Post Lot Text
In pre-contact times, the color blue was elusive for Indian peoples. The almost omnipresent blue of the sky and occasional wild flowers constituted the most prevalent manifestations of the hue in their world. No wonder that upon receiving navy blue woolens and glass beads in various shades of blue, Indian peoples immediately set about adapting their age-old skills and techniques to making and decorating garments and countless other objects.
So taken with blue beads were they, that Indian beadworkers frequently beaded the entire background of such large objects as dress yokes in light or medium blue. In fact, beadworkers occasionally utilized only that most popular of all shades - pony trader blue to produce shirt and legging strips completely devoid of any motifs whatsoever, (see Hanson, 1996:78). This Jicarilla Apache shirt is an example of such artistic, even possibly symbolic, convention. The pony beaded shoulder strips, as well as the chest rosette are separately beaded on tanned buffalo hide, and applied to the deerskin body. The lane-stitch technique was used for the strips, and the modified lane-stitch (popularly known as Crow stitch) for the rosette. As is quite common for early pony beadwork of the Plains, Plateau and Montane tribes, the rosette is worked in white and pony trader blue pony beads - a favored color combination.
Taste tending to the minimal dictated that often rather scant decoration (particularly regarding beadwork) was applied to objects. Pre 1850 shirts, generally much longer in length, retained the animal's tail (at the bottom) on each of the two animal skins forming the front and back of the shirt body. To recall this practice, on this Jicarilla example of a short shirt (a style that appeared sometime in the mid 19th century) an imitation tail of deerskin was sewn to the bottom front, at midpoint.
Benson L. Lanford
4 May 2006