NATIVE AMERICAN INDIAN OSAGE man's otter drop, worn as part of a straight dancer's regalia. This is one of the more interesting pieces of an Osage man's traditional and ceremonial dress. The piece consists of a very healthy, long otter skin (no legs, just main body) backed with wool and then decorated with bead work. The bead work usually consists of rosettes and often a loom beaded strip. The rosettes will also have feathers or ribbons (like this one) suspended from them. The edges of the otter skin is decorated with traditional ribbon work and then edge beaded in white. This is a classic example of such piece. The design details on this piece are: The rayon moire ribbon work down each side is done in a design known (ironically) as an "otter tail design". It is three colors (now faded) consisting of an aqua, shell or peach, and a mauve. The ribbon work runs from head (yes, the slits for eyes are there) and ends at tip of the tail in extra ribbon strands (now worn). There are two extra tabs at neck to allow the drop to be attached to the dancer (I have put the twine there to hang it) which is usually a piece of native leather. There is a large and smaller leather backed beaded rosette, each with matching design and colors. All beads are opaque. The background color and edge beading is a pink or mauve, the design elements are white and black eagle feathers circling a sun burst (deep red) and a center with yellow and orange (a campfire?). The red design could also be a peyote button. Only the maker and wearer could say for sure the meaning of the design. The strip is just a beautiful multiple bead color piece of art. The center is designated with a full diamond design and again a repeat of eagle feathers on each side. The bead colors are: all the colors of the rosettes plus a pearl, turquoise/sky blue, green, lime green, royal blue, and a dark red brown. The main backing is a black felt, then reinforced with a double blue wool strip down the center. All decoration is thread sewn, and ribbon work is machine sewn.
CONDITION: Good, vintage, used but still a very pretty, clean and visual piece to hang for display, or could still be worn for a dance. I don't see any missing beads.
SIZE: Length from tip to tip: 58". Width edge beading to edge beading: 5 3/4". Otter length: 54", Otter width: 3" at top and 1" at bottom, Bead strip: Length is 33 1/4" and Width is 1 3/4": Large rosette diameter: 3": Small rosette diameter: 2 1/4".
CIRCA: The otter drop with the ribbon work is older than the rosettes and bead strip. Otter drop is probably the 30's to 50's (color choices on ribbon work) and the updated bead work is the 60's to 80's. There is a family name available to purchaser. Special note: The difference in time period for the design elements is common with the Native culture, especially if it allows a family member to dance. Family items were often re-worked to allow a child or grand child to join the dance or circle.
SPECIAL NOTE: The Osage were not the only tribe to use an otter drop as part of their regalia, they are, however, the most famous for it.
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