Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas

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cradleboard
  • Kiowa peoples
  • cradleboard, late 1800s–1925
  • Where object was made: Great Plains, United States
  • wood, wool, buckskin, bison fur?, cloth, wire, beading, dyeing
  • Object Height/Width/Depth: 118 x 30 x 25 cm
    Object Height/Width/Depth: 46 7/16 x 11 3/4 x 9 13/16 in
  • Source unknown
  • Not on display
  • 2007.2308
Multimedia
Description

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, and joined with a slat at the top of the baby wrapper, and at the bottom. The wood is tied together with strips of buckskin.

The baby wrapping portion is made primarily of red wool, on the visible surfaces, but appears to be actually constructed from unbleached canvas. Strips of canvas are used 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 open edge, and buckskin lacing down the middle. The open area at the top has a large cloth panel, stitched to the buckskin that probably covered the baby's face. The head portion of the wrapper, behind the cloth panel, is lined with bison fur.

The wool surface of the baby wrapper is beaded. The entire panel is outlined with a lane of light blue beads that have blocks of translucent red and yellow, triangles of dark blue and white, blocks of pink with dark blue outline, and dark blue and white rectangles. The top of the baby wrapper (the middle of the wool panel, which drapes down into a left and right side) is decorated with a checkerboard in white, medium blue, translucent yellow, light blue, and translucent red beads. The left and right sides have the same beaded designs, rendered in mostly blue on the facing left and mostly green on the facing right. From the top, there is a three lobed shape with a chevron at the bottom, then a fan shape, then a flower shape created with four chevrons (points together) and another fan shape at the bottom. These are dotted with buckskin fringes, or remnants of fringes.

The facing left design colors consist of: a three lobed shape with a dark purple field, a medium green outline, a red outline, a white outline, and a medium blue outline, which continues into the bottom as an inverted chevron. The entire shape is outlined in white. The fan shape is medium blue, the ribs of the fan being light blue and red dotted lines, outlined in white. The panel at the bottom of the can is medium blue and white vertical stripes, outlined with purple. The base of the fan is solid medium blue. The entire fan is outlined in white. The flower shape has two chevrons with a purple field, two with a green-blue field. Each field is outlined with yellow, then medium blue, then white. There is a red "X" in the middle of the flower. The bottom fan shape has alternating panels of dark blue and medium blue, the ribs being lines of red flanked with white. There is a white line over the panel, and the panel is outlined with white. The lower panel is vertical stripes of medium blue and white, outlined with purple. The base is solid medium blue. The entire fan is outlined in white.

The facing right design colors consist of: a three lobed shape with a green field, a red outline, a medium blue outline, a dark blue outline, and a green outline which extends into a chevron at the bottom. The entire shape is outlined with white. The fan shape has panels of dark green above light green, separated with red and white ribs. The bottom panel is light green and white vertical stripes outlined with dark blue. The base is solid light green. The whole fan is outlined in white. The flower shape has two chevrons with a pink center and two with a medium blue center. Each chevron is outlined with dark blue, then light green, then white. There is a red "X" in the center. The bottom fan has panels of light green, with ribs of red and white. The bottom panel has vertical light green and white stripes and the panel is outlined with dark blue. The base of the fan is solid light green. The entire fan is outlined with white.

The wire loop on wood, at the top of the baby wrapper, was probably for display.