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Title: Art in Shell of the Ancient Americans - Second annual report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the - Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, 1880-81, pages - 179-306
Author: Holmes, William Henry, 1846-1933
Language: English
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  Introductory                                                       185

  Implements and utensils                                            189
    Unworked shells                                                  189
    Vessels                                                          192
    Spoons                                                           198
    Knives                                                           201
    Celts                                                            203
    Scrapers                                                         205
    Agricultural implements                                          207
    Fishing appliances                                               207
    Weapons                                                          210
    Tweezers                                                         211

  Ornaments                                                          213
    Pins                                                             213
    Beads                                                            219
      Perforated shells                                              219
      Discoidal beads                                                221
      Massive beads                                                  223
      Tubular beads                                                  226
      Runtees                                                        228
      Beads as ornaments                                             230
      Beads as currency                                              234
      Mnemonic use of beads                                          240
    Pendants                                                         255
    Perforated plates                                                264
    Engraved gorgets                                                 267
      The cross                                                      268
      The scalloped disk                                             273
      The bird                                                       280
      The spider                                                     286
      The serpent                                                    289
      The human face                                                 293
      The human figure                                               297


  PLATE XXI.--Natural shells as vessels                              192
       XXII.--Vessels artificially shaped                            194
      XXIII.--Vessel with engraved surface                           196
       XXIV.--Spoons                                                 200
        XXV.--Celts                                                  204
       XXVI.--Cutting and scraping implements                        206
      XXVII.--Weapons, agricultural implements, etc.                 208
     XXVIII.--Fishing appliances                                     210
       XXIX.--Manufacture of pins and beads                          214
        XXX.--Pins, Atlantic coast forms                             216
       XXXI.--Pins, Pacific coast forms                              218
      XXXII.--Beads, perforated shells                               220
     XXXIII.--Beads, discoidal in form                               222
      XXXIV.--Beads, massive in form                                 224
       XXXV.--Beads, tubular in form                                 226
      XXXVI.--Beads, "Runtees"                                       228
     XXXVII.--The wampum belt in treaties                            240
    XXXVIII.--Wampum belts                                           242
      XXXIX.--Wampum belts                                           244
         XL.--Wampum belt                                            246
        XLI.--Wampum belt                                            248
       XLII.--Wampum belt                                            250
      XLIII.--The Penn belt                                          252
       XLIV.--Strings of wampum                                      254
        XLV.--Ancient pendant ornaments                              256
       XLVI.--Plain pendants, Atlantic coast forms                   258
      XLVII.--Plain pendants, Pacific coast forms                    260
     XLVIII.--Plain pendants, Pacific coast forms                    262
       XLIX.--Plain pendants, Pacific coast forms                    264
          L.--Perforated plates                                      266
         LI.--Engraved gorgets, the cross                            268
        LII.--Engraved gorgets, the cross                            270
       LIII.--Engraved gorgets, the cross                            272
        LIV.--Engraved gorgets, scalloped disks                      274
         LV.--Engraved gorgets, scalloped disks                      276
        LVI.--Engraved gorgets, scalloped disks                      278
       LVII.--Scalloped disks, etc.                                  280
      LVIII.--Engraved gorgets, the bird, etc.                       282
        LIX.--Engraved gorgets, the bird, etc.                       284
         LX.--Engraved gorgets, the bird                             286
        LXI.--Engraved gorgets, the spider                           288
       LXII.--Engraved gorgets, the rattlesnake                      290
      LXIII.--Engraved gorgets, the rattlesnake                      290
       LXIV.--Engraved gorgets, the rattlesnake                      292
        LXV.--Engraved gorgets, the rattlesnake                      292
       LXVI.--The serpent                                            292
      LXVII.--Engraved gorgets, the human face                       294
     LXVIII.--Engraved gorgets, the human face                       294
       LXIX.--Engraved gorgets, the human face                       296
        LXX.--Engraved gorgets, the human face                       296
       LXXI.--Engraved gorgets, the human figure                     298
      LXXII.--Engraved gorgets, the human figure                     298
     LXXIII.--Engraved gorgets, the human figure                     300
      LXXIV.--Engraved gorgets, the human figure                     300
       LXXV.--Engraved gorgets, the human figure                     302
      LXXVI.--The human figure                                       302
     LXXVII.--Sculptured frogs                                       304




The student will find scattered throughout a wide range of archæologic
literature frequent but casual mention of works of art in shell.
Individual uses of shell have been dwelt upon at considerable length by
a few authors, but up to this time no one has undertaken the task of
bringing together in one view the works of primitive man in this

Works of ancient peoples in stone, clay, and bronze, in all countries,
have been pretty thoroughly studied, described, and illustrated.

Stone would seem to have the widest range, as it is employed with almost
equal readiness in all the arts.

Clay is widely used and takes a foremost place in works of utility and

Metals are too intractable to be readily employed by primitive peoples,
and until a high grade of culture is attained are but little used.

Animal substances of compact character, such as bone, horn, ivory, and
shell, are also restricted in their use, and the more destructible
substances, both animal and vegetable, however extensively employed,
have comparatively little archæologic importance.

All materials, however, are made subservient to man and in one way or
another become the agents of culture; under the magic influence of his
genius they are moulded into new forms which remain after his
disappearance as the only records of his existence.

Each material, in the form of convenient natural objects, is applied to
such uses as it is by nature best fitted, and when artificial
modifications are finally made, they follow the suggestions of nature,
improvements being carried forward in lines harmonious with the
initiatory steps of nature.

Had the materials placed at the disposal of primitive peoples been as
uniform as are their wants and capacities, there would have been but
little variation in the art products of the world; but the utilization
of a particular material in the natural state gives a strong bias to
artificial products, and its forms and functions impress themselves upon
art products in other materials. Thus unusual resources engender unique
arts and unique cultures. Such a result, I apprehend, has in a measure
been achieved in North America.

In a broad region at one time occupied by the mound-building tribes we
observe a peculiar and an original effort--an art distinctive in the
material employed, in the forms developed, and to some extent in the
ideas represented. It is an age of shell, a sort of supplement to the
age of stone.

It is not my intention here to attempt at extended discussion of the
bearings of this art upon the various interesting questions of
anthropologic science, but rather to present certain of its phases in
the concrete, to study the embodiment of the art of the ancient American
in this one material, and to present the results in a tangible manner,
not as a catalogue of objects, but as an elementary part of the whole
body of human art, illustrating a particular phase of the evolution of

This paper is to be regarded simply as an outline of the subject, to be
followed by a more exhaustive monograph of the art in shell of all the
ancient American peoples.

Art had its beginning when man first gathered clubs from the woods,
stones from the river bed, and shells from the sea-shore for weapons and
utensils. In his hands these simple objects became modified by use into
new forms, or were intentionally altered to increase their convenience.
This was the infancy, the inception of culture--a period from which a
tedious but steady advance has been made until the remarkable
achievements of the present have been reached.

Rude clubs have become weapons of curious construction and machinery of
marvelous complication, and the pebbles and shells are the prototypes of
numerous works in all materials. Rude rafts which served to cross
primeval rivers have become huge ships, and the original house of bark
and leaves is represented by palaces and temples, glittering with light
and glowing with color.

The steps which led up to these results are by no means clear to us;
they have not been built in any one place or by any one people. Nations
have risen and fallen, and have given place to others that in turn have
left a heap of ruins. We find it impossible to trace back through the
historic ages into and beyond the prehistoric shadows, the pathway to
culture followed by any one people. The necessity for groping increases
with every backward step, and we pick up one by one the scattered links
of a chain that has a thousand times been broken. So far our information
is meager and fragmentary, and centuries of research will be required to
round up our knowledge to such a fullness as to enable us to
rehabilitate the ancient races, a result to be reached only by an
exhaustive comparative study of the art products of all peoples and of
all ages.

By collecting the various relics of art in shell I shall be able to add
a fragment to this great work. Destructible in their character these
relics are seldom preserved from remote periods, and it is only by
reason of their inhumation with the dead that they appear among
antiquities at all. A majority of such objects, taken from graves and
tumuli, known to post-date even the advent of the white race in North
America, are so far decayed that unless most carefully handled they
crumble to powder.

It is impossible to demonstrate the great antiquity of any of these
relics. Many of those obtained from the shell heaps of the Atlantic
coast are doubtless very ancient, but we cannot say with certainty that
they antedate the discovery more than a few hundred years.

Specimens obtained from the mounds of the Mississippi Valley have the
appearance of great antiquity, but beyond the internal evidence of the
specimens themselves we have no reliable data upon which to base an
estimate of time. The age of these relics is rendered still less certain
by the presence of intrusive interments, which place side by side works
of very widely separated periods.

The antiquity of the relics themselves is not, however, of first
importance; the art ideas embodied in them have a much deeper interest.
The tablets upon which the designs are engraved may be never so recent,
yet the conceptions themselves have their origin far back in the
forgotten ages. Deified ancestors and mythical creatures that were in
the earlier stages rudely depicted on bark and skins and rocks were,
after a certain mastery over materials had been achieved, engraved on
tablets of flinty shell; and it is probable that in these rare objects
we have, if not a full representation of the art of the ancient peoples,
at least a large number of their most important works, in point of
execution as well as of conception.

Man in his most primitive condition must have resorted to the sea-shore
for the food which it affords. Weapons or other appliances were not
necessary in the capture of mollusks; a stone to break the shell, or one
of the massive valves of the shells themselves, sufficed for all

The shells of mollusks probably came into use as utensils at a very
early date, and mutually with products of the vegetable world afforded
natural vessels for food and water.

For a long period the idea of modifying the form to increase the
convenience may not have been suggested and the natural shells were used
for whatever purpose they were best fitted. In time, however, by
accidental suggestions it would be found that modifications would
enhance their usefulness, and the breaking away of useless parts and the
sharpening of edges and points would be resorted to. Farther on, as it
became necessary to carry them from point to point, changes would be
made for convenience of transportation. Perforations which occur
naturally in some species of shell, would be produced artificially, and
the shells would be strung on vines or cords and suspended about the
neck; in this way, in time, may have originated the custom of wearing
pendants for personal ornament. Following this would be the
transportation of such articles to distant places by wandering tribes,
exchanges would take place with other tribes, and finally a trade would
be developed and a future commerce of nations be inaugurated.

Results similar to the foregoing would spring doubtless from the
employment of substances other than shell, but that material most
closely associated with the acquisition of food would come first
prominently into use.

The farther these useful articles were carried from the source of supply
the greater the value that would attach to them, and far inland the
shell of the sea might easily become an object of unusual consideration.
Having an origin more or less shrouded in mystery, it would in time
become doubly dear to the heart of the superstitious savage, perhaps an
object of actual veneration, or at least one of such high esteem that it
would be treasured by the living and buried with the dead.

The material so plentiful on the sea-shore that it was thought of only
as it proved useful for vessels and implements, became a valued treasure
in the interior; its functions were gradually enlarged and
differentiated; it was worked into varied shapes, such as pendants for
the ears, beads for the neck, pins for the hair, and elaborate gorgets
for the breast; it served its turn as fetich and charm; and was
frequently used in the ceremonial jugglery of the mystic dance.

The slightest modification of these relics by the hand of man attracts
our attention, and from that infant stage of the art until the highest
and most elaborate forms are reached they have the deepest interest to
the student of human progress.



Some writers have suggested that the ancient peoples of the interior
districts must have held shells from the sea in especial esteem, not
only on account of their rarity, but also by reason of some sacred
properties that had, from the mystery of their origin, become attached
to them. It would appear, however, that shells were valued chiefly for
their utility and beauty, and that fresh water as well as marine
varieties were constantly employed. In their unworked state, for their
beauty alone, they are treasured by peoples in all grades of culture,
from the savage up through the barbarian stages to the most civilized
state. As they are most conveniently shaped for utensils and implements,
they have been of great service in the arts, and were thus of the
greatest importance to primitive peoples.

It must not be supposed that the natural shells found in graves were
always destined for use in an unworked state, but they should doubtless
in many cases be regarded as highly-valued raw material intended for use
in the manufacture of articles of utility and taste, in the tempering of
potter's clay, or in effecting exchanges with neighboring tribes.

As vessels for food and drink, and as cups for paint, many species are
most conveniently shaped. Good examples may be found in the _Haliotis_,
so plentiful on the Pacific coast, the _Helcioniscus_ of the Pacific
islands, the _Pattelidæ_ of Central and South America, or the _Pecten_
of many seas.

In their natural state they have a twofold interest to us--as utensils
they are the forerunners of many more elaborate forms that have been
evolved in more advanced stages of culture, and in their distribution
they give us important insight into the commerce and migrations of their
aboriginal owners.

_Pectens._--The Pectens are very widely distributed, and on account of
their beauty of form and color have been in great favor with all
peoples. They figure in the heraldic devices of the Middle Ages and in
the symbolic paintings of the ancient Mexicans. They have been employed
extensively by the ancient inhabitants of America as ornaments and
rattles, and many examples exhumed from graves, mounds, and refuse heaps
appear to have been used as utensils, cups for paint, and vessels for
food and drink. They are especially plentiful in the cemeteries of the
ancient Californians, from which Schumacher and Bowers have made
excellent collections, and specimens may be found in the great museums
of the country. A very good example of this shell (_Janira dentata_)[1]
is shown in Fig. 3, Plate XXI, which represents a paint cup from Santa
Barbara, Cal. This cup is still partially filled with dark, purplish,
indurated paint. Some were receptacles for asphaltum, while others,
which are quite empty, were employed probably for domestic purposes. The
species chiefly used on the Atlantic coast are the _Pecten irradians_
and _P. concentricus_. On the Pacific coast the _Pecten caurinus_ and
_P. hastatus_ are employed by the Makah and other Indians for rattles,
and it is probable that some of the rudely perforated specimens found in
our collections were intended for the same purpose.

_Clams._--Clams formed a very important part of the food of the ancient
seaboard tribes, and the emptied shells have been utilized in a great
variety of ways. The valves of many species are large and deep, and are
available for cups and dishes, and as such are not scorned even by the
modern clam-baker, who, like the ancient inhabitant, makes periodical
visits to the sea-shore to fish and feast. They were also used as
knives, scrapers, and hoes, and in historic times have been extensively
used in the manufacture of wampum. The hard-shell clam, _Venus
mercenaria_, on account of the purplish color of portions of the valves,
has been most extensively used for this purpose. A southern variety, the
_Mercenaria præparca_, is much larger and furnishes excellent dishes.
The soft-shell clam, _Mya arenaria_, has been an important article of
food, but the valves are not serviceable in the arts. The hen clam,
_Mactra ponderosa_, which has large handsome valves, has also been used
to some extent for utensils. On the Pacific coast the large clam,
_Pachydesma crassatelloides_, is known also to be similarly used.

_Unios._--Shells of the great family of the _Unios_ have always held an
important place in the domestic and mechanical arts of the savages of
North America. Their chalky remains are among the most plentiful relics
of the mounds and other ancient burial-places, and they come from
kitchen middens and the more recent graves with all the pearly delicacy
of the freshly emptied shell.

The valves of many varieties of these shells are well adapted to the use
of man. Not large enough for food vessels, they make most satisfactory
spoons and cups, and are frequently found to retain portions of the
pigments left from the last toilet of the primeval warrior and destined
for use in the spirit land. It is probable, however, that they were much
more frequently employed as knives and scrapers, and as such have played
their part in the barbaric feast of the primitive village, or have
assisted in the bloody work of scalp-taking and torture. They are pretty
generally distributed over the country, and their occurrence in the
mounds will probably have but little importance in the study of
artificial distribution. Very little trouble has been taken by explorers
and writers to identify the numerous species collected.

_Haliotis._--The _Haliotis_ affords one of the best examples of the
varied uses to which the natural shell has been applied by savage
peoples. Recent explorations conducted by the government exploring
parties in California have brought to the notice of archæologists and
the world the existence of a new field of research--the burial-places of
the ancient tribes of the Pacific coast. Many of the interments of this
region are probably post-Columbian. Several species of this beautiful
shell were used and are taken from the graves in great numbers, the
pearly lusters being almost perfectly preserved. Many were used as
paint-cups, and still retain dark pigments, probably ochers; one of
these, a fine example of the _Haliotis californianus_, is shown in
Fig. 4, Plate XXI. Some had contained food, and in a few cases still
retained the much-esteemed _chia_ seed, while in others were found
asphaltum, which was employed by these peoples in a variety of arts, the
rows of eyes in the _Haliotis_ usually being stopped with it, and in one
case, as shown in a specimen in the National Museum, it has been used to
deepen a cup by building up a rim around the edge of a shallow shell.
Many others are quite empty, and doubtless served as bowls, dishes, and
spoons, or were ready at hand for the manufacture of implements and
ornaments. Buried with the dead, they were designed to serve the
purposes for which they were used in life.

This shell probably formed as important a factor in the commerce of
these tribes as did the large conchs of the Atlantic coast in that of
the mound-builders and their neighbors. In recent times they are known
to have a high value attached to them, and Professor Putnam states[2]
that a few years ago a horse could be had in exchange for a single shell
of the _Haliotis rufescens_. This species is a great favorite toward the
south, and the _Haliotis Kamschatkana_, which furnishes a dark greenish
nacre, is much used farther north.

The rougher and more homely oyster-shell has also enjoyed the favor of
the mound-building tribes, and has probably served many useful purposes,
such as would only be suggested to peoples unacquainted with the use of
metal. Many species of the _Fissurella_ and _Dentalium_ shells were in
common use, advantage being taken of the natural perforations for
stringing, the latter being quite extensively used for money on the
Pacific slope.

In Fig. 2, Plate XXI, a cut is given of a _Mytilus_ shell paint-cup from
an ancient Peruvian grave. It is copied from Plate 83 of the Necropolis
of Ancon.[3] It is represented as still containing red paint, probably

A great variety of the larger univalve sea-shells were used in the
unaltered state, the _Busycons_ probably taking the most important
place, species of the _Strombus_, the _Cassis_, the _Nautilus_ and
_Fasciolaria_ following in about the order named.

The _Busycon perversum_ has been more extensively used than any other
shell, and consequently its distribution in one form or other is very
wide. It is obtained along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts from
Massachusetts to Mexico, and within the United States it is artificially
distributed over the greater part of the Atlantic slope. The uses to
which this shell has been put by the ancient Americans are so numerous
and varied that I shall not attempt to enumerate them here. They are,
however, pretty thoroughly brought out in the subsequent pages of this

From the employment of shells in their complete state their modification
for convenience is but a slight step, and when once suggested is easily
accomplished--holes are bored, handles are carved or added, margins are
ground down, useless parts are broken away, and surfaces are polished.
The columellæ are removed from the large univalves, and the parts used
for a great variety of purposes. The mechanical devices employed have
been very simple, such as flint implements for cutting, and rough stones
for breaking and grinding. Hand-drills were at first used for
perforating; but later mechanically revolving drills were devised.

    [Illustration: PL. XXI--SHELL VESSELS.
    1. From a plate in De Bry.
    2. From a Peruvian grave.
    3. _Pecten_, California grave. (1/1)
    4. _Haliotis_, California grave. (3/4)]


I shall not attempt to take up the various classes of objects in shell
in the order of their development, as it would be hard to say whether
food utensils, weapons, or ornaments were first used. It is also
difficult to distinguish weapons proper from implements employed in the
arts, such as celts, knives, hammers, etc., as it is probable they were
all variously used according to the needs of their possessors.

Having briefly treated of natural vessels, it seems convenient to go on
with vessels shaped by art. Early explorers in many portions of the
American continent record, in their writing, the use by the natives of
shells of various kinds as vessels. We have in this case historic
evidence which bears directly upon prehistoric customs. Indeed, it is
not impossible that the very shells used by the natives first
encountered by Europeans, are the identical ones exhumed so recently
from burial places, as many of the finer specimens of shell objects have
associated with them articles of undoubted European manufacture. A
notice of the earliest recorded use of these objects naturally
introduces the prehistoric use.

With many nations that were bountifully supplied with convenient earthen
and stone vessels, as well perhaps as others of the hard shells of
fruits, the sea-shell was nevertheless a favorite vessel for drinking.
Herrera describes the use of silver, gold, shell, and gourd cups at the
banquets of the elegant monarch Montezuma II, who "sometimes drank out
of cocoas and natural shells richly set with jewels." Other authors make
similar statements. Clavigero says that "beautiful sea-shells or
naturally formed vessels, curiously varnished, were used." In many of
the periodical feasts of the Florida Indians shells were in high favor,
and it is related how at a certain stage of one of the dances two men
came in, each bearing very large conch-shells full of black drink, which
was an infusion of the young leaves of the _cassine_ (probably _Ilex
Cassine_, L.). After prolonged ceremonies, this drink was offered to the
king, to the whites present, and then to the entire assembly.[4] It is a
remarkable fact that a similar custom has been noticed among the Moquis
of Arizona. Lieutenant Bourke witnessed the snake dance of that tribe a
few years ago, and states that in front of the altar containing the
snakes was a covered earthen vessel, which contained four large
sea-shells and a liquid of some unknown composition, of which the men
who handled the snakes freely drank. Vessels thus associated with
important ceremonial customs of savages would naturally be of first
importance in their sepulchral rites. De Bry, in the remarkable plates
of his "Brevis Narratio," furnishes two instances of such use. Plate 19
shows a procession of nude females who scatter locks of their hair upon
a row of graves, on each of which has been placed a large univalve
shell, probably containing food or drink for the dead, and in Plate 40
we have another illustration of this custom, the shell being placed on
the heap of earth raised above the grave of a departed chieftain. In
Plate XXI, Fig. 1, an outline of the shell represented is given; it
resembles most nearly the pearly nautilus, but, being drawn by the
artist from memory or description, we are at liberty to suppose the
shell actually used was a large _Busycon_ from the neighboring coast,
probably more or less altered by art. Haywood, Hakluyt, Tonti, Bartram,
Adair, and others mention the use of shells for drinking vessels, and in
much more recent times Indians are known to have put them to a similar

On account of the rapidity with which they decay, we can know nothing of
surface deposits of shells by prehistoric or even by comparatively
recent peoples. It is only through the custom of burying valued articles
with the dead that any of these relics are preserved to us. When we
consider the quantity of such objects necessarily destroyed by time,
exposure, and use, we marvel at the vast numbers that must have been,
within a limited period of years, carried inland. In the more recent
mounds there may be found specimens obtained by the Indians through the
agency of white traders, but the vast majority were derived doubtless
from purely aboriginal sources. Many instances could be cited to show
that the whites have engaged in the trade in shells. Kohl, in speaking
of early trade with the Ojibways of Lake Superior, states that when the
traders "exhibited a fine large shell and held it to the ears of the
Indians, these latter were astonished, saying they heard the roaring of
the ocean in it, and paid for such a marvelous shell furs to the value
of $30 or $40, and even more."[5]

Cabeça de Vaca[6] traded in sea-shells and "hearts" of sea-shells among
the Charruco Indians of the Gulf coast nearly three hundred and fifty
years ago.

The form of vessel of most frequent occurrence is made by removing the
whorl, columella, and about one-half of the outer shell of the large
univalves. The body of the lower whorl is cut longitudinally, nearly
opposite the lip and parallel with it. The spire is divided on the same
plane, a little above the apex, giving a result well illustrated in
Fig. 1, Plate XXII. A very convenient and capacious bowl is thus
obtained, the larger specimens having a capacity of a gallon or more.
The work of dividing the shell and removing neatly the interior parts
must have been one of no little difficulty, considering the compactness
of the shell and the rudeness of the tools.

For nomadic peoples these vessels would have a great superiority over
those of any other material, as they were not heavy and could be
transported without danger of breaking.

In the manufacture of these vessels the _Busycon perversum_ seems to
have been a great favorite; this may be the result of the less massive
character of the shell, which permits more ready manipulation. The
spines are less prominent and the walls more uniform in thickness than
in shells of most other varieties found along the Atlantic seaboard.
Specimens of the _Strombus_, _Cassis_, and _Fasciolaria_ were
occasionally used. The specimen illustrated in Fig. 1, Plate XXII, is
from a mound at Ritcherville, Ind., and is now in the National Museum at
Washington. It is made from a _Busycon perversum_, and is ten and
one-half inches in length by six and one-half in width at the most
distended part. The body and spire have been cut in the manner described
above, and the interior whorl and columella have been skillfully taken
out. The rim is not very evenly cut, but is quite smooth. The outer
surface of the shell has been well polished, but is now worn and scarred
by use. The substance of the shell is very well preserved. A second
example, now in the national collection, is from an ancient mound at
Naples, Ill. It is very similar to the preceding, being made from the
same species of shell. It is eleven inches in length by seven in width.
The body of the shell is well preserved, the apex, however, being broken
away. A small specimen, also in the National Museum, was obtained from a
mound at Nashville, Tenn., by Professor Powell. It is three and a half
inches in length, and very shallow, being but a small portion of the
lower whorl of a _Busycon_.

    [Illustration: PL. XXII--VESSELS.
    1. Shell vessel made from a _Busycon perversum_, Ind. (2/5)
    2. Earthen vessel made in imitation of shell, Mo. (3/4)]

Among the more recent acquisitions to the national collection are two
very fine specimens of these _Busycon_ vessels. One of these was
obtained from a mound at East Dubuque, Ill. It is eleven inches in
length by seven in width at the widest part; the exterior surface is
highly polished; the interior is less so, having suffered somewhat from
decay; the beak is very long and slender, and has been used as a handle.
The whole vessel has a dipper-like appearance.

The finest example of these vessels yet brought to my notice was
obtained from a mound at Harrisburg, Ark., by Dr. Palmer, in October,
1882. It differs from the other specimens described in having an
elaborate ornamental design engraved on the exterior surface. In shape
it corresponds pretty closely to the first specimen figured, no part of
the spire, however, being cut away; the interior parts have been
removed, as usual. The surface is quite smooth, and the ridges on the
inner surface of the spire are neatly rounded and polished. Its length
is eleven inches, and its width seven. Plate XXIII is devoted to the
illustration of this specimen. The entire exterior surface, from apex to
base, is covered with a design of engraved lines and figures, which are
applied in such a manner as to accord remarkably well with the expanding
spiral of the shell. The upper surface of the spire is unusually flat,
and has been ground quite smooth. It will be seen by reference to
Fig. 2, Plate XXIII, that a series of lines, interrupted at nearly
regular intervals by short cross lines and rectangular intaglio figures,
has been carried from the apex outward toward the lip. Another series of
lines begins on the upper margin next the inner lip of the shell, passes
around the circumference of the upper surface, and extends downward over
the carina, covering, as shown in the other figure, the entire body of
the vessel, excepting the extreme point of the handle. The base of the
shell, which is perforated, has a small additional group of lines. The
lines of the principal series are, on the more expanded portion of the
body of the shell, about eight inches long, and are interrupted by two
rows of short lines and two rows of incised rectangular figures. The
space between the latter contains the most interesting feature of the
design. Three arrow-head shaped figures, two inches in length by one and
one-half in width, are placed, one near the outer lip, another near the
inner lip, and the third in the middle of the body, a little below the
center. These figures are neatly cut and symmetrical, and resemble a
barbed and blunt-pointed arrow-head. Near the center of each is a small
circle, which gives the figure a close resemblance to a variety of
perforated stone implements, one specimen of which has been found near
Osceola, Ark. Whatever may be the significance of this design, and it is
undoubtedly significant, it is at least a very remarkable piece of work
and a highly successful effort at decoration. The pottery of this region
which is generally highly decorated with painted and incised lines,
contains nothing of a character similar to this, and it is probable that
what I have come to consider a rule in such matters applies in this
case; the design on the shell is significant or ideographic, that on the
pottery is purely ornamental.

    [Illustration: PL. XXIII--ENGRAVED VESSEL.
    Harrisburg, Ark.]

For the purpose of showing the very wide distribution of vessels made
from large seashells, especially the _Busycon perversum_, I introduce
here descriptions of most of the specimens heretofore reported.

Dr. Rau, in his paper on ancient aboriginal trade in North America,
states that in the collection of Colonel Jones, of Brooklyn, there is a
vessel formed from a _Cassis_ which is eight and a half inches long, and
has a diameter of seven inches where its periphery is widest. It was
obtained from a stone grave near Clarksville, Habersham County,

Two fine specimens of the _Cassis flammea_ were taken from mounds in
Nacoochee Valley, Georgia. They were nearly ten inches in length and
about seven inches in diameter. The interior whorls and columellæ had
been removed, so that they answered the purpose of drinking cups or
receptacles of some sort.[8]

From a stone grave mound near Franklin, on the Big Harpeth River, Prof.
Joseph Jones took two large sea-shells, one of which was much decayed.
The interior surface of these shells had been painted red, and the
exterior had been marked with three large circular spots.[9]

In the grave of a child, near the grave just mentioned, the following
relics were found: "Four large sea-shells, one on each side of the
skeleton, another at the foot, and the fourth, a large specimen, with
the interior apartments cut out and the exterior surface carved, covered
the face and forehead of the skull."[10]

In a small mound opposite the city of Nashville, Tenn., Professor Jones
found "a large sea-conch." The interior portion or spiral of which had
been carefully cut out; it was probably used as a drinking vessel, or as
the shrine of an idol as in a case observed by Dr. Troost.[11]

Two large shells of _Busycon_, from which the columellæ had been
removed, were obtained from the Lindsley mounds, sixty miles east of
Nashville, by Professor Putnam.[12]

Professor Wyman, writing of the mounds of Eastern Tennessee, says that
"among the implements are well-preserved cups or dishes, made of the
same species of shell [_Busycon perversum_] as the preceding, but of
much more gigantic size than those now found. One of them measures a
foot in length, though the beak has been broken off. When entire its
length could not have been less than fourteen or fifteen inches. These
shells probably came from the Gulf of Mexico, and found their way into
Tennessee as articles of traffic. The dishes are made in the same way,
and not to be distinguished from those found in Florida at the time of
the first visit of the Europeans, or from those, as will be seen
further, found in the ancient burial mounds. The great similarity in the
style and make of these dishes renders it quite probable that they were
manufactured in Florida."[13] A number of similar dishes, made from the
same shell, were obtained from mounds at Cedar Keys, Florida, by
Professor Wyman.[14]

Francis Cleveland, C. E., who, in 1828, had charge of the excavation
known as the "deep cut" on the Ohio Canal, informed Colonel Whittlesey
that at the depth of twenty-five feet in the alluvium several shells
belonging to the species _Busycon perversum_ were taken out.[15]

Dr. Drake, writing of the Cincinnati mounds, mentions "several large
marine shells, belonging, perhaps, to the genus _Buccinum_, cut in such
a way as to serve for domestic utensils, and nearly converted into a
state of chalk."[16]

Mr. Atwater states that "several marine shells, probably _Buccinum_, cut
in such a manner as to be used for domestic utensils, were found in a
mound on the Little Miami River, Warren County, Ohio."[17]

A _Cassis_ of large size, from which the inner whorls and columella had
been removed to adapt it for use as a vessel, was found in Clark's
mound, on Paint Creek, Scioto Valley, Ohio.[18] This specimen is eleven
and a half inches in length by twenty-four in circumference at the
largest part. It is further stated that fragments of these and other
shells are found in the tumuli and upon the altars of the
mound-builders. In digging the Ohio and Erie Canal, there was found,
near Portsmouth, its southern terminus on the Ohio River, a cluster of
five or six large shells, which appeared to have been thus carefully
deposited by the hand of man. They were about three feet beneath the
surface. The columellæ of some large shells, probably the _Strombus
gigas_, were also discovered.[19]

Several large marine shells were found in a mound near Grand Rapids,
Mich. They were all hollowed out, apparently for carrying or storing
water, and in one case perforated at the upper edge on opposite sides
for suspension by a cord or thong.[20]

Mr. Farquharson mentions a vessel made from a _Busycon perversum_,
obtained from a mound near Davenport, Iowa. The shell has been cut
through about an inch above the center; it is thirteen inches in length
by seven in width, and has a capacity of nearly two pints.[21] He also
describes a large specimen of _Cassis_ from a mound in Muscatine County,

Long, in his expedition from Pittsburgh to the Rocky Mountains in 1819,
speaks of a large shell which seems to have been reverenced as a kind of
oracle. This may have been one of the large, brilliantly-colored fossil
_Baculites_ so common in the upper Missouri region. His description will
be given in full in treating of the sacerdotal uses of shells.

In the Naturalist for October, 1879, Mr. Frey describes a sea-shell
drinking vessel, somewhat modified by art, having a length of four and
one-half inches. This, with other relics, among which were many shell
beads, was found in an ancient grave in eastern New York, probably in
the Mohawk Valley.

These vessels of shell have also served as models for the primitive
potter. The ancient peoples of the middle Mississippi district were
extremely skillful in the reproduction of natural objects in clay, and
it is not surprising that they should imitate the form of the shell.

In the Peabody Museum is an earthen vessel copied from a shell vessel of
the class just described, the characteristic features being all well
imitated. It is about nine inches wide, eleven long and four deep. It is
neatly made, and ornamented with the red and white designs peculiar to
the pottery of this region. It was taken from one of the Stanley mounds,
Saint Francis River, Ark.

A small earthen vessel made in imitation of these shell vessels is
illustrated in Fig. 2, Plate XXII. It is of the ordinary blackish ware
so common in the middle Mississippi district. The general shape of the
shell is well represented; the sides, however, are nearly symmetrical
and the spire is represented by a central node, surrounded by four
inferior nodes. It is four inches wide and five and one-half long. Three
others represent shell vessels, somewhat less closely, the spires and
beaks being added to the opposite sides of ordinary cups.


As domestic utensils bivalve shells have held a place hardly inferior in
importance to that of the large univalves. Marine and fluviatile
varieties have been used indiscriminately, and generally in the natural
state, but occasionally altered by art to enhance their beauty or add to
their convenience. The artificial utensils do not, however, present a
very great variety of form, the alteration consisting chiefly in the
carving out of a kind of handle, by which device hot food could be eaten
without danger of burning the fingers. The handle, which may be seen in
all stages of development, is produced by cutting away portions of the
anterior and basal margins of the shell, leaving the salient angle
projecting; this angle is then undercut from the opposite sides so that
it is connected with the body of the valve by a more or less restricted
neck. The outer edge of the handle is frequently ornamented with
notches, and in a few cases a round perforation has been made near the
anterior tip for the purpose of suspension. In one case a rude design of
small circular depressions has been added to the upper surface. In the
finished implement the hinge, ligament, and teeth have been cut away,
the thick dorsal margin carefully ground down, leaving a smooth, neat
edge, and the anterior point, which was presented to the lips in eating
or drinking, was well rounded and polished. The whole surface of the
shell in the more finished specimens has been most carefully dressed.
Altogether, the fashioning of these spoons must be regarded as a very
ingenious performance for savages, and has cost much more labor than
would the attachment of a handle, for which purpose it is not improbable
the lateral notches may at times have been used. Our collections furnish
no examples of marine univalves worked in this manner; a few slightly
altered specimens, however, have been reported. Nearly all the specimens
of carved spoons that have come to my notice are made from a few species
of _Unio_.

It is a curious fact that most of these utensils have been made from the
left valve of the shell, which gives such a position to the handle that
they are most conveniently used by the right hand, thus indicating
right-handedness on the part of these peoples. In the national
collection there are two left-handed specimens, one from Nashville,
Tenn., and one from Union County, Ky.

Professor Putnam states that he has "examined over thirty of these
shell-spoons now in the museum [Peabody], and all are made from the
right [left] valves of _Unionidæ_, and so shaped as to be most
conveniently used with the right hand."[23]

By reference to Fig. 1, Plate XXIV, the probable manner of grasping and
using the spoon will be seen. It will also be observed that the left
valve of the shell is used to make the right-handed spoon, supposing of
course that the point of the spoon is presented to the lips, the hinge
corner being much less convenient for that purpose.

In regard to the use of these objects, which have occasionally been
taken for ornaments, it should be mentioned that very many of them have
been found within earthen vessels placed in the graves with the dead.
The vessels, in all probability, were the receptacles of food, the
spoons being so placed that they could be used by the dead as they had
been used by the living.

The specimen shown in Fig. 3, Plate XXIV, was obtained by Professor
Powell, from a mound near Nashville, Tenn. It is made from the left
valve of a very delicate specimen of the _Unio ovatus_,[24] and has been
finished with more than usual care. The entire rim is artificially
shaped, the natural shell being much reduced, and six notches ornament
the outside of the handle. The bowl of the spoon is nearly four inches
in length and two and one-half in width. Eight other specimens were
obtained from the same locality by Professor Powell. All are made from
the _Unio ovatus_, one only being left-handed. All are inferior in
finish to the specimen illustrated. The handles of a number are
rudimentary, and the margins and surfaces are but slightly worked.

