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NORTHERN PLAINS INDIAN LEG BAG A NICE EXAMPLE OF A FAIRLY SCARCE STYLE OF BAG THAT WAS COMMON TO MANY TIPIS AND LODGES:  This is a native made antique Northern Plains Leg Bag, a very utilitarian container which was common to many of the native peoples across North America.  Further evidence that the native people made good use of most, if not all, of the animals they hunted, this bag is fashioned from the hide of four lower legs which were tanned with the hair on.   

From the color and pattern of the hair and the size and shape of the dew claws, I am of the opinion that the legs are that of the pronghorn antelope, one of the iconic animals of the northern and southern plains.  The legs were skinned out by cutting down the front of the leg, rather than the normal incision made down the back of the leg a method which retained the natural decoration of the dew claws in pairs.  Two leg hides were sewn together to form the front and back panels of the bag, and then a gusset of what appears to be the very thin skin of the stomach paunch was sewn in one piece down both sides and across the bottom of the bag to give it some internal volume.  This same thin skin was used to form a collar around the top of the bag.  The interior of the bag is fully lined with old cotton calico cloth.

The body of the bag measures 7 high, and 4 wide.  The gusset is 1 wide and the collar is 2 high.  The front of the collar appears to have been painted red with an earth or powder paint, with only traces remaining.     

The seams between the tanned leg fur and the parchment like gusset and collar were decorated with fringe sewn into the seam, but much of the fringe has worn away with just enough remaining to illustrate how it was done.  The gusset on the left side of the bag has split as can be seen in the photographs below.  This area is confined to an area approximately 2 square and most of the parchment remains attached to the edges.  This area could be restored by inserting a thin piece of buckskin into the open area and then gluing the edges of the parchment back into place.  Otherwise, the right side and bottom of the gusset and the collar are intact and complete.   

Through the years I have seen specimens of these Leg Bags made from elk, buffalo, deer, and caribou, originating from all over North America.  As common as these Leg Bags must have been during their period of use, and as universal as the idea appears to have been with various tribes, surviving specimens are not common.  This is a good example of one of the standard furnishings of many tipis in the 19TH Century.  SOLD


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