Miscellaneous, Beaded Umbilical Fetish, Plains Indian, American Eagle, Vintage, 168
What a treasure!
This beautiful beaded American eagle is actually an umbilical fetish. What’s an umbilical fetish? Sounds kinda gross, right? It’s not, it’s very cool. In preparation for a child’s birth, it was a tradition for a female relative or relatives -- mothers, aunts, grandmothers -- of the unborn infant to bead two identical pouches in the shape of an animal whose spirit traits they wanted the child to possess. When the newborn’s umbilical cord fell off, it would be inserted into one of the pouches and sewn up. The matching pouch would contain nothing but stuffing and serve as a decoy, confusing, and diverting evil spirits who may want to harm the child or take over their spirit. When the child reached the proper age, the fetish amulet would be presented to him or her to guard, and it became a form of personal protection worn around the neck or attached to their clothing.
Fetishes are made from brain-tanned hides and are hand-beaded. This particular amulet is in the shape of an eagle, with a cross beaded upon his chest and an iteration of the American flag on either wing and accented with long leather fringe. It’s in excellent vintage condition, with natural aging to the still supple leather.
And we know what you’re wondering… No, we’re not sure whether there is an umbilical cord in there. The only way to know would be to open it up. Odds are 50/50!
- materials: brain-tanned hide, seed beads
- dimensions: 8" x 4"
- weight: 75 grams
- condition: good vintage condition with natural aging, leather is still supple
- style number: JM168