Arts of the Americas
As northeastern Native 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 purses, such as this one, for the non-Native tourists who flocked to state fairs and other northeastern tourist spots. In addition to the raised-beadwork floral designs, the artist added the phrase “FORGET ME NOT” to appeal to customers buying gifts for absent friends.
6 1/4 × 6 3/8 × 1/2 in. (15.9 × 16.2 × 1.3 cm)
Gift of the family of Emily Gertrude Conner Leastman
Prior to 1892, provenance not yet documented; before 1892, reportedly acquired by Jessie Maud Pratt (Jessie M. Robeson); before 1892, gift of Jessie Maud Pratt to Emily Gertrude Conner Leastman; by 1981, gift of Emily Gertrude Conner Leastman to Nancy Leastman Soman; 2021 gift of Nancy Leastman Soman to the Brooklyn Museum.
Small bag of green cloth, edged with white cloth (twill?), and decorated with raised, beaded floral designs primarily in clear and white with accents of yellow, green, pink, choral, orange, and red. The glass beads vary from small seed beads to faceted tubular ones. On the front, the top of the flap has the beaded words “Forget Me Not” in red. The back of the bag is decorated with a raised beaded vase accented with yellow cloth (satin?), flowers, and a butterfly in the same colors as the front. The bottom of the bag is decorated with a looped fringe of clear beads, and the sides and flap are edged with short loops of clear beads. There is a strap of twisted clear bead strands. The inside of the bag is lined with yellow glazed cotton or chintz.
Condition: excellent; some of the short, clear loops on the lower left side are missing.
This item is not on view
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