic details
    • King 1982 p.67 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history

    Exhibited:
    1982-1987 Jun-Jan, Museum of Mankind, Thunderbird and Lightning: Indian Life in North America, 1600-1900
    1999 25 Jun-2005 Mar, BM Room 26; Gallery of North America, Case: "The Northeastern Woodlands"
    2005-2007 Apr-Jan, Ottawa, National Gallery of Canada, Art of this Land

  • Condition

    Very delicate.

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1878

  • Department

    Africa, Oceania & the Americas

  • Registration number

    Am1878,1101.625

Square pouch or bag constructed of skin and cloth, the front covered with a large panel of loomwoven glass imitation wampum, black ground, white details, with a strap also of imitation glass wampum. The bag face, of 26 horizontal rows of beads on 27 warps, has three white heaxagons at the bottom, and six white diamonds at the top. The sides of the bag are edged in orange quillwork in zig-zag line technique, followed by a row of imitation-wampum, five beads deep, three black in the middle and one at either end of white: these may have been woven on the bias and applied as a strip, or may be spot-stitched onto the bag. The bottom of bag is also edged with a row of imitation-wampum, on the bias, eight beads deep, white at the ends with six black beads in the middle. The top cloth edge of the bag above the panel was formerly decorated with a row of alternating black and white imitation-wampum beads, and 4 small crosses of four white and one black bead each, of which two on the right hand side survive. The outer edge of the bag was originally decorated with rows of orange hair-filled metal cones, most of which are now missing, except at the bottom. The strap has six warps, for five rows of black imitation-wampum, with nine white diamonds evenly spaced along the length. The warps are of skin, and wefts perhaps of a native wool or vegetal fibre. A substantial number of beads are missing from the strap.

Square pouch or bag constructed of skin and cloth, the front covered with a large panel of loomwoven glass imitation wampum, black ground, white details, with a strap also of imitation glass wampum. The bag face, of 26 horizontal rows of beads on 27 warps, has three white heaxagons at the bottom, and six white diamonds at the top. The sides of the bag are edged in orange quillwork in zig-zag line technique, followed by a row of imitation-wampum, five beads deep, three black in the middle and one at either end of white: these may have been woven on the bias and applied as a strip, or may be spot-stitched onto the bag. The bottom of bag is also edged with a row of imitation-wampum, on the bias, eight beads deep, white at the ends with six black beads in the middle. The top cloth edge of the bag above the panel was formerly decorated with a row of alternating black and white imitation-wampum beads, and 4 small crosses of four white and one black bead each, of which two on the right hand side survive. The outer edge of the bag was originally decorated with rows of orange hair-filled metal cones, most of which are now missing, except at the bottom. The strap has six warps, for five rows of black imitation-wampum, with nine white diamonds evenly spaced along the length. The warps are of skin, and wefts perhaps of a native wool or vegetal fibre. A substantial number of beads are missing from the strap.

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