Umbilical cord amulet in the form of a lizard - ROM2005_5321_1


Umbilical cord amulet in the form of a lizard

Maker: Blackfoot
Medium:Beaded hide
Geography: High River, Alberta, Canada
Date: c. 1890
5 × 15 cm
Object number: 944.7.23
Credit Line: Bequest of Mr. A.A. Bryce Stimson; Fred Stimson Collection
On view
Gallery Location:Daphne Cockwell Gallery dedicated to First Peoples art & culture

In mythology, Whirlwind gave the navel-cord amulet as a gift to the Blackfoot. He instructed that a piece of the birth cord should be saved with some sweetgrass (or tobacco). The amulet containing a boy’s cord should be in the form of a snake, and that of a girl’s in the shape of a lizard. These reptiles were chosen because they are never sick and have long lives.

Collected by Fred Stimson while he was manager of the Bar U ranch near High River, Alberta, between 1882 and 1902. During this period the area around the Bar U was known to be Blackfoot country, in spite of the fact that the Stoney and Sarcee reserves were also close by. Stimson was known to be a great friend of the Blackfoot and apparantly spoke their language.

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