Glenbow Museum - Where the World Meets the West

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Title: Babiche Bag

Date: early 20th century

Additional Creator Information: Na Dene

Medium: smoked rawhide, wool pompoms, cotton

This is a travel or hunting bag made of babiche - smoked rawhide thong that has been intricately woven like a net. A hide band decorated with a ribbon motif stitched in a floral design adorns the bag. Multi-coloured wool pompoms have been interspersed evenly in the netting.

These bags were especially suited to the nomadic Dene people. The bag itself was both lightweight and strong. Just like a string shopping bag, it could stretch and expand to hold a large amount of game, hunting supplies or daily necessities. These bags are a perfect combination of beauty and utility.

-Beth Carter

These open bags were used for carrying small game that had been shot or trapped. They are expandable, depending on the size of the animal. The intricate knots that create the weaving are astounding. Are these knots and lines symbolic of the interconnections among all of creation? The very simple and elegant form of the bag is complimented with the motif sewn at the top of the bag. Here, the two lines seem to reflect a hunter tracking his prey through the forest.

-Gerald Conaty

Babiche is made out of caribou skin, [it's] like a skinny thread they make, and with that they knit. It comes from the Mackenzie Delta area, where the Inuit and Gwich'in people live.

-Rosie Firth

We didn't use bags much when we were kids. But I like the bag. Look at the intricacy of the weave. Somebody had to sit there for hours and hours to make this bag. And they had to concentrate, too. You couldn't be sitting there with kids running around, yelling at them not to do something. Look at the bag and the repetitiveness of the weave. You must be able to fit a lot of stuff in there, though. Even here you can see that when they made something they decorated it.

I remember that, when I was a kid, everything we had was decorated. Moccasins, hats, gloves, jackets. It was just natural for us to have some things that were beaded or with little bits of silk embroidery.

-Frederick McDonald

Collection Area: Native North America

Rights Holder: Collection of Glenbow Museum

Catalogue No: AC 284

Image No: P0012207

Learn More:
This artifact can be used in conjunction with Honouring Tradition: Reframing Native Art education guide from the online teacher's resource series 21st Century Learning: Links to Our Collection.

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