Native American Beaded Art

Interested in Native American beaded art? Want to know more about Native beadwork? Read on to find out about this unique art form…

Native American beaded art did not begin up until the advent of the colonial powers in the region. It is through the colonists that the Natives were exposed to glass beads. However the Native Americans soon mastered the art of beadwork and made it a prominent part of their culture.

Each tribe had its own distinct approach to the art form. This is why you find the collection of Native American beaded art to be full of diverse designs, styles, traditions and stitches. However the Plains Indians are regarded as being the pioneers and masters of beaded art work.

The Plains Indians were particularly known for their peyote stitch beading as well as bone hair pipe chokers. There are however other prominent beadwork traditions that were developed in different tribes. One of the most popular beadwork traditions is that of Wampum belts. The Eastern Indians are credited with developing this tradition. The West Coast Indians on the other hand are renowned for the dentalium. Floral beadwork is a creation of the Northern Indians whereas the Southwest Indians were the developers of the shell and turquoise Heishi beads.

Native American Beadwork Types

All Native American beaded art can be divided into two broad categories: Beaded leather and beaded strands. Beaded leather is associated with clothing articles, moccasins and various different types of containers. On the other hand beaded strands are used in the making of jewelry and as ornamental wrappers for ceremonial objects.

Leather based beaded art work was created by sewing various beads onto a leather backing. They would either sew each bead on individually or as loops and rows. The classic lazy stitch style developed by the Plains Indians involved sewing the beads in loops.

Beaded strands on the hand were made by first stitching the beads together in the form of a string or mesh by making use of sinew, wire or plain thread. Generally this was a lengthy process conducted painstakingly by hand. Some tribes however made use of looms to make rectangular strips of bead work. Both techniques are fairly complicated and require the artists to put in long hours of meticulous work. It also requires great amount of skill and practice to be able to make good bead work.

Over the years Native American bead work has picked up in popularity. However today you will be able to find machine made Native American beaded art which is not nearly as special as the original handmade arts and crafts. Although the products may be fairly complicated and if it is just the looks that you are interested in then these machine made beaded works of art would suffice. If however you are looking for beaded art work that is a product of the unique Native American culture of beaded art work then you need to look for tribes or artists that are still involved in producing such items.

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