1954.9.22

Rectangular pouch of deer-skin, decorated with quillwork, brass thimbles & jingles. [EC 'DCF 2004-2006 What's Upstairs?' 4/1/2006]

Place details: N AMERICA. Canada?. Great Lakes. Cultural Group: NE Woodlands Local Name: Unknown. Materials: Deer Skin Animal / Brass Metal / Bead / Porcupine Quill Animal / Textile / Pigment / Deer Hoof Animal / ?. Processes: Stitched / Decorated / Woven / Recycled / Quillwork / Resist Dyed / ?. Dimensions: Max W = 301 Max L = 253 mm Field Collector: Unknown When Collected: By 1953 Other Owners: Harry Geoffrey Beasley PRM Source: Irene Marguerite Beasley Acquired: Donated 1954 Documentation: See Related Documents File. PRM Image: NEG 70 5 8-10 Colour Transparency; CD59.1 & CD 62 [file 30A on both] (Feb 2000); DCF 04-06 Digital Ref Photo 4/1/2006; CD50.8 (Dec. 2007); CD98.11 (2007); CS113.11

KEYWORD: Musical instrument / Bag / Thimble Sewing Equipment / Rattle / Bell / CLASS: Music / Bag / Textile / Tool / ?.MUSIC CLASS: 1. MUSIC NAME: Pellet bell.

Object description: Rectangular pouch of deer-skin, decorated with quillwork, brass thimbles & jingles. Finger-woven carrying-strap decorated with interwoven beads, & brass pellet bells. [EC 'DCF 2004-2006 What's Upstairs?' 4/1/2006]

Accession Book Entry - 'MRS H. G. BEASLEY, WHITE BARN, SUNNINGDALE, BERKS. Specimens from the Cranmore Museum... - N. AMERICA, GREAT LAKES AREA. Square Rectangular pouch of deer-skin, decorated with quill-work, brass thimbles and jinglers. With finger-woven carrying-strap with inwoven beads, and brass pellet bells. 30.1 cm x 25.3 cm. (No C.[ranmore] M.[useum] number).'

Additional Accession Book Entry - 'Patch at top of carrying-strap, of a lighter colour, is obtained by a resist dyeing method. Note by Dr Norman Feder, Denver Art Museum, 7 May 1970.'

Pre-PRM label - Beasley Collection N. AMERICA 4549. 4-9-37 [ZM 3/2/2005]

Old Pitt Rivers Museum label - N. AMERICA GREAT LAKES AREA d.d. Mrs. H.G. Beasley 1954.9.22 [reverse:] Beasley coll. No C.M. number [EC 'DCF 2004-2006 What's Upstairs?' 4/1/2006]

Display history: Lent to the Art Gallery & Museum, Kelvingrove, Glasgow, for the HOME OF THE BRAVE exhibition, 14 May - 28 September 1992.

Displayed in the exhibition 'Transformations - The Art of Recycling', Pitt Rivers Museum, 25th March 2000 to Easter 2002.

Caption written by Laura Peers for 'Transformations-The Art of Recycling' exhibition, March 2000: 'This beautiful pouch is made from the skin of a deers legs, with the hair and dew claws left on. The seams are decorated with porcupine quills, and the strap is fingerwoven wool with glass bead infill. The bells and thimbles used as ornaments were obtained from European traders along with the wool and the beads. Some of the thimbles are worn, and one looks to have been repaired: these were used before becoming decorations. To the Native peoples of Northeastern North America, where this pouch is from, brass objects and, before these were available, ornaments of natural copper--reminded them of the red-gold colours and life-giving powers of the sun and of blood. When worn, these thimbles and bells would have made sounds which were pleasing both to the ear and to the spirits. Such items were so prized that ordinary copper kettles were sometimes cut up to obtain them. North America, Northeastern Woodlands, early 19th century; mans dress or hunting pouch.' [LP 7/6/2000]

