1870 Iroquois Beaded Whimsy Pin Cushion
The Six Tribes of the Iroquois are masters at beading. The Europeans and their glass trade beads made quite an impression on the Tribes.
European and American fashion encouraged the Iroquois Tribes to alter tribal themes to the Victorian tastes, resulting in beautifully hand crafted souvenirs like pin cushions, picture frames, purses, hats and more.
The finished products were sold at public social events and tourist attractions like Niagara Falls and areas near Iroquois communities. Some sold at train stations and door to door. Members of Mohawk groups would travel with WILD WEST SHOWS and sell their Whimsies.
By the 1860s The Mohawk were creating beautiful Whimsies with 3D like beading on a purple velvet background like this one, we think this example maybe Mohawk made.
Our offering is a lovely Pin Cushion. The back and binding are made with Linen or Cotton, Glass Beads, and a background of Purple Velvet. The stuffing is most likely straw or grass. The bead pattern shows a bird with wings spread as if to take flight. The border has circular corners with leaves done in silver lined crystal, blue, green, red and yellow. The circle centers, and the side of the bird are done with smoky tube beads. Throughout the work there are scattered random colors, this is done as a reminder that only God is perfect. The scalloped edges have beaded loops in different lengths, some of the loops are missing. The main motif is solid with no missing beads or loose threads. This piece would be an exquisite addition to a Native American collection or a very special piece to enhance the decor of a Victorian home.