Man’s shoulder bag; Creek or Seminole; ca. 1840-1860 Hide, cotton, glass beads; panel: 21,5 x 21,5 cm.; strap: 52 cm. RMV 524-5; purchased from antiquities dealer L. Yvan, Paris, 1885...

Stichting Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen

Man’s shoulder bag; Creek or Seminole; ca. 1840-1860 Hide, cotton, glass beads; panel: 21,5 x 21,5 cm.; strap: 52 cm. RMV 524-5; purchased from antiquities dealer L. Yvan, Paris, 1885 Distinctively cut and sewn from commercially produced fabrics and elaborately decorated with glass trade bead appliqué, combination pouches and straps worn by Native American men of Southeastern North America during the 19th century have become highly valued collector’s items while remaining poorly known in art historical and ethnographic terms. Compelling examples such as this one in the collections of the Museum Volkenkunde in Leiden evoke these enigmas. These bags are part of an emblematic style of native dress of dress; a style that is a hybridization of cultural influences that converged in the colonial Southeast. The so-called “bandolier bags” were practical in function but were also highly elaborated works of visual communication requiring many hours of careful labor on the part of the seamstresses who fashioned them out of European trade goods (Jackson 2010). Linked to styles of shoulder bag worn by Europeans on the frontier of Eastern North America but surely also tied to pre-contact era pouches and bags, the kind of elaborate bandolier bag of which the Leiden example is an illustration were essentially a early 19th century phenomena, most closely associated with the Muscogee (Creek) people and their historical relatives the Seminole. Very similar bags are known for the Cherokee and this type of bag is closely related, but not identical, in formal terms, to shoulder bags made and worn among the Shawnee and Delaware (Power 2007:100-103; Penney 1992:97-100,114-115). The Shawnee and Delaware examples are in turn transitional to the much better known and much better documented bandolier bags of the Great Lakes region. The hallmarks of the Creek-Seminole form are a triangular flap on the pouch and various kinds of forked or split end treatments on the strap. Such bags were uniformly made of wool with a backing – unseen when worn – of a patterned trade cloth. Using evidence from surviving examples of native beadwork, archaeologist and ethnologist John M. Goggin first proposed that the Southeast divided into two broad style areas: Eastern and Western. Featuring beadwork styles more akin to those of the Northeastern Woodlands, including floral, floral-like, and double-curve motifs, bags such as the Leiden example were typical of the Eastern area. Beaded bags from the Western area (ex: Choctaw, Alabama, Koasati) lacked the triangular flap typical of the Cherokee, Creek and Seminole (Eastern) examples and, like the related Western baldric (a shoulder-worn sash lacking a pouch) form, featured different (and more standardized) beadwork motifs—particularly scrolls and line patterns that echoed more clearly pre-contact pottery designs (Goggin 1951; 1964). The Leiden bag like the majority of known bags of this style lack reliable or convincing provenance. However, period painted portraits showing men wearing such bags can augment research. Such bags are also mentioned occasionally in documentary writings. While there was a long hiatus in the making and wearing of such bags, the late 20th century saw a revival in their production and use. This was primarily a part of a widespread re-engagement by native peoples with their rich tribal arts and crafts heritage, but study of such bags by non-native, avocational scholars and historical re-enactors played a supporting role, particularly through the production of a “how-to” literature in which the techniques used in constructing such bags was reverse engineered from surviving examples and then presented in print in accessible ways (Mott and Obermeyer 1990). Among the most famed contemporary makers of such bags are Martha Berry (Cherokee), Jay McGirt (Seminole-Creek), and Jerry Ingram (Choctaw) and their work in the Eastern style can be found in museum and private collections. Bags of this type can increasingly be seen being worn by native participants in such special events as the inauguration ceremonies for tribal leaders and in weddings, in addition to 19th century war reenactments, events in which native people increasingly participate. Jason Baird Jackson Indiana University John M. Goggin, Beaded Shoulder Pouches of the Florida Seminole; in: Florida Anthropologist 4/1-2:3-17; 1951. John M. Goggin, Style Areas in Historic Southeastern Art; in: Indian and Spanish: Selected Writings by John M. Goggin:64-68; University of Miami Press; Coral Gables, FL, 1964. Jason Baird Jackson, The Southeast; in: The Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion, vol. 3: United States and Canada, J.B. Eicher, ed.:457-466; Berg; Oxford, 2010. David Mott and Rick Obermeyer, How to Make Seminole Pouches and Bandoliers; in: 19th Century Seminole Men's Clothing; Privately Published; Orlando, 1990. David W. Penney, Art of the American Indian Frontier: The Chandler-Pohrt Collection; Detroit Institute of Arts; Detroit, 1992. Susan Power, Art of the Cherokee: Prehistory to the Present; University of Georgia Press; Athens, 2007. Een belangrijk deel van de kledij van de Chippewa mannens is de bandolier; een grote met kralen versierde tas met brede schouderband en franjes of kwastjes aan de onderzijde. Bandoliers werden door de welgestelde Chippewa's gedragen, meestal één over elke schouder. De tas lijkt op de munitietas die in de achttiende eeuw door Britse soldaten werd gebruikt. De Chippewa's en andere volkeren in de Central Woodlands maakten hun eerste eigen bandoliers aan het begin van de negentiende eeuw. Volgens sommigen werden de met kralenwerk versierde tassen aan het eind van de winter met de Sioux tegen paarden geruild. Elke versierde tas zou de waarde van één paard hebben. Vanaf 1860 kwamen meer Europese glazen kralen in omloop en werden ze geheel met kralenwerk versierd waarbij vaak voor bloemmotieven werd gekozen.


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