Nez Perces cornhusk bag

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Nez Perces cornhusk bag

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Delicate design with pale blue/gray, purple, chartreuse, and red wools

cornhusk, hemp, and old wool edging sewn on with blue thread

8 5/8" wide x 9 5/8" tall to the top of the bag

circa 1880-1890s

Excellent condition with two holes for handles at the rim (handles are missing)

Private Collection

$1250.

(mc2016)

 

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The design panels of this bag are intriguing. One side has stacked reverberating diamonds flanked by cascading linked triangles. The bottom design is composed of what appears to be butterfly designs. The other side is a sampler of movement, perhaps indicating flights of birds?? The central band of linked triangles also implies flocks of birds. The colors have softened to lovely, soft colors.

The Nez Perces were migratory people who lived in Idaho, Washing and Oregon in the Columbia River plateau. They traded horses to the Plains Indian tribes. Necessarily, all of their possessions had to be easily transported. Bags were carried by men, women and children during ceremonies as well as in everyday life.

Neighboring tribes in the Plateau area made very similar bags, especially the Yakima Indians. Because their bags are difficult to distinguish from those of the Nez Perces, without documentation the Yakima, cornhusk bags are often referred to as being "Nez Perces". The Nez Perces were the largest tribe in the area.