A letter in the National Museums Scotland records that John Clark brought this pouch from Little Whale River to Scotland following his retirement from the HBC. It was donated to the museum by his granddaughter some eighty years later.

Though the name of the woman who embroidered the silk flowers, leaves and strawberries has not been recorded, she clearly had considerable artistic talent. The pouch is made of very soft caribou hide and is trimmed with ermine fur and lined with a rich blue silk. The silk thread and lining would have been traded or bought at the HBC store, but she may have trapped the ermine and perhaps also prepared the caribou hide herself.

Small and easily carried, decorative pouches like this were made by Cree women to trade or sell to people from outside their communities, such as missionaries and traders like John Clark. His two wives most likely had the skills to create pieces like this, but it is not known if this pouch was made by one of them.

In its form, this pouch resembles a sporran. It is intriguing to speculate whether in this era, when the Scottish Highlands were popularised by Queen Victoria, the seamstress was inspired to combine Scottish and Cree design elements in its manufacture.

Click the images to zoom in for a more detailed view.

© The Trustees of the National Museums of Scotland A.1968.727

© The Trustees of the National Museums of Scotland A.1968.727

Related Artefacts