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Cradle Board with Quill Work

Arts of the Americas

MEDIUM Muslin, willow, porcupine quill, dye, deer hide
  • Place Made: United States
  • DATES 1870s
    DIMENSIONS 13 x 32 in. (33 x 81.3 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Arts of the Americas
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER X1126.36
    CREDIT LINE Brooklyn Museum Collection
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Arapaho (Native American). Cradle Board with Quill Work, 1870s. Muslin, willow, porcupine quill, dye, deer hide, 13 x 32 in. (33 x 81.3 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Museum Collection, X1126.36. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, X1126.36_PS2.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, X1126.36_PS2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2008
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION This is a classic style of Northern Arapaho cradle except instead of hide it was made of muslin. The quilled disc is a design element that is symbolic for protecting the brain of the baby and is made with sacred colors of red, yellow and black. The lacings represent the baby's ribs, arms, and legs. There are ladder like bands of quillwork that frame the child's face flopping over like braids. The cradle is fashioned over a bent willow hoop. The Arapaho had a Sacred Guild of Quill workers. After initiation quill workers were allowed to make a type of holy embroidery with symbolic designs. Work was restricted to a few objects and four specific colors representing four directions. The cradle is like a tipi as it houses the baby like a tipi houses the family and tribe so both men and women are represented. The disc is a traditional Arapaho design done a lot by the Women's Society of Quill workers. The Shoshone/Arapaho started making these types again in the 1970s and they might still be making them. Possibly matches with cradle strap 05.568.
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