Object photography

Click image to enlarge +

Object description

  • Lakota (Sioux) artist
  • Umbilical amulet, early 20th century
  • Leather, glass, tin, feather
  • Pine Ridge, South Dakota, United States
  • L: 7 in, W: 3 3/8 in, D: 1 in (L: 17.8 cm, W: 8.6 cm, D: 2.5 cm)
  • Gift of Miss N.L. Gleason, 1932
  • E20976
  • Made in the shape of an amphibian or animal who could transition seamlessly from water to land
  • Gift to child, treasured throughout one's life

A beaded umbilical amulet was given to an expectant mother to hold a piece of her baby's umbilical cord. Amulets were typically shaped like a turtle, lizard, or snake for their protective character traits. An individual who saves their amulet throughout their life has a constant physical reminder of their connection to mother and thus, their culture and community.