NATIVE AMERICAN PLATEAU WOMAN'S beaded red wool leggings. Each matched legging is hand beaded in the Plateau "contour" style (each bead is sewn down and then the connecting thread is tacked down also). The leggings are made to wrap around the lower leg, then tie together and sit on top of her moccasins. During the time period these were made, her moccasins would probably not have been beaded to match. That style became more popular into the late 1930's to the 50's and then later the style evolved to a one piece boot.
Each legging features 5 opaque greasy blue seed beaded flowers with each flower having 4 heart shaped petals. Each of the 2 side flowers have a center beaded with opaque french yellow seed beads, while each center flower has a transparent topaz seed beaded center. Slightly larger and a different shape, 3 cut transparent beads form the leaves and stems in 3 different colors of green. The leggings are composed of 3 layers of fabric, the first is the red wool, the next is a heavy canvass (one looks military, one does not) and then the blue cotton lining. All the sewing is done with thread. There are 3 native leather ties at the top of each legging.
CONDITION: Well worn and much loved. Numerous holes in the wool and several native repairs done with thread "on hand". There are about 40 blue beads missing around the outside edges of the flowers on one legging, not obvious to the eye without close scrutiny. The same legging has a different green bead used on the center fill of one leaf (again not obvious to the eye). There is some staining on both the front and the lining. Leggings are strong, not fragile, can be worn, hung or used to top off a pair of your plateau moccasins. Be creative! Designs can be cut out and resewn on a jacket!
SIZE: Widest Width at The Top of Each: 17 1/2", Bottom: 10" at ankle, Height: 12 3/4"
Actual Beaded Design: Widest: 10 1/2", Height: 12 3/4"
CIRCA: Early 1900's
NOTE: Best guess on tribal affiliation is Umatilla, the heart shaped petals on the flowers are often seen on their bead work. However, the leggings could have been made by any of the Plateau tribes. The leggings were purchased from a collection in Oregon about 30 years ago.
The Photograph is of a group of Umatillas in the early 20th century. The young girl shown on the left has beaded leggings with her plain leather moccasins and her contour beaded flat bag at her waist on the left side. A really good book if this style of beading appeals to you is: NATIVE ARTS OF THE COLUMBIA PLATEAU, The Doris Swayze Bounds Collection. You will probably have to find it on the secondary market, it was published in 1998.
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