ME940.1.1.1-2 | Moccasin

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Anonyme - Anonymous
Aboriginal: Iroquois or Dene
1800-1830, 19th century
Tanned and smoked deer hide, porcupine quills, sheet metal cones, horsehair, silk?, sinew, vegetable fibre, organic dyes
8.5 x 10.5 x 26.7 cm
Gift of The Misses Sweeny
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Moccasins (230)
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Keys to History

These moccasins are made of tanned and smoked deerhide. The vamp and cuffs are ornamented with loom woven and zigzag appliqué quillwork designs. The double-curve motif that emerges on each side of the vamp may be a visual representation of the Great Tree that forms the central vertical axis of the universe in Northeastern Aboriginal cosmology. The cuffs are trimmed in sheet metal cones stuffed with dyed animal hair.

When European materials such as cloth and glass beads became available through trade, they were given new meaning and purpose in the distinctive Aboriginal universe. Aboriginal diplomats frequently wore innovative combinations of traditional clothing mixed with European garb. In particular, Aboriginal people continued to make and wear moccasins long after they incorporated European garments and materials into their clothing styles.

  • What

    These are moccasins made with a puckered toe and turned down cuffs, elaborately ornamented with porcupine quillwork applied in woven bands and zigzag appliqué. Sheet metal "tinkle" cones are used to trim the cuffs.

  • Where

    Moccasins appear to have been made in this style across a wide part of the Eastern Woodlands and Great Lakes region.

  • When

    The elaborate quillwork evident on these moccasins, as well as the use of organic dyes, argues for an early date of about 1800-1830 C.E. The cuffs were once covered in red wool, which was removed at an undetermined time in the past.

  • Who

    The moccasins may have been made by an Iroquois or Huron-Wendat woman; however, they could just as easily have been made by any of the groups occupying the broad Northeast.