Animal Skin Tobacco Bag

ca. 1840

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The practice of transforming the whole skin of an animal into a bag used for storing tobacco and other materials was common throughout much of the Woodlands and Plains. The creatures’ pelts were usually elaborated with quillwork, beadwork and paint together with delicate suspensions of various materials. The addition of these decorative elements effected a remarkable transfiguration. Rather than disguising the animal, its lifelike presence was heightened; the resulting image was that of a powerful spirit-being, honored and enhanced by splendid ornamentation. The eagle talon “horns” affixed to the sides of the head symbolize sacred power.

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  • Title: Animal Skin Tobacco Bag
  • Date Created: ca. 1840
  • Physical Dimensions: w133.35 x h69.85 x d660.4 in
  • Culture: Eastern Plains
  • Type: Unknown
  • Rights: Anonymous gift, Anonymous gift
  • External Link: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
  • Medium: Animal skin (probably black-footed ferret), native leather, porcupine quills, wool cloth, silk ribbon, bird claws, brass bells and buttons, glass beads, metal cones, feather and animal hair

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