Lot: 86

Baby carrier

North America, Great Basin, Ute

Provenance Size Hammer price
Christian Pysik, Aachen, Germany L: 24.4 inch 3000 EUR

back part from stiff raw hide, front side from soft leather with thongs for lashing, bonnet from vaulted twigs, beaded band, sinew sewn, slightly dam. The tribal area of the Ute (also "Yuta") once extended from the east of present-day Utah to the west of Colorado, as well as to the north of New Mexico. The name Ute means, "Land of the Sun" and was the inspiration for the name of the state of Utah. This kind of baby carriers, or "cradleboards" (often attached to board or wickerwork base), are traditionally used by many indigenous cultures in North America. Babies were swaddled in cloth, laid on a cushion of soft material (feather downs, moss, soft hide, cotton), and then lashed securely. This binding often prevented the movement of arms and legs, which imitated the feeling of being held. Children spent the majority of their first two years of life in a cradleboard, only removed for short periods of time. With the child safely secured, mothers were free to complete daily chores, either with the cradle strapped on their backs, or leaning it upright against a stable object. This allowed the child to socialize with the group, and be easily accessible should it need feeding or changing. At night the carrier could be brought inside the "tipi" and used as a bed for the baby. Cradleboards were used when the family was travelling to a new camp site - either carried like a backpack, secured to a sled or travois for longer journeys or suspended from a horse's saddle. Cradle making was often reserved for the most accomplished artisans, and cradleboards were some of the most costly items to produce. In fact, few children had a cradle created for them. If a family didn’t have a cradle of their own, one was often borrowed from friends or distant relatives. Those families that were gifted with a cradle continued to use it for generations.