M740 | Pouch
Anonyme - Anonymous
1779-1817, 18th century or 19th century
Wool cloth, linen cloth, silk ribbon, porcupine quills, silver band, hide thongs, metal cones, animal hair, vegetable fibre, cotton thread, dye
16.5 x 28.5 cm
Gift of Mr. David Ross McCord
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Pouch (117)
Keys to History
This remarkable bag exemplifies the innovative ways in which Aboriginal women employed both traditional and European materials to create objects of striking beauty. The front of the bag is particularly striking: a netted panel of dyed porcupine quills was used to evoke lightening surrounding a Thunderbird, a powerful manito from the Upperworld. The shiny band of trade silver, perhaps originally a hatband, reflects light and is symbolically associated with the supernatural world of manitos. The touch mark indicates that Montreal silversmith Charles Arnoldi made the silver band. Striped wool cloth edged with silk ribbon provides the backing for the pouch. The bottom is finished with a tight row of quill wrapped hide thongs to which sheet metal cones stuffed with animal hair have been attached. This bag was clearly crafted with great care for an important individual, by a woman who mastered traditional Aboriginal arts like quillwork, while also integrating new trade materials in innovative and highly effective ways.
This pouch results from the creative combination of traditional Aboriginal artistic techniques, like porcupine quillwork, enhanced by the incorporation of colourful wool fabric and trade silver. The silver band was made by Charles Arnoldi, a Montreal silversmith who was active between the dates of 1799 and 1817.
We are not sure where this bag was made; however, the style of the quillwork and distinctive Thunderbird imagery suggests the region of the Great Lakes.
This pouch likely dates to the first quarter of the 19th century, as this time period corresponds to the dates when silversmith Charles Arnoldi, who made the silver band, was active, specifically 1799 to 1817.
The style of this bag and the incorporation of Thunderbird imagery suggests that the maker may have been Anishinaabe.