Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas

Welcome to the Spencer Collection

  • unknown Ka’igwu (Kiowa) maker
  • cradleboard, late 1800s–1928
  • Where object was made: United States
  • wood, buckskin, cloth, rawhide, wire, beading, dyeing
  • Object Height/Width/Depth: 113 x 34 x 27 cm
    Object Height/Width/Depth: 44 1/2 x 13 3/8 x 10 5/8 in
  • William Bridges Thayer Memorial
  • Not on display
  • 2007.2309
Label Text

The cradleboard has a wooden frame of two wooden pickets that extend above the baby wrapping portion. The pickets are angled slightly away from each other, joined with a slat at the top of the baby wrapper and another at the bottom. The wood is tied together with strips of buckskin. Each picket has a small circle at the top.

The baby wrapping portion appears to be constructed from unbleached canvas over rawhide with a cloth lining and beading over the top of the canvas. The canvas was probably repurposed, as a stamp is visible between the wooden slats. Strips of canvas are tied with buckskin to secure it to the wooden frame at the top and bottom. Buckskin strips attach along the length. The baby wrapper is keyhole shaped. It is larger at the top and narrows as it goes down. There is a wide strip of buckskin at the bottom, and buckskin edging along the middle for buckskin lacing down the middle. There is a buckskin flap with small fringe at the bottom of the laces. The lining cloth appears to have a dark yellow design of arcing designs.

Almost the entire exterior surface of the baby wrapper is covered with beading. The beadwork is dotted with buckskin fringes. The field is translucent red, but the designs on the facing left and right are not the same. The red field is outlined with a white lane with dark blue blocks from the top of the buckskin laces, to the bottom, where it becomes solid white and follows the buckskin panel on the foot, and then up the back and around the top. The opening for the baby's head has a thin white outline.

The facing left decoration consists of a large "X" design along the buckskin lacings with horizontal lines above and below. The lines have bands of medium blue, flanked with pink, green then white. The "X" inside the lines has two yellow "legs" and two dark blue "legs" each color is opposite its mate and outlined in medium blue then white. A solid green diamond sits between the top legs and a solid pink diamond sits between the bottom legs. There is a four petaled flower (or Maltese cross) at the top. One petal is dark blue, one is medium blue, one is pink, and one is yellow. Each are outlined with white.

The facing right decoration, midway down the buckskin lacings, is a solid green square with a pink outline of a cross, a thin white outline inside the pink, and a thin dark blue outline outside the pink. The entire square has a thin white outline. There is a horizontal line above and below the square, in bands of blue-green flanked by yellow, pink, dark blue then white. Directly above the top line, there are two designs next to each other. There is a yellow heart-like shape with a cross on top, outlined in blue-green, then white. That shape sits on a dark blue semicircle, with a yellow outline and stem from the curved end. The semi-circle and stem are outlined with dark blue then medium blue. Above that set of designs, the top design curves onto the top of the baby wrapper. It is a dark green house-like shape. The "roof" has a pink cross on top, and stepped triangles going down. The walls are a straight pink line that end in a leaf shape with a yellow center. The pink shape is completely outlined with medium blue, then white.

A faded red (or pink) strip of cloth hangs from the back, knotted to a buckskin stitch.

The wire loop at the top was probably for display.