Object photography

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Object description

  • Sioux artist
  • Baby carrier, late 19th century
  • Leather, cotton, silk, brass
  • Great Plains, United States
  • H: 22 in, W: 10 in, D: 15 in (H: 55.9 cm, W: 25.4 cm, D: 38.1 cm)
  • Gift of Mrs. Amy Gillette Bassett, 1934
  • E21292


This cradle board, or baby carrier, is made of leather which has been covered with a design of glass seed beads. The background is mainly white with green, blue, and red geometric patterns throughout. American flags are also depicted in the pattern. A row of brass bells attaches to a red silk ribbon ringing the top half of the opening. At the back, yellow, red, blue, and green silk ribbons hang off.Thin leather straps run down the front opening to allow tying. The same straps extend along the open bottom. The interior is lined with a red and black plaid cotton. A length of bead decorated leather extends from the back portion of the board, culminating in a fringe of leather strips and yellow, red, and blue strips of silk ribbon. A row of brass bells is attached at the top base of the back. Further Remarks: In a Sioux family, a new or expectant mother is often honored by the gift of a newly made or heirloom baby carrier. Mounted to a V-shaped frame and strapped to the mother's back, the carrier offers security and protection for the infant while freeing the mother's arms for her activities. While the American flag motifs may suggest an embracing of U.S. symbolism, the flag design was readily adopted at the turn of the 19th century by Native artists for its geometric configuration, attractive color pattern, and symbolic protective powers.

Exhibition History

  • Intersections, Native American Art in a New Light, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA.; June 24, 2006 through November 27, 2011