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Beaded vest with floral and geometric designs on velvet front piece and cotton lining / Ernest Emmett Thompson


Black vest with beaded floral designs. Front of vest has beading on velvet and five plastic buttons. Back of vest is silk. Vest has a cotton fabric lining. Beadwork sewn using spot stitch.

Vests covered in beads did not become prevalent until the 1890s and 1900s, when beadwork had become popular and beads easily accessible. The vests typically were decorated with geometric designs, though some of the more northern Plains tribes began using floral patterns much later (Paterek 1994, 87).

The Plains and Plateau Indians decorated their clothing and hides with quillwork, paint, and fringe not only because of the aesthetics, but because the beautification “did honor to the spirit of the animal” (Furst and Furst 1982, 165). Animal skins possessed spirit power from the original animals because the skins had given the animals their forms. Therefore, if people decorate the skin, thus honoring it, the animal will send its goodwill to the people.

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Beaded vest with floral and geometric designs on velvet front piece and cotton lining
Native American; possibly Otoe-Missouria or Ponca (artist and user)
late 19th century - early 20th century
velvet, cotton, silk, glass, plastic
Object Type: 
Credit Line: 
Ernest Emmet Thompson Collection
Accession No: 
Not On View

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