The spoon illustrated in Fig. 4, Plate XXIV, is made from the left valve
of a _Unio alatus_ (?) and was obtained from a mound at Madisonville,
Ohio. It is an unusually well-finished and handsome specimen, and
notwithstanding its fragile character, is well preserved. A portion of
the point has, unfortunately, been broken away. The handle is ornamented
with four shallow notches, the anterior point being neatly rounded and
perforated for suspension. The edges of the utensil have been carefully
finished, and both the inner and outer surfaces have been ground down
and polished so that all the natural markings are obliterated, and the
surface shows the pearly marbling of the foliation. This specimen is
figured in an interesting paper,[25] prepared by Mr. Charles F. Low, as
an ornament, this use being suggested by its finish and decoration; but
as it was found in what was presumably a food vessel, and at the same
time resembles so closely the spoons of other localities, I take the
liberty of classifying it with them.

One of the most interesting collections of these utensils was made in
Union County, Ky., by S. S. Lyon. Our information in regard to this lot
of specimens is, unfortunately, quite meager, as Mr. Lyon's report gives
them but casual mention.

Fig. 2, Plate XXIV, illustrates the finest of these specimens on a scale
of one-half. The shell used is a large specimen of _Unio ovatus_, the
bowl of the spoon being about four inches long and three wide. As the
right valve has been used, the utensil is left-handed. The handle is
ornamented with two marginal notches; the basal point is long and
spine-like, and is deeply undercut. The anterior point is beak-like in
shape, the nicely made perforation holding, in relation to it, the
position of an eye, which, together with the comb-like notches above,
gives a pretty close resemblance to a bird's head. The point of the
spoon is broken away.

    [Illustration: PL. XXIV--SHELL SPOONS.
    1. Manner of grasping spoon.
    2. From a mound in Kentucky. (1/2)
    3. From a mound near Nashville. (1/1)
    4. From a mound in Ohio. (1/1)]

The seven remaining spoons from this locality have a variety of handles,
all of which are notched on the outer margin, while a few only are
deeply undercut; all have been made from the left valve of the _Unio
ovatus_ (?) and are of medium size and ordinary finish.

Another specimen in the national collection comes from Henderson County,
Ky. The shell used is the _Unio ovatus_; the handle is notched on the
outer margin, but is only slightly under-cut; the thick margin of the
shell about the hinge has not been removed.

A spoon made from the left valve of a _Unio silignoidens_ (?) has
recently been obtained from a mound at Osceola, Ark.; it is but slightly
worked, having a series of small notches cut in the basal margin, toward
the front.

The Natural History Museum of New York contains a specimen of this
class, labeled as coming from Georgia. It has a rounded handle, without
either perforation or notches.

The Peabody Museum contains a very superior collection, consisting of
specimens from several localities. Six of these, made from _Unionidæ_,
mostly from the _Unio ovatus_, were obtained from one of the Bowling
mounds near Nashville, Tenn.; others crumbled on being handled and were
lost. Several others were obtained in the same region.[26] Two more were
found in an earthen vessel between two skeletons, in one of the Lindsley
mounds at Lebanon, sixty miles east of Nashville.[27]

In a stone-cist mound on the Big Harpeth River, Prof. Joseph Jones found
"a few large fresh-water mussel-shells, which were much altered by time.
These mussel-shells appeared from their shape to have been artificially
carved, and to have been used as ornaments and also as spoons or cups
for dipping up food and drink."[28]

Three fine specimens have recently been obtained from graves at
Harrisburg, Ark. They are but slightly worked as compared with the more
elaborate specimens. The hinge, teeth, and ligaments have been ground
down and a portion of the postero-dorsal margin removed, leaving the
posterior point and basal margin projecting for a handle. The surfaces
are well smoothed. The general outline of the shell is subtriangular; it
is three inches wide by four and one-half in length and is probably made
from the _Unio cuneatus_.

Beverly gives a plate illustrating two Virginia Indians, man and wife,
at dinner; on the mat by the woman is "a Cockle-Shell, which they
sometimes use instead of a Spoon." "The Spoons which they eat with, do
generally hold half a Pint; and they laugh at the English for using
small ones, which they must be forc'd to carry so often to their Mouths,
that their Arms are in Danger of being tir'd, before their Belly."[29]


From a very early date shells must have been employed quite extensively
by the ancient Americans as implements, as weapons for war and the
chase, as appliances for fishing, as agricultural implements, and as
knives, gougers, scrapers, perforators, etc., in a variety of arts. It
is a noteworthy fact, however, that our collections do not abound in
objects of these classes, and our literature furnishes but little
information on the subject. Our interest lies chiefly in such of these
objects as have been shaped by the hand of man, but to illustrate their
use we will find it instructive to study the various ways in which the
natural shells have been employed. In this manner we may trace the
origin and development of artificial forms.

As we have seen in the early modification of food utensils the beginning
of the art of cutting and shaping shell, which in time led to the
manufacture of objects of taste, and probably proved an important step
in the evolution of native American art, so in this convenient and
workable material, as employed in the mechanical arts, we witness the
inception of many important human industries, and in the rude machines
constructed from shell probably behold the prototypes of numerous works
in stone and metal. It cannot be supposed that such of these objects as
we do possess are of very ancient date, as the material is not
sufficiently enduring. It is also improbable that such objects would, as
a rule, be so frequently deposited in graves, as food vessels or objects
of personal display, and objects not so deposited must soon have

The early explorers of the American coast make occasional mention of the
employment of shells in the various arts. As many of these notices are
interesting, and have an important bearing upon the subject under
consideration, I will present a number of them here. Among a majority of
the American Indians, knives of stone, obsidian, jasper, and flint were
in general use, but it would seem that shells artificially shaped and
sharpened were also sometimes used for shaping objects in wood and clay,
in preparing food, in dressing game, and in human butchery.

Strachey informs us, in volume VI of the Hakluyt Society, that when the
omnipotent Powhatan "would punish any notorious enemy or trespasser, he
causeth him to be tyed to a tree, and with muscle shells or reedes the
executioner cutteth off his joints one after another, ever casting what
is cutt off into the fier; then doth he proceede with shells and reedes
to case the skyn from his head and face."[30]

Such knives were also used by Powhatan's women for cutting off their

A number of authors mention the use of shells as scalping-knives.

Kalm, speaking of the Indians of New Jersey, says that "instead of
knives, they were satisfied with little sharp pieces of flint or quartz,
or else some other hard kind of a stone, or with a sharp shell, or with
a piece of bone, which they had sharpened."[32]

The Indians encountered by Henry Hudson during his first voyage, in
making him welcome, "killed a fat dog, and skinned it in great haste
with shells which they had."[33]

Beverly asserts that before the English supplied the Virginia Indians
with metallic tools, "their Knives were either sharpen'd Reeds, or
Shells, and their Axes sharp Stones bound to the end of a Stick, and
glued in with Turpentine. By the help of these they made their Bows of
the Locust Tree."[34]

Drake, in his "World Encompassed," speaking of some of the southern
tribes of South America, probably the Patagonians, says that "their
hatchetts and knives are made of mussel-shells, being great and a foot
in length, the brickle part whereof being broken off, they grind them by
great labor to a fine edge and very sharpe, and as it seemeth, very
durable.[35] * * * Their working tools, which they use in cutting these
things and such other, are knives made of most huge and monstrous
mussell shells (the like whereof have not been seen or heard of lightly
by any travelers, the meate thereof being very savourie and good in
eating), which, after they have broken off the thinne and brittle
substance of the edge, they rub and grind them upon stones had for the
purpose, till they have tempered and set such an edge upon them, that no
wood is so hard but they will cut it at pleasure with the same."[36]

According to Sproat, shell knives were used by the Indians of
Vancouver's Island in carving the curious wooden images placed over

Ancient shell knives are very rarely found in collections. Such
specimens as have come to my notice could as well be classed as scrapers
or celts. We will probably not be far wrong in concluding that such
implements were used for scraping and digging as well as for cutting. As
a rule, knives proper were simply sharpened bivalve shells. The scrapers
so frequently mentioned were doubtless often the same, but probably more
frequently portions of the lower whorl of the large univalves.


Implements of this class are generally made from the lower part of large
univalves. They were probably used in a variety of ways, with handles
and without. The spine-like base of the shell forms the shaft, the blade
being cut from the broadly expanded wall of the lower whorl. Nearly all
the specimens in the national collection have been obtained in this way.
In Plate XXV three very fine examples are figured. The specimen
illustrated in Fig. 1 is more than usually well fashioned, and is
extremely massive, having the proportions and almost the weight of
typical stone celts. It is five inches in length, two and three-fourths
in width, and nearly one inch through at the thickest part.

The edge is even and sharp, and but slightly rounded; the beveled faces
are quite symmetrical, and meet at an angle of about 35°; the faces are
curved slightly, following the original curvature of the shell, and the
sides are evenly dressed and taper gently toward the upper end which
shows some evidence of battering. The surface of the specimen is
slightly chalky from decay. It has been made from a _Strombus gigas_, or
some equally massive shell. It was collected at Orange Bluff, Fla., by
T. S. Barber. A profile view of the same specimen is presented in
Fig. 2. The specimen shown in Fig. 3 was found in Madison County, Ky.,
and is the only one in the national collection from the Mississippi
Valley. It was obtained from a mound, but in what relation to the human
remains I have not learned. It is fashioned much like the specimen just
described; it is one and a half inches in width at the upper end, and
two inches wide near the cutting edge. It has also been made from a very
massive shell.

Fig. 4 illustrates a specimen from St. Michael's Parish, Barbadoes, West
Indies. It is made from the basal portion of a _Busycon perversum_. The
handle is curved and neatly rounded, and the edge is beveled or
sharpened on the inside only.

    [Illustration: PL. XXV--SHELL CELTS.
    1. Orange Bluff, Fla. (3/4)
    2. Orange Bluff, Fla. (3/4)
    3. Madison County, Ky. (3/4)
    4. Barbadoes, W. I. (3/4)]

In the national collection there are about twenty of these objects; six
are from Tampa, Fla.; four of these are fragmentary; the remaining two
are short and triangular, and have been made, one from a _Busycon
perversum_, the other from a _Busycon_ or _Strombus_. The cutting edge
is wide and well sharpened. Two are from Cedar Keys, Fla., and are made
from thin-walled specimens of the _Busycon perversum_. The larger is six
and one-half inches in length by three in width toward the base; the
other is about one-half as large. Both are rudely made, and show the
effects of use. Five came from East Pass, Choctawhatchie Bay, Fla. Two
of them are fragmentary; one of the entire specimens is very well made,
and has a regularly beveled, oblique edge, while another is remarkable
in having a curiously worn edge, which is deeply serrated by use or
weathering. The majority of these specimens are from ancient shell
heaps. Three are from St. Michael's Parish, Barbadoes, West Indies, one
of which has already been described.

Professor Wyman, in the Naturalist for October, 1868, illustrates two of
these celt-like implements from the fresh-water shell heaps near St.
Johns, Fla. One is made from a triangular piece cut from a _Busycon
carica_, so as to comprise a portion of the rostrum, which serves as a
handle, and a portion of a swollen part of the body, which terminates in
the cutting edge of the tool. The sides and apex are smoothed and
rounded, while the base is regularly rounded and ground to an edge like
that of a gouge, but with the bevel on the inside.

This author states that another specimen, obtained at Old Enterprise,
shows clearly that it was detached from the shell by first cutting a
groove and then breaking off the fragment. He also gives two views of a
small shell celt which, from the exterior markings and the thick ridge
on the inside, is thought to have been cut from the base of a _Strombus
gigas_. "The broad end is ground to a blunt edge like that seen in most
of the stone chisels from the other States, and the other is ground to a
blunt point."

These implements are frequently mentioned by early explorers. In Plate 12
of the "Admiranda Narratio," an Indian is represented[38] with a
shell implement, scraping away the charred portions from the interior of
a canoe which is being hollowed out by fire. The same implement was
employed for removing the bark from the tree trunks used.

Catlin, in speaking of the Klahoquat Indians of Vancouver's Island, says
that "a species of mussel-shell of a large size, found in the various
inlets where fresh and salt water meet, are sharpened at the edge and
set in withes of tough wood, forming a sort of adze, which is used with
one hand or both, according to its size; and the flying chips show the
facility with which the excavation is made in the soft and yielding
cedar, no doubt designed and made for infant man to work and ride

Wood, speaking of the Indians of New England, says that "their Cannows
be made either of Pine-trees, which before they were acquainted with
_English_ tooles, they burned hollow, scraping them smooth with
Clam-shels and Oyster-shels, cutting their out-sides with

The method of hafting these implements, when used for axes and adzes,
was doubtless the same as that employed for stone implements of similar
shapes. This is illustrated in Fig. 2, Plate XXVII, the handle being
securely fastened by cords or sinews. It will be seen that but one of
the specimens mentioned comes from the interior, and that from Madison
County, Ky.


The great majority of the scraping implements obtained from the mounds,
graves, and shell heaps are simply valves of _Unio_ or clam-shells,
unaltered except by use; yet there is a widely distributed class of
worked specimens, which have been altered by making a rough perforation
near the center of the valve, and by the grinding down and notching of
the edges. A very fine specimen is illustrated in Fig. 3, Plate XXVI. It
is formed of the left valve of a _Unio tuberculosus_. It was taken from
a mound at Madisonville, Ohio, and is now in the national collection. A
similar specimen from the same locality is illustrated in an account of
the exploration conducted by the Scientific and Literary Society of
Madisonville.[41] I have seen four other fine specimens from the same
locality; all are made of the shell of the _Unio tuberculosus_ (?). It
will be seen by reference to Fig. 3 that the posterior point of the
shell is much worn, as if by use, while at the opposite end, near the
hinge, the margin has been slightly notched. The large specimen, figured
in the Madisonville pamphlet, as well as all other examples from this
locality, are also much worn at the posterior end, and slightly notched
on the anterior margin. The perforations are roughly made, and nearly
one-half an inch in diameter.

I have carefully examined all the specimens of this class within my
reach, probably twenty-five in all, most of which are in the national
collection, and I find them all very much alike. They are from two to
five inches in length, have rude central perforations, and are worn by
use at the posterior point, and notched on the anterior margin. The
blunting of one end by use calls for no explanation, but the purpose of
the perforation is a little obscure. It may have been used for
convenience in transportation, but more probably for attaching a handle.
On discovering that a notch had in all cases been made at the upper end,
I became convinced that the latter use was intended. Whether the
supposed handle has been long or short, or attached longitudinally or
transversely, I am unable to determine.

In Plate XXVI, Figs. 4 and 5, two methods of hafting are illustrated. If
used for striking, the long handle would be the more suitable, but if
for scraping, dressing skins, scaling fish, or shaping wood or clay, the
handle suggested in Fig. 5 would be the most convenient. The clam-shell
agricultural implements, so frequently mentioned by explorers along the
Atlantic coast, were attached to handles in the manner of hoes or adzes,
as shown in Fig. 2, Plate XXVII. It is possible that the specimens under
consideration may have been hafted in this manner.

A perforated valve of a _Unio gibbosus_, which has probably been used as
a knife or scraper, is shown in Fig. 1, Plate XXVII. It was obtained
from a cave near Nashville, and is now in the national collection.

Another interesting variety of shell implement is shown in Fig. 1,
Plate XXVI. It was obtained from the Oconee River, near Milledgeville,
Ga., and is made from the left valve of a _Unio vericosus_. Its perfect
state of preservation indicates that it is of quite recent manufacture.
A deep, sharply cut groove encircles the beak and hinge of the shell,
and the posterior margins are considerably worn. A few shallow lines
have been engraved on the smooth convex surface of the valve. The
position of the groove suggests the method of hafting shown in Fig. 2.

Fig. 6, Plate XXVI, represents a perforated _Pecten_, which may have
been used as an implement or as part of a rattle. It was collected by
Mr. Webb on the west coast of Florida.

    [Illustration: PL. XXVI--SHELL IMPLEMENTS.
    1. Scraper, Georgia. (1/1)
    2. Probable manner of hafting.
    3. Implement from a mound, Ohio. (1/1)
    4. Probable manner of hafting.
    5. Probable manner of hafting.
    6. Perforated _Pecten_, Florida. (1/2)]


The first explorers of the Atlantic seaboard found many of the tribes
cultivating the soil to a limited extent, corn being the chief product.
The methods and appliances were exceedingly primitive, and the
implements employed, whether wood, bone, stone, or shell, possess but
little interest to art.

Unworked shells, lashed to rude handles, served all the purposes as well
as if wrought out in the most fanciful manner. The large, firm valves of
clam-shells were most frequently used, as the following extracts will

"Before the Indians learned of the English the use of a more convenient
instrument, they tilled their corn with hoes made of these shells, to
which purpose they are well adapted by their size."[42]

A further reference to this shell is found in Wood's New England
Prospect: "The first plowman was counted little better than a Juggler:
the _Indians_ seeing the plow teare up more ground in a day, than their
Clamme shels could scrape up in a month, desired to see the workemanship
of it, and viewing well the coulter and share, perceiving it to be iron,
told the plowman, hee was almost _Abamocho_, almost as cunning as the
Devill."[43] And again the same author says: "An other work is their
planting of corne, wherein they exceede our _English_ husband-men,
keeping it so cleare with their Clamme shell-hooes, as if it were a
garden rather than a corne-field, not suffering a choking weede to
advance his audacious head above their infant corne, or an undermining
worme to spoile his spurnes."[44]

Other writers make but the most casual mention of this subject. De Bry
gives, in Plate XXI, Vol. II, a picture in which a number of natives are
engaged in cultivating their fields. In Fig. 3, Plate XXVII, I give an
enlarged cut of one of the implements employed; the original drawing has
probably been made from memory by the artist, and the cut serves no
purpose except to give an idea of the general shape of the implement and
to suggest the manner of hafting, if indeed the implement is not made
wholly from a crooked stick.

    [Illustration: PL. XXVII--SHELL IMPLEMENTS.
    1. Shell implement, Tennessee.
    2. Probable manner of hafting celt.
    3. Implement illustrated in De Bry.
    4. Shell club-head, Florida.
    5. Shell implement, Peru.]


The use of shell in the manufacture of fishing implements seems to have
been almost unknown among the tribes of the Atlantic coast, and with the
exception of a few pendant-like objects, resembling plummets or sinkers
of stone, nothing has been obtained from the ancient burial mounds of
the Mississippi Valley. Hooks of shell, however, are very plentiful in
the ancient burial-places of the Pacific coast, and are frequently so
well shaped as to excite our admiration. Hooks and other fishing
apparatus, in whole or in part made of shell, are extensively employed
by the present natives of the Pacific islands and among the numerous
tribes of the northwest coast, although bone and ivory are in much
higher favor for these purposes.

We cannot say with certainty for what purpose the various sinker-like
objects of shell were used. In all cases they are so perforated or
grooved as to be suspended by a string; but it is the custom of all
savage peoples to employ very heavy pendants as ornaments for the ears
or for suspension about the neck, and where stone could be secured for
such ordinary uses as the sinking of nets or lines, it seems improbable
that objects of shell, which form superb ornaments, would be so

That hooks were used to some extent by the Atlantic coast Indians is
proved by the association of bone hooks with other ancient relics. I am
not aware that their use has been noticed by early writers, who describe
at length, however, the capture of fish by means of arrows, spears, and
nets. The ancient Mexican manuscripts contain many drawings showing the
use of nets in fishing, but the use of hooks and lines is not suggested.

In the absence of positive proof as to the exact manner in which the
plummet-like objects were utilized, I shall for the present follow the
custom of the best authors and classify the heavier specimens as
sinkers. The smaller specimens will be described as pendant ornaments.

In Fig. 8, Plate XXVIII, a very handsome specimen from a refuse heap on
Blennerhasset Island, Ohio River, is shown. It has been cut from the
columella of a _Busycon perversum_, the reverse whorl being indicated by
the well-preserved spiral groove, and was suspended by means of a small,
well-made perforation near the upper end. The surface is weathered and
chalky with age.

Another specimen, from the same locality, differs but slightly from
this; the perforated end is broken away; the surface is deeply
weathered, and the more compact laminæ stand out in high relief.

Two specimens from Sarasota Bay, Fla., resemble these very closely in
shape and size; instead of a perforation, however, they are grooved near
the upper end. They are made from the columellæ of the _Busycon
perversum_. One of them is shown in Fig. 9, Plate XXVIII.

It is possible that a number of the small shells usually supposed to be
perforated for use as ornaments have been used for sinkers. One such
specimen, collected by Professor Velie in Florida, is preserved in the
national collection. It is made from an almost entire specimen of a
small but compact univalve--a dextral-whorled _Busycon_ or a _Strombus_.
A shallow groove has been cut near the basal point for the purpose of
attaching a line.

A fourth specimen, from Florida, is represented by a cast presented by
Professor Velie; it is three inches in length and nearly one inch in
diameter, and has been derived from the columella of a _Busycon
perversum_. It has a broad groove near the upper end, with a long,
sloping shoulder, the body being somewhat conical below. Other specimens
of similar character have recently been added to the national
collection. A grooved specimen of medium size was obtained from a mound
at Madisonville, Ohio, and is figured by the explorers.[45] A few
smaller specimens come from New York, and others from Kentucky, but they
were probably intended for ornaments, and as such I prefer to class

From the Pacific coast we have a large number of examples, one of the
finest being illustrated in Fig. 7, Plate XXVIII. It is a flattish,
somewhat pear-shaped pendant, and has a neatly cut groove near the upper
end. It was collected by Bowers on the island of Santa Rosa, Cal., and
was probably made from a _Pachydesma_ or _Amiantis_.

A new-looking specimen from Santa Barbara, carved from a flat bit of
pearly _Haliotis_, represents a fish, the mouth, gills, body, and tail
being distinctly shown. It may have been used as a bait.

By far the most interesting examples of fishing implements of ancient
date have been obtained from graves in California; these are well
represented in the collections made by Schumacher and Bowers. A number
of specimens may be seen in the National Museum; one sinker from this
collection has already been described. Fish-hooks, however, constitute
the great majority of the specimens, and many of them are of such
unprecedented forms that they have been mistaken for ornaments. The
marked peculiarity consists in the great width of the body of the hook,
and the deeply involuted character of the barbless point, making it seem
impossible that a fish should be impaled at all. It may be that this
hook was intended only as a contrivance for securing bait, and that the
fish, having swallowed this, was unable to disgorge it, and in this way
was secured by the fisherman.

In Plate XXVIII, three of these hooks are illustrated. The method of
fastening them to the line is not well known, and the form does not
suggest it, except in a few cases in which the shaft is enlarged
slightly at the upper end. The head is never perforated, but is
frequently pointed, and may have been inserted in a head of some other
material and secured by means of asphaltum. The fact that portions of
this material still adhere to the upper part of the shaft confirms this
conjecture. None of these hooks are barbed. Similar hooks of bone,
exhibited in the national collection, have barbs on the outside, near
the point. Hooks resembling these are used by some tribes to secure the
ends of strings of beads.

Prof. F. W. Putnam has described a number of these hooks which belong to
the Peabody Museum. The largest is two and three-fourths inches in
length and one inch wide at the middle of the shank. These came from San
Clemente, San Miguel, and Santa Cruz islands, and the mainland about
Santa Barbara, and are accompanied by stone implements used in their

The natives of Tahiti had fish-hooks made of mother-of-pearl, and every
fisherman made them for himself. They generally served for the double
purpose of hook and bait. "The shell is first cut into square pieces, by
the edge of another shell, and wrought into a form corresponding with
the outline of the hook by pieces of coral, which are sufficiently rough
to perform the office of a file; a hole is then bored in the middle; the
drill being no other than the first stone they pick up that has a sharp
corner; this they fix into the end of a piece of bamboo and turn it
between the hands like a chocolate mill; when the shell is perforated,
and the hole sufficiently wide, a small file of coral is introduced, by
the application of which the hook is in a short time completed, few
costing the artificer more time than a quarter of an hour."[47]

The specimens illustrated are made from the thicker portions of species
of the _Haliotis_ or of the valves of the dark purplish _Mytilus
californianus_. They are handsome objects, their surfaces being well
rounded and polished. In the collection there are specimens which
illustrate very well the process of manufacture. A series of these is
given in Plate XXVIII. Fig. 1 shows a small fragment broken out roughly
from the shell, probably by a stone or shell implement. Fig. 2 shows a
similar specimen in which an irregular perforation has been made. In
Fig. 3 we see a considerable advance toward completion; the hole has
been enlarged by rubbing or filing with some small implement, and the
outline approximates that of the finished hook. Figs. 4, 5, and 6
represent typical examples of the completed hooks. These range in size
from one-half to three inches in length, the width being but slightly
less. The skill acquired in the manufacture of such objects of use is of
the greatest importance in the development of art. It is only through
the mastery of material thus engendered that the arts of taste become

    1, 2, 3. Manufacture of hooks.
    4, 5, 6. Hooks from graves, California.
    7. Pendant or sinker, California.
    8, 9. Pendants, Atlantic slope.


It would hardly seem at first glance that shells or shell substance
could be utilized for weapons to any advantage. A close examination,
however, of some of the more massive varieties will convince us that
they could be made available. The specific gravity of some varieties,
such as the _Strombus_ and _Busycon_, is equal to that of moderately
compact stone, and with their long, sharp beaks they would, with little
modification, certainly make formidable weapons.

Dr. Charles Rau seems to have been the first to call attention to the
use of shells as club-heads by the tribes of Florida. In his valuable
paper on the archæological collections of the National Museum he gives a
very good description, which I copy in full:

"It further appears that the Florida Indians applied shells of the
_Busycon perversum_ as clubs or _casse-tetes_ by adapting them to be used
with a handle, which was made to pass transversely through the shell.
This was effected by a hole pierced in the outer wall of the last whorl
in such a manner as to be somewhat to the left of the columella, while a
notch in the outer lip, corresponding to the hole, confined the handle
or stick between the outer edge of the lip and the inner edge of the
columella. The anterior end of the canal, broken off until the more
solid part was reached, was then brought to a cutting edge nearly in the
plane of the aperture. A hole was also made in the posterior surface of
the spire behind the carina in the last whorl, evidently for receiving a
ligature by means of which the shell was more firmly lashed to the

Mention of these objects is also made by Knight in a recent pamphlet,
the method of hafting being illustrated.[49]

Professor Wyman, in the Naturalist for 1878, describes and illustrates
an object of this class, made from a _Busycon_, which he is inclined to
regard as one of the conch-shells said to have been used by the Indians
for trumpets. It is presumably from one of the shell heaps on the St.
Johns River, Fla.[50]

In Fig. 4, Plate XXVII, I illustrate one of the National Museum
specimens. The posterior point is much reduced by grinding, the apex and
nodes are somewhat battered, and the whole surface of the shell is worn
and discolored. There are about a dozen specimens in the National
collection; in nearly all cases they are made from heavy walled
specimens of the _Busycon perversum_, and range from three to eight
inches in length. They are described as coming from three localities,
St. Johns River, Clearwater River, and Sarasota Bay, Fla. All were
probably obtained from shell heaps, and although ancient, two of the
specimens still retain rude and insignificant-looking handles of wood.

It will be seen from the foregoing that shells have actually been
employed as weapons, a use, however, which would probably never have
been suggested but for the great scarcity of stone along the southern


A rather novel use of shells by the ancient Indians is mentioned by
early writers. The two valves of small mussels or clams were made to do
service as tweezers for pulling out their hair.

Adair, speaking of the Choctaws, says that "both sexes pluck all the
hair off their bodies with a kind of tweezers, made formerly of clam
shells."[51] Strachey states that shells were used by the Virginian
Indians for cutting hair. Beverly says of the Virginia Indians that they
"pull their Beards up by the Roots with Muscle-shells, and both Men and
Women do the same by the other Parts of their Body for Cleanliness
sake."[52] Heckewelder states that "Before the Europeans came into the
country their apparatus for performing this work consisted of a pair of
mussel-shells, sharpened on a gritty stone, which answered the purpose
very well, being somewhat like pincers."[53]

Fig. 5, Plate XXVII, reproduced from a plate in the Necropolis of
Ancon[54] represents two small _Mytilus_ shells pierced at the beak and
bound together with a cord. They were found in one of the ancient graves
of Peru, and may have been used for a similar purpose.



Having studied the application of shell material to the various
utilitarian arts, I turn to the consideration of what may, with more or
less propriety, be called the arts of taste.

The skill acquired by the primitive artisan in shaping the homely spoon
or the rude celt served a good purpose in the more elegant arts, and
opened the way to a new and unique field for the development and display
of the remarkable art instincts of these savages. It probably required
no great skill and no very extended labor to fashion the various
utensils and implements of the outer walls of the univalves or the thin
valves of clams and mussels; but to cut out, grind down, and polish the
columellæ of the large conchs required a protracted effort and no little
mechanical skill. Of the various objects shaped from the columellæ,
beads are probably the most important; but a large class of pin-shaped
articles naturally come first, as they consist of entire or nearly
entire columellæ dressed down to the desired shape.

The use of these objects is still problematical. As they are found in
most cases deposited with human remains, they were doubtless highly
valued. They must have served a definite purpose in well-established and
wide-spread customs, as they are found distributed over a district
almost co-extensive with that occupied by other shell vestigia of marine

Let us first study the process of manufacture. A considerable number of
the larger species of marine univalves have been brought into
requisition. Various species of _Busycon_, _Strombus_, and _Fasciolaria_
offer almost equal facilities; the former, however, seems to have been
decidedly the favorite, the _Busycon perversum_ having furnished at
least three-fourths of the columns used. This result may be attributed,
however, to the fact that, for reasons already mentioned, the
_perversum_ was so universally employed for vessels, the axes extracted
from these being then ready for further manipulation. The outer case of
the shell being somewhat fragile it is probable that the sea has very
frequently broken it away, leaving the dismantled columella to be washed
ashore in a shape convenient for manufacture or for inland trade. If the
demand for these objects was very great, it is to be presumed that on
shores where they abound these shells were broken open and the columns
extracted for purposes of traffic. The State of Tennessee is found to be
the great store-house of these as well as other ancient objects of
shell. This is probably owing to two causes: first, that far inland,
where they were difficult to procure, and very costly, they were highly
esteemed, and hence consecrated to the use of the dead; and, second, the
conditions under which they were buried had much to do with preserving
them from rapid decay, while on the coast or when exposed to the
atmosphere they soon disappeared.

An interesting series of specimens illustrating the various stages of
manufacture of articles from the columella is presented in Plate XXIX.
In Fig. 1 a section of a _Busycon perversum_ is given. The position of
the columella and its relations to the exterior parts may be clearly
seen. The reverse whorl of the spire will be noticed, and the consequent
sinistral character of the groove. Fig. 2 illustrates the extracted
columella in its untrimmed state. A similar specimen is shown in Fig. 3,
Plate XXXI. It was obtained from the site of an old Indian lodge on the
island of Martha's Vineyard. This, with a number of smaller specimens,
may be seen in the National Museum. They show no signs of use, and were
probably destined for manufacture into pins or beads.

Columellæ in this state are very frequently found in the mounds and
graves of the interior States; a majority probably belong to the
_Busycons_, but a considerable number are derived from the _Strombidæ_.
A few specimens of large size may be seen in the national collection.

Fig. 3 represents a roughly dressed pin, of a type peculiar to the
Pacific coast.

Fig. 4 illustrates a completed pin of the form most common in the middle
Mississippi province.

Fig. 5 shows a rather rare form of pin, pointed at both ends. Bone pins
of this form are quite common.

Fig. 6 represents a nearly symmetrical cylinder.

Fig. 7 illustrates the manner of dividing the cylinders into sections
for beads.

    1. Section of _Busycon perversum_.
    2. Roughly trimmed columella.
    3. Headless pin, western form.
    4. Tennessee form.
    5. Pin pointed at both ends.
    6. (Omitted.)
    7. Manner of cutting into beads.
    8. Derivation of a celt from _Busycon_.
    9. Derivation of ornaments from _Haliotis_.
    10. Derivation of ornaments from _Busycon_.
    11. Bead with cylindrical, countersunk perforation.
    12. Bead with conical perforation.
    13. Bead with bi-conical perforation.
    14. Bead imperfectly perforated.]

In 1881 some very important additions to the National Museum were made,
from the mounds of Tennessee. These include a great wealth of objects in
shell. From the McMahan mound at Sevierville, Tenn., there are a dozen
shell pins, all made from the _Busycon perversum_. The entire specimens
range from three to six inches in length; two are fragmentary, having
lost their points by decay. In shape these objects are quite uniform,
being, however, as a rule, more slender in the shaft than the average
pin. The heads range from one-half to one inch in length, and are
generally less than one inch in diameter. They are somewhat varied in
shape, some being cylindrical, others being conical above. The shaft is
pretty evenly rounded, but is seldom symmetrical or straight. It is
rarely above one-half an inch in diameter, and tapers gradually to a
more or less rounded point. The groove of the canal shows distinctly in
all the heads, and may often be traced far down the shaft. In a number
of cases the surface retains the fine polish of the newly-finished
object, but it is usually somewhat weathered, and frequently discolored
or chalky. These specimens were found in the mounds along with deposits
of human remains, and generally in close proximity to the head; this
fact suggests their use as ornaments for the hair.

Two illustrations are given in Plate XXX. Fig. 1 represents a fine
example, six and a quarter inches in length. The head is deeply grooved,
and is apparently cut from the middle part of the columella, the shaft
being formed from the spine-like basal point. The spiral canal, which is
clearly defined, makes but one revolution in the entire length of the
pin. In Fig. 5 a somewhat similar specimen is represented. Two fine
specimens come from a mound on Fain's Island, Tennessee River. The
larger one is made from the columella of some heavy shell, probably the
_Strombus gigas_. The head is cylindrical, and the shaft large, but
imperfect. The smaller is a little more than two inches in length, the
head being small and conical, and the point more than usually blunt.
Another specimen was obtained from a mound at Taylor's Bend, near
Dandridge, Tenn. The head is almost spherical, and the point broken off;
the whole surface is new looking and highly polished. A number of bone
pins pointed at both ends were obtained from Fain's Island, besides many
perforators and other well-made implements of bone.

Prof. C. C. Jones describes[55] a number of shell pins without
mentioning localities, stating, however, that such pins have been
obtained from a mound on the Chattahoochie River, below Columbus, Ga. He
publishes illustrations of two varieties. One, of the ordinary type, is
five and a half inches in length, one inch of that distance being
occupied by the head, which is an inch and a quarter in diameter. The
shank is an inch and a half in circumference, and, while tapering
somewhat, is quite blunt at the point. The other is of somewhat rare
occurrence, being pointed at both ends. An example of this variety is
given in Fig. 4, Plate XXX. They are usually small and short, seldom
exceeding three inches in length.

In the national collection there are ten fine pins, obtained by C. L.
Stratton from a mound on the French Broad River, fifteen miles above
Knoxville, Tenn. Four only are made from the _Busycon perversum_. The
largest specimen has a very large, cylindrical head, with an extremely
deep groove. The shaft has been at least five inches long, and is nearly
one-half an inch in diameter. Another fine specimen is five inches long,
very slender, and nearly symmetrical. A small, almost headless pin, not
quite one and a half inches in length, is peculiar in having a
longitudinal perforation. It has probably been strung as a bead. A
fourth specimen is five and three-quarters inches in length. The head is
well rounded above, and the shaft tapers gradually to a slender
symmetrical point. The other specimens from the same locality are in an
advanced stage of decay, the points being entirely destroyed.

The Peabody Museum contains a large number of very fine specimens of
this class. The most important of these were obtained from the
Brakebill, Lick Creek, and Turner mounds of Tennessee, by the Rev. E. O.
Dunning. The largest of these is upward of six inches in length. An
unusually symmetrical and well-preserved specimen from the Lick Creek
mound is nearly seven inches in length. One specimen only in this
collection differs from the type already described; this has been made
from a dextral-whorled shell; the head is somewhat spherical, but is
unusual in having an umbonate projection at the top. It is illustrated
in Fig. 6, Plate XXX.

Another small pin, which is about one and one-half inches in length, has
a poorly defined head, and would seem useless for the purposes
ordinarily suggested for the larger specimens.

A recent collection from Pikeville, Tenn., includes a number of
specimens made from the spike-like base of the _Busycon perversum_. They
are roughly finished, and taper to a point at both ends. The larger ones
are six inches in length and nearly one inch in diameter. All are
perforated longitudinally. This perforation is neatly made and about
one-eighth of an inch in diameter. In one specimen which has been broken
open two perforations may be seen running almost parallel with each
other, as if they had been bored from opposite ends and had failed to
meet. The length of these perforations is quite remarkable, and it is
difficult to understand how, with the primitive tools at the disposal of
these people, a uniform diameter could be given throughout. One of these
objects is shown in Fig. 3, Plate XXX.

