Traditional Indian Beadwork
Where do the Indians get the beads for thier beadwork? This is the most common question we hear. Remember the purchase of Manhatten Island for $24 worth of beads? The fur traders bought glass beads made in Europe to pay for pelts from the Indians in the New World. It was a satisfactory arrangement for all.
The Native Americans had decorated their clothing with quills and mineral paints, but here was a full rainbow of colors that needed no preparation. They could now completely cover the hides with fancy designs.
The traders thoughtfully provided thread and needles as well. Can you imagine this step-up in technology?
It was actually later, in the Reservation period when it was suggested that the artist use sinew for thread, what a step backwards that was! But many collectors think that is more authentic.
Beadwork is expensive due to the labor intensity. It can take many months to complete a totally bead covered surface. Also, age is a factor in value, as well as tribal origin.
Be careful of fakes, especially when the surface has dirt rubbed into it, real antique beadwork doesn't have that look.
Feel free to ask us any questions you may have on our featured beadwork.