Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas

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The Struggle (bandolier bag)
  • Martha Berry
  • The Struggle (bandolier bag), 2006
  • glass beads on rainbow selvage trade cloth, cotton calico, silk ribbon, wool yarn
  • Object Height/Width/Depth: approximately 32 x 15 x 1 in
  • By Martha K. Berry; In the Collection of George W. Shaffer
  • Not on display
  • EL2011.010
  • Loan: Not in the Spencer's collection
Label Text

Exhibition Label:
"Passages: Persistent Visions of a Native Place," Sep-2011, Nancy Mahaney
Historically the bandolier bag was used by the Eastern Woodland tribes from the Great Lakes into the southeast. The southeastern style commonly has a small bag, frequently with tassels and a wide strap with a design that changes at the mid-point of the strap. This contemporary piece by Martha Berry is characteristic of Cherokee bags made prior to 1840. The Uktena is a being that lives in the legends of the descendants of the Mississippian mound building cultures. It is an enormous serpent with a glowing red jewel on its forehead, the prize of any warrior who can defeat it in battle.
“Using a Mound Builder symbol to represent
the Uktena of Cherokee lore, this bag explores the balance between peace and war. At the bottom of the pouch are four-wind symbols. The Cherokee colors of red for war, and white for peace, are displayed in equal portion. On the pouch flap, we see two Uktena, one for peace and one for war. They are not yet fully mature, and are imitating the example of their elders on either side. On the strap we see two mature Uktena, fully engaged in conflict. Even this motif is balanced, however, in peace and war colors. The background and edging are black, the Cherokee color for death.”