Other States besides Tennessee have furnished a limited number of shell
pins. Their occurrence in a mound near Columbus, Ga., has already been

The national collection contains a fine specimen from Macon, Ga.,
collected by J. C. Plant. The Peabody Museum has a number from mounds on
the Saint Francis River, Ark. One of these is illustrated in Fig. 8,
Plate XXX. They differ from the pins heretofore described, being in all
cases unsymmetrical. The shaft is flat and somewhat curved, and joins
the mushroom-shaped head near one edge. This results from the peculiar
shape of the portion of the shell from which the pin is derived, the
head being cut from the peripheral ridge and the shaft from the body
below or the shoulder above. Two specimens of this class have recently
been obtained from a mound at Osceola, Ark. A profile view of one is
shown in Fig. 10, Plate XXX.

A pin of this class, from a burial mound at Black Hammock, Fla., is
described and illustrated by Professor Wyman.[56] From the fact of its
being perforated at the point, he regards it as a pendant ornament. He
states that it is cut from the suture, where a whorl joins the preceding
one. In this respect it resembles the specimens from Arkansas. It is
made from a _Busycon perversum_.

In the National Museum we have two specimens from Florida. One of these,
from Pensacola, is illustrated in Fig. 2, Plate XXX, and is of the
ordinary form. The other is a short, broad-headed specimen, illustrated
in Fig. 7, Plate XXX.

In the Peabody Museum are two small specimens of the ordinary type, from
a mound near Jamestown, Va. One of these, a small, pointed variety, is
given in Fig. 9, Plate XXX.

    [Illustration: PL. XXX--PINS--EASTERN FORMS.]

In Volume VI of Schoolcraft's Indian Tribes, a pin, probably of shell,
is shown in a plate illustrating relics from South Carolina.

A few localities have furnished bone, stone, and clay pins similar to
these in shape. Specimens of the latter may be found both in the
National and Peabody museums. They were probably intended as stoppers
for bottle-shaped earthen vessels. Bone pins are generally headless, and
have in most cases been intended as implements for perforating and for
sewing. Mr. Schumacher found a pin-like object of bone on the island of
San Clemente, Cal. It resembles the shell pins pretty closely, having a
somewhat spherical head. It is figured by Professor Putnam in a recent

As already stated, the exact uses to which these pins were applied by
the mound-building tribes are unknown; various uses have been suggested
by archæologists. The favorite idea seems to be that they were
hair-pins, used by the savages to dress and ornament the hair. It would
seem that many of them are too clumsy for such use, although when new
they must have been very pretty objects. The shorter and headless
varieties would certainly be quite useless. Similar objects of bone or
ivory, often tastefully carved, are used by the natives of Alaska for
scratching the head, although it seems improbable that this should have
been their most important function.

Professor Dall suggests that some of the shell pins may have been used
as were the "blood-pins" of the Indians of the northwest coast. When
game is killed by an arrow or bullet, the pin is inserted in the wound,
and the skin drawn and stitched over the flat head, so that the much
valued blood may be prevented from escaping. A small, very tastefully
carved specimen of these pins is given in Plate XXXI, Fig. 4. It was
obtained from the Indians of Oregon. A similar specimen comes from San
Miguel Island, Cal.

It is possible that they may have served some purpose in the arts or
games of the ancient peoples; yet when we come to consider the very
great importance given to ornaments by all barbarians, we return
naturally to the view that they were probably designed for personal

From the Pacific coast we have shell pins of a very different type. They
also are made from the columellæ of large marine univalves, and were
probably used as ornaments, doubtless to a great extent as pendants.
These objects have been obtained in great numbers from the ancient
graves of the California coast, at Santa Barbara, at Dos Pueblos, and on
the neighboring islands of Santa Clara, Santa Catalina, San Clemente,
and Santa Rosa. Professor Dall is of the opinion that the shell mostly
used is the _Purpura crispata_, the smaller specimens probably being
derived from the _Mitra maura_.

Such a very concise description of these objects is given by Prof. F. W.
Putnam in a recent paper that I beg leave to quote it here, omitting his
references to figures: "A columella was ground down to the required size
and shape, and made into a pendant by boring a hole through the larger
end. In order to make this pendant still more attractive, the spiral
groove is filled with asphaltum, or a mixture of that material and a red
pigment. Sometimes the spiral groove was so nearly, or even wholly,
obliterated in the process of grinding the columella into shape as to
make it necessary to enlarge or even recut the groove in order to make a
place for the much-loved asphaltum." Another form, made from another
shell, is described, the whorls of which are "loose and open, so that a
natural tube exists throughout the length of the spire; at the same time
the spiral groove in the central portion is very narrow; consequently it
has to be artificially enlarged for the insertion of the asphaltum,
which thus winds spirally about the shell. As the natural orifice at the
large end of the shell seems to have been too large for properly
adjusting and confining the ornament as desired, this difficulty was
overcome by inserting a small shell of _Dentalium_, or by making a
little plug of shell, which is carefully fitted and bored."[58]

The national collection contains upward of fifty of these pins, which
come from ancient graves at Santa Barbara and Dos Pueblos, Cal., and
from the islands of Santa Cruz and San Miguel. These vary in length from
one to five inches, the well-finished specimens seldom reaching one half
an inch in diameter. At the upper end they round off somewhat abruptly
to an obtuse point, but taper to a sharp point at the lower end,
something like a cigar. Two fine examples are shown in Figs. 1 and 2,
Plate XXXI. All show the spiral groove, and nearly all have portions of
the asphaltum remaining. The columellæ from which they are made may be
to some extent naturally perforated, but are certainly not sufficiently
so to permit the ready passage of a cord. The points are seldom sharp,
and are often broken off. A bit of _Dentalium_ inserted into the
perforation and set with asphaltum helps to enforce the point and to
guard against further breakage. The larger specimens are seldom
perforated transversely at either end, while the smaller ones are almost
always perforated at the larger end, which is slightly flattened. A good
example is shown in Fig. 5, Plate XXXI.

A peculiar bulb-pointed specimen is illustrated in Fig. 6, Plate XXXI.
The bulb is made from the upper end of the columella. There are six of
these pins in the collection.

The consideration of these pins leads naturally to the presentation of
other classes of objects manufactured from the columellæ of marine
univalves among which beads are the most numerous and important.

    1. Shell pin from San Miguel Island.
    2. Shell pin from Dos Pueblos, Cal.
    3. An untrimmed columella.
    4. Bone pin from Oregon.
    5. Shell pin from San Miguel Island.
    6. Shell pin from San Miguel Island.


I shall not attempt within the limits of this paper to give more than an
outline of this important division of my subject.

The use of beads seems to have been almost universal with peoples of all
times and of all grades of culture, and the custom of wearing them is a
relic of barbarism that promises to be carried a long way into the
future. All suitable natural objects have been brought into
requisition--animal, vegetable, and mineral. Shells from the sea,
precious stones from the mountains, and fruits from the forest have been
utilized; and claws of birds, teeth of animals, and even the nails of
the human hand have been worked into ornaments to gratify the barbaric
vanity of the "untutored savage." The flinty substance of the shells of
mollusks has been a favorite material at all times and with all peoples.
Especially is this true of the shell-loving natives of North America,
among whom shell beads have been in use far back into the prehistoric
ages, and who to-day, from Oregon to Florida, burden themselves to
discomfort with multiple strings of their favorite ornament; and this,
too, without reference to their value as money or their service as
charms. On the necks of brawny and unkempt savages I have seen necklaces
made of the highly glazed _Oliva_, or of the iridescent nacre of the
pearly _Haliotis_, that would not shame a regal wardrobe, and have
marveled at the untaught appreciation of beauty displayed.

Beads made of shell may have three divisions based upon derivation, and
three based upon function.

First, they consist of all smaller varieties of natural shells, pierced
for suspension, or only slightly altered, to add to beauty or
convenience; second, they are made of the shells of bivalves and the
outer walls of univalves; or, third, of the columellæ of the larger
univalves cut to the desired sizes, and shaped and polished to suit the
savage taste.

As to function, they may be classed as personal ornaments, as money, and
as material for mnemonic records.


Under this head I shall examine briefly the manner of piercing or
altering the smaller varieties of shells preparatory to stringing. The
multitudes of perforated shells exhumed from the graves of our ancient
tribes afford a fruitful field of study, and our large collections of
more recent specimens serve to illustrate the manner in which they were

In Plate XXXII illustrations are given showing the various methods of
manipulation and perforation. In North America the _Marginella_, the
_Oliva_, and the _Cyprea_ seem to lead in importance.

Fig. 1 represents an _Oliva_, the apex of which has been broken away and
the rough edge ground down, producing a passage for a thread, which may
be introduced through the natural aperture below. This is a common
method of perforation in many widely separated districts, and with a
considerable variety of shells. The specimen figured is from a mound in
Cocke County, Tenn. It is an _Oliva literata_ from the Atlantic coast.

Fig. 2 shows a very usual method of treating small univalves. The most
prominent part of the lower whorl is ground down until the wall is quite
thin, and a small round hole is then drilled through it. The specimen
illustrated is a large _Olivella biplicata_, obtained from the island of
Santa Rosa, Cal.

Figs. 3 and 4 illustrate specimens from Mexico. Some thin-bladed
implement, probably of stone, has been used to saw a slit or notch in
the first convolution of the shell near the inner lip. Fig. 3 has one of
these perforations, and Fig. 4 has two. The shell is the _Oliva
literata_, from the Atlantic coast.

Fig. 5 is simply one-half of an _Olivella biplicata_ with the interior
parts extracted. It is made by cutting the shell longitudinally and
drilling a central perforation. The specimen figured is from San Miguel
Island, Cal.

Fig. 6 illustrates the manner of breaking out a disk preparatory to
making a bead. This disk, when perforated, is frequently used by the
Indians of the Pacific coast without additional finish.

Fig. 7 shows two examples of beads made from small specimens of the
_Olivella biplicata_; both extremities are ground off, leaving a rather
clumsy cylinder. The originals are from graves on the island of Santa
Rosa. Such beads are frequently worn at the present time.

One of the specimens shown in Fig. 8 is from a grave in Monroe County,
New York, and the other is from a mound in Perry County, Ohio. The shell
is the _Marginella conoidalis_, which has a wide distribution in the
ancient burial-places of the Atlantic slope. In making the perforation
the shoulder is often ground so deeply as to expose the entire length of
the interior spiral.

Fig. 9 represents a perforated _Cerrithidea sacrata_, from Santa Rosa
Island, Cal. The method of perforating employed is a usual one with
small shells of this form. Similar specimens come from many parts of the
United States. Beads of this and the preceding variety are said to have
constituted the original wampum of the Atlantic seaboard.

Fig. 10 illustrates a rude bead made from the spire of a univalve,
probably a small specimen of _Busycon perversum_. Most of the body of
the shell has been removed and a perforation made near the border. Three
of these specimens were found in a burial mound at Murphysboro, Ill.

Fig. 11 illustrates a perforated _Cyprea_ from the Pacific coast. This
is a recent specimen, which illustrates an ancient as well as a modern
method of perforation.

Fig. 12 shows a rather peculiar method of treating _Cyprea_ shells by
the tribes of the Pacific coast and the Pacific islands. The prominent
part of the back is cut or ground away, and the columella is partially
or wholly removed, a passage the full size of the natural aperture being
thus secured. This is also an ancient as well as a modern method of


Small bivalve shells are prepared for stringing by drilling one or more
holes in the center or near the margin, according to the manner in which
they are to be strung. Such beads have been in almost universal use by
primitive peoples, both ancient and modern.

Shells with natural perforations, such as the _Fissurellas_ and
_Dentalia_, are extensively employed by the west coast peoples, and
foreign varieties of the latter have been largely imported by Europeans,
and from very early times have been used by the tribes of all sections.
The natural perforation of the _Fissurella_ is often artificially
enlarged, and additional perforations are made near the margin. Examples
may be seen in Plate XLIX.

I shall include under the head of beads all small objects having a
central or nearly central perforation, made for the purpose of stringing
them in numbers. In shape, they range from straw-like cylinders, three,
four, and even five inches long, with longitudinal perforations, to
thin, button-like disks, two or more inches in diameter. In general the
cylinders are made from the columellæ of univalves, and the disks from
the outer walls of the same, or from the shells of bivalves. Of course,
there are forms that fall under no classification, such as disks with
perforations parallel with the faces, or cylindrical forms with
transverse perforations, while many small, pendant-like objects, of
varied shapes, are strung with the beads, and might be classed with
them; but these are exceptions, and can be described along with the
classified objects most nearly resembling them.

The grinding down and the perforating of natural shells is easily
accomplished, so that any savage could afford to decorate his person
with this jewelry in profusion. But the class of beads illustrated in
Plates XXXIII, XXXIV, and XXXV could not have been made without the
expenditure of much time and labor, and doubtless owe their existence,
in a measure, to mercenary motives. As they were made from the walls or
columellæ of massive shells, they must have been broken or cut out,
ground smooth about the edges, and perforated; this, too, with most
primitive tools.


In shape discoidal beads range from the concavo-convex sections of the
curved walls of the shell to totally artificial outlines, in such forms
as doubly-convex disks, cylinders, and spheroids. In size the disks vary
from very minute forms, one-tenth of an inch in diameter and
one-thirtieth of an inch in thickness, to two inches in diameter and
nearly one-half an inch in thickness. The thickness of the finished
beads is governed in a great measure by the thickness of the shell from
which they are manufactured.

The _Venus mercenaria_ of the Atlantic coast and the heavier _Unios_ of
the Mississippi Valley give a general thickness of from one-eighth to
three-eighths of an inch, while others, such as the heavy clams of the
Pacific, are very much thicker. The walls of univalves, especially near
the base, are often extremely heavy, while the smaller varieties of
shells furnish specimens of wafer-like thinness.

In Plate XXXIII a series of beads of this class is given, beginning with
the smaller disks and ending with those of large, though not the
largest, size.

In Fig. 1 I present two views of a minute disk, obtained, with many
others of similar shape and size, from a mound on Lick Creek, Tenn. The
perforations in these specimens, as well as in most of those that
follow, are bi-conical, and sufficiently irregular in form to indicate
that they are hand-made. Beads of this general appearance have been
found in a multitude of graves and mounds, distributed over a large part
of North as well as of South America. A vast majority of these beads are
doubtless of aboriginal make, as they are found in the oldest mounds.

Fig. 2 represents a minute form from Santa Cruz Island, Cal. The
peripheral surface is ornamented with a net-work of incised lines.

Fig. 3 illustrates a small cylindrical bead, with large perforation,
from a mound near Prairie du Chien, Wis. It was found, with a number of
others, near the neck of the skeleton of a child.

Fig. 4 represents a small spheroidal bead from the great mound near
Sevierville, Tenn.; it is neatly made and well preserved.

Figs. 5 and 6 illustrate specimens of roughly finished concavo-convex
disks, much used by both ancient and modern tribes of California,
Arizona, and New Mexico.

I essayed at one time to purchase a long necklace of these homely
ornaments from a Navajo Indian in Arizona, but soon discovered that it
was beyond my reach, as my best mule was hardly considered a fair
exchange for it. These beads are made from the _Oliva_ chiefly, but to
some extent from small bivalves.

This bead is not common in the mounds of the Mississippi Valley, but is
used by many modern savages. It seems to be the form called, by the
Indians of Virginia, "roenoke," which, according to Beverly, is made of
the cockle-shell, broken into small bits, with rough edges, and drilled
through in the same manner as beads.

Fig. 7 represents a smoothly cut bead of medium size, said to have been
obtained from a grave at Lynn, Mass. It has been cut from the curved
wall of some large univalve, and is very similar to modern specimens in
use over a greater part of the United States.

Fig. 8 belongs to a necklace brought from the northwest coast, and is
very much like the specimen shown in Fig. 7.

Fig. 9 is a well-made specimen from Sevierville, Tenn. The sides are
ground perfectly flat and the edges are well rounded. The shell is very
compact, and well preserved, and bears a close resemblance to bone or

Fig. 10 represents a thin, fragile disk, from a mound in Southern
Illinois. It is made of a _Unio_, and separates into thin sheets or
flakes, like mica.

Figs. 11 and 12 illustrate two compact, nearly symmetrical specimens
from a mound at Paint Rock Ferry, Tenn.

Fig. 13 is from the same locality, and is hemispherical in shape.

Fig. 14 represents a button-like disk, with large conical perforation,
from a mound at Paint Rock Ferry, Tenn. It has probably been made from
the wall of a large marine univalve.

The fine specimen shown in Fig. 15 comes from a mound in Cocke County,
Tenn., and is unusually well preserved. It is very compact, having the
appearance of ivory, and has probably been made from the basal portion
of a large univalve. The perforation is extremely large, and is conical,
having been bored entirely from one side.

Figs. 16 and 17 represent two fine specimens from California. They are
nearly symmetrical, the faces being flat or slightly convex. The smaller
one has been coated with some dark substance--the result, probably, of
decay--which has broken away in places, exposing the chalky shell. The
edges are ornamented with shallow lines or notches. Such disks, when
used as ornaments, probably formed the central piece of a necklace, or
were fixed singly to the hair, ears, or costume. As long as these larger
specimens retained the color and iridescence of the original shell, they
were extremely handsome ornaments, but in their present chalky and
discolored state they are not prepossessing objects.

This plate will serve as a sort of key for reference in the study of
beads of this class, as the specimens are typical.

    [Illustration: PL. XXXIII--DISCOIDAL BEADS.


Beads made from the columellæ of univalves have generally a number of
distinguishing characteristics. They are large and massive, and rarely
symmetrical in outline, being sections of roughly dressed columns. They
are somewhat cylindrical, and often retain the spiral groove as well as
other portions of the natural surface. In cases where the form is
entirely artificial they may be distinguished by the sinuous character
of the foliation. The perforation is nearly always with the axis of the
bead, and is in most cases bi-conical. In Plate XXIX a series of cuts is
given which illustrates the various methods of perforation and shows
very distinctly the differences between the rude work of savages and the
mechanically perfect work of modern manufacturers. Beads of this class
are more decidedly aboriginal in character than those of any other
group, and are without doubt of very ancient origin. They are widely
distributed, and have been found in graves and mounds covering an area
outlined by Massachusetts, Canada West, Minnesota, Missouri, and the
Gulf and Atlantic coasts.

Figs. 1, 6, 7, 11, and 14 of Plate XXXIV represent typical specimens of
this class. In every case they are considerably altered by decay, rarely
retaining any of the original polish. All come from ancient burial
mounds, some of the interments of which probably antedate, while others
post-date, the coming of the whites.

The bead shown in Fig. 1 is made from the columella of a _Busycon
perversum_. It is a rude, tapering cylinder, with rounded ends and deep
spiral groove. The perforation is bi-conical and somewhat irregular.
This, with many similar beads, made of both dextral and sinistral
shells, was associated with human remains in the great mound at
Sevierville, Tenn.

The bead illustrated in Fig. 6 has been made from the column of some
dextral whorled shell. It was obtained from a mound on Lick Creek, East
Tenn. It is a typical specimen of average size, and illustrates very
well the large collection of this class of relics made by Dr. Troost.

Fig. 7 was obtained from a mound at Franklin, Tenn. It is cut from the
columella of a _Busycon perversum_, and is of the usual form, being a
heavy, short cylinder, rounded at the ends until it is somewhat
globular. The perforation is very large, and has been made almost
entirely from one end. The surface is much weathered, the firmer
_laminæ_ being distinctly relieved. Other specimens from the same
locality are much smaller.

Fig. 11 is from a grave in an ancient cemetery at Swanton, Vt., and is
similar to the preceding, having been cut, however, if correctly
represented, from a dextral whorled shell. The cut is copied from a
paper by G. H. Perkins.[59]

Fig. 14 illustrates a very large specimen of these beads from the Lick
Creek Mound, East Tenn. The surface is encrusted, stained, and decayed.
It has been made from the broad beak of a _Strombus_ or dextral whorled
_Busycon_. The perforation is symmetrical and bi-conical. Specimens
upwards of two inches in length and one and one-fourth in width come
from the same place. The larger perforations are three-eighths of an
inch in diameter at the ends and quite small in the middle.

Fig. 12 represents a large bead of symmetrical outline, made from the
columella of a _Busycon perversum_. The shape is artificial, with the
exception of a small portion of the spiral canal. The surface retains
much of the original polish, but exfoliation has commenced on one side.

The perforation is about three-sixteenths of an inch in diameter at the
ends and one-sixteenth in the middle. There is a slight offset where the
perforations meet. It is from a burial mound at Harrisburg, Ark.

The bead shown in Fig. 9 is one of a large number obtained from a mound
at East St. Louis, Ill. It is a symmetrical, well-polished cylinder. The
small portion of the spiral groove which remains indicates that it is
derived from a _Busycon perversum_. The perforation is neatly made and
doubly conical in shape. The symmetry, finish, and fine condition of
this bead lead to the suspicion that it may be of recent manufacture.
Its form is by no means a common one among ancient mound relics.

The bead represented in Fig. 10 is described and illustrated by Squier
and Davis.[60] This, with many similar specimens, was taken from a mound
in the Ohio Valley. It is made from the columella of some marine
univalve, and is well wrought and symmetrical.

Fig. 5 is a flattish, highly polished bead from Monroe County, New York.
The material, which resembles ivory, may have been obtained from the
tusk of some animal. It is slightly concave on one side and convex on
the other. The perforation is neatly made and of uniform diameter

In Fig. 4 I present a bead of unusual shape; it is made from the basal
portion of some heavy univalve. The axis and perforation are at right
angles to the plane of lamination. The middle portion of the bead has
been excavated, producing a form resembling a labret or lip-block, in
common use by many tribes. It is from a mound on French Broad River,
Tenn. We have a bead of similar shape, but which has a lateral
perforation, from a mound at Nashville, Tenn.

Fig. 2 illustrates a spheroidal bead obtained from an ancient grave on
Santa Rosa Island, Cal. The form is unusually symmetrical and the
perforation neatly made, being small, doubly conical, and slightly
countersunk at one end. The surface is smooth and retains a little of
the original purplish hue of the shell, probably a _Hennites giganteus_.
Others of the same shape from this locality exhibit like
characteristics. A few similar specimens come from San Miguel Island.

Another large specimen from this locality is shown in Fig. 8. It is
somewhat flat, and is quite wide in the middle portion, tapering rapidly
towards the ends. The perforation is small and regular. The lines of
foliation are distinctly marked, but are not sufficiently characteristic
to indicate the part of the shell from which the bead is derived.

_Pearls._--Two of the most remarkable beads in the national collection
are illustrated in Figs. 3 and 13. The latter is an enormous pearl,
probably derived from the _Haliotis Californianus_. It is somewhat
pear-shaped, the base being rounded and the apex a little bent. The
transverse section is subtriangular. Having been buried for an unknown
period in the soil or sand, it has suffered greatly from decay, and has
probably lost considerably by exfoliation. The thin, chalky lamellæ come
away readily in concentric scales, exposing the iridescent _nacre_
beneath. The perforation is about one-sixteenth of an inch in diameter,
and seems to pass through a natural cavity in the interior of the pearl.
The smaller specimen given in Fig. 3 is in many respects, similar to the
large one. Another, of about the same size as Fig. 3 bears quite a
marked resemblance to a lima bean, and is pierced laterally, giving a
button like appearance.

These specimens were obtained from graves on San Miguel Island, by
Stephen Bowers.



In Plate XXXV I have arranged a number of cylindrical beads, together
with a few others of unclassified form.

Figs. 1 and 2 illustrate the most common form of the ancient wampum, the
white example being made from the columella of a small univalve, and the
dark one from the purple portion of a _Venus mercenaria_. The specimens
represented belong to the celebrated "Penn belt," preserved in the rooms
of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

It is not known positively that beads of this particular shape were
employed in pre-Columbian times; but it is certainly one of the earliest
historical forms, and one which has been manufactured extensively by the
Indians as well as by the whites. They may be found both in very old and
in very recent graves, in widely separated parts of the United States
and British America, and have always formed an important part of the
stock of the Indian trader.

Figs. 3 and 4 represent a very large class of Pacific coast forms. These
are from the island of San Miguel. They are simple white cylinders, with
somewhat irregular bi-conical perforations. Many examples may be found
which taper slightly toward the ends. They are coated with a
rusty-looking deposit, which breaks away easily, exposing the chalky
substance of the shell. They range from one-half to three inches in
length, and from one-eighth to three-eighths in diameter. They are
probably made from the thick valves of the _Pachydesma crassatelloides_
or the _Amiantis callosa_. They were probably used as beads for the neck
and as pendant ornaments for the ears. The longer specimens may have
been worn in the nose. It is also said that beads of this class were
used as money.

Fig. 5 illustrates a very long, tubular bead found at Piscataway, Md. It
has been made from the columella of some large univalve. It is four and
a half inches long and one-fourth of an inch in diameter. The surface is
smooth, but a little uneven, and the ends taper slightly. The
perforation which has apparently been made from both ends, as there is
an offset near the middle, is quite regular, though slightly enlarged
near the ends.

A large number of beads of the class illustrated in Fig. 6, Plate XXXV,
were obtained from the ancient graves of San Miguel Island, Cal. They
have been made from one of the large bivalve shells of the Pacific
coast, probably the _Pachydesma crassatelloides_. The curvature of the
bead is the result of the natural curve of the valve from which it is
fashioned. The larger specimens are nearly five inches in length. In the
middle portion they are three-eighths of an inch in diameter. They taper
gradually towards the ends to the size of the perforation, which
averages about one-sixteenth of an inch. The curvature of the bead is so
great that there has been much difficulty in making the perforations
from opposite ends meet, and none of the larger specimens will permit
the passage of a wire, although the perforations lap considerably and
water passes through quite freely. It will be observed that the surface
of these objects is coated with a dark, rough film, which, when broken
away, exposes the natural shell. Such beads may have been used as nose
ornaments, but more probably formed parts of some composite ornament for
the neck or ear.

Fig. 7 represents a bone nose ornament obtained from the Pai-Ute Indians
by Professor Powell. Its shape is not unlike that of the curved bead
just described.

The large rude bead given in Fig. 8 is made from the thick lip or rim of
the _Haliotis Californianus_. This, with a number of similar specimens,
was obtained from an ancient grave at Dos Pueblos, Cal. The perforations
are all large and symmetrical. In one case the hole has been reduced at
the ends by inserting small bits of shell, through which minute passages
have been made.

In Figs. 9 and 10 I give two illustrations of a bead of rather
remarkable form. A large number of similar specimens have been brought
from Dos Pueblos, La Patera, and the islands of San Miguel and Santa
Cruz. They are made from the hinge of the _Hennites giganteus_, a large
bivalve, having a delicate purplish tinge. The shape results from the
form of the hinge; the curve is the natural curve of the shell; and the
notch near the middle of the convex side is the natural pit, often
somewhat altered by art to add to the appearance or to assist in
completing the perforation. The holes are generally very small, and have
been made with much difficulty, owing to the curvature of the bead.
Where by accident the perforation has become enlarged at the end, it has
been bushed by setting in a small piece of shell. The specimen figured
is perforated near the end for suspension, no longitudinal perforation
having been attempted.

Fig. 11 shows one of these beads in an unfinished state, the portion of
the hinge used being roughly broken out and slightly rounded. We have in
the national collection specimens of this class in all stages of
manufacture. Professor Haldeman has described and illustrated a number
of similar beads. He describes the rounded notch near the middle as
artificial, and considers it a device to help out the perforation or
facilitate the stringing. Professor Putnam, in the same work,[61] states
that the "notches were subsequently filled with asphaltum even with the
surface of the shell."

The curved bead illustrated in Fig. 12 is made from a _Dentalium
indianorum_ (?) by removing the conical point. These shells, either
entire or in sections, are much used by the Indians of the northwest,
both as ornaments and as a medium of exchange.

    [Illustration: PL. XXXV--BEADS.
    1, 2. Beads from the Penn Belt.
    3, 4. Pacific coast forms.
    5. Bead from Maryland.
    6. A Pacific coast form.
    7. A Pai-Ute nose ornament (bone).
    8. Bead made from a _Haliotis_.
    9, 10, 11. Beads made from hinge of _Hennites_.
    12. Bead made from a _Dentalium_.
    13. Bead from mound, Tenn.


In Plate XXXVI I present a number of illustrations of a class of relics
which have occasionally been mentioned in literature, and which are
represented to some extent in our collections. As these objects resemble
beads rather more closely than pendants, I shall refer to them in this
place, although Mr. Schoolcraft considers them badges of honor or rank,
and treats them as gorgets. He describes them as consisting of a
"circular piece of flat shell, from one and a half to two inches in
diameter, quartered with double lines, having the devices of dots
between them. This kind was doubly perforated in the plane of the

In "Notes on the Iroquois," by the same author, we have a much fuller
description. He says that "this article is generally found in the form
of an exact circle, rarely a little ovate. It has been ground down and
repolished, apparently, from the conch. Its diameter varies from
three-fourths of an inch to two inches; thickness, two-tenths in the
center, thinning out a little towards the edges. It is doubly
perforated. It is figured on the face and its reverse, with two parallel
latitudinal and two longitudinal lines crossing in its center, and
dividing the area into four equal parts. Its circumference is marked
with an inner circle, corresponding in width to the cardinal parallels.
Each division of the circle thus quartered has five circles, with a
central dot. The latitudinal and longitudinal bands or fillets have each
four similar circles and dots, and one in its center, making
thirty-seven. The number of these circles varies, however, on various
specimens. In the one figured there are fifty-two."[63]

Figs. 1 and 2 are copied from Plate 25 of Schoolcraft. The smaller was
obtained from an ancient grave at Upper Sandusky, Ohio, and the larger
from an Indian cemetery at Onondaga, N. Y. Others have been found at
Jamesville, Lafayette, and Manlius, in the latter State. The Indians,
according to Mr. Schoolcraft, have no traditions respecting this class
of objects, and we are quite in the dark as to their significance or the
manner in which they were used.

Mr. W. M. Beauchamp, of Baldwinsville, N. Y., has very kindly sent me
sketches of two of these objects. The originals were obtained from an
ancient village site at Pompey, N. Y. One is almost a duplicate of the
smaller specimen copied from Schoolcraft, but the other, which is
illustrated in Fig. 4, Plate XXXVI, presents some novel features. The
central portion of the face is occupied by a rosette-like design, which
consists of six sharply oval figures that radiate from the center like
the spokes of a wheel. These rays are ornamented with a series of
oblique lines, arranged in couplets. The margin is encircled by a narrow
band, similarly figured. Mr. Beauchamp expresses the opinion that these
specimens are of European origin.

The specimen shown in Fig. 3 belongs to a necklace now in the national
collection. This necklace was obtained from the Indians of New Mexico by
Lieutenant Whipple, and consists of three of these shell ornaments,
together with about fifty small porcelain beads. The shell beads are
strung at regular intervals. The specimen illustrated is ornamented with
a design in minute conical pits, arranged precisely as are the circlets
in the crosses and encircling bands of the New York and Ohio specimens.
The edges and surfaces are much worn by use. The substance of the shell
is well preserved, and has an ivory-like appearance although in the
specimen shown in the cut the lamination of the shell is distinctly
seen. The perforations in these three specimens are quite symmetrical,
and suggest the use of machinery. The method of perforation is identical
in all these specimens, and will be readily understood by reference to
the two sections given in Figs. 5 and 6. All of these specimens are
nearly circular; but the regularity of the outline is in some cases
marred by shallow notches produced by wear at the perforations. This
wear has been accelerated by the abrasion of the small beads with which
the disks have probably been strung.

It will be noticed that there is quite a close resemblance between these
objects and the "runtees" of the early writers. Beverly gives an
illustration of an Indian boy who is described as wearing a necklace of
these "runtees," which "are made of the Conch Shell, as the Peak is,
only the Shape is flat and like a Cheese, and drill'd Edge-ways."[64] A
portion of this illustration is copied in Fig. 5, Plate XXXVI. It will
be seen by reference to this cut that the manner of stringing
corresponds with the method in which the objects under consideration
would have to be strung.

    [Illustration: PL. XXXVI--RUNTEES.
    1. New York.
    2. New York.
    3. Arizona.
    4. New York.
    5, 6. Sections.
    7. Manner of wearing.

It is probable that the signification of the designs engraved upon these
ornaments will remain forever a matter of conjecture. It cannot be
affirmed that the cross, which occurs on the faces of most of the
specimens, has any particular significance, although it may represent
the points of the compass. That it may have some emblematic meaning is,
however, not impossible. I have counted the number of circlets on all of
the specimens with which I am acquainted. The result is shown in the
following table:

                  |       In the cross.     |                  |
                  +-------------------------+ In the           |Total.
                  |Longitudinal | Transverse| circle, exclusive|
                  |     arm.    |    arm.   | of cross.        |
  No. 1 (Fig. 1)  |     10      |     9     |    23            |  41
  No. 2 (Fig. 3)  |     10      |    12     |    27            |  48
  No. 3 (Fig. 2)  |     11      |     9     |    23            |  42
  No. 4[A]        |      9      |     9     |    20            |  37
  No. 5[A]        |     12      |    11     |    29            |  51
  No. 6[B]        |      9      |     9     |    20            |  37
  [A] Schoolcraft: Notes on Iroquois, p. 233.
  [B] From sketch by Mr. Beauchamp.

The central circlet having been counted with each arm of the cross, the
total number of circlets in each specimen will be one less than the sum
of the three columns.

These circlets may be numerals. The design may be significant of some
rank, the badge of a secret order, or the totem of a clan. The general
arrangement of the figures upon the face of these disks suggests an
incipient calendar.

These beads are doubtless American in origin, as nothing of a similar
form, so far as I can learn, occurs in European countries. The fact that
they are found in widely separated localities indicates that they were
probably used in trade since the advent of the whites. This is possibly
some form of bead held in high esteem by tribes of the Atlantic coast
when first encountered by the whites who have taken up its manufacture
for purposes of trade.


I have already spoken casually of the use of beads for personal
ornament, but it will probably be better to enlarge a little upon the
subject at this point.

Beads are generally found in the graves of ancient peoples in a loose or
disconnected state, the strings on which they were secured having long
since decayed. We cannot, therefore, with certainty, restore the ancient
necklaces and other composite ornaments; but we can form some idea of
their character by a study of the objects of which they were made and
the positions held by these objects at the period of exhumation. Much
can also be learned by a study of the ornaments of modern peoples in
similar stages of culture.

As a rule, the combinations in the pendant ornaments of the ancient
American seem to have been quite simple. Being without glass, and
practically without metals, they had few of the resources of the modern
savage. Their tastes were simple and congruous, not having been
disturbed by the debasing influence of foreign innovation, which is the
cause of so much that is tawdry and incongruous in the art of modern

A curious example of a modern necklace is given by Professor
Haldeman,[65] who had in his possession an Abyssinian necklace "composed
of European beads, cowries (_Cyprea_ shell), a triangular plate of
glass, two small copper coins, small spheric brass buttons, cornelian,
date-seeds, numerous cloves pierced through the sides, a fragment of
wood, a bit of cane, and an Arab phylactery."

Something can be learned of the practices of the ancient Americans in
the use of beads and pendant ornaments generally, by a study of the
remains of their paintings and sculptures--such, for instance, as may be
found in the Goldsborough manuscripts or the superb lithographs of
Waldeck, examples of which are given in Plate XLV.

In a number of cases necklaces of the mound-builders have been found
upon the necks of skeletons, just as they were placed at the time of

Captain Atwater in describing the contents of a mound at Marietta, Ohio,
makes the statement that on the breast of a skeleton "lay a stone
ornament, with two perforations, one near each end, through which passed
a string, by means of which it was suspended around the wearer's neck.
On the string, which was made of sinew, and very much injured by time,
were placed a great many beads made of ivory or bone."[66]

A similar necklace is described by Mr. Matson, in the Ohio Centennial
Report, p. 127. It was found on the skeleton of a little girl, and was
so made as to be larger in the center of the neck in front, tapering
almost to a point at the middle of the back. On page 129 of the same
volume much more varied uses of bead ornaments are suggested. Mr. Matson
describes four skeletons, on each of which shell beads were found. In
three cases they had been placed about the neck only; in the fourth,
nearly thirty yards of beads had been used. There were four strands
about the neck, crossing over on the breast and back and passing down
between the legs. Strings passed down the legs to the feet, and were
also found along the arms and around the wrists.

