The Wampum Belt
Wampum are traditional, sacred shell beads of Eastern Woodlands tribes. They include the white shell beads fashioned from the North Atlantic channeled whelk shell; and the white and purple beads made from the quahog, or Western North Atlantic hard-shelled clam. Woven belts of wampum have been created to commemorate treaties or historical events, and for exchange in personal social transactions, such as marriages.In earlier centuries, Lenape girls would wear wampum to show their eligibility for marriage. After marriage had been arranged, a Lenape suitor would give his fiancÚ and her family gifts of wampum. Perhaps because of its origin as a memory aid, loose beads were not considered to be high in value. Rather it is the belts in total that are wampum. Belts of wampum were not produced until after European contact. A typically large belt of six feet in length might contain 6000 beads or more. More importantly, such a belt would be very sacred, as it contained so many memories. Wampum belts were used as a memory aid in Oral tradition, where the wampum was a token representing a memory. Belts were also used as badges of office or as ceremonial devices of indigenous culture, such as the Iroquois. They were traded widely to tribes in Canada, the Great Lakes region, and the mid-Atlantic.
25" x 2 1/2" The Alliance belt is a national belt of the Onondagas. One explanation of this belt is that it commemorates the entrance of the Tuscarora Nation taken into the league of the Iroquois in 1713. This explanation may be incorrect because the belt once had 7 bars, and the Tuscaroras were the sixth nation.
WAM01 - Alliance Belt w. glass beads...............$ 245.00
WAM02 - Alliance Belt w. natural shell beads....$ 3,200.00
This belt was used by the women of the nation to symbolize their authority for adopting a prisoner of war. The belt removed the cloud of the women's mourning and made a son of the captive. In order to save a captive this belt had to be presented by a woman.
WAM10 - Ransom Belt w. glass beads 52,5 cm x 5 cm ..$ 195.00
WAM11 - Ransom Belt wit hnatural shell beads ...........$ 4,290.00
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