American Native Arts and Antiques

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Iroquois Beadwork Pincushion - w/2 American Flags


The trilobe pincushion and pillow are traditional shapes for Iroquois beadworkers. The American flag has been a beadwork design by Iroquois and many Plains tribes for about 150 years. There has been a book written about the use of American Flags as decoration for Indian art/craft. A short explanation - as tribes defended their homelands, they were defeated by the firepower of the cavalry. A strong "war party" was to be admired. Battle symbols were thought to be powerful, if the cavalry's flag symbol brought victory, the Indians used it for their own victories and as a bit of respect for the armies that defeated them. Here is a trilobe pincushion by Paul St John, Mohawk craftsman that has 2 American flags in the center.

This is 6" long and 6.5" across at widest, generously stuffed it is 2.25" high. It is a traditional "trilobed" shape - with the 3 top "lobes" at top tapering to a point at bottom. Paul uses clear antique glass seed beads that are lined with sterling silver for the beaded border and the dangles at bottom and widest points as well as for the bottom of the leaves. These "silver heart" beads really sparkle and shine! Top of the leaves are done in beads of a transparent marine blue color, with the flags done in solid color red, white and blue beads. The dangles are 3 bead loops each, 2" long. The pincushion is of vintage red wool.

Beaded Pincushion with Flags
Beaded Pincushion with Flags  - turned
Beaded Pincushion with Flags  - close up
Weight: 8 oz