The arrangement of the various parts of a necklace or string of pendants
is found to be much alike the world over, consisting of a strand of
beads, small toward the ends and increasing in size toward the middle,
where a central bead or pendant of peculiar form or unusual size is

The practices of modern barbarians in the employment of beads as
ornaments are extremely varied. They are employed in dressing the hair,
in head-dresses and plumes, and pendants to these; as pendants to the
hair, ears, nose, and lips; as necklaces and bracelets; as belts for the
waist and sashes to be thrown across the shoulders; and as anklets and
pendent ornaments to all parts of the costume.

Father Rasles, writing of the Abnaki Indians of Canada in 1723, says:
"If you wish to see him in all his finery, you will find he has no other
ornaments but beads; these are a kind of shell or stone, which they form
into the shape of little grains, some white and others black, which they
string together in such a way as to represent different showy figures
with great exactness. It is with these beads that our Indians bind up
and plait their hair on their ears and behind; they make of them
pendants for the ears, collars, garters, large sashes of five or six
inches in breadth, and on these kinds of ornaments they pride themselves
much more than a European would on all his gold and jewelry."[67]

It is related of the New England Indians that more than a hundred years
ago, they "hung strings of money about their necks and wrists, as also
upon the necks and wrists of their wives and children. They also
curiously make girdles, of one, two, three, four, and five inches
thickness, and more, of this money; which, sometimes, to the value of
ten pounds or more, they wear about their middle, and as a scarf about
their shoulders and breasts. Yea, the princes make rich caps and aprons,
or small breeches of these beads, thus curiously strung into many forms
and figures; their black and white finely mixed together."[68]

It is further recorded that the New England Indians "wore ear-rings and
nose-jewels; bracelets on their arms and legs, rings on their fingers,
necklaces made of highly polished shells found in their rivers and on
their coasts. The females tied up their hair behind, worked bands round
their heads and ornamented them with shells and feathers, and wore
strings of beads round several parts of their bodies. Round their
moccasins they had shells and turkey spurs, to tinkle like little bells
as they walked."[69]

The Indian women of the New Netherlands also gave great attention to
personal decoration. One writer states that they ornamented the lower
border of their skirts "with great art, and nestle the same with strips,
which are tastefully decorated with wampum. The wampum with which one of
these skirts is ornamented is frequently worth from one to three hundred
guilders. * * * Their head-dress forms a handsome and lively appearance.
Around their necks they wear various ornaments, which are also decorated
with wampum. Those they esteem as highly as our ladies do their pearl
necklaces. They also wear bead hand-bands, or bracelets, curiously
wrought, and interwoven with wampum. Their breasts appear about half
covered with an elegantly wrought dress. They wear beautiful girdles,
ornamented with their favorite wampum, and costly ornaments in their

Smith states, in writing of Powhatan, that he found him "reclining
proudly upon a Bedstead a foote high, upon tenne or twelve Mattes,
richly hung with manie Chaynes of great Pearles, about his necke, and
covered with a great Couvering of Rahaughcums,"[71] and the young women
who surrounded him wore "a great Chaine of white Beades over their

The following is from Wood, whose quaint and graphic descriptions of the
New England Indians are always interesting: "But a Sagamore with a
Humberd in his eare for a pendant, a black hawk on his _occiput_ for his
plume, Mowhackees for his gold chaine, a good store of Wampompeage
begirting his loynes, his bow in his hand, his quiver at his back, with
six naked _Indian_ spatterlashes at his heels for his guard, thinkes
himselfe little inferior to the great _Cham_; he will not stick to say
he is all one with King _Charles_. Hee thinkes hee can blow down Castles
with his breath and conquer kingdomes with his conceit."[73]

Du Pratz, in speaking of the Louisiana Indians, says: "The women's
ear-rings are made of the center part of a large shell called bingo,
which is about the thickness of one's little finger, and there is a hole
in the ear about that size for holding it."[74]

Lewis and Clark found the Shoshone Indians of the Upper Missouri using
shells of the pearl oyster to decorate the collars of their fur tippets.
The children wore beads around their necks; grown persons suspended them
in little bunches from the ears, and the collars of the men were formed
either of sea-shells from the southwest or from twisted grass with
porcupine quills.[75]

Among the Carrier Indians of the Northwest both sexes perforate their
noses, and from them the men often suspend an ornament consisting of a
piece of an oyster shell or a small piece of brass or copper. The women,
particularly those who are young, run a wooden pin through their noses,
upon each end of which they fix a kind of shell bead, which is about an
inch and a half long, and nearly the size of the stem of a common clay
pipe. These beads they obtain from their neighbors, the At-e-nâs, who
purchase them from another tribe that is said to take them from the
sea-shore, where they are reported to be found in plenty.

It is also stated of the same Indians that "the young women and girls
wear a parcel of European beads, strung together and tied to a lock of
hair directly behind each ear. The men have a sort of collar of the
shell beads already mentioned, which they wind about their heads or
throw around their necks."[76]

The absurd extreme to which this passion for ornament is carried is well
illustrated by an example given by Swan, who, speaking of the tribes
north of the Columbia River, says that "some of these girls I have seen
with the whole rim of their ears bored full of holes, into each of which
would be inserted a string of these shells that reached to the floor,
and the whole weighing so heavy that, to save their ears from being
pulled off, they were obliged to wear a band across the top of the

When, however, beads are found in the graves in quantity, by thousands
or tens of thousands, we shall probably have to attribute to them other
than ornamental uses.

Captain Tom, of the Nishinam tribe of California, according to
Powers,[78] had nearly a half bushel of shell beads and trinkets. One
string of these, worn by his wife on special occasions, contained
sixteen hundred pieces; but these treasures were hoarded because of
their value as money rather than as ornaments.

The wampum belts used by many of the tribes of Indians are known to
contain enormous numbers of beads. One of the historical belts kept by
the Onondagas among their treasures contains nearly ten thousand beads.
The famous belt of William Penn has about three thousand.

Sir John Lubbock, in his "Prehistoric Times," expresses surprise at the
great number of beads sometimes found, instancing the Grave Creek mound
of Virginia, which contained between three and four thousand. This
number will, however, appear very insignificant when compared with a
collection such as the costume of the great King Philip could have

Drake relates that Philip had a coat "made all of wampampeag," which,
when in need of money, he "cuts to pieces, and distributes it
plentifully among the Nipmoog sachems and others, as well to the
eastward as southward, and all round about."[79] By adding to this store
of beads the contents of two belts, one of which was nine inches in
breadth, and so long that when placed upon the shoulders it reached to
the ankles, we conclude that the greatest collection ever taken from a
prehistoric mound could not compare for a moment with the treasure of
this one historic chieftain.

A great deal of art is shown in the stringing and mounting of beads. The
simplest form is a single strand, a twisted string of vegetable fiber, a
strip of buckskin, or a bit of sinew being passed through the
perforations. Again, rows of strands are placed side by side and
fastened at intervals in such a manner as to keep them approximately
parallel, or the beads when long are put on equidistant cross strands,
the longitudinal strands serving to keep them in place; they are also
woven into the fabric by being mounted upon one of the strands before
twisting. It is also a very usual practice to sew them on strips of
cloth or buckskin, patterns being produced by using beads of different
colors. The manner of stringing in the manufacture of belts will be
given in detail under Mnemonic Uses of Beads.


It will probably be impossible to prove that the prehistoric peoples of
North America employed a medium of exchange in a manner corresponding to
our use of money. It is a well-known fact, however, that a currency of
shell beads was in general use throughout the Atlantic coast region very
early in the historic period.

Of all objects within the reach of savage peoples, shells, either in
their natural forms or in fragments artificially fashioned for
convenience of use, are the best adapted for such a purpose.

In examining the contents of ancient cemeteries and mounds where all
objects of value were to some extent deposited, we find no other relics
that could have been conveniently used for such a purpose.

It is not probable that objects subject to rapid decay, such as wood,
fruits, and seeds, could ever have come into general use for money,
although such objects are employed to some extent by savages in
different parts of the world. The unlimited supply or easy manufacture
of these objects would be against their use for this purpose, whereas
the difficulty of shaping and perforating the flinty substance of shells
would prevent such a plentiful production as to destroy the standard of

Objects and substances having a fairly uniform value, resulting from
their utilitarian attributes, have been employed by primitive peoples as
standards of value; as, for instance, cattle, in ancient Rome; salt, in
Assyria; tin, in Britain, and cocoa, in Mexico. But such mediums of
exchange are local in use. With these articles this function is only
accidental. The utilization of shells for money would naturally
originate from the trade arising from their use as utensils and
ornaments in districts remote from the source of supply. Yielding in the
worked state a limited supply, and at the same time filling a constant
demand, they formed a natural currency, their universal employment for
purposes of ornament giving them a fixed and uniform value. They have
undoubtedly been greatly prized by the ancient peoples, but on the part
of the open-handed savage they were probably valued more as personal
ornaments than as a means of gratifying avaricious propensities.

Lewis H. Morgan, who had access to all the sources of information on the
subject, says that "wampum has frequently been called the money of the
Indian; but there is no sufficient reason for supposing that they ever
made it an exclusive currency, or a currency in any sense, more than
silver or other ornaments. All personal ornaments, and most other
articles of personal property, passed from hand to hand at a fixed
value; but they appear to have had no common standard of value until
they found it in our currency. If wampum had been their currency it
would have had a settled value, to which all other articles would have
been referred. There is no doubt that it came nearer to a currency than
any other species of property among them, because its uses were so
general, and its transit from hand to hand so easy, that everyone could
be said to need it." Yet he admits that "the use of wampum reaches back
to a remote period upon this continent"; and further, that it was an
original Indian notion which prevailed among the Iriquois as early at
least as the formation of the League. He goes on to state that "the
primitive wampum of the Iriquois consisted of strings of a small
fresh-water spiral shell called in the Seneca dialect _Ote ko-á_, the
name of which has been bestowed upon the modern wampum."[80]

Loskiel says that "before the Europeans came to North America, the
Indians used to make strings of wampom chiefly of small pieces of wood
of equal size, stained either black or white. Few were made of muscle,
which were esteemed very valuable and difficult to make; for, not having
proper tools, they spent much time in finishing them, and yet their work
had a clumsy appearance."[81]

Hutchinson is of the opinion that "the Indians resident northeastward of
the province of New York had originally no knowledge of this sort of
money or medium of trade."[82]

The great body of our historical evidence goes to show, however, that a
currency of shell was in use among the Atlantic coast tribes when first
encountered by the Europeans. Thomas Morton, in speaking of the Indians
of New England as far back as 1630, says that "they have a kinde of
beads in steede of money to buy withal such things as they want, which
they call wampampeak; and it is of two sorts, the one is white and the
other is a violet coloure. These are made of the shells of fishe; the
white with them is as silver with us, the other as our gould, and for
these beads they buy and sell, not only amongst themselves, but even
with us. We have used to sell them any of our commodities for this
wampampeak, because we know we can have beaver again from them for it:
and these beads are current in all parts of New England, from one end of
the coast to the other, and although some have endeavoured by example to
have the like made, of the same kinde of shels, yet none has ever, as
yet, obtained to any perfection in the composure of them, but the
Savages have found a great difference to be in the one and the other;
and have knowne the counterfett beads from those of their owne making
and doe slight them."[83]

According to Roger Williams also, the Indians of New England, as far
back as his observations extend, were engaged in the manufacture of
shell money as a well-established industry. It seems altogether
impossible that such a custom should have been successfully introduced
by the English, as the Indian is well known to be averse to anything
like labor excepting in his traditional occupations of war and the
chase, and if the whites had introduced it, would certainly have looked
to them for a supply by means of trade in skins and game rather than
apply himself to a new and strange art. Roger Williams says that "they
that live upon the Sea side generally make of it, and as many as they
will. The Indians bring downe all their sorts of Furs, which they take
in the countrey, both to the Indians and to the English for this Indian
Money: this Money the English, French and Dutch, trade to the Indians,
six hundred miles in severall ports (north and south from New England)
for their Furres, and whatsoever they stand in need of from them." Their
methods were also aboriginal, another indication that the art was not of
European introduction; and Williams states that "before ever they had
awle blades from Europe, they made shift to bore their shell money with

That wampum was also manufactured farther south we learn from Lindström,
who is writing of the Indians of New Sweden: "Their money is made of
shells, white, black, and red, worked into beads, and neatly turned and
smoothed; one person, however, cannot make more in a day than the value
of six or eight stivers. When these beads are worn out, so that they
cannot be strung neatly, and even on one thread, they no longer consider
them good. Their way of stringing them is to rub the whole thread full
of them on their noses; if they find it slides smooth and even, like
glass beads, then they are considered good, otherwise they break and
throw them away."[85]

Although Beverly did not write until the beginning of the eighteenth
century, his statements are probably based upon accurate information.
Speaking of the Virginia Indians, he says that they "had nothing which
they reckoned riches before the English went among them, except _Peak_,
_Roenoke_, and such-like trifles made out of the _Cunk Shell_. These
past with them instead of Gold and Silver, and serv'd them both for
Money and Ornament. It was the _English_ alone that taught them first to
put a value on their Skins and Furs, and to make a Trade of them."[86]

From Lawson, who wrote in 1714, but whose statements deserve
consideration, we also learn that the money of the Carolina Indians is
"all made of shells which are found on the coast of Carolina, which are
very large and hard so that they are very difficult to cut. Some English
smiths have tried to drill this sort of shell-money, and thereby thought
to get an advantage; but it proved so hard that nothing could be

Speaking of its use and value in New York, he remarks that "an
Englishman could not afford to make so much of this wampum for five or
ten times the value; for it is made out of a vast great shell, of which
that country affords plenty; where it is ground smaller than the small
end of a tobacco pipe, or a large wheat straw." * * * "This the Indians
grind on stones and other things until they make it current, but the
drilling is the most difficult to the Englishman, which the Indians
manage with a nail stuck in a cane or reed. Thus they roll it
continually on their thighs with their right hand, holding the bit of
shell with their left; so, in time, they drill a hole quite through it
which is a very tedious work; but especially in making their ronoak,
four of which will scarce make one length of wampum. The Indians are a
people that never value their time, so that they can afford to make
them, and never need to fear the English will take the trade out of
their hands. This is the money with which you may buy skins, furs,
slaves, or anything the Indians have; it being their mammon (as our
money is to us) that entices and persuades them to do anything, and part
with everything they possess, except their children for slaves. As for
their wives, they are often sold and their daughters violated for it.
With this they buy off murders; and whatsoever a man can do that is ill,
this wampum will quit him of and make him, in their opinion, good and
virtuous, though never so black before."[88]

Adair confirms the statements made by these writers, and adds emphasis
to the fact that the shell beads had, among the Cherokees and other
southern Indians, a fixed value as currency. "With these they bought and
sold at a stated current rate, without the least variation for
circumstances either of time or place; and now they will hear nothing
patiently of loss or gain, or allow us to heighten the price of our
goods, be our reasons ever so strong, or though the exigencies and
changes of time may require it."[89]

We find plentiful evidence in the stories of the early Spanish
adventurers that beads made from sea shells were held in high esteem by
the Indians of the south, but, so far as I am aware, there is no
statement indicating that they formed a well-regulated medium of

In regard to the manufacture of wampum by the whites, the following
quotations will be instructive:

"Many people at _Albany_ make the _wampum_ of the _Indians_, which is
their ornament and their money, by grinding some kinds of shells and
muscles; this is a considerable profit to the inhabitants."[90]

"Besides the _Europeans_, many of the native _Indians_ come annually
down to the sea shore, in order to catch clams, proceeding with them
afterwards in the manner I have just described. The shells of these
clams are used by the _Indians_ as money, and make what they call their
wampum: they likewise serve their women as an ornament, when they intend
to appear in full dress. These wampums are properly made of the purple
parts of the shells, which the _Indians_ value more than the white
parts. A traveller, who goes to trade with the _Indians_, and is well
stocked with them, may become a considerable gainer; but if he take gold
coin, or bullion, he will undoubtedly be a loser; for the _Indians_, who
live farther up the country, put little or no value upon these metals
which we reckon so precious, as I have frequently observed in the course
of my travels. The _Indians_ formerly made their own wampums, though not
without a deal of trouble: but at present the _Europeans_ employ
themselves that way; especially the inhabitants of _Albany_, who get a
considerable profit by it. In the sequel I intend to relate the manner
of making wampum."[91]

"The article was highly prized as an ornament, and as such constituted
an article of trafic between the sea-coast and the interior tribes. * * *

"The old wampum was made by hand, and was an exceedingly rude article.
After the discovery, the Dutch introduced the lathe in its manufacture,
polished and perforated it with exactness, and soon had the monopoly of
the trade. The principal place of its manufacture was at Hackensak, in
New Jersey. The principal deposit of sea shells was Long Island, where
the extensive shell banks left by the Indians, on which it is difficult
to find a whole shell, show the immense quantities that were

The name _wampum_ is often applied to shell beads indiscriminately, but
frequently has a more restricted significance, referring to the small
cylindrical varieties used in strings and belts. It was known first in
New England as _wampumpeag_, _wampompeage_, _peag_, _wompam_ and
_wampum_; the Dutch of New Sweden knew it as _seawan_, _sewant_, and
_seawant_, while on the Virginia coast, it was called _peak_, a roughly
made discoidal variety being known as _ronoak_ or _roenoke_, and heavy
flattish beads pierced edgeways were called _runtees_. It is probable
that all of these names are American in origin, although there is some
difference of opinion as to their derivation. Loskiel says that _wampom_
is an Iroquois word meaning muscle, but according to Morgan, who is
probably the best modern authority on this subject, the word _wampum_ is
not Iroquois in origin but Algonkin, as it was first known in New
England as _wampumpeage_.

Roger Williams, speaking of the money of the New England Indians,
probably the Narragansetts (Algonkin), says that "their white they call
_Wompam_ (which signifies white); their black _Suckanhock_ (_Sácki_,
signifying black)." In another place he gives the word _wompi_ for
white. Wood mentions two varieties of beads known in New England
_wampompeage_ and _mowhackees_. The latter is probably derived from
_mowêsu_, which, according to Williams, also signifies black.

It would seem that we have but little evidence of the ancient use of
shell money amongst the tribes of the Mississippi Valley or the Pacific
coast; yet we are not without proofs that it came into use at a very
early date throughout the entire West, and even today the custom is by
no means obsolete. The ancient burial places of the Pacific coast are
found to contain large quantities of beads precisely similar to those
now used as money by the coast tribes.

Lewis and Clark, speaking of traffic among the Indians of the Columbia
River, state that shell beads are held in very high esteem by these
people, and that to procure them they will "sacrifice their last article
of clothing or their last mouthful of food. Independently of their
fondness for them as an ornament these beads are the medium of trade by
which they obtain from the Indians still higher up the river, robes,
skins, chappeled bread, bear grass."[93]

The _Dentalium_ shell has always been the favorite currency of the
peoples of the Northwest and is highly valued, especially by the inland
tribes. It is frequently found in ancient graves at great distances from
the sea-shore. A few specimens have been found in burial places in the
Ohio Valley, but we have no means of determining the source from which
they were derived. As the modern use of this currency has but little
archæologic interest, I will not enlarge upon the subject here. For
further information the reader is referred to the following authors:
J. K. Lord, The Naturalist in British Columbia, Vol. II, pp. 20 to 26;
R. E. C. Stearns in the American Naturalist, Vol. III, No. 1, and in
proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences, Vol. V, Part II,
p. 113; W. H. Pratt in proceedings of the Davenport Academy of Natural
Sciences, Vol. II, Part I, p. 38; and Stephen Powers in Vol. 3,
Contributions to North American Ethnology, pp. 21, 24, 30.


One of the most remarkable customs practiced by the American Indians is
found in the mnemonic use of wampum. This custom had in it a germ of
great promise, one which must in time have become a powerful agent in
the evolution of art and learning. It was a nucleus about which all the
elements of culture could arrange themselves. I shall not at present
undertake to divest the custom of adventitious features such as have
been introduced by contact with European influence. Yet there is no
reason to fear that any of the important or essential features have been
derived from outside sources. It is not possible from any known records
to demonstrate the great antiquity of this use of wampum. It does not
seem probable, however, that a custom so unique and so wide-spread could
have grown up within the historic period; nor is it probable that a
practice foreign to the genius of tradition-loving races could have
become so well established and so dear to their hearts in a few

Mnemonic records are known to have come into use among many nations at a
very early stage of culture. Picture writing as developed in the north
is but another form of mnemonic record, a fact, a thought, a verse of a
song being associated with an ideographic design, more or less
suggestive of the subject. The Peruvians had their _quipus_, in which
the record was made by associating things to be remembered with knots
made in cords of different colors, each combination having a fixed
association. The Mexicans had gone further and had achieved a system of
picture writing that was very unique and curious, in which a phonetic
element had already made its appearance, while the Mayas could boast the
discovery of a true phonetic system with an alphabet of twenty-seven

The mnemonic use of wampum is one which, I imagine, might readily
develop from the practice of gift giving and the exchange of tokens of
friendship, such mementos being preserved for future reference as
reminders of promises of assistance or protection. In time the use of
such mementos would develop into a system capable of recording affairs
of varied and complicated nature; particular facts or features of
treaties would be assigned to particular objects, or portions of
objects. With this much accomplished, but one step was necessary to the
attainment of a hieroglyphic system--the permanent association of a
single object or sign with a particular idea.

The wampum records of the Iroquois were generally in the form of belts,
the beads being strung or woven into patterns formed by the use of
different colors. By association simply they were made to record
history, laws, treaties, and speeches--a fact, a law, a stipulation, or
a declaration being "talked into" a particular part or pattern of the
design with which it was ever afterwards associated, thus giving
additional permanency to tradition and bringing it one step further
forward in the direction of written records. Such records were, of
course, quite useless without the agency of an interpreter. Among the
Iroquois, according to Morgan, one of the Onondaga sachems was made
hereditary "keeper of wampum," whose duty it was to be thoroughly versed
in its interpretation. But knowledge of the contents of these records
was not confined to the keeper, or even to the sachems. At a certain
season each year the belts were taken from the treasure-house and
exposed to the whole tribe, while the history and import of each was
publicly recited. This custom is kept up to the present day. It is
recorded by Ruttenber that among the Mohicans a certain sachem had
charge of the bag of peace which contained the wampum belts and strings
used in establishing peace and friendship with the different

Aside from records wampum was used in the form of strings and belts for
a variety of purposes; some of them were probably mnemonic, others only
partially so, being based either upon its association with the name of
some chief or clan, or upon a semi-sacred character resulting from its
important uses. It was employed in summoning councils, and the messenger
who journeyed from tribe to tribe found in it a well recognized
passport. When a council was called it was presented by the delegates
from the various tribes as their credentials; it was used in the
ceremony of opening and closing councils, as was also the calumet; it
assisted in solemnizing oaths and in absolving from them; white, it was
a messenger of peace; black, it threatened war, and covered with clay,
it expressed grief. "White wampum was the Iroquois emblem of purity and
faith, it was hung around the neck of the white dog before it was
burned; it was used before the periodical religious festivals for the
confession of sins, no confession being regarded as sincere unless
recorded with white wampum; further than this, it was the customary
offering in condonation of murder, although the purple was sometimes
employed. Six strings was the value of a life, or the quantity sent in
condonation, for the wampum was rather sent as a regretful confession of
the crime, with a petition for forgiveness, than as the actual price of
blood."[95] We readily recognize the influence of the Christian
missionary in a number of these symbolic uses of wampum.

The literature of wampum would fill a volume, but I forbear presenting
more than will give an outline of the subject, confining myself to such
quotations as will serve to show clearly the extent and importance of
this ancient custom and its attendant practices.

The method of handling the belts of wampum in the presence of ceremonial
assemblies is extremely interesting, and cannot be better presented than
in the words of eye-witnesses.

The following is quoted from Brice, who is describing a council held in
the Muskingum Valley in 1764:

"An Indian council, on solemn occasions, was always opened with
preliminary forms, sufficiently wearisome and tedious, but made
indispensable by immemorial custom, for this people are as much bound by
their conventional usages as the most artificial children of
civilization. The forms were varied, to some extent, according to the
imagination of the speaker, but in all essential respects they were
closely similar throughout the tribes of the Algonkin and Iroquois

"They run somewhat as follows, each sentence being pronounced with great
solemnity, and confirmed by the delivery of a wampum belt: 'Brothers,
with this belt I open your ears that you may hear; I remove grief and
sorrow from your hearts; I draw from your feet the thorns that pierced
them as you journeyed thither; I clean the seats of the council-house,
that you may sit at ease; I wash your head and body, that your spirits
may be refreshed; I condole with you on the loss of the friends who have
died since we last met; I wipe out any blood which may have been spilt
between us.' This ceremony, which, by the delivery of so many belts of
wampum, entailed no small expense, was never used except on the most
important occasions; and at the councils with Colonel Bouquet the angry
warriors seem wholly to have dispensed with it. * * * And his memory was
refreshed by belts of wampum, which he delivered after every clause in
his harangue, as a pledge of the sincerity and truth of his words.

"These belts were carefully preserved by the hearers as a substitute for
written records, a use for which they were the better adapted, as they
were often worked in hieroglyphics expressing the meaning they were
designed to preserve. Thus at a treaty of peace the principal belt often
bore the figure of an Indian and a white man holding a chain between

From an account of a council held by the Five Nations at Onondaga nearly
two hundred years ago, to which the governor of Canada sent four
representatives, I make the following extract: "During the course of the
proceedings Cannehoot, a Seneca sachem, presented a proposed treaty
between the Wagunhas and the Senecas, speaking as follows: 'We come to
join the two bodies into one. * * * We come to learn wisdom of the
Senecas (giving a belt). We by this belt wipe away the tears from the
eyes of your friends, whose relations have been killed in the war. We
likewise wipe the paint from your soldiers' faces (giving a second
belt). We throw aside the ax which Yonondio put into our hands by this
third belt.' A red marble sun is presented--a pipe made of red marble.
'Yonondio is drunk; we wash our hands clean from his actions (giving a
fourth belt). * * * We have twelve of your nation prisoners; they shall
be brought home in the spring (giving a belt to confirm the promise). We
will bring your prisoners home when the strawberries shall be in
blossom, at which time we intend to visit Corlear (the governor of New
York), and see the place where wampum is made.'

"The belts were accepted by the Five Nations, and their acceptance was a
ratification of the treaty. A large belt was also given to the
messengers from Albany as their share. A wampum belt sent from Albany
was, in the same manner, hung up and afterwards divided."[97]

This indicates a most extravagant use of belts; but since it is probable
that as many were received in return this was a matter of little
importance. The great profusion of wampum used in some of the later
treaties is a matter of surprise. In a council held between four Indian
ambassadors from New England and the French thirty-six fine large belts
were given by the ambassadors to thank them that their people had not
been treated with hostility.[98]

"The appendix to the second volume of Proud's History of Pennsylvania
contains the journals of Frederick Christian Post, who was sent by
Governor Denny, in 1758, to make a treaty with the Alleghany Indians;
and in delivering the governor's answer to the chiefs, on his second
visit in the same year, after proposing to them to unite in a treaty of
peace which had lately been concluded with the Indians at Easton, and
producing sundry belts, one of which was marked with figures
representing the English and the Indians delivering the peace-belt to
one of the commissioners, he proceeds to say: 'Brethren on the Ohio, if
you take the belts we just now gave you, as we do not doubt you will,
then by _this belt_'--producing another and using their figurative style
of speech--'I make a road for you, and invite you to come to
Philadelphia, to your first old council-fire, which we rekindle up
again, and remove disputes, and renew the first old treaties of
friendship. This is a clear and open road for you; therefore, fear
nothing, and come to us with as many as can be of the Delawares,
Shawanese, or the Six Nations; we will be glad to see you; we desire all
tribes and nations of Indians who are in alliance with you may come.'
Whereupon a large white belt, with the figure of a man at each end and
streaks of black representing the road from the Ohio to Philadelphia,
was then given to them."[99]

Lafitau, whose statements are considered unusually trustworthy, as they
were based chiefly on personal observation of the Indian tribes of
Canada, gives the following very instructive account of the mnemonic use
of wampum:

"All affairs are conducted by means of branches [strings] and necklaces
[belts] of porcelain [wampum] which with them take the place of
compacts, written agreements, and contracts. * * * The shell, which is
used for affairs of state, is worked into little cylinders of a quarter
of an inch in length and large in proportion. They are distributed in
two ways, in strings and in belts. The strings are composed of cylinders
threaded without order one after another, like the beads of a rosary;
the beads are usually quite white, and are used for affairs of little
consequence, or as a preparation for other more considerable

"The belts are large bands, in which little white and purple cylinders
are disposed in rows, and tied down with small thongs of leather, which
makes a very neat fabric. The length and size and color are proportioned
to the importance of the affair. The usual belts are of eleven rows of a
hundred and eighty beads each.

"The 'fisk,' or public treasure, consists principally of these belts,
which, as I have said, with them, take the place of contracts, of public
acts, and of annals or registers. For the savages, having no writing or
letters, and therefore finding themselves soon forgetting the
transactions that occur among them from time to time, supply this
deficiency by making for themselves a local memory by means of words
which they attach to these belts, of which each one refers to some
particular affair, or some circumstance, which it represents while it

"They are so much consecrated to this use that besides the name
_Gaïonni_, which is their name for the kind of belts most used, they
bestow that of _Garihona_, which means a transaction; that of
_Gaouenda_, voice or word, and of _Gaianderenfera_, which means grandeur
or nobility; because all the affairs dignified by these belts are the
endowment and province of the _agoïanders_ or nobles. It is they who
furnish them; and it is among them that they are redivided when presents
are made to the village, and when replies to the belts of their
ambassadors are sent.

"The _agoïanders_ and the ancients have, besides this, the custom of
looking over them often together, and of dividing among themselves the
care of noting certain ones, which are particularly assigned to them; so
that in this way they do not forget anything.

"Their wampum would soon be exhausted if it did not circulate; but in
almost all affairs, either within or without, the law requires a reply,
word for word, that is to say, for one belt one must give another, to be
of about the same value, observing, however, a slight difference in the
number of beads, which must be proportioned to the rank of the persons
or nations with which they treat.

"They do not believe that any transaction can be concluded without these
belts. Whatever proposition is made to them, or reply given them, by
word of mouth alone, the affair falls through, they say, and they let it
fall through very effectually, as though there had been no question
about it. Europeans little informed or little concerned about their
usages have slightly inconvenienced them on this point in retaining
their belts without giving them a similar response. To avoid the
inconvenience which might arise from this they acquired the style of
giving only a small quantity, excusing themselves on the plea that their
wampum was exhausted; and they supplied the rest with packages of
deer-skin, in return for which they were given trinkets of small value,
so that transactions between the Europeans and them have become a sort
of trade.

"Although all the savage nations of America make various kinds of
ornaments of shells, I believe that it is only those of North America
who employ them in transactions. I cannot even affirm that all of these

A very complete account of wampum is given by Loskiel, from whose work
the following extract is made:

"Four or six strings joined in one breadth, and fastened to each other
with fine thread, make a _belt of wampom_, being about three or four
inches wide, and three feet long, containing, perhaps, four, eight, or
twelve fathom of wampom, in proportion to its required length and
breadth. This is determined by the importance of the subject which these
belts are intended either to explain or confirm, or by the dignity of
the persons to whom they are to be delivered. Everything of moment
transacted at solemn councils, either between the Indians themselves or
with Europeans, is ratified and made valid by strings and belts of
wampom. Formerly, they used to give sanction to their treaties by
delivering a wing of some large bird; and this custom still prevails
among the more western nations, in transacting business with the
Delawares. But the Delawares themselves, the Iroquois, and the nations
in league with them, are now sufficiently provided with handsome and
well-wrought strings and belts of wampom. Upon the delivery of a string,
a long speech may be made and much said upon the subject under
consideration, _but when a belt is given few words are spoken_; but they
must be words of great importance, frequently requiring an explanation.
Whenever the speaker has pronounced some important sentence, he delivers
a string of wampom, adding, 'I give this string of wampom as a
confirmation of what I have spoken'; but the chief subject of his
discourse he confirms with a belt. The answers given to a speech thus
delivered must also be confirmed by strings and belts of wampom, of the
same size and number as those received. Neither the colour nor the other
qualities of wampom are a matter of indifference, but have an immediate
reference to those things which they are meant to confirm. The brown or
deep violet, called black by the Indians, always means something of
severe or doubtful import; but the white is the colour of peace. Thus,
if a string or belt of wampom is intended to confirm a warning against
evil, or an earnest reproof, it is delivered in black. When a nation is
called upon to go to war, or war declared against it, the belt is black,
or marked with red, called by them, the _colour of blood_, having in the
middle the figure of an hatchet in white wampom. * * * They refer to
them as public records, carefully preserving them in a chest made for
that purpose. At certain seasons they meet to study their meaning, and
to renew the ideas of which they were an emblem or confirmation. On such
occasions they sit down around the chest, take out one string or belt
after the other, handing it about to every person present, and that they
may all comprehend its meaning, repeat the words pronounced on its
delivery in their whole convention. By these means they are enabled to
remember the promises reciprocally made by the different parties; and it
is their custom to admit even the young boys, who are related to the
chiefs, to their assemblies; they become early acquainted with all the
affairs of the State; thus the contents of their documents are
transmitted to posterity, and cannot be easily forgotten."[102]

It is to be presumed that if a treaty or a promise were broken, the belt
would be released from its office and in the same form, or worked into
another, could again be used. Otherwise the records, if properly kept,
would in time become extremely cumbersome.

The repudiation of a treaty and of the wampum which accompanied it is
recorded by Brice. It was at a council held at Miami, in 1790, between
Mr. Gamelin and a number of tribes. Mr. Gamelin in beginning his speech
presented each nation with strings of wampum, but "the Indians were
displeased with the treaty, and after consultation returned the wampum,
saying: 'From all quarters we receive speeches from the Americans and
not one is alike. We suppose that they intend to deceive us. Then take
back your branches of wampum.' The Pottawatomies were better pleased
with the speeches and accepted the wampum."[103]

Another good example which illustrates the manner of canceling treaties,
confirmed by wampum, is given by Mr. Gilpin:

"When Washington, then but a youth of twenty-one, was intrusted by the
colonial governor of Virginia with a mission to the western wilds of
Pennsylvania, where the French from Canada were then penetrating and had
already established, as was believed, four posts within our limits and
were seeking to unite the natives in alliance against us, * * * he found
that such an alliance had indeed been formed. He found that they had
exchanged with the French, as its symbol, a wampum belt on which four
houses were rudely embroidered--the representations of the posts which
were to be defended, even at the risk of war. Influenced by his
remonstrances, the Indian sachems consented to withdraw from the
alliance; but they declared that the belt of wampum must be returned
before the agreement could be abolished; and one of the sachems repaired
to the French commander in order to restore to him the token of the
warlike compact, and to proclaim the intention of the red men to take no
part in the impending struggle."[104]

Heckewelder relates that "it once happened that war messengers
endeavored to persuade and compel a nation to accept the belt by laying
it on the shoulders or thigh of the chief, who, however, after shaking
it off without touching it with his hands, afterwards, with a stick,
threw it after them, as if he threw a snake or toad out of his

It is remarkable that other objects were not more frequently used for
mnemonic records. We can only explain the partiality shown to wampum on
the supposition that the idea of value was not entirely lost sight of
and that importance was attached to a record which in itself merited
preservation. Yet instances of the use of other objects are often met
with. Parkman states that "the figures on wampum belts of the Iroquois
were for the most part simply mnemonic. So also were those carved in
wooden tables, or painted on bark or skin, to preserve in memory the
songs of war, hunting, or magic."[106]

At one of the councils at Onondaga in 1690, a treaty was pledged and
recorded in wampum by all the contracting parties but the New England
colonies, which sent a wooden model of a fish as a token of their
adherence to the terms of the treaty.[107]

Hunter, speaking of the manners and customs of the Osages, states that
"they use significant emblems, such as the wing of the swan and wild
goose, wampum, and pipes, in overtures for peace, while arrows, war
clubs, and black and red painting, are used as indications or
declarations of war. Any article, such as a skin painted black, or the
wing of a raven, represents the death of friends, and when colored or
striped with red, that of enemies. Amongst the Canada Indians when peace
was conceded, a reddened hatchet was buried as a symbol of the oblivion
of all past hostility between the contracting parties. A mutual exchange
of neck ornaments sealed the treaty after its terms were debated and
determined. But all was not yet over, for the chiefs on each side
proffered and accepted presents of rare articles, such as calumets of
peace, embroidered deer skins, &c. This kind of ceremonial barter being
terminated to their mutual satisfaction, or otherwise, the conference
broke up."[108]

Gumilla says that the Oronoco Indians ratify their treaties with sticks
which they give reciprocally,[109] and the Araucanians, according to
Molina, carry in their hands, when they conclude a peace, the branches
of a tree, regarded as sacred by them, which they present to each

I have already enumerated the various kinds of beads and shown the
sources from which they were derived and the uses to which they were
applied. I have yet to describe the manner in which they are strung or
combined in strings and belts.

