The Covenant Chain: Indian Ceremonial and Trade Silver

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9780226563145: The Covenant Chain: Indian Ceremonial and Trade Silver
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Indian trade silver is a fascinating and little-known part of our cultural heritage - a product of the interaction between two profoundly different cultures during the European exploration and settlement of North America.

Originating in the early diplomatic gifts of medals to friendly Indians, the distribution of silver became widespread during the height of the fur trade, 1760 to 1821. Silver ornaments designed specifically for the fur trade included brooches, gorgets, armbands, legbands, earrings, nose-rings, crosses and headbands.

A traveling exhibition of over two hundred of these ornaments was organized by the National Museum of Man, Ottawa, and this book was written to accompany it. previously known only to scholars and collectors, this unusual art form has now become accessible to a much wider public.

The silver ornaments created for the fur trade were produced by both European and colonial silversmiths, but the Iroquois began to make similar pieces for their people after silver ceased to be available through the fur trade. Although the craft died out, it has recently been revived, and the exhibition includes many examples of modern Iroquois workmanship. Some pieces are based on traditional trade-silver patterns, but others are the silversmiths’ own design.

The book illustrates and describes all the silver chosen for the exhibition from museums in Canada and the United States. Paintings and portraits of the period also show the colorful and unexpected ways the Indians wore their silver jewelry.

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About the Author:

N. Jaye Fredrickson is a historian and journalist who lives in Winnipeg. Sandra Gibb has been the Senior Exhibition Coordinator for the National Museum of Man, Ottawa, since 1977.

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