ME984X.59.1-2 | Pouch
Anonyme - Anonymous
Aboriginal: Iroquois or Anishinaabe
1775-1825, 18th century or 19th century
Tanned and smoked deer hide, porcupine quills, moose or deer hair, sinew, metal cones, cotton or linen thread, sinew, spruce root?
12.5 x 18.5 cm
Gift of Mrs. Gladys E. Harris
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Pouch (117)
Keys to History
This is a small pouch of tanned and smoked deerskin, ornamented with porcupine quills dyed in white, orange, black and green or blue, which have been applied in a zigzag pattern. The bottom seam is trimmed with sheet metal cones stuffed with red-dyed animal hair. The pouch also has a strap made of natural vegetable fibres (possibly spruce root) that is finger woven and braided.
Aboriginal people, like people of all cultures, express their values and status by marking their bodies, wearing distinctive clothing, and carrying beautiful or unique objects. Aboriginal diplomats of the 18th century could often be distinguished by their striking appearance. Leaders who were accomplished warriors - but also others, both men and women - endured the pain of tattooing to have individual motifs and elaborate designs applied to their skin. European observers present at treaty negotiations also described distinctive body paint, hairstyles, headdresses and outfits.
This is a small hide pouch constructed of four separate pieces, and sewn with sinew and also cotton or linen thread. Porcupine quills dyed in white, orange, black and green or blue have been applied in a zigzag pattern. The bottom is trimmed with sheet metal cones stuffed with red-dyed animal hair.
Pouches ornamented with porcupine quill motifs were produced across the Eastern Woodlands, making it difficult to determine the exact source of this piece. Nevertheless, the style of the quillwork shows affinities to garments and accessories made in the central Great Lakes region.
The distinctive style of this pouch, the use of sinew for thread, and the lack of European trade materials all argue for an early date, possibly 1775-1825.
The style of the porcupine quill embroidery, and the addition of a cross of the four directions, are typical of Great Lakes work made by Anishinaabe artists. The pouch may also have been made by an Iroquois or Huron-Wendat artist.