The beads chosen as most convenient for stringing or weaving into
fabrics were small cylinders from one-eighth to one-quarter of an inch
in diameter, and from one-quarter to one-half an inch in length. White
strings or belts were sufficient for the expression of simple ideas or
the association of simple facts, but the combinations of colors in
patterns rendered it possible to record much more complicated affairs.
In belts used for mnemonic purposes the colors were generally arranged
without reference to the character of the facts or thoughts to be
intrusted to them, but in a few cases the figures are ideographic, and
are significant of the event to be memorized. Strings cannot be utilized
in this way.

_Wampum in strings._--From Mr. Beauchamp's notes I have compiled the
following brief account of the use of strings of wampum among the modern
Iroquois. Six strings of purple beads united in a cluster represent the
six nations. When the tribes meet the strands are arranged in a circle,
which signifies that the council is opened. The Onondagas are
represented by seven strings, which contain a few white beads; the
Cayugas by six strands, all purple, and the Tuscaroras by seven strands,
nearly all purple. The Mohawks have six strings, on which there are two
purple beads to one white. These are illustrated in Fig. 2, Plate XLIV.
There are four strings in the Oneida cluster; these contain two purple
to one white bead. The Senecas have four strings, with two purple beads
to one white. The three nations which were brothers are represented by
similar clusters.

When a new chief is installed the address delivered on the occasion is
"talked into" ten very long strings of white wampum. Three strings,
mostly white, represent the name of the new chief. One of these clusters
is shown in Fig. 1, Plate XLIV.[111] When a chief dies he is mourned on
ten strings of black wampum. If he has merely lost his office, six short
strings are used.

According to Mr. Beauchamp, possession of beads gives authority, and
they are also used as credentials, or, as the Indians express it,
"Chief's wampum all same as your letter." Such of these strings as
remain in existence are still in use among the Iroquois, and are
considered very precious by them, being made of antique hand-made beads.

In the literature relating to our Indian tribes we find occasional
reference to the use of strings of wampum in ways that indicate that
they were invested with certain protective and authoritative qualities,
doubtless from their association with the name of some chief, clan, or

It is recorded that on one occasion Logan, the Mingo chief, saved a
captive white from torture by rushing through the circle of Indians and
throwing a string of wampum about the prisoner's neck. Through the
virtue of this string he was enabled to lead him away and adopt him into
his family.

A somewhat different use is mentioned by Pike, to whom a Chippewa chief
made a speech, during which he presented his pipe to Mr. Pike to bear to
the Sioux. Attached to the pipe were seven strings of wampum, which
signified that authority was given by seven chiefs of the Chippewa to
conclude peace or make war.[112]

_Wampum belts._--In the manufacture of belts a great deal of skill and
taste have been shown. The large figured varieties were intricate in
design and extremely pleasing in color. Belts of wampum beads were
probably used simply as a part of the costume long before they became
the vehicles of tradition, and beads were doubtless used in other parts
of the costume in a similar manner. It is said that in New England they
were made by the women; in later times it is probable that the whites
engaged to some extent in their manufacture.

Mr. Morgan gives such a good account of the details of belt making that
I beg leave to quote him in full:

"In making a belt no particular pattern was followed; sometimes they are
of the width of three fingers and three feet long, in other instances as
wide as the hand and over three feet in length; sometimes they are all
of one color, in others variegated, and in still others woven with the
figures of men to symbolize, by their attitudes, the objects or events
they were designed to commemorate. The most common width was three
fingers, or the width of seven beads, the length ranging from two to six
feet. In belt making, which is a simple process, eight strands or cords
of bark thread are first twisted, from filaments of slippery elm, of the
requisite length and size; after which they are passed through a strip
of deer-skin to separate them at equal distances from each other in
parallel lines. A piece of splint is then sprung in the form of a bow,
to which each end of the several strings is secured, and by which all of
them are held in tension, like warp threads in a weaving machine. Seven
beads, these making the intended width of the belt, are then run upon a
thread by means of a needle, and are passed under the cords at right
angles, so as to bring one bead lengthwise between each cord and the one
next in position. The thread is then passed back again along the upper
side of the cords and again through each of the beads; so that each bead
is held firmly in its place by means of two threads, one passing under
and one above the cords. This process is continued until the belt
reaches its intended length, when the ends of the cords are tied, the
end of the belt covered and afterward trimmed with ribbons. In ancient
times both the cords and the thread were of sinew."[113]

In another place Mr. Morgan states that belts were also made by covering
one side of a deer-skin belt with beads, probably by sewing them
on;[114] a method which is everywhere common in the use of glass beads
in modern work, but is not noticed in any of the mnemonic belts now
extant. It is a remarkable as well as a lamentable fact that none of the
great collections of the country can boast the possession of a wampum
belt. Considering their importance in our early history, and the great
numbers that at one time must have been in existence, this is rather
extraordinary. I have taken considerable pains to collect accurate
representations of a number of examples of the ancient belts for this
work, and am only sorry that I am unable to present them in color--the
only method by which they can be adequately shown. As those which have
come to my notice represent but a few localities, I shall insert
descriptions of a number from regions as remote as possible. There is,
however, great uniformity in design and method of construction; the
result, probably, of their international character. From Heckewelder I
quote the following:

"Their belts of wampum are of different dimensions, both as to the
length and breadth. White and black wampum are the kinds they use; the
former denoting that which is good, as peace, friendship, good-will,
&c.; the latter the reverse; yet occasionally the black also is made use
of on peace errands, when the white cannot be procured; but previous to
its being produced for such purpose, it must be daubed all over with
chalk, white clay, or anything which changes the color from black to
white. * * * A black belt with the mark of a hatchet made on it with red
paint is a war belt, which, when sent to a nation, together with a twist
or roll of tobacco, is an invitation to join in a war. * * * Roads from
one friendly nation to another are generally marked on the belt by one
or two rows of white wampum interwoven in the black, and running through
the middle, and from end to end. It means that they are on good terms,
and keep up a friendly intercourse with each other."[115]

A belt accepted by the Indians of Western Pennsylvania from the French
in a treaty which secured to the latter four forts within English
territory had embroidered upon it four houses, pictographic
representations of the forts.

Another example of the belts used in Pennsylvania, upwards of a century
ago, is described in Beatty's Journal. The Delawares, in explaining to
Beatty a former treaty with Sir William Johnson, "showed a large belt of
wampum of friendship which Sir William Johnson had given them. On each
edge of this were several rows of black wampum, and in the middle were
several rows of white wampum. In the middle of the belt was a figure of
a diamond, in white wampum, which they called the council fire. The
white streak they called the path from him to them and them to

Loskiel states that "the Indian women are very dexterous in weaving the
strings of wampom into belts, and marking them with different figures,
perfectly agreeing with the different subjects contained in the speech.
These figures are marked with white wampom upon black, and with black
upon the white belts. For example, in a _belt of peace_, they very
dexterously represent, in black wampom, two hands joined. The belt of
peace is white, a fathom long and a hand's breadth."[117]

In Plate XXXVII I present a fac-simile reproduction of a plate from the
well known work of Lafitau,[118] in which we have a graphic yet highly
conventional representation of a council or treaty in which wampum belts
were used. It is probably drawn from description and is far from
truthful in detail. The more important facts are, however, very clearly
presented. No information is given either of the people or the locality.
The scene is laid in the middle of a broad featureless plain, the
monotony of which is broken by three highly conventionalized trees. The
parties to the treaty are ranged in two rows, placed, face to face. The
chief who speaks stands at the farther end holding a belt in his right
hand. Three other belts lie upon the mat at his feet, while a fifth is
shown on a large scale in the foreground. The patterns can not be
clearly made out, but in a general way resemble very closely the designs
woven into the belts of the Iroquois.

    _Facsimile_ of a plate in Lafitau.]

The small belt shown in Fig. 1. Plate XXXVIII, is probably one of the
most recent examples. The cut is copied from Plate 1 of the Fifth Annual
Report of the Regents of the University of New York on the condition of
the State Cabinet of Natural History, p. 72. The beads of which it is
composed formerly belonged to the celebrated Mohawk chief, Joseph Brant.
They were afterwards purchased from his daughter by Mr. Morgan. In 1850
they were taken to Tonawanda, in the State of New York, and made into
this belt. The trimmings are apparently of ribbons, and the symmetry and
uniformity of the whole work give it a new look not noticeable in the
other specimens. The design consists of a row of dark diamond-shaped
figures upon a white ground. It is now preserved in the State Cabinet of
Natural History at Albany.

A belt of unusual form is shown in Fig. 2, Plate XXXVIII. It was kindly
lent by Mrs. E. A. Smith, of Jersey City, by whom it was obtained from
the Mohawks. It is 26 inches (251 beads) in length and in width varies
from three inches (11 beads) at one end to about one inch (5 beads) at
the other. It is bifurcated at the wide end, five rows having been
omitted from the middle of the belt for about one-third of the length.
Near the middle of the belt one row of beads is dropped from each side.
Between this and the smaller end at nearly equal intervals it is twice
depleted in a like manner. The beads are quite irregular in shape and
size, but rather new looking and are strung in the usual manner, the
longitudinal strings being buckskin and the transverse small cords of
vegetable fiber. The ends and edges are all neatly finished by wrapping
the marginal strings with a thin fillet of buckskin. The figures are in
white beads upon a ground of purple. The form of this belt indicates
that it has been adapted to some particular use, the placing of cords at
the corners and shoulders suggesting its attachment in a fixed position
to some part of the person or costume.

    [Illustration: PL. XXXVIII--WAMPUM BELTS.
    1. Mohawk Belt.
    2. Mohawk Belt.]

In Plates XXXIX, XL, XLI and XLII, I present a series of illustrations
of the wampum belts belonging to the Onondagas. They are preserved as a
most precious treasure by these people at their agency in Onondaga
County, New York. The drawings were made by Mr. Trill from a series of
minute photographs made from the original belts by General J. S. Clark,
of Auburn, New York. These were obtained for me by the Rev. W. M.
Beauchamp, of Baldwinsville, New York, who has also very kindly
furnished many of the facts embodied in the following descriptions.[119]

These belts are made in the usual manner, and present a great variety of
shapes, sizes, and designs. Their full history has never been obtained
by the whites, and it is not probable that the Indians themselves have
preserved a very full account of their origin and significance. They are
all ancient, and, judging by their appearance, must date far back in the
history of the League. Many of them are quite fragmentary, and fears are
entertained that they will gradually fall to pieces and be lost. It is
to be hoped that measures will be taken to have them preserved at least
in the form of accurate chromo-lithographs. Mr. Beauchamp states that
they are yearly wasting away, as a little wampum is annually cast into
the fire at the burning of the "white dog," and these belts are the
source of supply.

The small belt presented in Fig. 1, Plate XXXIX, is somewhat
fragmentary, an unknown number of beads having been lost from the ends.
It is seven rows wide and at present two hundred beads long. The design
consists of a series of five double diamonds worked in dark wampum upon
white. At one end a few rows of an additional figure remain, and at the
other a small white cross is worked upon a ground of dark beads. The
number of figures may be significant of the number of parties to a

Fig. 2 represents a well preserved belt, seven rows in width and about
three hundred and twenty in length. The ground is of dark wampum, on
which are worked five hexagonal figures of white wampum. For a short
space at the ends alternate rows are white. As was suggested in regard
to the preceding belt, the figures in this may represent the parties to
a treaty.

The belt shown in Fig. 3 differs from the others in being pictographic.
It is also quite perfect, although the character of the beads indicates
considerable age. It is seven rows in width and three hundred and fifty
beads in length. The figures are white, on a dark ground, and consist of
a cross near one end, connected by a single row of beads with the head
of the figure of a man toward the other end. Beneath the feet of the
elementary man the figure of a diamond is worked. The cross is probably
significant of the mission of the man who comes from a long distance to
the lodge or council of the red man. This is probably a French belt.


The remnant of a very handsome belt is shown in Plate XL. Considerable
wampum has been lost from both ends, but the design appears to be nearly
perfect, and consists of a trowel or heart-shaped figure in the center
with two rectangular figures on the right and two on the left. These are
in white upon a dark ground. Mr. Beauchamp states that it is said to be
very old, and is thought to represent the formation of the Iroquois
league and to signify "one heart for all the nations." He doubts its
great antiquity as the beads are too regular for hand-made cylinders.
The belt is thirty-eight rows wide and about two hundred beads in


The large elaborately figured belt shown in Plate XLI is almost perfect.
The lateral margins are white; a broad notched band of dark wampum
occupies the middle of this belt; through this from end to end runs a
chain of white diamonds, sixteen in number, which may represent States
or nations. It is forty-five rows wide and two hundred and forty beads


The magnificent belt shown in Plate XLII, is probably the finest example
in existence. It is fifteen rows wide and six hundred and fifty in
length, making the enormous total of nine thousand seven hundred and
fifty beads. Mr. Beauchamp believes that this belt, or one like it, has
been described as representing the formation of the League. From
Webster's[120] statement, that it was "made by George Washington," he
surmises that it is a belt memorizing a covenant between the Indians and
the government. In the center is a house which has three gables and
three compartments. Next the house on either side are two pictographic
men, who appear to stand beneath protecting arms which pass over their
heads, connect with the house, and grasp the hands of the first
personages immediately on the right and left. In all there are fifteen
figures of men, two being connected with the house; of the others, six
stand on the right and seven on the left of the central group. It is
suggested by Mr. Beauchamp that these figures may represent the thirteen


Six other belts are shown in the photographs procured by General Price.
One of them is thirteen rows wide and two hundred and fifty beads in
length. The light ground is decorated with groups of triple chevrons.
This belt is somewhat fragmentary. Another is forty-nine rows wide,
being the widest example known. The original length cannot be
determined, but at present it is two hundred and forty beads in length,
and hence contains about twelve thousand beads. The pattern is simple,
consisting of a dark ground notched at the edges with triangular figures
of white. As the four remaining belts of this fine collection have no
features of especial interest, they need not be described here.

The remarkable belt shown in Plate XLIII has an extremely interesting,
although a somewhat incomplete, history attached to it. It is believed
to be the original belt delivered by the Leni-Lenape sachems to William
Penn at the celebrated treaty under the elm tree at Shackamaxon in 1682.
Although there is no documentary evidence to show that this identical
belt was delivered on that occasion, it is conceded on all hands that it
came into the possession of the great founder of Pennsylvania at some
one of his treaties with the tribes that occupied the province ceded to
him. Up to the year 1857 this belt remained in the keeping of the Penn
family. In March, 1857, it was presented to the Pennsylvania Historical
Society by Granville John Penn, a great grandson of William Penn. Mr.
Penn, in his speech on this occasion,[121] states that there can be no
doubt that this is the identical belt used at the treaty, and presents
his views in the following language: "In the first place, its dimensions
are greater than of those used on more ordinary occasions, of which we
have one still in our possession--this belt being composed of eighteen
strings of wampum--which is a proof that it was the record of some very
important negotiation. In the next place, in the center of the belt,
which is of white wampum, are delineated in dark-colored beads, in a
rude but graphic style, two figures--that of an Indian grasping with the
hand of friendship the hand of a man evidently intended to be
represented in the European costume, wearing a hat; which can only be
interpreted as having reference to the treaty of peace and friendship
which was then concluded between William Penn and the Indians, and
recorded by them in their own simple but descriptive mode of expressing
their meaning, by the employment of hieroglyphics. Then the fact of its
having been preserved in the family of the founder from that period to
the present time, having descended through three generations, gives an
authenticity to the document which leaves no doubt of its genuineness;
and as the chain and medal which were presented by the Parliament to his
father, the admiral, for his naval services, have descended amongst the
family archives unaccompanied by any written document, but is recorded
on the journals of the House of Commons, equal authenticity may be
claimed for the wampum belt confirmatory of the treaty made by his son
with the Indians; which event is recorded on the page of history,
though, like the older relic, it has been unaccompanied in its descent
by any document in writing."

    [Illustration: PL. XLIII--THE PENN BELT. (1/4)]

It will be seen, by reference to the accompanying illustration, that
beside the two figures of men there are three oblique bands of dark
wampum, one on the left and two on the right. The one next the central
group on the right is somewhat broken, and consists of two long bands
and one short one. It is probable that these bands were used to record,
by association, some important features of the treaty in which the belt
was used. The beads are strung upon cords made of sinew or vegetable
fibre, while the longitudinal fillets are of buckskin. This belt may be
seen at the rooms of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

    [Illustration: PL. XLIV--STRINGS OF WAMPUM.
    1. Name of New Chief.
    2. "Mohawk."]


It would probably be vain to attempt to determine how pendant ornaments
first came into use, whether from some utilitarian practice or through
some superstitious notion. It matters not, however, whether the first
pendant was an implement, a utensil, or a fetichitic talisman; it has
developed by slow stages into an ornament upon which has been lavished
the best efforts of culture and skill. The simple gorget of shell
suspended upon the naked breast of the preadamite is the prototype of
many a costly jewel and many a princely decoration. With the American
savage it was a guardian spirit, invested with the mystery and the power
of the sea, and among the more cultured tribes became in time the
receptacle of the most ambitious efforts of a phenomenal art. The
important place the gorget has taken in ornament and as a means of
displaying personal aggrandizement has made it a most powerful agent in
the evolution of the arts of taste.

As a rule the larger and more important pendants are employed as
gorgets, but vast numbers of the smaller specimens are strung with beads
at intervals along the strings, attached as auxiliary pendants to the
larger gorgets, suspended from the nose, ears, and wrists, or form
tinkling borders to head-dresses and garments. These pendants consist
either of entire shells, or of parts of shells, pierced or grooved to
facilitate suspension. The purely artificial forms are infinitely
varied. The character of the shell, however, has much to do with the
form of the finished ornaments, deciding their thickness and often their
outline. In size they range from extremely minute forms to plates six or
more inches in diameter. The perforations, in position and number, are
greatly varied, but as a rule the larger discoidal pendants will be
found to have two marginal perforations for suspension.

These nicely-polished shell-disks afforded tempting tablets for the
primitive artist, and retain many specimens of his work as an engraver.
The engraved specimens, however, should be treated separately, according
to the class of design which they contain. Plain pendants need but a
brief notice, and may be treated together as one group, with such
subdivisions only as may be suggested by their form, their derivation,
or their geographical distribution.

_Plain pendants._--It will be unnecessary to cite authorities to show
that our ancient peoples were fond of pendant ornaments, and wore them
without stint, but to illustrate the manner in which they were used and
the methods of combining them with other articles of jewelry in
necklaces, bracelets, &c., I shall refer briefly to the literature of
the period of American discovery.

The inhabitants of Mexico are said to have been very simple in the
matter of dress, but displayed much vanity in their profuse employment
of personal ornament. Besides feathers and jewels, with which they
adorned their clothes, they wore pendants to the ears, nose, and lips,
as well as necklaces, bracelets, and anklets. The ear ornaments of the
poor were shells, pieces of crystal, amber, and other brilliant stones,
but the rich wore pearls, emeralds, amethysts, or other gems, set in
gold.[122] The priestly personages so graphically delineated in the
ancient Aztec manuscripts are as a rule loaded down with pendant
ornaments. In traveling north along the west coast of Mexico the Friar
Niza encountered Indians who wore many large shells of mother of pearl
about their necks, and farther up toward Cibola the inhabitants wore
pearl shells upon their foreheads;[123] and Cabeça de Vaca when among
the pueblos of New Mexico noticed beads and corals that came from the
"South Sea." Ornaments made from marine shells are found in many of the
ancient ruins to-day. They are also highly valued by the modern Indians
of this region.

In the earliest accounts of the Indians of the Atlantic coast we find
frequent mention of the use of pendants and gorgets, and the manner of
wearing them as ornaments. Beverly, after having described beads made of
a shell resembling the English buglas, says that they also make
"runtees" of the same shell, and grind them as smooth as peak. "These
are either large like an oval Bead, drill'd the length of the Oval, or
else they are circular and flat, almost an Inch over, and one Third of
an Inch thick, and drill'd edgeways. Of this Shell they also make round
Tablets of about four Inches Diameter, which they polish as smooth as
the other, and sometimes they etch or grave thereon Circles, Stars, a
half Moon, or any other Figure suitable to their Fancy. These they wear
instead of Medals before or behind their Neck, and use the _Peak_,
_Runtees_, and _Pipes_ for Coronets, Bracelets, Belts, or long Strings
hanging down before the Breast, or else they lace their Garments with
them, and adorn their _Tomahawks_, and every other thing that they
value."[124] The "Pipes" here spoken of were probably long, heavy
cylindrical beads.

In referring to this class of ornaments, Lafitau says: "The collars
which the savages sometimes wear around the neck are about a foot in
diameter, and are not different from those which one now sees on some
antiques, on the necks of statues of barbarians. The northern savages
wear on the breast a plate of hollow shell, as long as the hand, which
has the same effect as that which was called _Bulla_ among the

Wood, speaking of the Indians of Northern New England, in 1634, says:
"Although they be thus poore, yet is there in them the sparkes of
naturall pride, which appeares in their longing desire after many kinds
of ornaments, wearing pendants in their eares, as formes of birds,
beasts, and fishes carved out of bone, shels, and stone, with long
bracelets of their curious wampompeag and mowhackees, which they put
about their necks and loynes."[126]

Kalm says of the Indians of Lorette, near Quebec, Canada, that "round
their necks they have a string of violet wampums, with little white
wampums between them. These wampums are small, of the figure of oblong
pearls, and made of the shells which the _English_ call clams. At the
end of the wampum strings many of the _Indians_ wear a large French
silver coin, with the king's effigy, on their breasts; others have a
large shell on the breast, of a fine white colour, which they value very
high, and is very dear; others, again, have no ornament at all round the

Pendants of metal and medals of European manufacture soon replaced in a
great measure the primitive gorgets of shell; and early in the history
of the tribes a heterogeneous collection of native beads, silver
crosses, and traders' medals, ornamented the breasts of the simple

In studying the habits and customs of our native peoples we look with a
great deal of interest upon the earliest historical records, but
generally find it prudent to remember that the "personal equation" was
unusually large in those days, and in studying the illustrations given
in the works of early writers we must make due allowance for the
well-known tendency to exaggerate as well as for the fact that the
artist has more frequently drawn from descriptions than from sketches
made on the spot.

In Plate XLV two examples are given which seem to me to be trustworthy,
as they agree with the descriptions given, and are in a general way
characteristic of the American aborigines. Fig. 1 is reproduced,
original size, from Plate 2, Volume II, of Lafitau, and shows a broad
necklace ornamented with figures that resemble arrow heads. From this,
by means of a cord, is suspended a large circular disk with concave
front, which undoubtedly represents a shell gorget. In front of this and
suspended from the necklace are two long strands of beads of various
sizes and shapes, which give completeness to a very tasteful ornament.
In the same plate is a pretty fair drawing of a native in costume. He is
represented wearing a necklace similar to the one just described. An
enlarged drawing of this ornament is given in Fig. 2. In Fig. 3 I
reproduce a necklace from a plate in De Bry, which consists of a string
of beads with two large disks that look more like metal than shell. A
similar ornament is shown in Fig. 4, but with figured disks and
secondary pendants. It is copied from the Codex of the Vatican. A common
form of necklace among the ancient Aztecs consisted of small univalve
shells suspended from a string. One of these, with other pendants, is
shown in Fig. 5. It is also copied from the Vatican Codex. Others of a
much more complex nature may be found in the same manuscript. Of even
greater interest are the beautiful necklaces, with their pendants, found
in the sculptures of Mexico and Yucatan.[128] Three of these are shown
in Figs. 6, 7, and 8. One has a disk with human features engraved upon
it, another has a cross with equal arms, and another a T-shaped cross.
All have more or less auxiliary ornamentation. In Fig. 9 I present a
bracelet of beads and pendants from Peru which illustrates one of the
simpler uses of pendants. I have not learned whether the parts of this
ornament were originally arranged as given in the cut or not; the
original stringing may have been somewhat different. The beads are
mostly of shell, and are of a variety of colors, white, red, yellow, and
gray. The discoidal and cylindrical forms are both represented. The
former range from one-eighth to three-eighths of an inch in diameter;
the latter are one-eighth of an inch in thickness and three-eighths in
length. The larger pendants, made of whitish shell, are carved to
represent some life form, probably a bird; a large perforation near the
upper end passes through the head, two oblique notches with deep lines
at the sides, define the wings, and a series of notches at the wide end
represent the tail. Two smaller pendants are still simpler in form,
while another, with two nearly central perforations and notched edges,
resembles a button.

    [Illustration: PL. XLV--ANCIENT PENDANTS.
    1, 2. Necklaces, from Lafitau.
    3. From De Bry.
    4, 5. From Mexican Paintings.
    6, 7, 8. From ancient sculptures.
    9. Bracelet from a Peruvian grave.]

_Eastern forms._--The great number of elaborately carved and engraved
gorgets of shell found among the antiquities of the Atlantic slope, all
of which need careful descriptions, so overshadow the simple forms
illustrated in Plate XLVI, that only a brief description of the latter
need be given. Rudeness of workmanship and simplicity of form do not in
any sense imply greater antiquity or a less advanced state of art. The
simpler forms of plain pendants constituted the every-day jewelry of the
average people and, like beads, were probably used freely by all who
desired to do so. Many forms are found--circular, oval, rectangular,
triangular, pear-shaped, and annular. The more ordinary forms are found
in mounds and graves in all parts of the country; other forms are more
restricted geographically, and probably exhibit features peculiar to the
works of a particular clan, tribe, or group of tribes. Even these simple
forms may have possessed some totemic or mystic significance; it is not
impossible that the plainer disks may have had significant figures
painted upon them. Such of the forms as are found to have definite
geographic limits become of considerable interest to the archæologist.
In method of manufacture they do not differ from the most ordinary
implements or beads, the margins being trimmed, the surfaces polished
and the perforations made in a precisely similar manner.

In Plate XLVI I present a number of plain circular disks. The larger
specimens are often as much as four or even five inches in diameter and
the smaller fraternize with beads, as I have shown in Plate XLV. Figs. 1
and 2 are from a mound at Paint Rock Ferry, Tenn. They are neat,
moderately thin, concavo-convex disks, with smooth surfaces and rounded
edges. The first has two perforations at the upper edge, while the other
has similarly placed but much smaller ones, besides a small central
perforation surrounded by an incised circle. The national collection
contains similar specimens from most of the Atlantic States; they differ
from the larger discoidal beads only in the method of perforation. A
typical specimen of this class, four and a half inches in diameter, is
shown in Fig. 3. It was associated with the remains of a number of
children in a mound in Hardin County, Ohio. Disks of this class were
usually suspended upon the breast with the concave side out. That many
of the specimens described were suspended in this way is indicated by
the character of the abrasion produced by the cords. On the concave side
the cord of suspension has worn deep grooves between the perforations,
and on the opposite or convex side similar grooves extend obliquely
upward from the holes toward the margin of the disk, indicating the
passage of the cord upward and outward around the neck of the wearer.

A large white disk, similar to the one just described, was obtained from
a grave at Accotink, Va. It is five inches in diameter and has one
central and three marginal perforations. It is made from a _Busycon
perversum_, and is neatly shaped and well polished.

A fine specimen two inches in diameter was obtained from a mound on the
French Broad River, Tenn., and, with many other similar specimens, is
now in the national collection.

The central perforation is often very much enlarged. A number of
specimens, recently sent to the National Museum, from a mound in
Auglaize County, Ohio, show several stages of this enlargement. One
specimen five inches across has a perforation nearly one inch in
diameter, while in another the perforation is enlarged until the disk
has become a ring. These gorgets show evidences of long use, the
surfaces and edges being worn and the perforations much extended in the
manner described above. They have been derived from the _Busycon

In Fig. 4 I illustrate an annular gorget from a mound in Alexander
County, Ill. It was found associated with ornaments of copper by the
side of a human skull, and is hence supposed to have been an ear
ornament. It is fragmentary and has suffered greatly from decay, the
surface being mostly covered with a dark film of decomposed shell
substance, which when broken away, exposes the chalky surface of the
shell. These shell rings, so far as I can learn, have been found in the
States of Ohio and Illinois only.

Rectangular pendants are much more rare. The national collection
contains one rude specimen from Texas. It is about two inches wide by
two and a half long, and is made from the base of some large
dextral-whorled shell. A similar but much more finished specimen comes
from Georgia, and is preserved in the New York Natural History Museum.

A large keystone-shaped gorget with rounded corners was obtained from an
ancient burial place at Beverly, Canada. It is illustrated in Plate L,
Fig. 1.

The small pendant shown in Fig. 5 is given by Schoolcraft in "Notes on
the Iroquois." It represents rudely the human figure, and is ornamented
with eight perpendicular and four or five transverse dots. It was found
on the site of an old fort near Jamesville, N. Y. In the same work Mr.
Schoolcraft illustrates another small pendant, which is reproduced in
Fig. 6. The body is heart-shaped, the perforation being made through a
rectangular projection at the upper end. It was found at Onondaga, N. Y.

The small pendant presented in Fig. 7 is from West Bloomfield, N. Y. It
has been suspended by means of a shallow groove near the upper end. It
is made from the basal point of a dextral-whorled shell.

The handsome little pendant shown in Fig. 8 was found with similar
specimens in Monroe County, New York--probably on some ancient village
site. It is well preserved and has been made from the columella of a
dextral-whorled shell. An ornamental design, consisting of lines and
dots, is engraved upon the face. A small, deeply countersunk perforation
has been made near the upper end. These objects have apparently been
strung with beads, as the perforations show evidence of such abrasion as
beads would produce. Many of the New York specimens have a new look, and
their form suggests the possibility of civilized influence. They are
certainly more recent than the western and southern specimens.

A small cylindrical pendant is illustrated in Fig. 9. A large, neat
perforation has been made at the upper end, and the middle portion of
the body is ornamented by a series of encircling grooves. This specimen
has been made from a large _Unio_ and was obtained from a mound in Union
County, Ky.


_Western forms._--In variety of form the plain pendants of the
California coast excel all others. Specimens from the graves are
generally well preserved, not having lost their original iridescence,
although so much decayed as to suffer considerably from exfoliation.

As indicated by the present well preserved condition of these shell
ornaments, they are probably not of very ancient date; indeed it is
highly probable that many of them are post-Columbian.

Cabrillo visited the island of Santa Rosa in 1542 and found a numerous
and thriving people. In 1816 only a small remnant of the inhabitants
remained, and these were removed to the main-land by Catholic priests.
Their destruction is attributed to both war and famine. The history of
the other islands is doubtless somewhat similar.

Articles made from shell are found to resemble each other very closely,
whether from the islands or the main-land. All probably belong to the
same time, and although the peoples of the islands are said to have
spoken a different language from those of the main-land, their arts were
apparently pretty much the same. They do not differ, as far as works in
shell are concerned, from the modern tribes of the main-land. There is
also a noticeable resemblance between the art of the ancient California
Islanders and that of the present inhabitants of the great Pacific

The record of many of the specimens obtained from these islands seems to
be very incomplete, scarcely more being known than the fact that they
were obtained from the ancient graves. Since, however, they are almost
exclusively ornaments belonging probably to a single period, detailed
accounts of their methods of occurrence would not add greatly to their

In previous chapters vessels, hooks, and beads made of the _Haliotis_
have been described, and the high estimation in which they are
everywhere held briefly noted. The variety of ways in which this shell
is utilized is indeed remarkable and the multitude of forms into which
it is worked for ornament is a matter of surprise. All are neatly and
effectively worked, and evince no little skill and taste on the part of
the makers.

The _Haliotis_ is not the only shell used, but it has no rival in point
of beauty. Bivalve shells are utilized to a considerable extent, many
tasteful things being made from the _Fissurella_, the _Mytilus_, the
_Pachydesma_, and the _Pecten_. The perforations are generally neatly
made and are more numerous than in similar eastern specimens; besides
those for suspension there are frequently many others for the attachment
of secondary pendants and for fastening to the costume. Many specimens
are ornamented with edgings of notches and crossed lines but very few
have been found on which significant characters have been engraved, and
we look in vain for parallels to the curious designs characteristic of
the gorgets of the mound-builders.

A glance at the numerous examples given in Plates XLVII, XLVIII, and
XLIX will give a good idea of the multiplicity of forms into which these
ornaments are wrought.

A rather remarkable group of pendants is represented by Fig. 1. They are
characterized by a deep scallop at the left, with a long curved
hook-like projection above. They take their form from the shape of the
lip of the _Haliotis_, from which they are made--the hook being the
upper point of the outer lip where it joins the body, and the scallop
the line of the suture. The body of the ornament is formed from the lip
of the shell. In size they vary to some extent with the shells from
which they are derived. The body is at times quite oval and again
slender and hooked like the blade of a sickle. The perforations are
generally very numerous, a fact that indicates their use as central
pieces for composite pendants. It is apparent that the wearers thought
more of the exquisite coloring of these ornaments than of the outline or
surface finish. This is only one of many instances that prove the innate
and universal appreciation of beauty of color by savage peoples.

In Fig. 2 a fine example of the subtriangular or keystone-shaped
pendants is presented. The edges are very neatly cut and the corners
slightly rounded. The back is ground smooth, but on the front the
original surface of the shell is preserved, the colors being extremely
rich and brilliant. A single perforation has been drilled near the upper
end. It is made from a _Haliotis rufescens_, and was obtained from the
island of Santa Rosa.

The handsome specimen shown in Fig. 3 was obtained from a grave on the
island of San Miguel. It has suffered much from decay. There are four
neatly made perforations near the center. It has apparently been cut
from the same shell as the preceding.

Fig. 4 is a small keystone-shaped specimen having two perforations.

Fig. 5 represents a small, delicate specimen of rectangular shape,
having two minute perforations. This, as well as the preceding, was
obtained from a grave on the island of San Miguel.

Fig. 6 illustrates a small oval, wafer-like specimen, the edges of which
have been ornamented with a series of crossed lines. It has three neat
perforations on the line of the longer axis. It is from the island of
Santa Cruz.

Fig. 7 represents a small button-like disk with a central perforation;
the margin is ornamented with a series of radiating lines. It was
obtained from Santa Barbara.

A pendant of very peculiar form is shown in Fig. 8. The oval body has
three marginal projections, all of which are perforated; there is also a
perforation near the center. The surface retains a heavy coating of some
dark substance, which gives the ornament much the appearance of corroded
metal. It was obtained from San Miguel Island.

In a number of cases advantage has been taken of the natural
perforations of the shell, both to give variety to the outline of small
pendants and to save the labor of making artificial perforations. A very
handsome little specimen is shown in Fig. 9. The two indentations above
and below represent two of the natural perforations of the shell;
artificial perforations are made in each of the four corners or wings.
It was also obtained from the island of San Miguel.

Fig. 10 represents a leaf-shaped pendant with notched edges and a single
perforation. It comes from the island of Santa Cruz.


The examples given are typical of the very large class of ornaments
derived from the _Haliotidæ_. The striking specimens shown in
Plate XLVIII are, with one exception, made from shells of this class.
The two sickle-shaped pendants illustrated in Figs. 1 and 2 are made
from the broadened inner lip of the _Haliotis californianus_ (?). In one
a single perforation has been made near the upper end; in the other
there are two, one near each end. The faces have been neatly dressed and
the corners ornamented with minute notches. They are from graves on
Santa Cruz Island. Two exquisite specimens, also from Santa Cruz Island,
are presented in Figs. 3 and 4. They have been cut from the body of a
_Haliotis splendens_ (?), and finished with much care. Two perforations
have been made near the upper margin, which is arched or curved while
the lower is nearly straight. The edges are neatly notched. Although
somewhat altered by exposure these objects are still very pretty.

A very neat, well preserved little pendant is shown in Fig. 5. The
specimen presented in Fig. 6 is peculiar in having a series of five
perforations, one near the middle and the others near the ends. The
example given in Fig. 7 has two perforations, one at each end. These are
all made from species of the _Haliotis_.

The specimen presented in Fig. 8 is made from the lip of a _Cyprea
spadicea_ with very little change except the carefully made perforation.
It is from the island of San Miguel. The idea of beautifying ornaments
made from the _Haliotis_ and other shells by notching the edges may have
been suggested by the natural notches characteristic of the _Cypreas_.

