This small but ornate pouch represents a very distinctive beadwork innovation created by Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) artists in the mid- to late-19th century. Small fabric bags, pin cushions, photo frames and other purely decorative forms, known as “whimsies,” were beaded with thick layers of stacked beadwork. The artists often favored translucent beads on black or bright colored velvet fabric, which gave these objects an opulent, bejeweled appearance. They were sold by their Haudenosaunee makers to Victorian-era tourists near Niagara Falls. The condition of this pouch is a bit rugged: the blue ribbon embellishment is torn and faded, the red edging has lost some of its vibrancy, and it is missing some beaded fringe. However, it has not lost its charm.
—Kathleen Ash-Milby, Curator of Native American Art
Haudenosaunee/Iroquois artist (Haudenosaunee/Iroquois). Pouch, ca. 1850. Pouch: cotton, silk, and glass beads; spoon: Wood Point: Stone Quill: porcupine. The Elizabeth Cole Butler Collection, 2014.14.6a-d