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Friday, February 22, 2013

Wild West Photo Friday: A Sioux Tobacco Pouch

This is a Sioux tobacco bag from the 19th or early 20th century.

As you can see, there's intricate quillwork showing plants and what the photographer describes as a stylized cocoon and moth in the center.

The cocoon is a symbol of spiritual and physical transformation, and also of the Sioux spirit Yumni, the whirlwind, responsible for the four directions of the world.

Like Yumni, the moth is a free spirit that breaks out of its cocoon and cannot be contained.

Native American tobacco is pure and thus very strong. Smoking it certainly gives you a buzz that makes you feel like you're flying, which is perhaps what the designer of this bag was getting at. It also made me feel sick to my stomach. Nonsmokers like me shouldn't get curious and try pure tobacco!

Photo courtesy Pierre Fabre.


  1. I think it's beautiful, especially the beadworked fringe. I am a smoker, but the "sheesha" or hookah tobacco pipes they have in Egypt give me a headache and make me nauseous. Although the smell isn't bad; it's kinda like pipe smoke. :-)


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