Beaded Sash with Arrow Design, c. 1800-1850
Unknown (Huron-Wendat Artist)
wool and beads
310 x 19 cm; fringes: 74 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 9629)
Long before the arrival of the Europeans, Aboriginal peoples produced "burden straps" for transporting heavy loads. Using finger weaving and braiding techniques, they created geometrically-patterned belts of smoked leather, hemp, and other natural fibres, often decorating them with quills and dyed moosehair. The French, who arrived in the 16th century, introduced new materials and designs into the technique of finger weaving. For their part, Aboriginal women embraced imported materials such as wool, and incorporated glass beads for decoration. By the early 19th century, the multi-coloured ceinture flechée, or arrow sash, was a popular design and one of the most sought-after articles of trade.