Egret and crab

Monday, August 17, 2020

Antique Sioux tobacco bag

The Blue Heron Gallery is pleased to offer this pristine, circa 1880, Sioux pipe or tobacco bag. These bags were worn by Plains Indian males in ceremonial functions.

I was told by the man that I bought it from that this bag was deaccessioned from a museum in Northern California.

It still bears an ink registration number inside the lip of the opening. It actually hangs straight but we created a cardboard insert to hang it and it has thrown it off a tad.

I sent it out for some minor restoration. The bead work was perfect but there was a little bit of porcupine quillwork missing and the bottom fringe was stiff.

The repairs sound minimal but it gets expensive to do this sort of repair work the right way and I was willing to wait and spend the money.

It was gone for close to five, six months. I just got it back. I am really happy with the results.

It is very rare for me to get great plains material or frankly any great Native American merchandise these days.

I'm just not seeing it in estates and it is so very expensive at the shows, when there were shows anyway.

Iconographically, this bag is pretty cool. There are four teepee shaped forms in the glass bead panel and a teepee chevron pictured below in the quilled slats framed with two light H shapes and four subtle crosses.

I am not sure what the mushroom shape on the top of the teepee or stepped pyramid shapes represents, if anything. In addition three tin cone quilled strands hang vertically down the center of the bag.

I really like the blue bead background color and you can note the yellow ochre color rubbed into the leather above the bead panel. The top portion has some lovely green beads that set everything off wonderfully.

Made out of tanned deer hide and sewed with sinew, it is pretty doggone fabulous.

I am not an expert on these bags, which held sacred pipes and tobacco. Have had three of four great ones in my time but maybe never one this good.

You can see them in many old photographs of Plains Indians, like this shot of Running Bear and Crow Man.

All of the 19th century Plains indian tribes wore these sorts of pipe bags and there are subtle differences between the Crow, Ute, Kiowa, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Blackfoot and Sioux styles.

I am pretty sure that mine is from the Lakota or Teton Sioux but would love to know if I am wrong. Lakota means affectionate or friendly in their native tongue. The other two Sioux peoples are the Santee and the Yankton.

My pipe bag is 38" long in length, with 19 & 1/2" to the bottom of the bag itself and another 6" to the bottom of the quillwork.

I think that this one will probably sell rather quickly but I will be happy to enjoy it as long as I can.



Chip said...

Very beautiful....what a find!!

Wicki said...

I am glad I got to see it and read your description. Very beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Hey Rob. I get these alerts with links to the Blast. When I follow lately it’s a pitch to buy something. Has anyone else mentioned this? I prefer politics, which is very important these days. Stay safe!

Blue Heron said...

I get you. A lot of people are interested in seeing what I am working with as much of it is a history lesson to boot. But I get that it doesn't do it for you.



Anonymous said...

I love seeing what items the Blue Heron gets, and your very interesting history and educational posts about them.