    1-7. Pendants made of the _Haliotis_. (1/1)
    8. Pendant made of a _Cyprea_. (1/1)]

Figs. 1, 2, and 3, Plate XLIX, illustrate a group of small, delicate,
ladle-shaped pendants. The perforation for suspension is at the upper
end of the handle and the body has an oval or circular perforation,
which is often so enlarged as to leave only a narrow ring, like the rim
of an eyeglass. The specimen shown in Fig. 3 has two lobes, with a large
perforation or opening in each. In one instance the handle is quite wide
at the upper end and ornamented by two deep lateral notches. The edges
of these specimens are nearly always adorned with notches or crossed
lines. All are fashioned from the _Haliotis_, and although considerably
stained are still well enough preserved to show the pearly lusters of
that shell.

Circular and oval disks are also numerous and vary much in finish; some
have a great number of perforations or indentations, and nearly all are
neatly notched around the margins. Examples are given in Figs. 4 and 5.

The national collection contains a number of rings and pieces of rings
made from the valves of a large clam, probably a _Pectunculus_, one
example of which is shewn in Fig. 6. The convex back of the shell is
ground off until a marginal ring only remains. A perforation is made
near the angle of the beak. The shell is from the California coast, but
the rings were collected mostly if not entirely from Arizona and New
Mexico. It is not impossible that the tribes of the interior procured
these articles from white traders, as they are known to have secured
other shell ornaments in this way.

The natives of the California coast were not slow in taking advantage of
natural forms to aid their art or to save labor. The shells of the
_Fissurellidæ_ as well as of the _Haliotidæ_ have been in great favor.
They have been used as beads and pendants in their natural state or the
natural perforations have been enlarged until only a ring has been left,
or the margin and sides have been ground down until nothing of the
original form or surface remained. Two of these forms are shown in
Figs. 7 and 8. They are from graves on San Miguel Island, and are made
from the _Lucupina crenulata_; others come from Santa Cruz Island; and
probably also from the adjoining islands as well as from the main-land.
Rings are also made from other shells. Examples made from the _Acmæa
mitra_ and _Cyprea spadicea_ are shown in Figs. 9, 10, and 11. They come
from San Miguel.



We find that pendant gorgets grade imperceptibly into another group of
objects, the use or significance of which have not be fully determined.
These objects are more frequently made of stone or copper, but good
examples in shell have been found. As a rule they take the form of thin
oblong plates which exhibit great variety of outline. The perforations
are peculiar, and have not been designed for ordinary suspension, but
are placed near the middle of the specimen as if for fixing it to the
person or costume by means of cords. Many theories have been advanced in
attempting to determine their use. They have been classed as gorgets,
badges of authority, shuttles, armor plates, wrist protectors, and as
implements for sizing sinews and twisting cords.

Objects of this class in stone have been frequently illustrated and
described. They are made of many varieties of stone, some of which seem
to have been selected on account of their beauty. They have been neatly
shaped and often well-polished. The edges are occasionally notched and
the surfaces ornamented with patterns of incised lines. The perforations
vary from one to four, the greater number of specimens, however, having
only two. In the early days of mound exploration objects of this class
were even greater enigmas, if possible, than they are to-day. Even the
material of which a number of them were formed remained for a long time
undetermined. Schoolcraft has published an illustration of a large
specimen from the Grave Creek Mound, Va. This drawing is reproduced in
Fig. 3, Plate L. The original was six inches long, one and three-tenths
inches wide, and three-tenths of an inch in thickness. He expresses the
opinion that it was one of those ancient badges of authority formerly in
such general use among the Indians.[129]

Another specimen, very much like the last in size and shape, but made of
shell, supposed at the time of discovery to be ivory, was found
associated with human remains in the Grave Creek Mound. It is described
by Mr. Tomlinson in the American Pioneer,[130] and the cut given in
Plate L, Fig. 4, is copied from that work.

A remarkable specimen of this class is given in Fig. 5. It is made from
the body of a large _Busycon perversum_, and is nine and a half inches
long by three inches in width at the widest part. The concave surface
has been highly polished, but is now somewhat roughened by weathering;
the back has been slightly ground to take off the rougher ridges of
growth; the edges are even and rounded and in many places quite thin.
The peculiarity of its shape is such as to give it very much the
appearance of the sole of a sandal. The perforations are three in
number, one being near the middle and the others near the broader end,
about one and a half inches apart; they are very neatly made and are
slightly bi-conical and a little countersunk. There appears to be no
evidence whatever of abrasion by use. It was found associated with human
remains in a mound at Sharpsburg, Mercer County, Ohio. A similar
specimen from the same locality is nearly nine inches in length, and
lacks but a little of three and a half inches in width. As in the
specimen illustrated, one perforation is placed near the middle and two
others near the broader end. This specimen is highly polished on the
broader part of the back, and is evenly smoothed on the concave side. It
bears evidence of considerable use, and the two holes are much worn by a
string or cord, which, passing from one hole to the other on the concave
side of the plate, gradually worked a deep groove between them. On the
back or convex side, the perforations show no evidence of wear. The
central perforation is not worn on either side. The letter of Mr.
Whitney, transmitting this relic to the National Museum, states that
there were in the mound "about ten pairs of the shell sandals of
different sizes, and made to fit the right and left feet." From the
latter remark I should infer that some were made from dextral and others
from sinistral shells; the two described are made from the _Busycon

An extremely fine specimen, much like the preceding, was exhumed from an
ancient mound in Hardin County, Ohio. It was found on the head of a
skeleton which occupied a sitting posture near the center of the mound.
It is nine inches in length by three and one-half inches in width, and
in shape resembles the sole of a moccasin, being somewhat broader and
less pointed than the specimen presented in Fig. 5. It had been placed
upon the skull with the wider end toward the back, but whether laid
there as a burial offering simply or as constituting a part of the
head-dress of the dead savage we have no means of determining. The
perforations are three in number, and are placed similarly to those in
the specimen illustrated in Fig. 5. Two other skeletons had similar
plates associated with them, which differed from the one described in
size only, the smaller one being less than six inches in length.
Lithographs of two of these specimens are given by Mr. Matson, in whose
very excellent report they were first described.[131]

The gorget presented in Fig. 1 of this plate is copied from
Schoolcraft.[132] It was taken, along with many other interesting
relics, from one of the ossuaries at Beverly, Canada West. It is formed
from some large sea shell, and is three inches in width by three and
three-fourths inches in length. Its perforations are four in number, and
are so placed as to be conveniently used either for suspension by a
single cord or for fixing firmly by means of two or more cords. It seems
to hold a middle place between pendants proper and the pierced tablets
under consideration.[133]

The unique specimen given in Fig. 2 is from Cedar Keys, Florida, but
whether from a grave or a shell-heap I am at present unable to state. In
its perforations, which are large and doubly conical, it resembles very
closely the typical tablet of stone. The outline is peculiar; being
rounded at the top, it grows broader toward the base like a celt, and
terminates at the outer corners in well-rounded points, the edge between
being ornamented with a series of notches or teeth. It has been cut from
the wall of a _Busycon perversum_, and is sharply curved. The surface is
roughened by time, but there is no evidence of wear by use either in the
perforations or in the notches at the base.

    [Illustration: PL. L--PERFORATED PLATES.
    1. Ornament from Beverly, C. W.
    2. Ornament from Florida.
    3, 4. Objects from the Grave Creek Mound, Va.
    5. Perforated plate from Ohio.]

In studying these remarkable specimens the fact that they so seldom show
marks of use presents itself for explanation. Dr. Charles Rau, whose
opinions in such matters are always worthy of consideration, remarks
"that at first sight one might be inclined to consider them as objects
of ornament, or as badges of distinction; but this view is not
corroborated by the appearance of the perforations, which exhibit no
trace of that peculiar abrasion produced by constant suspension. The
classification of the tablets as 'gorgets,' therefore, appears to be

The same argument could, however, be brought with equal force against
their use for any of the other purposes suggested. The perforations, if
not used for suspension or attachment, would be subject to wear from any
other use to which they could be put. But, as we have already seen, one
of the specimens in shell exhibits well-defined evidence of wear, and
that of such a character as to indicate the passage of a cord between
the perforations in a position that would produce abrasion between the
holes on the concave side of the plate, but would leave the back
entirely unworn. This peculiar result could only be produced by
attachment in a fixed position, concave side out, to some object
perforated like the plate, the cord passing directly through both. The
perforations of pendants necessarily show wear on both sides; a like
result would follow from the use of these plates in any of the other
ways mentioned. Those made of shell could not, on account of their
warped shape, be used for shuttles; besides, they show no evidence of
marginal wear, such as would result from this use. The fact, too, that
the material had to be brought from the distant sea-shore would seem to
render it too rare and precious to be employed in the ordinary arts when
wood, stone, and bone would serve the purpose as well. Owing to the
carelessness or negligence of collectors we have but little information
in regard to their relation to the human remains with which they were
deposited. Such facts as we have, however, tend, I believe, to show that
they were used for personal decoration. Again, the material of which
they are formed is, on account of its beauty, especially adapted for
ornament, and for this use it has been almost exclusively reserved by
peoples as distant from the sea as were the ancient peoples of the Ohio


It has already been suggested that the simpler forms of pendants with
plain surfaces may have had particular significance to their possessors,
as insignia, amulets, or symbols, or that they may have received painted
designs of such a character as to give significance to them. For
ornament the natural or plainly polished surface of the shell possessed
sufficient beauty to satisfy the most fastidious taste--a beauty that
could hardly be enhanced by the addition of painted or incised figures.
But we find that many of the larger gorgets obtained from the mounds and
graves of a large district have designs of a most interesting nature
engraved upon them, which are so remarkable in conception and execution
as to command our admiration. Such is the character of these designs
that we are at once impressed with the idea that they are not products
of the idle fancy, neither is it possible that they had no higher office
than the gratification of barbarian vanity. I have given much time to
their examination, and, day by day, have become more strongly impressed
with the belief that no single design is without its significance, and
that their production was a serious art which dealt with matters closely
interwoven with the history, mythology and polity of a people gradually
developing a civilization of their own.

Although these objects were worn as personal ornaments they probably had
specialized uses as insignia, amulets, or symbols.

As _insignia_, they were badges of office or distinction. The devices
engraved upon them were derived from many sources and were probably
sometimes supplemented by numeral records representing enemies killed,
prisoners taken, or other deeds accomplished.

As _amulets_, they were invested with protective or remedial attributes
and contained mystic devices derived from dreams, visions, and many
other sources.

As _symbols_ they possessed, in most cases, a religious character, and
were generally used as _totems_ of clans. They were inscribed with
characters derived chiefly from mythologic sources. A few examples
contain geometric designs which may have been _time-symbols_, or they
may have indicated the order of ceremonial exercises.

That these objects should be classed under one of these heads and not as
simple ornaments engraved with intricate designs for embellishment alone
is apparent when we consider the serious character of the work, the
great amount of labor and patience shown, the frequent recurrence of the
same design, the wide distribution of particular forms, the preservation
of the idea in all cases, no matter what shortcomings occur in execution
or detail, and the apparent absence of all lines, dots, and figures not
essential to the presentation of the conception.

In describing these gorgets I have arranged them in groups distinguished
by the designs engraved upon them.[135] They are presented in the
following order:

The Cross,

The Scalloped Disk,

The Bird,

The Spider,

The Serpent,

The Human Face,

The Human Figure: and to these I append The Frog, which is found in
Arizona only, and although carved in shell does not appear to have been
used as a pendant, as no perforations are visible.

Within the United States ancient tablets containing engraved designs are
apparently confined to the Atlantic slope, and are not found to any
extent beyond the limits of the district occupied by the stone-grave
peoples. Early explorers along the Atlantic coast mention the use of
engraved gorgets by a number of tribes. Modern examples may be found
occasionally among the Indians of the northwest coast as well as upon
the islands of the central Pacific.


The discoverers and early explorers of the New World were filled with
surprise when they beheld their own sacred emblem, the cross, mingling
with the pagan devices of the western barbarian. Writers have speculated
in vain--the mystery yet remains unsolved. Attempts to connect the use
of the cross by prehistoric Americans with its use in the East have
signally failed, and we are compelled to look on its occurrence here as
one of those strange coincidences so often found in the practices of
peoples totally foreign to each other.

If written history does not establish beyond a doubt the fact that the
cross had a place in our aboriginal symbolism, we have but to turn to
the pages of the great archæologic record, where we find that it
occupies a place in ancient American art so intimately interwoven with
conceptions peculiar to the continent that it cannot be separated from
them. It is found associated with other prehistoric remains throughout
nearly the entire length and breadth of America.

I have the pleasure of presenting a few new examples of this emblem,
obtained from the district at one time occupied by the mound-builders.
The examples are carved in shell or engraved upon disks of shell which
have been employed as pendant gorgets. In the study of these particular
relics, one important fact in recent history must be kept constantly in
mind. The first explorers were accompanied by Christian zealots, who
spared no effort to root out the native superstitions and introduce a
foreign religion, of which the cross was the all-important symbol. This
emblem was generally accepted by the savages as the only tangible
feature of a new system of belief that was filled with subtleties too
profound for their comprehension. As a result, the cross was at once
introduced into the regalia of the natives; at first probably in a
European form and material attached to a string of beads in precisely
the manner that they had been accustomed to suspend their own trinkets
and gorgets; but soon, no doubt, delineated or carved by their own hands
upon tablets of stone and copper and shell, in the place of their own
peculiar conceptions. From the time of La Salle down to the extinction
of the savage in the middle Mississippi province, the cross was kept
constantly before him, and its presence may thus be accounted for in
such remains as post-date the advent of the whites. Year after year
articles of European manufacture are being discovered in the most
unexpected places, and we shall find it impossible to assign any single
example of these crosses to a prehistoric period, with the assurance
that our statements will not some day be challenged. It is certainly
unfortunate that the American origin of any work of art resembling
European forms must rest forever under a cloud of suspicion. As long as
a doubt exists in regard to the origin of a relic, it is useless to
employ it in a discussion where important deductions are to be made. At
the same time it should not be forgotten that the cross was undoubtedly
used as a symbol by the prehistoric nations of the South, and
consequently that it was probably also known in the North. A great
majority of the relics associated with it in ancient mounds and burial
places are undoubtedly aboriginal. In the case of the shell gorgets, the
tablets themselves belong to an American type, and are highly
characteristic of the art of the Mississippi Valley. A majority of the
designs engraved upon them are also characteristic of the same district.

We find at rare intervals designs that are characteristically foreign;
these, whether Mexican or European, are objects of special interest and
merit the closest possible examination. That the design under
consideration, as well as every other engraved upon these tablets, is
symbolic or otherwise significant, I do not for a moment doubt; but the
probabilities as to the European or American origin of the symbol of the
cross found in this region are pretty evenly balanced. In its
delineation there is certainly nothing to indicate its origin. By
reference to Plate LIII it will be seen that in all the examples given
it is a simple and symmetrical cross, which might be duplicated a
thousand times in the religious art of any country. A study of the
designs associated with the cross in these gorgets is instructive, but
does not lead to any definite result. In one case the cross is inscribed
upon the back of a great spider; in another it is surrounded by a
rectangular framework of lines, looped at the corners, and guarded by
four mysterious birds, while in others it is without attendant
characters; but the workmanship is purely aboriginal. I have not seen a
single example of engraving upon shell that suggested a foreign hand, or
a design, with the exception of this one, that could claim a European

Some very ingenious theories have been elaborated in attempting to
account for the presence of the cross among American symbols. Brinton
believes that the great importance attached to the points of the
compass--the four quarters of the heavens--by savage peoples has given
rise to the sign of the cross. With others the cross is a phallic
symbol, derived, by some obscure process of evolution, from the
veneration accorded to the reciprocal principle in nature. It is also
frequently associated with sun-worship, and is recognized as a symbol of
the sun--the four arms being remaining rays left after a gradual process
of elimination. Whatever is finally determined in reference to the
origin of the cross as a religious symbol in America will probably
result from the exhaustive study of the history, language, and art of
the ancient peoples, combined with a thorough knowledge of the religious
conceptions of modern tribes, and when these sources of information are
all exhausted it is probable that the writer who asserts more than a
probability will overreach his proofs.

Such delineations of the cross as we find embodied in ancient aboriginal
art represent only the final stages of its evolution, and it is not to
be expected that its origin can be traced through them. In one instance,
however, a direct derivation from nature is suggested. The ancient
Mexican pictographic manuscripts abound in representations of trees,
conventionalized in such a manner as to resemble crosses; these
apparently take an important part in the scenes depicted. By a
comparison of these curious trees with the remarkable cross in the
Palenque tablet, I have been led to the belief that they must have a
common significance and origin. The analogies are indeed remarkable. The
tree-cross in the paintings is often the central figure of a group in
which priests offer sacrifice, or engage in some similar religious rite.
The cross holds the same relation in the Palenque group. The branches of
these cross-shaped trees terminate in clusters of symbolic fruit, and
the arms of the cross are loaded down with symbols which, although
highly conventionalized, have not yet entirely lost their vegetable
character. The most remarkable feature, however, is not that the crosses
resemble each other in these respects, but that they perform like
functions in giving support to a symbolic bird which is perched upon the
summit. This bird appears to be the important feature of the group, and
to it, or the deity which it represents, the homage or sacrifice is
offered. These analogies go still farther; the bases of the cross in the
tablet and of the crosses in the paintings are made to rest upon a
highly conventionalized figure of some mythical creature. A
consideration of these facts seems to me to lead to the conclusion that
the myths represented in all of these groups are identical, and that the
cross and cross-like trees have a common origin. Whether that origin is
in the tree on the one hand or in a cross otherwise evolved on the other
I shall not attempt to say.

The gorget presented in Fig. 1, Plate LI, belongs to the collection of
Mr. F. M. Perrine, and was obtained from a mound in Union County, Ill.
It is a little more than three inches in diameter and has been ground
down to a uniform thickness of about one-twelfth of an inch. The
surfaces are smooth and the margin carefully rounded and polished. Near
the upper edge are two perforations for suspension. The cord used passed
between the holes on the concave side, wearing a shallow groove. On the
convex side, or back, the cord marks extend upward and outward,
indicating the usual method of suspension about the neck. The cross
which occupies the center of the concave face of the disk, is quite
simple. It is partially inclosed on one side by a semicircular line, and
at present has no other definition than that given by four triangular
perforations which separate the arms. The face of the cross is
ornamented with six carelessly drawn incised lines, which interlace in
the center, as shown in the cut--three extending along the arm to the
right and three passing down the lower arm to the inclosing line. I have
not been able to learn anything of the character of the interments with
which this specimen was associated.

Fig. 2 of the same plate represents a large shell cross, the encircling
rim of which has been broken away. The perforations are still intact.
The cross is quite plain. This specimen is very much decayed, and came
to the National Museum inside of a skull obtained from a grave at
Charleston, Mo. Beyond this there is no record of the specimen.

    [Illustration: PL. LI--SHELL GORGETS--THE CROSS.
    1. From a mound, Union County, Ill.
    2. From Charleston, Mo.

In Fig. 1, Plate LII, I present a large fragment of a circular shell
ornament, on the convex surface of which a very curious ornamental
design has been engraved. The design, inclosed by a circle, represents a
cross such as would be formed by two rectangular tablets or slips, slit
longitudinally and interlaced at right angles to each other. Between the
arms of the cross in the spaces inclosed by the circular border line are
four annular nodes, having small conical depressions in the center.
These nodes have been relieved by cutting away portions of the shell
around them. In the center of the cross is another small node or ring
similarly relieved. The lines are neat and deeply incised. The edge of
the shell has been broken away nearly all around. The accompanying cut
represents the ornament natural size--one and a half inches in diameter
and one-sixteenth of an inch in thickness. It was obtained from a mound
on Fain's Island, Tennessee.

The small gorget presented in Fig. 2, Plate LII, is of inferior
workmanship and the lines and dots seem to have a somewhat haphazard
arrangement. The cross, which may or may not be significant, consists of
two shallow irregular grooves which cross each other at right angles
near the center of the disk and terminate near the border. There are
indications of an irregular, somewhat broken, concentric line near the
margin. A number of shallow conical pits have been drilled at rather
irregular intervals over most of the surface. One pair of perforations
seems to have been broken away and others drilled, one of the latter has
also been broken out. A triangular fragment is lost from the lower
margin of the disk. This specimen was obtained from a mound on Lick
Creek, East Tennessee, by Mr. Dunning.

The gorget shown in Fig. 3 contains a typical example of the cross of
the mound-builder. The cut was made from a pencil sketch and is probably
not quite accurate in detail. The border of the disk is plain, with the
exception of the usual perforations at the top. The cross is inclosed in
a carelessly drawn circle, and the spaces between the arms, which in
other crosses are entirely cut out, or are filled with rays or other
figures, are here decorated with a pattern of crossed lines. The lines
which define the arms of the cross intersect in the middle of the disk.
The square figure thus produced in the center contains a device that is
probably significant. A doubly-curved or S-shaped incised line, widened
at the ends, extends obliquely across the square from the right upper to
the left lower corner. This figure appears to be an elementary or
unfinished form of the device found in the center of many of the more
elaborate disks. Intersected by a similar line it would form a cross
like that upon the back of one of the spiders shown in Plate LXI, or
somewhat more evenly curved, it would resemble the involuted figure in
the center of the circular disks given in Plate LIV. This specimen was
obtained from a mound on Lick Creek, Tenn., and is now in the Peabody

In Fig. 4 a large copper disk from an Ohio mound is represented. The
specimen is eight inches in diameter, is very thin, and has suffered
greatly from corrosion. A symmetrical cross, the arms of which are five
inches in length, has been cut out of the center. Two concentric lines
have been impressed in the plate, one near the margin and the other
touching the ends of the cross. It is now in the Natural History Museum
at New York.

    1. Shell gorget, Fain's Island, Tenn.
    2. Shell gorget, Lick Creek, Tenn.
    3. Shell gorget, Lick Creek, Tenn.
    4. Copper plate, Ohio.]

In Plate LIII I present a large number of crosses, most of which have
been obtained from the mounds, or from ancient graves, within the
district occupied by the mound-builders. Eight are engraved upon shell
gorgets (illustrations of which are given in the accompanying plates),
one is cut in stone, three are painted upon pottery, and four are
executed in copper. With two exceptions they are inclosed in circles,
and are hence symmetrical Greek crosses, the ends being rounded to
conform to the circle; the remaining two (Figs. 14 and 15) represent
forms of the Latin cross, and resemble the crosses attached to the
rosaries of the Catholic priesthood. A silver cross similar to the last
given was obtained from a mound in Ohio.

The plate itself is instructive, and may be presented without further

    [Illustration: PL. LIII--THE CROSS.]


In making a hasty classification of the many engraved gorgets, I have
found it convenient to place in one group a numerous and somewhat
extraordinary class of designs which have been engraved upon scalloped
disks. Like the cross, the symbol here represented is one that cannot
with certainty be referred to an original. The general shape of the
disks is such as to suggest to most minds a likeness to the sun, the
scallops being suggestive of the rays. As this orb is known to be an
object of first importance in the economy of life--the source of light
and heat--it is naturally an object of veneration among many primitive
peoples. It is well known that the barbarian tribes of Mexico and South
America had well-developed systems of sun-worship, and that they
employed symbols of many forms, some of which still retained a likeness
to the original, while others had assumed the garb of animals or
fanciful creatures. These facts being known, it seems natural that such
a symbol as the one under consideration should be referred to the great
original which it suggests.

The well-known fact that the district from which these gorgets come,
was, at the time of discovery by the whites, inhabited by a race of
sun-worshipers--the Natchez--gives to this assumption a shadow of
confirmation. So far as I am aware, however, no one has ventured a
positive opinion in regard to their significance, but such suggestions
as have been made incline toward the view indicated above. I feel the
great necessity of caution in such matters, and while combating the idea
that the designs are ornamental or fanciful only, I am far from
attributing to them any deeply mysterious significance. They may in some
way or other indicate political or religious station, or they may even
be cosmogenic, but the probabilities are much greater that they are time
symbols. Before venturing further, however, it will be well to describe
one of these disks, a typical example of which is presented in Plate LIV.

The specimen chosen as a type of these rosette-like disks was obtained
from a mound near Nashville, Tenn., by Professor Powell. It was found
near the head of a skeleton, which was much decayed, and had been so
disturbed by recent movements of the soil as to render it difficult to
determine its original position. The shell used is apparently a large
specimen of the _Busycon perversum_, although the lines of growth are
not sufficiently well preserved to permit a positive determination of
the species. The substance of the shell is well preserved; the surface
was once highly polished, but is now pitted and discolored by age. The
design is engraved on the concave surface as usual, and the lines are
accurately drawn and clearly cut. The various concentric circles are
drawn with geometric accuracy around a minute shallow pit as a center.
These circles divide the surface into five parts--a small circle at the
center surrounded by four zones of unequal width. The central circle is
three-eighths of an inch in diameter, and is surrounded by a zone
one-half an inch in width, which contains a rosette of three involuted
lines; these begin on the circumference of the inner circle in three
small equidistant perforations, and sweep outward to the second circle,
making upwards of half a revolution. These lines are somewhat wider and
more deeply engraved than the other lines of the design. In many
specimens they are so deeply cut in the middle part of the curve as to
penetrate the disk, producing crescent-shaped perforations. The second
zone is one-fourth of an inch in width, and in this, as in all other
specimens, is quite plain. The third zone is one-half an inch in width,
and exhibits some very interesting features. Placed at almost equal
intervals we find six circular figures, each of which incloses a circlet
and a small central pit; the spaces between the circular figures are
thickly dotted with minute conical pits, somewhat irregularly placed;
the number of dots in each space varies from thirty-six to forty, which
gives a total of about two hundred and thirty.

The outer zone is subdivided into thirteen compartments, in each of
which a nearly circular figure or boss has been carved, the outer edges
of which form the scalloped outline of the gorget. Two medium sized
perforations for suspension have been made near the inner margin of one
of the bosses next the dotted zone; these show slight indications of
abrasion by the cord of suspension. These perforations, as well as the
three near the center, have been bored mainly from the convex side of
the disk. Whatever may be the meaning of this design, we cannot fail to
recognize the important fact that it is significant--that an idea is
expressed. Were the design ornamental, we should expect variation in the
parts or details of different specimens resulting from difference of
taste in the designers; if simply copied from an original example for
sale or trade to the inhabitants we might expect a certain number of
exact reproductions; but in such a case, when variations did occur, they
would hardly be found to follow uniform or fixed lines; there would also
be variation in the relation of the parts of the conception as well as
in the number of particular parts; the zones would not follow each other
in exactly the same order; particular figures would not be confined to
particular zones; the rays of the volute would not always have a
sinistral turn, or the form of the tablet be always circular and
scalloped. It cannot be supposed that of the whole number of these
objects at one time in use, more than a small number have been rescued
from decay, and these have been obtained from widely scattered
localities and doubtless represent centuries of time, yet no variants
appear to indicate a leading up to or a divergence from the one
particular type. A design of purely ornamental character, even if
executed by the same hand, could not, in the nature of things, exhibit
the uniformity in variation here shown. Fancy, unfettered by ideas of a
fixed nature, such as those pertaining to religious or sociologic
customs, would vary with the locality, the day, the year, or the life. I
have examined upwards of thirty of these scalloped disks, the majority
of which are made of shell. I shall not attempt to describe each
specimen, but shall call attention to such important variations from the
type as may be noticed.

    [Illustration: PL. LIV--SCALLOPED SHELL DISK.
    Nashville, Tenn.

In Fig. 1, Plate LV, we have a well-preserved disk which has four
involute lines, the others having three only; these lines are deeply cut
and, for about one-third of their length, penetrate the shell, producing
four crescent-shaped perforations. The circles in the third or dotted
zone are neatly made and evenly spaced, and inclose circlets and conical
pits. The dots in the intervening spaces are closely and irregularly
placed, and in number range from forty to forty-five, giving a total of
about three hundred and forty. Other features are as usual. The specimen
was obtained from a stone grave in Kane's Field, near Nashville, Tenn.,
and is now in the Peabody Museum.

It is possible that the specimen presented in Fig. 2, Plate LV, should
not be placed in this group; but as there are many points of resemblance
to the type, it may be described here. At first sight it appears that
one of the outer zones is lacking, but it will be seen that through some
unknown cause the two have been merged together, alternating bosses of
the outer line being carried across both zones. The whole design has
been carelessly laid out and rudely engraved. The lines of the involute
are arranged in four groups of two each and occupy an unusually wide
belt. There are near the margin two sets of perforations for suspension.
The specimen was obtained from the Brakebill mound, near Knoxville,
Tenn., and is in an advanced stage of decay.

    [Illustration: PL. LV--SHELL DISKS.
    1. From a mound near Nashville. (1/1)
    2. From the Brakebill Mound. (1/1)

In Plate LVI, Fig. 4, I present a small specimen, which has the
appearance of being unfinished. The zones are all defined, but, with the
exception of the outer, which has thirteen bosses, are quite plain. The
lines are deeply but rudely cut. It was obtained from a stone grave at
Oldtown, Tenn., and is now in the Peabody Museum.

Besides the type specimen already presented, there may be seen in the
National Museum two very good examples, from a mound near Franklin,
Tenn. The smaller is about three inches in diameter and is nearly
circular; it has suffered much from decay, but nearly all the design can
be made out. The lines of the involute penetrate the disk producing
short crescent-shaped perforations; the circles in the dotted zone are
seven in number and inclose the usual circlets and conical pits; the
dots in the intervening spaces are too obscure to be counted. The
specimen has sixteen marginal scallops. The larger specimen is somewhat
fragmentary, portions being broken away from opposite sides. It is
nearly four and a half inches in diameter, and the design has been drawn
and engraved with more than ordinary precision. The central circle
incloses a perforated circlet, and the involute lines are long and
shallow. The dotted zone has seven circles with inclosed circlets and
pits. The outer zone contains fifteen oval figures.

Another example of these shell disks is illustrated by Professor Putnam,
in the eleventh annual report of the Peabody Museum, page 310. It is
said to have been found near Nashville, Tenn., although its pedigree is
not well established. According to Professor Putnam, it is made from the
shell of a _Busycon_, and is apparently in a very good state of
preservation. It is about four inches in diameter and is inscribed with
the usual design, a central circle and dot surrounded by a triple
involute and three concentric zones. The narrow inner zone is plain, as
usual; the middle dotted zone has six circles with central dots, the
spaces between being closely dotted, and the outer zone contains
thirteen of the oval figures, the outer edges of which form the
scalloped margin of the disk. The perforations for suspension are placed
as usual near the inner margin of the outer zone in the spaces between
the oval figures.

A fine example of engraved disks has been figured by Dr. Joseph Jones,
from whose work the illustrations given in Figs. 1 and 2, Plate LVI,
have been taken. As his description is one of the first given and quite
graphic, I make the following quotation: "In a carefully constructed
stone sarcophagus, in which the face of the skeleton was looking toward
the setting sun, a beautiful shell ornament was found resting upon the
breast-bone of the skeleton. This shell ornament is 4.4 inches in
diameter, and it is ornamented on its concave surface, with a small
circle in the center, and four concentric bands, differently figured, in
relief. The first band is filled by a triple volute; the second is
plain, while the third is dotted, and has nine small round bosses carved
at unequal distances upon it. The outer band is made up of fourteen
small elliptical bosses, the outer edges of which give to the object a
scalloped rim. This ornament on its concave figured surface had been
covered with red paint, much of which was still visible. The convex
smooth surface is highly polished and plain, with the exception of three
concentric marks. The material out of which it is formed was evidently
derived from a large flat sea-shell. * * * The form of the circles or
'_suns_' carved upon the concave surface is similar to that of the
paintings on the high rocky cliffs on the banks of the Cumberland and
Harpeth. * * * This ornament, when found, lay upon the breast-bone, with
the concave surface uppermost, as if it had been worn in this position
suspended around the neck, as the two holes for the thong or string were
in that portion of the border which pointed directly to the chin or
central portion of the lower jaw of the skeleton. The marks of the thong
by which it was suspended are manifest upon both the anterior and
posterior surfaces, and in addition to this the paint is worn off from
the circular space bounded below by the two holes."[136]

Fig. 2 represents the back or convex side of the disk, the long curved
lines indicate the laminations of the shell, and the three narrow
crescent-shaped figures near the center are perforations resulting from
the deep engraving of the three lines of the volute on the concave side.
The stone grave in which this ornament was found occupied the summit of
a mound on the banks of the Cumberland River opposite Nashville,
Tennessee. Professor Jones, also represents in the same work, page 109,
a large fragment of a similar ornament which has apparently had seven
circlets in the dotted zone and thirteen marginal bosses. This specimen,
which is three and one-half inches in diameter, was exhumed by Dr.
Grant, from "a small rock mound" near Pulaski, Giles County, Tennessee.

    [Illustration: PL. LVI--SCALLOPED SHELL DISKS.
    1. Nashville, Tenn.
    2. Nashville, Tenn. (reverse).
    3. Nashville, Tenn.
    4. Oldtown, Tenn.
    5. Nashville, Tenn.
    6. Pulaski, Tenn.]

Prof. C. C. Jones describes a number of stone disks containing designs
which evidently belong to the class under consideration. He inclines to
the opinion that they were designed for some sacred office, and suggests
that they were used as plates to offer food to the sun god. The specimen
of which I present an outline in Fig. 3, Plate LVII, is figured by Mr.
Jones, and his description is as follows: It is "circular in form,
eleven inches and a half in diameter, an inch and a quarter in
thickness, and weighing nearly seven pounds. It is made of a
close-grained, sea-green slate, and bears upon its surface the stains of
centuries. Between the rim, which is scalloped, and the central portion,
are two circular depressed rings, running parallel with the
circumference and incised to the depth of a tenth of an inch. This
circular basin, nearly eight inches in diameter, is surrounded by a
margin or rim a little less than two inches in width, traversed by the
incised rings and beveled from the center toward the edge. The lower
surface or bottom of the plate is flat, beveled upward, however, as it
approaches the scalloped edge, which is not more than a quarter of an
inch in thickness. * * * The use of these plates from the Etowah Valley
may, we think, be conjectured with at least some degree of probability.
It is not likely that they were employed for domestic or culinary
purposes. Their weight, variety, the care evidenced in their
construction, and the amount of time and labor necessarily expended in
their manufacture, forbid the belief that they were intended as ordinary
dishes from which the daily meal was to be eaten, and suggest the
impression that they were designed to fulfill a more unusual and
important office. The common vessels from which the natives of this
region ate their prepared food were bowls and pans fashioned of wood and
baked clay, calabashes, pieces of bark, and large shells. Flat platters,
made of an admixture of clay and pounded shells, well kneaded and burnt,
were ordinarily employed for baking corn-cakes and frying meat; but it
does not anywhere appear that ornamental stone plates were in general

This specimen, or one identical with it, is in the possession of the
Natural History Museum in New York. It was plowed up in 1859 on the
lower terrace of a large mound near Cartersville, Ga.

Other specimens somewhat similar to the one described by Professor Jones
have been obtained from the same region, two of which are now in the
National Museum. One of these from a mound on the Warrior Riv. is made
of gray slate, and is about eight inches in diameter. It is smooth,
symmetrical, and doubly convex. There are three shallow, irregular lines
near the border, and the periphery is ornamented with twenty-one
scallops. Another specimen, a cut of which has already been published by
Dr. Rau in "The Archæological Collection of the National Museum," p. 37,
is illustrated in Plate LVII, Fig. 1. It is nearly one-half an inch in
thickness, and about ten inches in diameter. A single incised line runs
parallel with the circumference, which is ornamented with nine rather
irregularly placed notches. The stone disk, of which an outline is given
in Fig. 2, Plate LVII, was obtained from the Lick Creek mound, in East
Tennessee. Its resemblance to the shell disks is so striking that it
must be regarded as having a similar origin if not a similar use. The
division into zones is the same as in the shell disks; the outer is
divided into twelve lobes, and the cross in the center takes the place
of the involute rosette with its central circle. The fact that this
particular design is engraved on heavy plates of stone as well as upon
shell gorgets is sufficient proof that its origin cannot be attributed
to fancy alone.

I have seen at the National Museum a curious specimen of stone disk,
which should be mentioned in this place, although there is not
sufficient assurance of its genuineness to allow it undisputed claim to
a place among antiquities. It is a perfectly circular, neatly-dressed
sandstone disk, twelve inches in diameter and one-half an inch in
thickness. Upon one face we see three marginal incised lines, as in the
example just described, while on the other there is a well-engraved
design which represents two entwined or rather knotted rattlesnakes. An
outline of this curious figure is given in Plate LXVI. Within the
circular space inclosed by the bodies of the serpents is a well-drawn
hand in the palm of which is placed an open eye; this would probably
have been omitted by the artist had he fully appreciated the skeptical
tendencies of the modern archæologist. The margin of the plate is
divided into seventeen sections by small semicircular indentations. This
object is said to have been obtained from a mound near Carthage, Ala.
The reverse is shown in Fig. 4, Plate LVII. A similar specimen from a
mound near Lake Washington, Mississippi, is described by Mr.

