Museums Work to Credit the Individuals Behind Native
About 200 years ago, a
woman from the Paugussett tribe wove a wood-splint basket
using her tribe's traditional methods. The basket was
sold to a farm family. The family took it to Ohio before
it eventually returned to Connecticut. Today, it holds a
place of honor in the Mashantucket Pequot Museum’s
Museums across the world are now trying to match individual artists to pieces of American Indian art. This kind of historical detective work is tough.
“Most Native American art collected before the 20th Century, no one ever recorded who made it,” says Stephen Cook from the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center.
Cook says being able to match the artifact with a particular Native American artist or artisan “will help the entire field immensely.” Other pieces of pottery or basketry or bead work can be compared to the artists' works. That may help determine the place and time the artifact was created.
The Paugussets originally lived in the area where the Naugatuck and Housatonic Rivers joined. Molly Hatchett lived there for many years and sold her baskets. She impressed people so much that many wrote down information about her.She is described as a “tall and powerful woman, with piercing black eyes, and long black hair falling over her shoulder.”
lived and traveled in western Connecticut, and a home
was built for her on Two Mile Brook in Derby.
For example, chemical compounds in pigment mixtures that
decorate baskets and pottery can be compared to pigments
in other pieces of artwork. This might determine when it
was made and/or where it came from.
“Some of the earliest non-archaeological collections for
southern New England are in England,” says Cook, who
goes through these collections for possible matches.
This saves vast amounts of time and expense.
Backgrounds: Robert Kaufman Fabrics: http://www.robertkaufman.com/
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