Dress

Plains, Upper Missouri River Region

American

Dress, ca. 1840

  • Not On View

Deerskin, brass bells, glass beads and fabric

Dimensions: 54 3/4 × 49 in. (139.1 × 124.5 cm)

Museum purchase from the Chandler/Pohrt Collection, 1985.34

A variety of materials introduced by the early fur traders were suitable for the decoration of clothing. They included glass beads, wool cloth, silk ribbon, brass bells, etc. Plains Indian women began to experiment with using these items as ornamentation. The earliest beads available were the rather large, coarse variety seen on this dress. They are known as “pony beads,” perhaps in reference to their means of import or medium of exchange. Their color selection was limited, mainly to white, blue, red and black. Distinct tribal art styles evolved from the more regional art style of the pony bead era.

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