    [Illustration: PL. LVII--SCALLOPED DISKS.
    1. Stone, Warrior River, Ala.
    2. Stone, Lick Creek Mound, Tenn.
    3. Stone, Etowah, Valley, Ga.
    4. Stone, Carthage, Ala.
    5. Stone, Sun symbol, Uxmal.]

The short time at my disposal has barely permitted me to collect the
facts, and I shall have to leave it to the future or to others to follow
out fully the suggestions here presented. I had expected to find some
uniformity in the numbers or ratios of the various zones, circles, and
dots, and by that means possibly to have arrived at some conclusion as
to their significance. I have already shown that certain elements of the
design are fixed in position and number, while others vary, and the
following table is presented that these facts may be made apparent. The
list is quite incomplete.

It will be seen by reference to the fourth column that the involute
symbol of the inner zone is, with one exception, divided into three
parts. The second zone is not given in the table, as it is always plain.
The third or dotted zone contains circlets which range from six to nine,
while the dots, which have been counted in a few cases only, have a wide
range, the total number in some cases reaching three hundred and forty.
The bosses of the outer zone range from thirteen to eighteen. The
examples in stone seem to have a different series of numbers.

The student will hardly fail to notice the resemblance of these disks to
the calendars or time symbols of Mexico and other southern nations of
antiquity. There is, however, no absolute identity with southern
examples. The involute design in the center resembles the Aztec symbol
of day, but is peculiar in its division into three parts, four being the
number almost universally used. The only division into three that I have
noticed occurs in the calendar of the Muyscas, in which three days
constitute a week. The circlets and bosses of the outer zones gives them
a pretty close resemblance to the month and year zones of the southern

My suggestion that these objects may be calendar disks will not seem
unreasonable when it is remembered that time symbols do very often make
their appearance during the early stages of barbarism. They are the
result of attempts to fix accurately the divisions of time for the
regulation of religious rites, and among the nations of the south
constituted the great body of art. No well-developed calendar is known
among the wild tribes of North America, the highest achievements in this
line consisting of simple pictographic symbols of the years, but there
is no reason why the mound-builders should not have achieved a pretty
accurate division of time resembling, in its main features, the systems
of their southern neighbors.

  Column headers:
  [A] Illustrated in--
  [B] Collection.
  [C] Locality.
  [D] Divisions of involute.
  [E] Circlets in 2d zone.
  [F] Bosses in marginal zone.
  [G] Dots in 2d zone.
  [H] Peculiar features.

     [A]    |     [B]    | [C] |[D]| [E] |[F]| [H]  |
  Pl. LIV   |N. M., 32060|Tenn.| 3 |   6 |13 |340(?)|Three central
            |            |     |   |     |   |      |      perforations.
  Pl. LV, 1 |P. M., 15247| do  | 4 |   8 |14 |      |
  Pl. LVI, 1|J. Jones    | do  | 3 |   9 |14 |      |Three incisions.
  Pl. LVI, 3|P. M., 11801| do  | 3 |   6 |13 |      |
  Pl. LVI, 4|P. M., 15969| do  | 3 |Plain|13 |      |Unfinished (?)
            |P. M., 15896| do  | 3 |   8 |17 |      |
            |P. M.       | do  | 3 |   6 |16 |      |
            |P. M., 15906| do  | 3 |   8 |13 |100(?)|Two central
            |            |     |   |     |   |      |      perforations.
            |P. M., 15835| do  | 3 |   6 |14 |250(?)|
            |P. M., 15916| do  | 3 |   6 |18 |      |Three crescent
            |            |     |   |     |   |      |      perforations.
            |N. M., 19976| do  | 3 |   7 | 6 |      |
            |N. M., 19975| do  | 3 |   7 |15 |280(?)|
  Pl. LVII,1|N. M., 9334 |Ga.  |   |Plain| 9 |      |
  Pl. LVII,2|P. M., 2962 | do  |   |  do |12 |      |Cross in center.
  Pl. LVII,3|N. Y. Nat.  | do  |   |  do |24 |      |
            |    Hist. M.|     |   |     |   |      |
            |N. M., 9332 | do  |   |  do |21 |      |
  Pl. LXVI  |N. M.       |Ala. |   |  do |17 |      |Serpent, obverse.
            |Anderson    |Miss.|   |  do |18 |      |Serpent, center.
  N. M., National Museum.            P. M., Peabody Museum.


With all peoples the bird has been a most important symbol. Possessing
the mysterious power of flight, by which it could rise at pleasure into
the realms of space, it naturally came to be associated with the
phenomena of the sky--the wind, the storm, the lightning, and the
thunder. In the fervid imagination of the red man it became the actual
ruler of the elements, the guardian of the four quarters of the heavens.
As a result the bird is embodied in the myths, and is a prominent figure
in the philosophy of many savage tribes. The eagle, which is an
important emblem with many civilized nations, is found to come much
nearer the heart of the superstitious savage; its plumes are the badge
of the successful warrior; its body a sacred offering to his deities, or
an object of actual veneration. The swan, the heron, the woodpecker, the
paroquet, the owl, and the dove were creatures of unusual consideration;
their flight was noted as a matter of vital importance, as it could bode
good or evil to the hunter or warrior who consulted it as an oracle.

The dove, with the Hurons, is thought to be the keeper of the souls of
the dead, and the Navajos are said to believe that four white swans
dwell in the four quarters of the heavens and rule the winds.

The storm-bird of the Dakotas dwells in the upper air, beyond the range
of human vision, carrying upon its back a lake of fresh water; when it
winks its eyes there is lightning; when it flaps its wings we hear the
thunder; and when it shakes out its plumage the rain descends. Myths
like this abound in the lore of many peoples, and the story of the
mysterious bird is interwoven with the traditions which tell of their
origin. A creature which has sufficient power to guide and rule a race
is constantly embodied in its songs, its art, and its philosophy. Thus
highly regarded by the modern tribes, it must have been equally an
object of consideration among prehistoric races. We know that the
Natchez and the Creeks included the bird among their deities, and by the
relics placed within his sepulchers we know that it held an important
place in the esteem of the mound-builder.

Our prehistoric peoples seem to have taken special delight in carving
its form in wood and stone, in modeling it in clay, in fashioning it in
copper and gold, and in engraving it upon shell. One of the most
interesting of all the specimens preserved to us is illustrated in
Plate LVIII. The design with which this relic is embellished possesses
no little artistic excellence, and doubtless embodies some one of the
many charming myths of the heavens.

I am perfectly well aware that a scientific writer should guard against
the tendency to indulge in flights of fancy, but as the myths of the
American aborigines are highly poetical, and abound in lofty rhetorical
figures, there can be no good reason why their graphic art should not
echo some of these rhythmical passages. To the thoughtful mind it will
be apparent that, although this design is not necessarily full of occult
mysteries, every line has its purpose and every figure its significance.
Yet of these very works one writer has ventured the opinion that "they
do but express the individual fancy of those by whom they were made;"
that they are even without "indications of any intelligent design or
pictographic idea." I do not assume to interpret these designs; they are
not to be interpreted. Besides, there is no advantage to be gained by an
interpretation. We have hundreds of primitive myths within our easy
reach that are as interesting and instructive as these could be. All I
desire is to elevate these works from the category of trinkets to what I
believe is their rightful place--the serious art of a people with great
capacity for loftier works. What the gorgets themselves were, or of what
particular value to their possessors, aside from simple ornament, must
be, in a measure, a matter of conjecture. They were hardly less than the
totems of clans, the insignia of rulers, or the potent charms of a

The gorget in question is unfortunately without a pedigree. It reached
the National Museum through the agency of Mr. C. F. Williams, and is
labeled "Mississippi." On its face, however, there is sufficient
evidence to establish its aboriginal origin. The form of the object, the
character of the design and the evident age of the specimen, all bespeak
the mound-builder. It was in all probability obtained from one of the
multitude of ancient sepulchers that abound in the State of Mississippi.
The disk is four and a quarter inches in diameter, and is made from a
large, heavy specimen of the _Busycon perversum_. It has been smoothly
dressed on both sides, but is now considerably stained and pitted. The
design has in this case been engraved upon the convex side, the concave
surface being plain. The perforations are placed near the margin and are
considerably worn by the cord of suspension. In the center is a nearly
symmetrical cross of the Greek type inclosed in a circle one and
one-fourth inches in diameter. The spaces between the arms are
emblazoned with groups of radiating lines. Placed at regular intervals
on the outside of the circle are twelve pointed pyramidal rays
ornamented with transverse lines. The whole design presents a remarkable
combination of the two symbols, the cross and the sun. Surrounding this
interesting symbol is another of a somewhat mysterious nature. A square
framework of four continuous parallel lines, symmetrically looped at the
corners, incloses the central symbol, the inner line touching the tips
of the pyramidal rays. Outside of this again are the four symbolic birds
placed against the side of the square opposite the arms of the cross.
These birds, or rather birds' heads, are carefully drawn after what, to
the artist, must have been a well recognized model. The mouth is open
and the mandibles long, slender, and straight. The eye is represented by
a circlet which incloses a small conical pit intended to represent the
iris, a striated and pointed crest springs from the back of the head and
neck, and two lines extend from the eye, down the neck, to the base of
the figure. In seeking an original for this bird we find that it has
perhaps more points of resemblance to the ivory-billed woodpecker than
to any other species. It is not impossible, however, that the heron or
swan may have been intended. That some particular bird served as a model
is attested by the fact that other specimens, from mounds in various
parts of Tennessee, exhibit similar figures. I have been able to find
six of these specimens, all of which vary to some extent from the type
described, but only in detail, workmanship, or finish. The specimen
presented in Fig. 2, Plate LIX, was obtained by Mr. Cross from a stone
grave on Mr. Overton's farm near Nashville, Tenn. Professor Putnam, who
secured it from Mr. Cross, has published a cut of it in the Eleventh
Annual Report of the Peabody Museum. It is made from a large marine
shell, probably a _Busycon_, and is represented natural size both by Mr.
Putnam and myself. The design is essentially the same as that shown in
the type specimen, but is much more rudely executed. A circlet with a
central pit takes the place of the cross and sun. The looped rectangular
figure has but two lines and the birds' heads are not so full of
character as those on the other specimens; they resemble the heads of
chicks with a few pin-feathers sprouting from the back and top of the
head rather than full-fledged birds. The design is engraved on the
concave side. The perforations are much worn. This specimen is now in
the Peabody Museum.

    [Illustration: PL. LVIII--SHELL GORGET--THE BIRD.

The same collection contains a large fragment of another small disk
about two inches in diameter. The central part seems to be plain, but
the looped figure, which has four lines, resembles very closely that
engraved on the other plates. It is mentioned by Professor Putnam, on
page 309 of the Eleventh Annual Report of the Peabody Museum. It is said
to have been found on the surface in Humphrey County, Tennessee.

A much larger specimen, which resembles my type specimen very closely,
is shown in Fig. 1, Plate LIX. It was obtained by Professor Putnam and
Dr. Curtis from a stone grave on Mrs. Williams' farm, Cumberland River,
Tennessee. It is nearly circular, and about two and a half inches in
diameter. A small piece has been lost from the upper margin. It is
neatly made and quite smooth, and the lines of the design are clearly
and evenly engraved. The small cross in the center is inclosed by a
plain narrow zone, and is defined by four triangular perforations
between the arms. In this respect it resembles other shell crosses found
within the Mississippi Valley. Surrounding the plain zone are eight
pyramidal rays with cross-bars; in this feature, and in the drawing of
the looped square and the birds' heads, there is but little variation
from the type specimen. The surface upon which the engraving is made
seems to be slightly convex.

Another specimen of this class was obtained from a stone grave near
Gray's mound, at Oldtown, Tenn. It is shown in Fig. 3, Plate LIX. The
design is very much like that of the type specimen, from which it
differs in having four large perforations near the center. Although the
engraved design which once occupied the central space is almost totally
effaced, one or two of the tips of the pyramidal rays may be detected.
It is probable that the four round perforations correspond to the four
triangular ones by which the arms of the cross in the preceding example
are defined. The perforations for suspension are near one margin, and
seem to be very much worn by use. The whole object is fragile from
decay. This specimen is also in the Peabody Museum.

One more very imperfect specimen obtained from a stone grave in the
Cumberland Valley is nearly five inches in diameter and very irregular
in outline. Barely enough of the engraved design remains to show that it
belongs to the class under consideration.

It will be observed that the specimens of this class obtained from
Tennessee are confined to a limited area. It thus seems especially
unfortunate that so little is known of the history of the type specimen
given in Plate LVIII, as without assurance of the correctness of the
statement that it is from Mississippi we cannot make use of it to show
geographical distribution. In reference to this point, however, we have
a few very interesting facts which make the occurrence of specimens in
localities as widely separated as the "Cumberland River" and
"Mississippi" seem inconsequential. I refer now to two specimens
described by Dr. Abbott in "Primitive Industry." One of these is a
remarkable slate knife, the striking features of which are a "series of
etchings and deeply incised lines of perhaps no meaning. Taken in order,
it will be noticed that at the back of the knife are four short lines at
uniform distances apart, and a fifth near the end of the implement.
Besides these are fifteen shorter parallel lines near the broader end of
the knife and about the middle of the blade. A series of five zigzag
lines are also cut on the opposite end of the blade. * * * More
prominent than the numerous lines to which reference has been made, are
the clearly defined, unmistakable birds' heads, placed midway between
the two series of lines. * * * Did we not learn from the writings of
Heckewelder, that the Lenapé had 'the turkey totem,' we might suppose
that this drawing of such bird heads originated with the intrusive
southern Shawnees, who, at one time, occupied lands in the Delaware
Valley, and who are supposed by some writers to have been closely
related to the earliest inhabitants of the Southern and Southwestern
States. Inasmuch as we shall find that, not only on this slate knife,
but upon a bone implement also, similar heads of birds are engraved, it
is probable that the identity of the design is not a mere coincidence,
but that it must be explained either in accordance with the statements
of Heckewelder, or be considered as the work of southern Shawnees after
their arrival in New Jersey. In the latter event, the theory that these
disks were the work of a people different from and anterior to the
Indians found in the Cumberland Valley at the time of the discovery of
that region by the whites is, apparently, not sustained by the

A cut of the bone implement referred to above is reproduced from Dr.
Abbott's work, in Plate LIX, Fig. 4. It has probably been made from a
portion of a rib of some large mammal and is thought to be somewhat
fragmentary. "The narrow portion has been cut or ground away to some
extent, and the edges are quite smoothly polished. Near the end of this
handle-like portion, there is a countersunk perforation, and upon the
concave side of the wider part there are rudely outlined the heads of
two birds."[140] These resemble somewhat closely the heads depicted on
the other specimen described by Dr. Abbott. The specimens referred to
are both from New Jersey, and are probably surface finds.

Although the heads represented on these specimens do certainly in some
respects suggest that of the turkey, the characters are not sufficiently
pronounced to make it impossible that some other bird was intended, so
that the original in the mind of the ancient artist may have been the
same as that from which the examples on shell were drawn.

In comparing the northern examples with those of Tennessee I observe
another feature that is more conclusive as to the identity of origin
than the rather obscure resemblance of the birds' heads delineated. I
have not had the opportunity of examining the specimen illustrated in
Fig. 4; but in the cut given by Dr. Abbott a rather indefinite figure
can be traced which has a striking resemblance to the looped rectangle
characteristic of the designs on shell. This resemblance could hardly be
owing to accident, and if the peculiar figure mentioned is actually
found in conjunction with the birds' heads upon the New Jersey specimen,
it will certainly be safe to conclude that the bone, stone, and shell
objects belonged to the same people, and that they constituted the
totems of the same clan, or were the insignia of corresponding offices
or orders.[141]

As bearing upon the question of the species of bird represented in the
preceding specimens, I present in Plate LX an illustration published by
Dr. Rau in the Smithsonian Report for 1877. This remarkable ornament
(represented in Fig. 3) was obtained from a mound in Manatee County,
Florida. It is a thin blade of gold, pointed at one end and terminating
at the other in a highly conventionalized representation of a bird's
head, the general characteristics of which are much like those of the
examples engraved upon shell. The crest is especially characteristic,
and, as pointed out by Dr. Rau, suggests a prototype in the ivory-billed
woodpecker, an inhabitant of the Gulf States.

The significance of the looped figure which forms so prominent a feature
in the designs in question has not been determined. I would offer the
suggestion, however, that, from the manner of its occurrence, it may
represent an inclosure, a limit, or boundary. It may be well to point
out the fact that a similar looped rectangle occurs several times in the
ancient Mexican manuscripts. One example, from the Vienna Codex,[142] is
presented in Fig. 5, Plate LIX. It is not a little remarkable that a
cross occupies the inclosed area in all these examples.

    [Illustration: PL. LIX--THE BIRD.
    1. Shell gorget from stone grave, Tenn.
    2. Shell gorget from stone grave, Tenn.
    3. Shell gorget from stone grave, Tenn.
    4. Bone implement, N. J.
    5. Design from Aztec painting.]

I shall close this very hasty review of the bird in the art of the Mound
Builders by presenting the remarkable example of shell carving shown in
Fig. 1, Plate LX. Like so many of the National Museum specimens, it is
practically without a record--a stray. It is labeled "B. Pybas,
Tuscumbia, Ala." It is old and fragmentary, the shell substance being,
however, quite well preserved. It is the right-hand half of a gorget
which represents an eagle's head in profile. The skill of the ancient
artist is shown to great advantage; nothing can be found, even in the
most elaborately carved pipes, equal to the treatment of this remarkable
head. To overcome the difficulty of cutting the flinty and massive shell
was no small triumph for a people still in the stone age. To conceive
and execute such a graphic work is a still more marvelous
achievement.[143] The lines of the mandibles and protruding tongue are
strongly and correctly drawn. The eye and the markings of the head are
executed in smooth, deeply incised lines, and are conventionalized in a
manner peculiar to the American aborigines.

    [Illustration: PL. LX--THE BIRD.
    1. Fragment of shell gorget, Alabama. (1/1)
    2. Gold ornament, Florida. (1/2)
    3. Head of ivory-billed-woodpecker.]


Among insects the spider is perhaps best calculated to attract the
attention of the savage. The tarantula is in many respects a very
extraordinary creature, and is endowed with powers of the most deadly
nature, which naturally places it along with the rattlesnake in the
category of creatures possessing supernatural attributes. Its curiously
constructed house with the hinged door and smoothly plastered chamber
must ever elicit the admiration of the beholder. But the spider, which
spins a web and projects in mid-air a gossamer structure of marvelous
symmetry and beauty, and builds an ambush from which to spring upon his
prey, was probably one of the first instructors of adolescent man, and
must have seemed to him a very deity. It is not strange, therefore, that
the spider appears in the myths of the savages. With the great Shoshone
family, according to Professor Powell, the spider was the first weaver,
and taught that important art to the fathers. The Cherokees, in their
legend of the origin of fire, "represent a portion of it as having been
brought with them and sacredly guarded. Others say that after crossing
wide waters they sent back for it to the Man of Fire from whom a little
was conveyed over by a spider in his web."[144]

The spider occurs but rarely in aboriginal American art, occasionally it
seems, however, to have reached the dignity of religious consideration
and to have been adopted as a totemic device. Had a single example only
been found we would not be warranted in giving it a place among
religious symbols. Four examples have come to my notice; these are all
engraved on shell gorgets and are illustrated in Plate LXI. Two are from
Illinois, one from Missouri, and the other from Tennessee.[145] The
example shown in Fig. 1 was obtained by Mr. Croswell from a mound near
New Madrid, Mo. It is described as a circular ornament, three inches in
diameter, that had, apparently, been cut from a _Busycon_. Mr. Croswell
says that "the convex face was entirely plain, but the concave side
bears the figure of a tarantula, or large spider, very skillfully
engraved, the body being formed by a circle inclosing a cross, showing
beyond doubt its sacred and symbolic character. This ornament, when
found, lay on the breast-bone of a skeleton, with the concave or
ornamented side uppermost. Two holes in the upper part were evidently
intended for the thong or string by which it had been suspended from the
neck. A circumstance that renders this relic still more interesting is
the fact that two other shell ornaments, bearing precisely similar
devices, have recently been found in Illinois within seven miles of this
city, thus proving that the figures were not a mere fanciful invention,
but had some symbolic meaning."[146]

The disk thus briefly described by Mr. Croswell is so much like the
example shown in Fig. 3 that I shall not describe it further, but shall
refer to its peculiarities in the descriptions of others that follow.

The handsome gorget illustrated in Fig. 3 was obtained from a mound in
Saint Clair County, Illinois, seven miles from the city of Saint Louis.
It was found upon the breast of a skeleton, and was very much discolored
and quite fragile from decay, but no part of the design, which is
engraved upon the concave side, has been obliterated. Near the margin
and parallel with it three lines have been engraved. The spider is drawn
with considerable fidelity to nature and covers nearly the entire disk,
the legs, mandibles, and abdomen reaching to the outer marginal line. As
in the specimen described above, the thorax is placed in the center of
the disk, and is represented by a circle; within this a cross has been
engraved, the ends of which have been enlarged on one side, producing a
form much used in heraldry, but one very rarely met with in aboriginal
American art. The head is somewhat heart-shaped and is armed with palpi
and mandibles, the latter being ornamented with a zigzag line and
prolonged to the marginal lines of the disk. The eyes are represented by
two small circles with central dots. The legs are correctly placed in
four pairs upon the thorax, and are very graphically drawn. The abdomen
is large and heart-shaped, and is ornamented with a number of lines and
dots, which represent the natural markings of the spider. The
perforations for suspension are placed near the posterior extremity of
the abdomen. It will be observed that this is also the case with the
three other specimens. Having described this specimen somewhat
carefully, it will be unnecessary to give a detailed description of the
very similar specimen shown in Fig. 2. The latter was found in a stone
grave in Saint Clair County, Illinois, and does not differ in any
essential feature from either of the other specimens, one of which was
found near by, and the other about one hundred miles farther south.

In reference to the cross it has been suggested that it may have been
derived from the well-defined cross found upon the backs of some species
of the genus _Atta_, but there appears to be good reason for believing
otherwise. The cross here shown has a very highly conventionalized
character, quite out of keeping with the realistic drawing of the
insect, and, what is still more decisive, it is identical with forms
found upon many other objects. The conclusion is that the cross here, as
elsewhere, has a purely symbolic character. Spider gorgets are also
mentioned by A. J. Conant in the Kansas City Review, Vol. I, page 400,
and in his work on the Commonwealth of Missouri, page 96, but no details
are given. It is probable that the objects referred to by Mr. Conant are
the same as those more definitely placed by Prof. Hilder.

The specimen shown in Fig. 4 was obtained from a mound on Fain's Island,
Tennessee. The disk is somewhat more convex on the front than is
indicated in the engraving. It is two and a half inches in diameter, and
is quite thin and fragile, although the surface has not suffered much
from decay. The margin is ornamented with twenty-four very neatly made
notches or scallops. Immediately inside the border on the convex side
are two incised circles, on the outer of which two small perforations
for suspension have been made; inside of these, and less than half an
inch from the margin, is a circle of seventeen sub-triangular
perforations, the inner angle of each being much rounded. Inside of this
again is another incised circle, about one and one-fourth inches in
diameter, which incloses the highly conventionalized figure of an insect
resembling a spider. In a general way--in the number and arrangement of
the parts--this figure corresponds pretty closely to the very realistic
spiders of the three other disks; in detail however, it is quite unlike
them. It is much more highly conventionalized--the natural markings of
the body being nearly all omitted, and the legs being without joints and
square at the tips. The cross does not appear on the body, but its place
is taken by a large conical perforation, made entirely from the convex
side. The central segment of the body is round, as in the other cases;
to this the four pairs of legs are attached. Without reference to the
other specimens, it would be difficult to distinguish the anterior from
the posterior extremity, and even with this aid we cannot be quite
certain. The larger extremity is somewhat triangular in outline and is
ornamented with two cross lines and two eyes. Were it not for the fact
that these eyes resemble so closely those found in the other specimens I
should call this the posterior extremity, as the opposite end terminates
in a pair of well-shaped mandibles, the triangular space between them
being cut quite through the disk. The section of the body between this
and the central circle also resembles the head, which suggests the
conclusion either that the eyes are misplaced or that, as drawn, they
are only intended to represent the bright spots of the insect's body.

The rarity of these spider gorgets makes it seem rather remarkable that
specimens should occur in localities so widely separated as Fain's
Island and Saint Louis, but the races inhabiting this entire region, are
known to have had many arts in common, and besides this it is not
impossible that the same tribe or clan may, at different times, have
occupied both of these localities. The marked differences in the design
and execution of these specimens, however, indicate a pretty wide
distinction in the time or art of the makers.

    [Illustration: PL. LXI--SPIDER GORGETS.
    1. From a mound, Missouri.
    2. From a stone-grave, Illinois.
    3. From a mound, Illinois.
    4. From a mound, Tennessee.


The serpent has had a fascination for primitive man hardly surpassed by
its reputed power over the animals on which it preys. In the minds of
nearly all savages it has been associated with the deepest mysteries and
the most potent powers of nature. No other creature has figured so
prominently in the religious systems of the world, few of which are free
from it; and as art, in a great measure, owes its existence to an
attempt to represent or embellish objects which are supposed to be the
incarnations of spirits, the serpent is an important element in all art.
Wherever the children of nature have wandered its image may be found
engraved upon the rocks, or painted or sculptured upon monuments of
their own construction. It is found in a thousand forms; beginning with
those so realistic that the species can be determined, we may pass down
through innumerable stages of variation until all semblance of nature is
lost. Beyond this it becomes embodied in the conventional forms of art
or looks back from its obscure place in an alphabet through a
perspective of metamorphism as marvelous as that visible to the creature
itself could it view the course of its evolution from the elements of

So well is the serpent known as a religious symbol among the American
peoples that it seems hardly necessary to present examples of the
curiously interesting myths relating to it. We are not surprised to find
the bird, the wolf, or the bear placed among representatives of the
"Great Spirit," and hence to find them embodied in art; but it would be
a matter of surprise if the serpent were ever absent.

With the mound-builders it seems to have been of as much importance as
to other divisions of the red race, ancient or modern. It is of very
frequent occurrence among the designs engraved upon gorgets of shell, a
multitude of which have been thus dedicated to the serpent-god.

It is a well-known fact that the rattlesnake is the variety almost
universally represented, and we find that these engravings on shell
present no exception to this rule. From a very early date in mound
exploration these gorgets have been brought to light, but the coiled
serpent engraved upon their concave surfaces is so highly
conventionalized that it was not at once recognized. Professor Wyman
appears to have been the first to point out the fact that the
rattlesnake was represented; others have since made brief allusion to
this fact. Two examples only have been illustrated; one by Professor
Jones,[147] who regards it as being without intelligent design, and the
other by Dr. Rau,[148] who does not suggest an interpretation. Among the
thirty or forty specimens that I have examined, the engraving of the
serpent is, with one exception, placed upon the concave side of the
disk, which is, as usual, cut from the most distended part of the
_Busycon perversum_, or some similar shell. The great uniformity of
these designs is a matter of much surprise. At the same time, however,
there is no exact duplication; there are always differences in position,
detail, or number of parts. The serpent is always coiled, the head
occupying the center of the disk. With a very few exceptions the coil is
sinistral. The head is so placed that when the gorget is suspended it
has an erect position, the mouth opening toward the right hand.

As at first glance it will be somewhat difficult for the reader to make
out clearly the figure of the serpent, even with the well defined lines
of the drawing before him, I will present the description pretty much in
the order in which the design revealed itself to me in my first attempt
to decipher it.

The saucer-like disks are almost circular, the upper edge being mostly
somewhat straightened--the result of the natural limit of the body of
the shell above. All are ground down to a fairly uniform thickness of
from one-eighth to one-fourth of an inch. The edges are evenly rounded
and smooth. Two small holes for suspension occur near the rim of the
straighter edge, and generally on or near the outline of the engraved
design, which covers the middle portion of the plate. The diameter
ranges from one to six inches.

To one who examines this design for the first time it seems a most
inexplicable puzzle; a meaningless grouping of curved and straight
lines, dots and perforations. We notice, however, a remarkable
similarity in the designs, the idea being radically the same in all
specimens, and the conclusion is soon reached that there is nothing
haphazard in the arrangements of the parts and that every line must have
its place and purpose. The design is in all cases inclosed by two
parallel border lines, leaving a plain belt from one-fourth to
three-fourths of an inch in width around the edge of the disk. All
simple lines are firmly traced, although somewhat scratchy, and are
seldom more than one-twentieth of an inch in width or depth.

In studying this design the attention is first attracted by an eye-like
figure near the left border. This is formed of a series of concentric
circles, the number of which varies from three in the most simple to
twelve in the more elaborate forms. The diameter of the outer circle of
this figure varies from one-half to one inch. In the center there is
generally a small conical depression or pit. The series of circles is
partially inclosed by a looped band one-eighth of an inch in width,
which opens downward to the left; the free ends extending outward to the
border line, gradually nearing each other and forming a kind of neck to
the circular figure. This band is in most cases occupied by a series of
dots or conical depressions varying in number from one to thirty. The
neck is decorated in a variety of ways; by dots, by straight and curved
lines, and by a cross-hatching that gives a semblance of scales. A
curious group of lines occupying a crescent-shaped space at the right of
the circular figure and inclosed by two border lines, must receive
particular attention. This is really the front part of the head--the
jaws and the muzzle of the creature represented. The mouth is always
clearly defined and is mostly in profile, the upper jaw being turned
abruptly upward, but, in some examples, an attempt has been made to
represent a front view, in which case it presents a wide V-shaped
figure. It is, in most cases, furnished with two rows of teeth, no
attempt having been made to represent a tongue. The spaces above and
below the jaws are filled with lines and figures, which vary much in the
different specimens; a group of plume-like figures, extends backward
from the upper jaw to the crown, or otherwise this space is occupied by
an elongated perforation. The body is represented encircling the head in
a single coil, which appears from beneath the neck on the right, passes
around the front of the head, and terminates at the back in a pointed
tail with well defined rattles. It is engraved to represent the
well-known scales and spots of the rattlesnake, the conventionalized
figures being quite graphic. In the group of specimens represented in
Plate LXIV areas of cross-hatched lines, representing scales, alternate
with circular figures, containing two or three concentric circles and a
central dot. In some cases one or more incised bands cross the body in
the upper part of the curve.

The examples shown in Plate LXV have many distinctive features. The
markings of the body consist of alternating areas of scales and chevrons
or of chevrons alone. These figures are interrupted in the upper part of
the coil by a number of lines which cross the body at right angles. The
body is in many cases nearly severed from the rim of the disk by four
oblong perforations, which follow the border line of the design. In most
cases three other perforations occur about the head; one represents the
mouth, one defines the forehead and upper jaw, and the third is placed
against the throat. These may be intended merely to define the form more
clearly. The curious plume-like figures that occur upon the heads of
both varieties may indicate the natural or reputed markings of the
animal represented. It is possible that the group shown in this plate
may be intended to represent the common yellow rattlesnake, the
_Crotalus horridus_, of the Atlantic slope, the characteristic markings
of which are alternating light and dark chevrons, while the diamond
rattlesnake, the _Crotalus adamanteus_, of the Southern States may have
served as a model for the other group.

In Plate LXII I present two of these rattlesnake gorgets. The specimens
shown in Fig. 1 is from Georgia and is the smallest example that has
come to my notice. It is represented natural size. The design is quite
obscure, but enough remains to show that it does not differ essentially
from the type already presented. There appear to be no holes for
suspension, but it is probable that two of the oblong perforations upon
the border of the design had been used for that purpose.

The handsome specimen given in Fig. 2 was obtained from the great mound
at Sevierville, Tenn., and is in a very good state of preservation. It
is a deep, somewhat oval plate, made from a _Busycon perversum_. The
surface is nicely polished and the margins neatly beveled. The marginal
zone is less than half an inch wide and contains at the upper edge two
perforations, which have been considerably abraded by the cord of
suspension. Four long curved slits or perforations almost sever the
central design from the rim; the four narrow segments that remain are
each ornamented with a single conical pit. The serpent is very neatly
engraved and belongs to the chevroned variety. The eye is large and the
neck is ornamented with a single rectangular intaglio figure. The mouth
is more than usually well defined. The upper jaw is turned abruptly
upward and is ornamented with lines peculiar to this variety of the

The body opposite the perforations for suspension is interrupted by a
rather mysterious cross band, consisting of one broad and two narrow
lines. As this is a feature common to many specimens it probably has
some important office or significance.

    1. Shell gorget from Georgia. (1/1)
    2. McMahan Mound, Tenn. (1/1)]

In Plate LXIII I present two of the best examples of these serpent
gorgets yet brought to light. They were obtained from the McMahan Mound,
at Sevierville, Tenn., in 1871, and are in an excellent state of
preservation. Both are made from large heavy specimens of the _Busycon
perversum_. The example given in Fig. 1 is but slightly altered by
decomposition, the translucency of the shell being still perceptible.
The back retains the strongly marked ridges of growth. The interior has
been highly polished, but is now somewhat marked, apparently by some
fine textile fabric which has been buried with it and has, in decaying,
left its impress upon the smooth surface of the shell. The design is
very much like the type described, but has some peculiar features about
the neck and under the head of the serpent.

The specimen shown in Fig. 2 may be regarded as a type of these gorgets,
and is the one chiefly used in the general description given on a
preceding page. It is six inches long by five wide, and has been neatly
dressed and polished on both sides. As every detail is clearly and
correctly shown in the cut I shall not describe it farther.

    1. McMahan Mound, Tenn.
    2. McMahan Mound, Tenn.

For convenience of comparison I have arranged two plates of outlines.
The specimen shown in Fig. 1, Plate LXIV, is almost identical with the
one last mentioned in size and shape. This, with the similar but
somewhat smaller specimen given in Fig. 2, is also from the McMahan
Mound. Figs. 3 and 4 are outlines of the specimens already given in
Plate LXIII.

The fine specimen shown in Fig. 5 is from the Brakebill Mound, near
Knoxville, Tenn., and is now in the Peabody Museum. It is five inches in
length and a little more than four and one-half in width. It is very
much like the Sevierville specimens and is made of the same species of
shell. The markings of the space beneath the head are peculiar, and in
some other details it differs from the other specimens.

Fig. 6 illustrates a large specimen now in the National Collection. It
is also from Tennessee, and resembles the preceding examples quite

    1. McMahan Mound.
    2. McMahan Mound.
    3. McMahan Mound.
    4. McMahan Mound.
    5. Brakebill Mound.
    6. Williams Island.

The specimens illustrated in Plate LXV represent a somewhat different
type of design, but are found associated with the others. The three
shown in Figs. 2, 6, and 7 belong to the Peabody Museum, and are from
mounds in East Tennessee. The others are in the National Collection, and
come from the same region.

    [Illustration: PL. LXV--RATTLESNAKE GORGETS.
    1. McMahan Mound.
    2. Lick Creek Mound.
    3. McMahan Mound.
    4. McMahan Mound.
    5. Green County Mound.
    6. Lick Creek Mound.

It was my intention to pursue this study somewhat further, and the
illustrations presented in Plate LXVI were partially prepared for the
purpose of instituting comparisons between these northern forms and
others of the south, but the time at my disposal will not permit of it.

Fig. 1 is an outline of a rattlesnake gorget, probably from Georgia,
which is preserved in the Natural History Museum of New York. It is four
inches in length by three and one-half in width. The same specimen is
figured by Jones in Plate XXX of his "Antiquities of the Southern

Fig. 2 represents a large specimen from Tennessee, which is now
preserved in the National Collection. The design is placed upon the
gorget somewhat differently from the other specimens, the mouth of the
serpent being near the top and the neck below at the right. There is
also a dotted belt at the right of the head which is not found in any of
the specimens described.

Figs. 3 and 4 represent drawings of serpents' heads found in the ancient
city of Chimu, Peru.[149]

Fig. 5 is copied from one of the codices of Goldsborough, and is a very
spirited representation of a plumed and spotted rattlesnake.

The tablet shown in Fig. 6 has already been described under "scalloped

The remarkable plumed and feathered serpent given in Fig. 7 is painted
upon the rocks at Lake Nijapa, Nicaragua.[150]

    [Illustration: PL. LXVI--THE SERPENT.
    1. Shell gorget, Georgia.
    2. Shell gorget, Tennessee.
    3, 4. Painting, Peru.
    5. From an Aztec painting.
    6. Stone disk, Carthage, Ala.
    7. Painted on rock, Nicaragua.]


