Native American Beaded Flat Purse

This little purse (which I mentioned in an earlier post about beading) was a Christmas gift to my mother from her Aunt Emma in 1930.  I still have the note that her aunt placed inside the bag, which reads:

Dear Marjorie,

I wonder if you would like an old keepsake for Christmas.  I have had it for 30 years, and wonder who you will pass it on to in 30 more years.  Write and tell me what you think of it.  I have too many girls to divide it with, so it will be yours.

Aunt Emma

My mother was the youngest of four and the only girl, so she lucked out.  I have always loved the purse, which used to hang in an oval frame in our living room, so I am very happy Mother gave it to me.  Some of the tiny white beads are missing from the edges on both sides of the bag, but the flowers are largely intact.  It has a flap on each side (one of which covers a small pocket) and an opening at the top.  The outside is a combination of black and dark brown velvet, the lining is black silk or rayon (now shredding), and there is cardboard sandwiched between.  The strap is a velvet ribbon anchored with two bows.

You can download an informative pdf document here that contains photos and descriptions of the different shapes and designs of these bags.  My mother thought it may have been made by the Iroquois, and it does resemble their flat bags, but a few other tribes made similar beaded purses.  It measures 8″ across and almost 8″ high.

I’m pretty sure my beading is not going to look this good.

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