Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas

Welcome to the Spencer Collection

  • unknown Modoc maker
  • cradleboard, late 1800s–1975
  • Where object was made: California, United States
  • buckskin, wood, plant fiber, wool, cotton, cowrie shells, cord, beading
  • Object Height/Width/Depth: 81 x 32.5 x 26 cm
    Object Height/Width/Depth: 31 7/8 x 12 3/4 x 10 1/4 in
  • Gift from the Menninger Foundation
  • Not on display
  • 2007.0540

The cradleboard has a relatively flat back, created from a wood frame with slender sticks lashed together to form a panel. The sunshade of the same construction has been attached near the top of the back panel. The struts to support the sunshade and the edge of the sunshade are wrapped with unbleached cotton cloth. The panel is almost entirely covered with buckskin. The top of the panel and the back are covered. The front of the panel, where the baby lies, is only partially obscured because the buckskin laces around the baby.

The sunshade is decorated with a band of diagonal lines of red wool near the bottom. The bottom edge has a loom beaded strip with dark blue beaded fringes. The strip has a translucent red field, yellow and dark blue diamonds, and green double diamonds with a white line. The top of the cradleboard is decorated with two short translucent red bars, each decorated with yellow, dark blue, and medium blue diamonds. Each has looped, beaded fringes. There is a longer beaded stripe below in red, green, white, and dark blue, with dark blue and green loops at the bottom. There are beaded bands on either side of the opening, just under the supports for the sunshade there is a translucent red field with dark blue and green diagnonal lines. There are short, looped fringes in dark blue and red with a yellow dot. There are long buckskin fringes under the stripe of beadwork, some tipped with cowrie shells. Three more stripes of beadwork below the fringe. The top stripe has blocks of translucent red, dark blue, and green. The middle stripe is a line interrupted with "V's" in dark blue and red. The bottom stripe has blocks of white, red, green, and dark blue.

The design on the sunshade may indicate this was made for a boy.