Object photography

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Object description

  • Northeastern artist
  • Pouch, late 17th-mid 18th century
  • Deerskin, porcupine quill, porcelain beads, hair
  • New England, United States
  • H: 8 in, W: 7 in, D: 1/4 in (H: 20.3 cm, W: 17.8 cm, D: .6 cm)
  • Gift of Mr. Edward S. Moseley, 1979
  • E28561
  • Probably sewn by hunter's wife to hold tobacco
  • Evokes desired balance between human, animal, and spirit worlds

Native Northeastern men likely carried tobacco in such pouches for prayer offerings when hunting, to thank an animal for giving its life. The cross represents the axis through which humans and spirits communicate. Double-curve motifs suggest the necessity for balance in one's life.


This deerskin pouch with tassels is decorated with white, orange, blue-ish (teal), and black porcupine quills. White beads run along the lower half edge of each side. Three strands of quill-wrapped leather, ending in tin tassels and orange dyed deer hair, extend from each side of the pouch. Seven similar, shorter strands hang from the bottom edge of the pouch. The pouch has been stained dark brownish with walnut husks. The dyed quill embroidery forms double curves and geometric motifs on opposite sides, and has faded from the original palette of bright orange, yellow, white, and blue/green.

Exhibition History

  • Gifts of the Spirit: Works by Nineteenth-Century & Contemporary Native American Artists, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA.; November 14, 1996 through May 18, 1997
  • Power and Beauty: A New Native American Art Gallery at the Peabody Essex Museum, Peabody Essex Museum; 2003 through 2005
  • Shapeshifting: Transformations in Native American Art, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA.; January 14, 2012 through April 29, 2012
  • New England Begins: The Seventeenth Century, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; May 05, 1982 through October 22, 1982