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Plains Culture

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Arapaho Artist

Saddle Bag, n.d.
Beads on leather
x 11 in. ( x 28 cm)

Creation Place: North America, Native American
Technique: Leatherworking and beadworking
Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Edward H. Angle
Accession Number: P2104
Flat rectangular buckskin bag beaded on one side. Predominantly decorated with yellow "tipis" and red, white and blue geometric designs on light blue. Metal clamps and red tassels on the sides. Stepped rectangles contrast with smooth Sioux edges.

glass beads and leather

See R. Conn report (1978).

Saddle bags were both a way to transport objects, hung from the saddle on either side of the horse, and, when transferred to hang in the tepee, storage for clothing and household articles. However, the intricate decoration of this Arapaho bag suggests it was more than utilitarian, perhaps made to hold medicine or sacred objects. The bag features well-known motifs in Native American beadwork including the "hourglass," made up of two triangles joined at the apex. Contemporary sources described the Arapaho people as highly religious; their everyday actions and objects, especially those with beadwork designs, were imbued with symbolic meaning. Such symbolic meaning, however, may only be accessible to the creator or owner of this bag.

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