Iroquois Beadwork Pincushion with a Bird, 1926

Iroquois Beadwork Pincushion with a Bird, 1926

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size: 13½” H, 8” W, 2” D • price: $400

During the early 20th century needlework crafts and souvenirs made by Iroquois Native Americans became popular and were sold at many tourist attractions, such as Niagara Falls. The sale of tourist beadwork became a major source of income for the Iroquois and as more Americans traveled farther from home, the market for these interesting objects increased. Popular forms of beadwork worked onto fabric included pincushions, picture frames, hanging wall pockets and matchstick holders. Pincushions, of course, were a favorite gift for needleworkers. 

This large pincushion features a wonderful fat bird and is dated 1926. The condition is in excellent condition and it retains all of its hanging elements. The back is polished cotton.

For further information on this form of Native American beadwork, we recommend Trading Identities: The Souvenir in Native North American Art from the Northeast, 1700-1900 by Ruth B. Phillips. In this book (p.3) Ms. Phillips notes “… in the early seventeenth century, the indigenous peoples of the Northeast were witnessing the tentative beginnings of European settlement. Initially the introduction of European trade goods… were based on hunting, gathering, and farming supplemented by a small amount of specialized, intertribal artisanal trade. By 1900, however… the relative importance of hunting and of tradeware fabrication had been dramatically reversed. With the disappearance of land and game, commodity productions closely tied to the expanding tourist trade had become essential to many local economies. The interest of northeastern souvenir arts lies partly in the opportunity they provide to identify a paradigm for the commoditization of Indianness through the sale of souvenir wares, which came to dominate the artistic production of the indigenous peoples of North America throughout much of [the twentieth] century.” 



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