'Transformations' exhibition label [in Related Documents File] - Man's dress or hunting pouch made in the Northeastern Woodlands of North America in the early 19th century from the skin of a deer's legs and decorated with porcupine quills and a fingerwoven strap. Attached to the pouch are bells and thimbles which, along with the wool and beads, would have been obtained from European traders. Some of the thimbles are worn and repaired which suggests that they were used before being added to the pouch. To the Native peoples of Northeastern North America, brass objects and, before these were available, ornaments of natural copper, reminded them of the colours and life-giving powers of the sun and of blood. When worn, these thimbles and bells would have made sounds which were pleasing both to the ear and to the spirits. Such items were so prized that sometimes ordinary copper kettles were cut up to obtain them. [MdeA 03/10/2006]

Publications history, trails & websites: Illustrated as fig. 33 on page 36 of Transformations: The Art of Recycling, by Jeremy Coote, Chris Morton, and Julia Nicholson (Oxford: Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford, 2000). (LP 21/6/2000)

Illustrated in colour on page 26 of Pitt Rivers Museum: An Introduction, by Julia Cousins (Oxford: Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford, 2004). Caption (same page) reads: 'Man's hunting pouch made from the skin of a deer's legs, decorated with quills, wool, beads, and thimbles; from the Northeastern Woodlands of North America, nineteenth century.' [JC 8 10 2004]

Research notes: Examined by the GRASAC research team on 12 December 2007 as part of a research project to create a digital database. This will incorporate information about collections of indigenous material culture from the Great Lakes region of North America that are housed in a number of museums on several continents; see https://icslac.carleton.ca/grasac/ [see researchers file GRASAC]. The group identified the materials as hide from a white-tailed deer, which has been tanned or cured (the appears to be from the legs, with dewclaws left intact), porcupine quills (coloured red, black, white, and yellow), red and black yarn (black could be bison hair), white and sky blue pony beads (size 8), brass cones with red dyed deer hair, thimbles and bells (bag designed purposefully to make a noise). Looks like ochre at the bottom of each deerskin strip, between the dewclaws. Motifs are formed of zigzag bands of quillwork over two linen threads, the shoulder band motif is an otter tail with zigzag lines. There are two large H-shaped motifs on the front of the bag, the team had seen this before but didn’t know the meaning. Date of manufacture 18th century, although Cory Willmot wouldn’t go much earlier than 1740 based upon style (rectangular pouch and strap). The size of the pouch is large and the bells and thimbles might also hold a clue to dating. Typical style of Anishinaabeg, although Cory Willmott thought possibly Hodenosaunee. Al Corbiere thought the bag looked as though it had been used. [ZM 15/05/2008]

Final GRASAC entry on this object reads: Materials: Rectangular pouch made of tanned or cured furred hide of a white-tailed deer, probably from four legs - dew claws have been left intact. Decorated with red, white, black and yellow porcupine quills, red and black yarn, brass thimbles (18 attache to lower fringe, 8 on front flap), brass cones, hock bells (8 attached to the strap's fringe). The thongs tipped with brass cones also contain red dyed deer hair. There may be ochre on the bottom of each deer skin strip, between the dew claws. Sewn with linen thread. The strap is decorated with inwoven white and sky blue size 8 pony beads.

Format/Techniques: The bag's front appears to be made of the skin from four deer legs, sewn together, bound with quill-wrapped leather thong. The strap is finger-woven decorated with inwoven beads and resist dye on the straps' centre-top. Zigzag band quillwork is done over two linen threads. The pouch is unlined.

Motifs and Images: The bag's strap has beaded otter tail motifs and zig zag lines. Strips of zigzag band quillwork form two large H-shaped motifs on the bag's front, and two parallel lines on the top of the flap.

Symbolism and Interpretation: "H"s are not unique but we don't know what they mean. (RP) This item looks like other rectangular and black skinned pouches. [added by Laura Peers, 08/10/2008]