Object photography

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Object description

  • Sioux artist
  • Breast ornament, late 19th-early 20th century
  • Bone, leather, brass, cowry shell
  • Great Plains, North America
  • H: 18 1/8 in, W: 8 1/4 in, D: 1/2 in (H: 46.0 cm, W: 21.0 cm, D: 1.3 cm)
  • Gift of the Heirs of George C. Stone, 1936
  • E22019
  • Tubular beads were used as ear and hair ornaments, necklaces, and breastplates on the Plains
  • Called breastplates because they cover your chest, they are technically necklaces since they are tied around your neck

Unlike many breastplates that were used as actual armor in combat, breastplates on the Great Plains were considered items of status and wealth. En vogue in the second half of the 19th century, tubular shell beads (called "hair pipes") were strung on buckskin strips horizontally or diagonally, sometimes with additional beads and accoutrement, to make two or more vertical rows. Here, a round, mirrored ornament hangs from the center, a flashy addition, no doubt, to an already elaborate item of adornment.