Applebrook Auctions Presents JUST IN TIME
Oct 26-26, 2020
Published: September 29, 2020
CINCINNATI – Cowan’s set an auction record for any Native American tobacco bag when a beaded Sioux example sold for $131,250 in the firm’s September 18 American Indian Art auction. The bag was consigned by dealer Robert Jerich and contained imagery related to the Elk Dreamers’ Society.
In Visions of the People: A Pictorial History of Plains Indian Life by Evan Maurer (Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 1992), the author describes the society as follows: “Among the Lakota and other Plains peoples, to dream of a particular animal has great significance, for it is through dreams that one may receive the supernatural powers of that creature. The bull elk is believed to possess extraordinary seductive powers over the females of its kind. To dream of the bull elk is to acquire this special ability to captivate females.
“Men (and a few women) who dream of the elk joined the Elk Dreamers’ Society, often acting their dreams and ‘testing’ their powers in dance performances. At society feasts, Elk Dreamers sang songs and made medicine for attracting women.
“For elk ceremonies, dreamers donned triangular masks of rawhide adorned with small branches representing antlers. They painted their bodies yellow and often painted their arms black from the elbow down and their legs black from the knee down. Dreamers carried hoops and mirrors from which to ‘shoot’ their powers at rival dreamers and to bring their ‘victims’ (often women) under their influence.”
The auction house dated the 35½-inch-long example to the late Nineteenth Century. One side of the bag depicts a warrior dressed in a feathered bonnet with staff, a horse and rider, and two pipes; the opposite depicts two pipes, a brightly colored and spotted elk with “power lines,” and the Elk Dancer with hoop and staff.
“I have known Jerich for the entirety of my career and while we have crossed paths many times, it was a joy to finally get to work together with him to bring so many remarkable pieces to market,” said Danica Farnand, the department’s director and senior specialist. “The second I was able to examine this bag I knew that there was nothing that could compare to it. Clearly, buyers agreed with me.”
Jerich earned the nickname “Bobby Arrows” among the collecting community for his enthusiasm in bows and arrows. His involvement continued to grow until he became a dealer in the material.
For more information, www.cowansauctions.com or 513-871-1670.
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