sinew-sewn; design of bag arranged into three segments; the upper portion composed of alternating quilled red and white bands, having an underlying row of tin cones filled with red-dyed deer hair; the middle segment of pronged elements are placed above four bands of alternating colored quillwork; and finally, the third incorporates a wide zigzag line, length 9.5 in. x width 9.5 in.; PLUS a finely woven red wool belt, length 36 in. x width 2.5 in.
fourth quarter 18th century
The mythological structures which formed the world view of Great Lakes artists are reflected in the design of many objects...particularly in the division of the surfaces of objects into zones that parallel zones of the cosmos... visual imagery depends not only on the interpretation of individual motifs but also on the way these motifs are placed in relation to each other...
The three spatial zones incorporated in the design... correspond to the three levels of the universe. On the upper surface we find images of Thunderbirds, in between are magical substances which have been granted to human beings for the use on the middle realm of earth, and on the underside are displayed images of the Underwater Panthers. In their totality such bags can be seen as three-dimensional models of the forces that energizes the cosmos, arranged in ideal balance and order...
Pouches were containers for tobacco, personal medicines, and implements used in hunting and war. Unlike medicine bundles, however, pouches were worn on the body. Like the tattooed designs of guardian spirits that were very common in the early contact period, pouches were portable art. They kept the potent representations of spirits on the body during travel, hunting and war. More than any other genre of Great Lakes art, pouches display the full iconographic and stylistic range of the artistic tradition...
...the tendency toward extreme stylization and the use of abstract symbolic motifs also creates a certain ambiguity in individual works of art...bands of zigzag lines merge into wave patterns, the bodies of the Thunderbirds become hourglass forms and their linked wings fade into a single contour line. The upper half of an Underwater Panther dissolves into rows of castellated lines that might also suggest the bottom halves of Thunderbird torsos (Phillips 1984: 26-27).
1984. Phillips, Ruth. Patterns of Power. Ontario: Book Society of Canada, Ltd.
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