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Rare Umbilical Cord Fetish, 19th Century

Regular price $1,800.00 Sale

Rare Umbilical Cord Fetish, 19th Century
Sioux Beadwork
glass beads, buckskin, metal display stand
6" tall x 4" wide x 1.5" deep
*9" tall x 4" wide x 3" deep with custom made stand

Mint condition, Provenance provided

In preparation for a child’s birth, it was a tradition for a female relative of the unborn infant to bead two identical pouches in the shape of an animal whose spirit traits they wanted the child to possess. When the newborn’s umbilical cord fell off, it would be inserted into one of the pouches and sewn up. The matching pouch would contain nothing but stuffing and serve as a decoy, confusing, and diverting evil spirits who may want to harm the child or take over their spirit. When the child reached the proper age, the fetish amulet would be presented to him or her to guard, and it became a form of personal protection worn around the neck or attached to their clothing. This particular fetish is quite rare as it uses American flags as the primary design element. 

For centuries, Plains Indian women decorated clothing and prized objects with porcupine quills. Preparing the quills for sewing was a time consuming and difficult process. Around 1880's, the Sioux were introduced to glass beads through trading. The women preferred to use these brightly colored beads over the porcupine quills because they were easier to work with and made the designs of their garments more vibrant. The Sioux usually beaded on a white background.  The most common color sequence used was blue, yellow, red and green.  The beads were sewn directly onto items and designs were geometric and usually symmetrical.