Beaded Bag with Floral Design
Arts of the Americas
As northeastern tribes were forced onto reservations and their traditional lifestyles were threatened, Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) women looked for new sources of income for their families. They had always been proficient in quillwork and beadwork, so they began to create handbags (as seen here), needle cases, pincushions, watch fobs, and other items for the non-Native tourists who flocked to state fairs and other northeastern tourist spots. Haudenosaunee women set up booths and sold their arts featuring motifs of northeastern flora and fauna directly to eager customers.
Velvet, glass beads, cloth, ribbon, cotton thread, sequins
Excluding ribbon handle and fringe: 7 × 6 1/2 in. (17.8 × 16.5 cm) (show scale)
Gift of the Edward J. Guarino Collection in memory of Mauricette (Sue) Castle
This item is not on view
Haudenosaunee. Beaded Bag with Floral Design, ca. 1880. Velvet, glass beads, cloth, ribbon, cotton thread, sequins, Excluding ribbon handle and fringe: 7 × 6 1/2 in. (17.8 × 16.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Edward J. Guarino Collection in memory of Mauricette (Sue) Castle
, 2014.76.27 (Photo: , 2014.76.27_PS9.jpg)
overall, 2014.76.27_PS9.jpg., 2018
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This looks ahead of its time!
I can see why! This style of raised beadwork embroidery was created by Haudenosaunee women in the mid 19th century.
The style blended indigenous subjects materials and curvilinear design with Victorian ornateness.
It as example of how Native women were able to innovate to ensure cultural and economic survival in the midst of colonization. The bags were so popular that Victorian-era settlers can often be seen holding them in photographic portraits from the time.