ME983.196 | Pincushion

Anonyme - Anonymous
Eastern Woodlands
Aboriginal: Iroquois, Mohawk
1865-1900, 19th century
Cotton cloth, glazed cotton cloth, glass beads, paper, metal sequins, wood (sawdust), cotton thread
27 x 30.5 cm
Gift of M. Luc d'Iberville-Moreau
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Pincushion (12)
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Keys to History

Other Canadian cities are immortalized in beadwork rather than prints and ceramics. This pincushion-like beaded souvenir is handmade by a Native woman living to the southwest of Montreal. The Iroquois make many different articles - including porcupine-quill boxes, leather-work moccasins and babiche snowshoes - for sale to tourists as travel souvenirs and to locals as knick-knacks. Many of these are displayed in Maritime interiors. Mrs. Frances Beavan, an immigrant to New Brunswick, describes a home where "Bright-hued Indian baskets stand on top of each other - a pair of beaded moccasins and a reticule of porcupine quills are hung up for ornament." Both Natives and newcomers create souvenir wares. Non-Natives may take classes instructing them how to use Native design. Native artist Zacharie Vincent paints domestic scenes in which settlers make snowshoes. Anything exotic and useful, beautiful and amusing, keeps newcomers' hands busy.

Mrs. Frances Beavan, Life in the Backwoods of New Brunswick (1845; reprint, (St. Stephen, NB: Print'N Press Publications, 1980), p. 31.

Janet C. Berlo and Ruth B. Phillips, Native North American Art (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998).

Ruth B. Phillips, Trading Identities: The Souvenir in Native North American Art from the Northeast, 1700 to 1900 (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1998), p. 7.

Gaby Pelletier, "New Brunswick Indian Crafts", Canadian Antiques Collector 10, no. 3 (May-June 1975): 16-18.

Source : Crowding the Parlour [Web tour], by Jane Cook, McGill University (see Links)

  • What

    This oversized pincushion stuffed with sawdust is decorated with glass beadwork, gold sequins and coloured cottons. Tobacco-coloured beads spell out "MONTREAL."

  • Where

    The artifact is from Kahnawake, a Mohawk settlement on the south shore of the St. Lawrence, southwest of Montreal.

  • When

    It was made in the 19th century, probably in the last quarter.

  • Who

    A Mohawk woman made this knick-knack.