A very important group of shell ornaments represent, more or less
distinctly, the human face. By a combination of engraving and sculpture
a rude resemblance to the features is produced. The objects are
generally made from a large pear-shaped section of the lower whorl of
heavy marine univalves. The lower portion, which represents the neck and
chin, is cut from the somewhat restricted part near the base of the
shell, while the broad outline of the head reaches the first suture of
the noded shoulder of the body whorl. The simplest form is represented
by a specimen from a mound at Sevierville, Tenn. It is a plain,
pear-shaped fragment, with evenly dressed margin and two perforations,
which take the position of the eyes. A sketch of this is presented in
Fig. 1, Plate LXIX. Similar specimens have been obtained from mounds in
other States. A little further advance is made when the surface of the
most convex part is ground away, with the exception of a low vertical
ridge, which represents the nose. Further on a boss or node appears
below the nose, which takes the place of the mouth, as seen in Fig. 2.

From the elementary stages exhibited in these specimens a gradual
advance is made by the addition of details and the elaboration of all
the features. A corona encircles the head, the ears are outlined
(Fig. 5, Plate LXX), the eyes are elaborated by adding one or more
concentric circles or ovals, brows are placed above, and groups of
notched and zigzag lines extend downward upon the cheeks. The node at
the mouth is perforated or cut in intaglio in circular or oblong
figures, and the chin is embellished by a variety of incised designs.
Illustrations of the various forms are given in Plates LXIX and LXX.

These objects are especially numerous in the mounds of Tennessee, but
their range is quite wide, examples having been reported from Kentucky,
Virginia, Illinois, Missouri, and Arkansas, and smaller ones of a
somewhat different type from New York. In size they range from two to
ten inches in length, the width being considerably less. They are
generally found associated with human remains in such a way as to
suggest their use as ornaments for the head or neck. There are, however,
no holes for suspension except those made to represent the eyes, and
these, so far as I have observed, show no abrasion by a cord of
suspension. Their shape suggests the idea that they may have been used
as masks, and as such may have been placed upon the faces of the dead in
the same manner that metal masks were used by some oriental nations.

Among the large number of interesting objects of shell obtained from the
McMahan Mound at Sevierville, Tenn., were a number of these shell masks.
In the notes of the collector they are mentioned as having been found on
the breast or about the heads of skeletons. The example shown in Fig. 1,
Plate LXVII, is a medium-sized, rather plain specimen from the
above-named locality. It is seven and one-fourth inches long and nearly
six inches wide, and has been made from a _Busycon perversum_. The
margins are much decayed, and the convex surface is pitted and
discolored. The inside is smooth, and has a slight design rudely
engraved upon it. Of a very different type is the specimen shown in
Fig. 2. It is new looking, and well preserved. The slightly translucent
surface is highly polished, and the engraved lines are quite fresh
looking. It was collected by J. D. Lucas, and is labeled Aquia Creek,
Va. It is five and one-half inches in length by five in width, and is
apparently made from some dextral-whorled shell. The outline is somewhat
rectangular, the upper surface being pretty well rounded and ornamented
with a corona of incised lines, which are arranged in six groups of four
each. Inside of these a single incised line runs parallel with the edge,
from temple to temple. The eyes are represented by small circles with
small central pits, and the lids are indicated by long, pointed
ellipses. From each of the eyes a group of three zigzag lines extends
downward across the cheek, terminating near the edge of the plate,
opposite the mouth. These lines may be interpreted in two ways: First,
if the object is a mourning mask, made with especial reference to its
use in burial, they may signify tears, since, in the pictographic
language of many tribes, tears are represented by lines descending from
the eyes, and, with other nations, running water is symbolized by curved
or zigzag lines; in the second place, these lines may represent figures
painted upon the face during the period of mourning, or they may simply
represent the characteristic lines of the painting or tattooing of the
clan or tribe to which the deceased belonged. It is not at all
improbable that these objects were further embellished by painted
designs which have been obliterated.

The nose is represented by a flat ridge, which terminates abruptly
below, the nostrils being indicated by two small excavations. The mouth
is represented by an oval node, in which a horizontal groove has been

    [Illustration: PL. LXVII--THE HUMAN FACE.
    1. Mask-like ornament, Tennessee. (1/2).
    2. Mask-like ornament, Virginia. (3/4).]

The most elaborately engraved example of these masks yet brought to the
notice of the public is shown in Plate LXVIII. It was obtained by Mr.
Lucien Carr from a large mound, known as the Ely Mound, near Rose Hill,
Lee County, Virginia, and is described and illustrated by that gentleman
in the tenth annual report of the Peabody Museum.[151] Wishing to
present this fine specimen to the best advantage possible, I have had a
large cut made from a photograph furnished by Professor Putnam, curator
of the Peabody Museum. Parts of the design which were obscure I have
strengthened, following the guidance of such fragments of lines as were
still traceable, or by simply duplicating the lines of the opposite
side, as these designs are in all cases bi-symmetrical.

Having described a great number of relics exhumed from this mound, Mr.
Carr goes on to say "that the most interesting of the articles taken
from this grave was an engraved shell made from the most dilated portion
of the _Strombus gigas_, and carved on the convex side into the likeness
of a human face." It measures 138 millimeters in length, by 120 in
breadth. It is perforated with three holes, "the two upper of which are
surrounded with circles, and represent eyes; between these is a raised
ridge of shell, in place of the nose, and below this is a third hole,
which is just above a series of lines that were probably intended as the
mouth. Four lines, parallel to each other during three-fourths of their
length, begin at the outer corner of the eye and are zigzaged to the
lower jaw, where they are drawn to a point. The concave side of the
shell is perfectly plain, and still preserves its high polish, though
the right portion of the face on the carved or convex side shows the sad
effects of time and exposure."

Although I have not had an opportunity of examining this specimen
closely, I am inclined to the opinion, judging by its outlines, that the
shell from which it was made has been sinistrally whorled, and hence a
_Busycon perversum_. I should also prefer to consider the hole beneath
the nose as representing the mouth, as it certainly does in many other
cases, and the peculiar figure--the three vertical lines which extend
downward from the hole and the two banded figures that cross them at
right angles--as a representation of some painted or tattooed design
characteristic of the builders of the mound.

    [Illustration: PL. LXVIII--SHELL MASK.

Other examples of these objects are represented in Plate LXIX. Of
especial interest I may mention the specimen shown in Fig. 4, obtained,
with other similar examples, by Professor Putnam, from the Lick Creek
mound, in East Tennessee. The perforations which represent the eyes are
surrounded by two concentric circles, and the zigzag lines beneath are
supplemented by two sets of pendant figures formed of notched lines, the
two longer of which extend down the sides of the nose, the others being
connected with the lower margin of the eye. In one example four parallel
lines pass from the mouth downward over the chin.

Fig. 3 represents a specimen from the Brakebill Mound, East Tennessee.
The mouth is not indicated, and the nose is but slightly relieved. Each
eye, however, is inclosed by a figure which extends downward over the
cheek, terminating in three sharp points.

    [Illustration: PL. LXIX--THE HUMAN FACE.
    1. McMahan Mound, Tenn.
    2. McMahan Mound, Tenn.
    3. Brakebill Mound, Tenn.
    4. Lick Creek Mound, Tenn.
    5. Aquia Creek, Va.
    6. Mound, Ely County, Va.]

So far as the specimens at hand show, this peculiar embellishment of the
eyes and mouth is characteristic of Virginia and East Tennessee. A small
specimen from Georgia, now preserved in the Natural History Museum at
New York, has a somewhat similar ornamentation of the eyes. This
specimen is shown in Fig. 6, Plate LXX.

In Fig. 8 of the same plate we have the representation of a face modeled
in clay, on which a number of incised lines, similar to those engraved
on shell, have been drawn. The crown of notches is also present. The
specimen has been illustrated by Professor Jones.[152] It is now in the
museum of Natural History at New York, and was probably obtained from
the Etowah Valley, Georgia. Examples in stone are also numerous, and
show certain features in common with those in shell.

Fig. 9 is from Northern Ohio, and is carved from a nodule of iron ore.

The very beautiful little head shown in Figs. 1 and 2 is from a cave at
Mussel Shoals, Ala. It is made of shell, and is somewhat altered by
decay. The crown is peculiarly notched, and resembles a very common
Mexican form. The notch in the middle of the forehead can be traced to a
division in the head-dress noticed in the more elaborately carved
Mexican specimens.

The example shown in Figs. 3 and 4 is copied from a rather rude cut
given by Schoolcraft, who describes it as follows: "This well-sculptured
article was discovered in the valley of the Kasauda Creek, Onondaga
County. The material is a compact piece of sea-shell. It still preserves
in a considerable degree the smoothness and luster of its original
finish. * * * At the angle of the temples are two small orifices for
suspending it around the neck. The entire article is finished with much
skill and delicacy."[153]

The very rude specimen presented in Fig. 7 is from a mound at Franklin,
Tenn. It seems to have been some natural form, but slightly changed by
art. A somewhat similar specimen from a mound in Tennessee may be seen
in the Peabody Museum.

The cut presented in Fig. 5 is taken from Jones's Antiquities of
Tennessee, page 48. The specimen was obtained from the stone grave of a
child at the foot of a mound near Nashville, Tenn. It has diamond-shaped
eyes, a feature of very rare occurrence in the art of this region.

    [Illustration: PL. LXX--THE HUMAN FACE.
    1, 2. Shell ornament from a cave, Alabama. (1/1)
    3, 4. Shell ornament from New York. (1/1)
    5. Shell ornament, stone grave, Tennessee.
    6. Shell ornament from Georgia. (1/1)
    7. Shell ornament from Tennessee. (1/1)
    8. Face modeled in clay, Georgia.
    9. Face carved in iron ore, Ohio.]


I now come to a class of works which are new and unique, and in more
than one respect are the most important objects of aboriginal art yet
found within the limits of the United States. These relics are four in
number, and come from that part of the mound-building district occupied
at one time by the "stone grave" peoples--three from Tennessee and one
from Missouri. Similar designs are not found in other materials, and,
indeed, nothing at all resembling them can be found, so far as I know,
either in stone or in clay. If such have been painted or engraved on
less enduring materials they are totally destroyed. I shall first
describe the specimens themselves, and subsequently dwell at some length
upon their authenticity, their significance, and their place in art.

First, I present, in Plate LXXI, a shell gorget on which is engraved a
rather rude delineation of a human figure. The design occupies the
concave side of a large shell disk cut from a _Busycon perversum_. Near
the upper margin are the usual holes for suspension. The engraved design
fills the central portion of the plate and is inclosed by two
approximately parallel lines, between which and the edge of the shell
there is a plain belt three-fourths of an inch wide. A casual observer
would probably not recognize any design whatever in the jumble of half
obliterated lines that occupies the inclosed space. It will first be
noticed that a column about three-fourths of an inch in width stands
erect in the center of the picture; from this spring a number of lines,
forming serpentine arms, which give the figure as much the appearance of
an octopus crowded into a collector's alcohol jar as of a human
creature. A little study will convince one, however, that the central
column represents the human body, and the tangle of lines surrounding it
will be found to represent the arms, legs, hands, feet, and their
appendages--no line within the border being without its office. The
upper extremity of the body is occupied by a circle one-eighth of an
inch in diameter, which represents the eye. The head is not
distinguished from the body by any sort of constriction for the neck,
but has evidently been crowned by a rude aurora-like crest similar to
that found in so many aboriginal designs. This does not appear in the
engraving given, as it, as well as other features, was so nearly
obliterated as to escape observation until the idea was suggested by the
study of other similar designs. The mouth is barely suggested, being
represented by three shallow lines placed so low on the trunk that they
occupy what should be the chest. From the side of the head a number of
lines, probably meant for plumes, extend across the bordering lines
almost to the edge of the shell; below this are two perforated loops,
which seem to take the place of ears; the one on the right is doubly
perforated and has a peculiar extension, in a bent or elbowed line,
across the border. The arms are attached to the sides of the body near
the middle in a haphazard sort of way and are curiously double jointed;
they terminate, however, in well-defined hands against the right and
left borders, the thumb and fingers being, in each case, distinctly
represented. The legs and feet are at first exceedingly hard to make
out, but when once traced are as clear as need be. The body terminates
abruptly below within an inch of the base of the inclosed space. One leg
extends directly downward, the foot resting upon the border line; the
other extends backward from the base of the trunk and rests against the
border line at the right; the legs have identical markings, which
probably represent the costume. Each foot terminates in a single
well-defined talon or claw, which folds upward against the knee. This is
a most interesting feature, and one which this design possesses in
common with the three other drawings of the human figure found in
Tennessee. The spaces between the various members of the figure are
filled in with ornamental appendages, which seem to be attached to the
hands and feet, and probably represent plumes. The numerous perforations
in this specimen are worthy of attention: within the border line there
are twenty-six, which vary from one-fourth to one-sixteenth of an inch
in diameter. They are placed mostly at the joints of the figure or at
the junction of two or more lines. Such perforations are of frequent
occurrence in this class of gorgets and may have had some particular
significance to their possessors. This specimen was found in the great
mound at Sevierville, Tenn., upon the breast of a skeleton, and is now
in the National Collection. It has suffered considerably from decay, the
surface being deeply furrowed, pitted, and discolored. The holes are
much enlarged and the lines in places are almost obliterated.

I began the study of this design with the thought that, in reference to
this specimen at least, Professor Jones was right, and that the confused
group of lines might be the meaningless product of an idle fancy, but
ended by being fully satisfied that no single line or mark is without
its place or its significance.

    McMahan Mound, Tennessee.

After having examined this design so critically, it will be an easy
matter to interpret that engraved upon the tablet illustrated in
Plate LXXII. Although found in widely separated localities, and engraved
in a somewhat different style, they are identical in type, and exhibit
but slight differences in detail. At the top of the plate we have the
two doubly conical perforations for suspension, but the double border
line is not completed above, being interrupted by the plumes from the
head. The head itself is decorated with the usual crown of radiating
lines, a small circle with a central pit represents the eye, and below
this is a well-defined mouth with a double row of teeth. Extending to
the right from the mouth is an appendage consisting of one straight and
two interrupted lines, which may be a part of the costume, or, since it
issues from the mouth, may possibly symbolize speech. The body, which is
short and straight, is divided vertically into three parts; the central
space contains a large conical perforation, and is covered with a
lace-work of lines; the lateral spaces are ornamented with rows of
buttons or scales, which consist of meagerly outlined circles with
central dots. The curiously folded arms have precisely the same relative
positions as the corresponding members in the other specimen, and the
fingers touch the bordering line on the right and left, the thumb being
turned backward against the elbow. The legs are represented in a manner
that suggests a sitting posture, the rounded knees coming in front of
and joining the base of the body; in position and decoration they repeat
the other specimen. The feet, or the rounded extremities that represent
them, rest upon the border line, as in the case previously described,
and terminate in upturned talons that are long, curved, and jointed, and
terminate in square or blunt tips. Plume-like appendages are attached to
the arms and legs, and fill the spaces not occupied by the members of
the body; these plumes or pendants are always represented by folded
bands or fillets which are ornamented on one side with dots. A plume
attached to the left side of the head is represented by two curved
lines, which reach to the edge of the shell. There are five
perforations, two for suspension, two at the sides of the face, and one
near the middle of the trunk. This specimen is in a very perfect state
of preservation, the surface being smooth and but little stained. It is
somewhat pear-shaped, resembling in this respect the mask-like gorgets
previously described. It is about seven inches in height and five in
width, and has been made from a very thick and compact shell, probably a
_Busycon_. It was obtained from a mound in Meigs County, Tennessee, and
is preserved in the Peabody Museum. In mechanical execution this
specimen is much superior to the preceding one; the edges and surface of
the shell are nicely dressed, although the lines of the design are
indifferently cut.

    Mound, Tennessee.

Another unique shell gorget is presented in Plate LXXIII. It was
obtained from a mound in Southeastern Missouri, and is now in the
possession of Professor Potter, of Saint Louis. The disk is about four
and a half inches in diameter, and was originally nearly circular, but
the edges are now much decayed and battered. A cut with a brief
description is given by Mr. A. J. Conant in his recent work,
"Foot-prints of Vanished Races," page 95. My cut is made from a
photograph obtained from Professor Putnam, of the Peabody Museum. This
is probably the same photograph used by Mr. Conant. The engraved design
is of a totally distinct type from the last, and evinces a much higher
grade of skill in the artist. It is encircled by six nearly parallel
lines, which occupy about half an inch of the border of the disk.
Portions of these still remain, the inner one being nearly entire.
Between this and the second line are two perforations for suspension.
The idea first suggested by a glance at the engraved design is that it
strongly resembles the work of the ancient Mexicans, and the second idea
of many archæologists will probably be that there may be a doubt of its
genuineness. Setting this question aside for the present, let us examine
the engraving in detail. Placing the plate so that the two perforations
are at the left, we have the principal figure in an upright posture.
This figure apparently represents a personage of some importance, as he
is decked from head to foot with a profusion of ornaments and symbols.
He is shown in profile with the arms extended in action, and the feet
separated as if in the act of stepping forward. The head is large,
occupying about one-third of the height of the design. The elaborate
head-dress fills the upper part of the inclosed space, pendant plumes
descend to the shoulders before and behind, and circular ornaments are
attached to the hair and the ear. The conventionalized eye is lozenge or
diamond shaped, with a small conical pit for the pupil.

The profile shows a full forehead, a strong nose, and a prominent chin.
Two lines extend across the cheek from the bridge of the nose to the
base of the ear. In and projecting from the mouth is a symbolic figure,
the meaning of which can only be conjectured. The shoulders and body are
but meagerly represented. From the waist a peculiar apron-like object is
suspended, which reaches to the knees; it may be a part of the costume
or a priestly symbol. The legs and feet are dwarfed, but quite well
outlined. There are encircling bands at the knees and ankles, and a
fan-like extension of the costume, somewhat resembling the tail of a
bird, descends between the legs. Attached to the back, is a figure of a
rather extraordinary character. Similar figures may be seen in some of
the Mexican paintings, and seem to represent a contrivance for carrying
burdens, in which at times elfish figures are accommodated. The right
arm is extended forward, and the hand grasps a singular shaft, with
which a blow is aimed at the severed head of a victim, which is held
face downward by the left hand of the standing figure. The severed head
still retains the plumed cap, from which a long pendant descends in
front of the face. The eye is lozenge-shaped. A zigzag line crosses the
cheek from the ear to the bridge of the nose, and a curious symbolic
figure is represented as issuing from the mouth. The shaft held in the
right hand seems to issue from a circular figure, doubtless of symbolic
character, which occupies the space in front of the head of the standing
figure. It is possible that the figure which issues from the mouth of
the victim represents the point of this mystic shaft which has
penetrated the head, although we should have to allow some inaccuracies
in the drawing if this were the case. Any one at all familiar with the
curious pictographic manuscripts of the ancient Mexicans will see at a
glance that we have here a sacrificial scene, in which a priest seems to
be engaged in the sacrifice of a human being. In the extraordinary
manuscripts of the ancient Aztecs we have many parallels to this design.
So closely does it approach the Aztec type that, although no duplicate
can be found in any of the codices, there is not a single idea, a single
member or ornament that has not its analogue in the Mexican manuscripts.
To make this clear to every one I present, in Plate LXXV, Fig. 4, a
single example for comparison. This one is selected from the manuscript
of M. De Féjerváry, preserved at Budapest, Hungary.[154] Fortunately for
the credit of this Missouri relic we do not find its duplicate--there
are only family resemblances; there are similar plumes, with similar
ornaments and pendants, similar costume and attitudes; there are similar
features and similar symbols; but there is no absolute identity, except
in motive and conception.


Among the multitude of works of art collected within the last decade
very few will be found to surpass in interest the fragment of a shell
gorget from the McMahan Mound, at Sevierville, Tenn. The disk, when
entire, has been nearly five inches in diameter. A little more than
one-third had crumbled away, and the remaining portion was only
preserved by the most careful handling, and by immediate immersion in a
thin solution of glue. This specimen is the first of the kind ever
brought to light in this country, and must certainly be regarded as the
highest example of aboriginal art ever found north of Mexico. The
design, as in the other cases, has been engraved on the convex surface
of a polished shell disk, and represents two human figures, plumed and
winged and armed with eagles' talons, engaged in mortal combat. As in
the last specimen described, this has, at first sight, an exotic look,
bearing certainly in its conception a general resemblance to the
marvelous bas-reliefs of Mexico and Central America; but the resemblance
goes no further, and we are at liberty to consider it a northern work
_sui generis_. The design has apparently covered the entire tablet,
leaving no space for encircling lines. The two figures are in profile
and face each other in a fierce onset. Of the right-hand figure only the
body, one arm, and one leg remain. The left-hand figure is almost
complete; the outline of the face, one arm, and one foot being
obliterated. The right hand is raised above the head in the act of
brandishing a long double-pointed knife. At the same time this doughty
warrior seems to be receiving a blow in the face from the right hand of
the other combatant, in which is clutched a savage-looking blade, with a
curved point. The hands are vigorously drawn, the joints are correctly
placed, and the thumb presses down upon the outside of the forefinger in
its natural effort to tighten and secure the grasp. Two bands encircle
the wrists and probably represent bracelets. The arms and shoulders are
plain. The head is decorated with a single plume, which springs from a
circular ornament placed over the ear; an angular figure extends forward
from the base of this plume and probably represents what is left of the
head-dress proper; forward of this, on the very edge of the crumbling
shell, is one-half of the lozenge-shaped eye, the dot intended to
represent the pupil being almost obliterated. It is certainly a great
misfortune that both faces are completely gone; their exact character
must remain conjectural. A neat pendant ornament is suspended upon the
well-formed breast, and a broad belt encircles the waist, beneath which,
covering the abdomen, is a design that suggests the scales of a coat of
mail. The legs are well-defined and perfectly proportioned; the left
knee is bent forward and the foot is planted firmly on the ground, while
the right is thrown gracefully back against the rim at the left. Double
belts encircle the knees and ankles. The legs terminate in wonderfully
well-drawn eagle's feet, armed with vigorously curved talons. A very
interesting feature of the design is the highly conventionalized wing,
which is attached to the shoulder behind, and fills the space beneath
the uplifted arm. A broad many-feathered tail is spread out like a fan
behind the legs. The right hand figure, so far as seen, is an exact
duplicate of the left. A design of undetermined significance occupies
the space between the figures beneath the crossed arms; it may represent
conventionalized drapery, but is more probably symbolic in its
character. The heads have probably been a little too large for good
proportion, but the details of the anatomy are excellent. The muscles of
the shoulder, the breast and nipple, the waist, the buttock, and the
calves of the legs are in excellent drawing. The whole group is most
graphically presented. A highly ideal design, it is made to fill a given
space with a directness of execution and a unity of conception that is
truly surprising.


Let us turn for a moment from this striking effort of the mound-builders
to the early efforts of other peoples in the engraver's art. Here are
the drawings of the Troglodytes of France, scintillations of paleolithic
genius, which appear as a flash of light in the midst of a midnight sky.
They are truly remarkable. The clear-cut lines that shadow forth the
hairy mammoth suggest the graphic and forcible work of the Parisian of
to-day. The rude Esquimaux of our own time engraves images of a great
variety of natural objects on his ornaments and implements of ivory in a
manner that commands our admiration. But these shell tablets have
designs of a much higher grade. They not only represent natural objects
with precision, but they delineate conceptions of mythical creatures of
composite character for which nature affords no model. In execution the
best of these tablets will not compare with the wonderful works in
stucco and stone of Palenque, or the elaborate sculptures of the Aztecs,
but they are, like them, vigorous in action and complete in conception.

In case the authenticity of these relics be questioned, the facts in
regard to them, so far as known, are here presented for reference. As to
the two specimens from Sevierville, Tenn. (Plates LXXI and LXXII), the
shadow of a doubt cannot be attached to them. Were there no record
whatever of the time or place of discovery, the evidence upon the faces
of the relics themselves would show satisfactorily that they are
genuine. They were taken from the great mound, which I have called the
McMahan Mound, at Sevierville, Tenn. This mound was opened in 1881 by
one of our most experienced collectors, Dr. E. Palmer. The specimens
when found were in a very advanced stage of decay, pitted, discolored,
and crumbling, and had to be handled with the utmost care to prevent
total disintegration. They were dried by the collector, immersed in a
weak solution of glue, and forwarded immediately to the National Museum
at Washington. In this mound a multitude of relics were found, a large
number being of shell, many of which are figured and described in this
paper. These two gorgets, as well as many others of more ordinary types
were found on or near the breasts of skeletons, and it is highly
probable that they were suspended about the necks of the dead just as
they had been worn by the living. By accurately ascertaining the
authenticity of one of these specimens we establish, so far as need be,
the genuineness of all of the same class. If one is genuine that is
sufficient; the others may or may not be so, without seriously effecting
the questions at issue, yet the occurrence of duplicate or closely
related specimens in widely separated localities furnishes confirmatory
evidence of no little importance. I do not wish to be understood as
casting a doubt upon any of the four specimens described, as I am
thoroughly convinced that there is no cause for suspicion.

The Missouri gorget, which has already been described and figured, was
obtained by unknown persons in Southeastern Missouri. Several years back
it came into the hands of Colonel Whitley, and from him it was obtained
by its present owner, Professor Potter, of Saint Louis. There has never
been a question as to its genuineness, and according to Professor
Hilder, who saw it shortly after its discovery, the appearance and
condition of the specimen were such that it could not have been of
fraudulent manufacture. It was chalky and crumbling from decay, the
lines of the design bearing equal evidence with the general surface of
the shell of great age. Beside this, even if it were possible to produce
such a condition in a recently carved shell, there existed no motive for
such an attempt. Nothing was to be made by it; no benefit could accrue
to the perpetrator to reward him for his pains, and, further, there was
no precedent, there was extant nothing that could serve as a model for
such a work.

In Plate LXXV I have arranged a number of figures for convenience of
comparison, Figs. 1, 3, 5, and 6, being outlines of the four examples
just described. In regard to the restored part of the outline in Fig. 1,
I wish to say that my only object in filling out the figure on the right
was to secure as far as possible the full effect of the complete
original. Observing that all that remains of the right hand figure--the
arm, the body, the leg and foot, is a duplicate of the left, it is safe
to conclude that the design has been approximately bi-symmetrical,
slight discrepancies probably occurring in the details of head and arm,
in the expression of face, or in the character of the weapon. It is much
to be regretted that the faces are totally destroyed.

In Fig. 2 I present a group of two figures from the so-called
"sacrificial stone" found in the Plaza Mayor, city of Mexico. It seems
to represent the submission of one warrior or ruler to his victorious
opponent, and is one of many designs that might be presented to
illustrate the analogies of the Tennessee relic with the interesting
works of the far South. There is what might be called a family
resemblance, a similarity in idea and action, but little analogy of
detail. The northern work is by far the more spirited, and is apparently
superior in all the essentials of artistic excellence.

    [Illustration: PL. LXXV--THE HUMAN FIGURE.
    1. Shell gorget, McMahan Mound, Tenn.
    2. Sculptured in stone, Mexico.
    3. Shell gorget, mound, Missouri.
    4. Figure from an Aztec painting.
    5. Shell gorget, McMahan Mound, Tenn.
    6. Shell gorget, Lick Creek Mound, Tenn.]

In the composite character of the personages represented this picture
finds no parallel. Composite figures are of frequent occurrence in
Peruvian art, as in the running figures sculptured on the great monolith
at Tiahuanuco, or the mythical combats of the gods of the earth and sea
painted on the pottery of Chimu. They are also found in the manuscripts
of the ancient Mexicans, as well as in the paintings of the modern
Pueblos of New Mexico (Fig. 1, Plate LXXVI), and in the totemic art of
the Haidahs (Fig. 2, Plate LXXVI). The most frequent combinations are of
birds with men, the inspiration of the work in all cases being derived
from the mythology of the people. The wearing of masks has doubtless
given rise to many such conceptions, and where the head alone of the
human creature has undergone metamorphosis, we may suspect that a mask
has originated the conception; but the Tennessee example appears to be
the only one in which wings are added independently of the arms or in
which bird's feet are attached to the otherwise perfect human creature.

    [Illustration: PL. LXXVI--COMPOSITE FIGURES.
    1. Design on Zuñi war-shield, painting.
    2. Thunder-bird of the Haidahs, painting.]

And now we come to the question of the origin of these objects, and
especially of the example most closely resembling Mexican work. The
Missouri gorget is in many respects quite isolated from known works of
the Mississippi Valley. Must it be regarded as an exotic, as an
importation from the South, or does it belong to the soil from which it
was exhumed? In order to answer this question we must not only determine
its relations to the art of Mexico, but we must know just what
affinities it has to the art of the mound-builders.

In the first place, gorgets of shell are a marked characteristic of the
personal embellishment of the northern peoples. They may have been in
use among the Aztecs, but do not appear among southern antiquities, and
no evidence can be derived from history. This gorget belongs, in its
general character as an ornament, to the North. It is circular in form,
it has two small perforations near the margin for suspension, and is
made from the wall of a large univalve. The design occupies the central
portion of the convex side of the disk and is inclosed by a number of
incised lines. In all of these features, together with its technical
execution and its manner of inhumation, it is identical with the
well-known work of the mound-builders. These analogies could hardly
occur if it were an exotic. It is true, however, as we have already
seen, that the design itself has a closer affinity to Mexican art than
to that of the North. It represents a sacrificial scene, and has many
parallels in the paintings and sculpture of the South, whereas no such
design is known in the art of any nation north of Mexico.

The engravings of the mound-builders represent legendary creatures
derived from the myths of the fathers, and in this respect have their
parallels in the bird-man of the Haidahs, the war-god of the Zuñis, and
the mythical deities of other countries; but they are never illustrative
of the customs or ceremonies of the peoples themselves. As an ornament
this Missouri gorget is a member of a great family that is peculiarly
northern, but the design engraved upon it affiliates with the art of
Mexico, and so close and striking are the resemblances, that accident
cannot account for them, and we are forced to the conclusion that it
must be the offspring of the same beliefs and customs and the same
culture as the art of Mexico.

    [Illustration: PL. LXXVII--FROGS, ARIZONA.
    Carved from _pectunculus_ shells. (1/1)]


[1] I am greatly indebted to Prof. W. H. Dall, of the Coast Survey, for
    assistance in the identification of Pacific coast varieties.

[2] Putnam: in Surveys West of the 100th Meridian, Vol. VII, p. 251.

[3] Reiss and Stübel: Necropolis of Ancon, Peru, Plate 83.

[4] De Bry: Collectio Pars 2. Brevis Narratio, 1591, Plate 29.

[5] Kohl: Kitschi-Gami, vol. I, p. 186, Rau, trans.

[6] Cabeça de Vaca: Relation et Naufrages. Paris, 1837, p. 121. Spanish
    ed., 1555.

[7] Rau, in Smithsonian Report for 1872, p. 376.

[8] Jones: Antiquities of the Southern Indians, p. 233.

[9] Jones: Aboriginal Remains of Tennessee, p. 59.

[10] _Ibid._, p. 60.

[11] _Ibid._, p. 45.

[12] Putnam, in Eleventh Annual Report, Peabody Museum, p. 355.

[13] Wyman, in Third Annual Report, Peabody Museum, p. 7.

[14] Wyman, in Third Annual Report, Peabody Museum, p. 8.

[15] Foster: Prehistoric Races of the United States, p. 78.

[16] Since the shell here named is quite small it is probable that the
     specimens found were _Busycons_.

[17] Long's Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, Vol. I, p. 361.

[18] Atwater, in Transactions American Antiquarian Society, Vol. I.

[19] Squier and Davis: Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley,
     p. 283.

[20] _Ibid._, p. 284.

[21] Farquharson, in Proceedings of the Am. Association, 1875, page 296.

[22] _Ibid._, p. 297.

[23] Putnam, in Eleventh Annual Report, Peabody Museum, p. 235.

[24] I am indebted to Dr. Charles A. White, of the Geological Survey,
     for the identification of the numerous specimens of _Unionidæ_
     mentioned in this paper.

[25] Archæological Explorations by the Literary and Scientific Society
     of Madisonville, 1879.

[26] Putnam, in Eleventh Annual Report, Peabody Museum, p. 334.

[27] _Ibid._, p. 344.

[28] Jones: Antiquities of Tennessee, p. 64.

[29] Beverly: History of Virginia, 1722, pl. 10, p. 154.

[30] Strachey, in Hakluyt Society Publications, vol. VI, p. 52.

[31] _Ibid._, vol. VII, p. 67.

[32] Kalm's Travels, London, 1772, vol. I, p. 341.

[33] Collections New York Historical Society, vol. I, 2nd series, p. 198.

[34] Beverly: History of Virginia, 1722, p. 197.

[35] Drake, in Hakluyt Society Publications, vol. XVI, p. 74.

[36] _Ibid._, p. 78.

[37] Sproat's Savage Life, p. 86.

[38] De Bry: Collectio Pars 1. "Admiranda Narratio," Plate 12.

[39] Catlin: Indians of the Rocky Mountains and Andes, page 101.

[40] Wood: New England Prospect, p. 102.

[41] Archæological Explorations by the Literary and Scientific Society
     of Madisonville, Ohio, Part I, p. 17.

[42] Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., vol. VII, p. 193.

[43] Wood: New England Prospect, p. 87.

[44] Wood: New England Prospect, p. 106.

[45] Archæological Explorations by the Literary and Scientific Society,
     part II, p. 38, fig. 31.

[46] Putnam, in Explorations West of the 100th Meridian, vol. VII,
     p. 223.

[47] Cook: Voyage Around the World, 1770, vol. II, p. 218.

[48] Rau: Archæological Collection of the National Museum, page 67.

[49] Knight: Savage Weapons at the Centennial Exhibition, page 10.

[50] Wyman: American Naturalist for October, 1878, p. 453.

[51] Adair: History of the American Indians, p. 6.

[52] Beverly: History of Virginia, p. 140.

[53] Heckewelder's Indian Nations, p. 205.

[54] Reiss and Stübel: Necropolis of Ancon, Plate 83, fig. 17-1/2.

[55] Jones: Antiquities of the Southern Indians, pp. 234, 518.

[56] Wyman, in the American Naturalist, November, 1868, Plate X, p. 455.

[57] Putnam, in Surveys West of the 100th Meridian, Vol. VII, p. 230.

[58] Putnam, in Surveys West of the 100th Meridian, Vol. VII, p. 259.

[59] Perkins, on An Ancient Burial-Ground in Swanton, Vt., Proceedings
     of the American Association, 1873.

[60] Squier and Davis: Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley,
     p. 232.

[61] Putnam, in Surveys West of the 100th Meridian, Vol. VII, p. 266.

[62] Schoolcraft: History of the Indian Tribes, Vol. III, p. 79,
     Plate 25.

[63] Schoolcraft: Notes on the Iroquois, p. 233.

[64] Beverly: History of Virginia, p. 145, Plate VI.

[65] Haldeman, in Surveys West of the 100th Meridian, Vol. VII, p. 263.

[66] Atwater: Western Antiquities, p. 86. In the early days of mound
     exploration shell was usually mistaken for bone or ivory.

[67] Kip: Jesuit Missions, p. 25.

[68] Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 1794,
     Vol. III, pp. 231, 232.

[69] Worsley: A View of the American Indians, p. 65.

[70] Collections of the New York Historical Society, 1841; vol. I, 2nd
     Series, p. 194.

[71] Thought to be raccoon skins.

[72] Smith: True Relation of Virginia, pp. 33, 34.

[73] Wood: New England Prospect, p. 74.

[74] Du Pratz: History of Louisiana, p. 364.

[75] Lewis and Clark: Expedition up the Missouri, &c., p. 537.

[76] Harmon's Journal, p. 287.

[77] Swan: The Northwest Coast, p. 158.

[78] Powers: Contributions to North American Ethnology, Vol. III, p.

[79] Drake: Book of Indians, p. 27.

[80] Morgan, in Fifth Annual Report on the New York State Cabinet of
     Natural History, pp. 71, 73.

[81] Loskiel: Mission of the United Brethren, Latrobe trans., p. 34.

[82] Hutchinson: History of Mass., Vol. I, p. 406.

[83] Thomas Morton, in Historical Tracts, Vol. II, p. 29.

[84] Williams: A Key into the Language of America, p. 144.

[85] Penna: Historical Society, Vol. III, p. 131.

[86] Beverly: History of Virginia, p. 195.

[87] Lawson: History of North Carolina; Raleigh reprint, 1860, p. 315.

[88] On this point, however, the author quoted is apparently at fault,
     as there is abundance of proof that the whites often engaged
     successfully in the manufacture of this shell money.

[89] Adair: History of the American Indians, p. 170.

[90] Kalm's Travels, London, 1772, Vol. II, p. 100.

[91] _Ibid._, Vol. I, pp. 190, 191.

[92] Ruttenber: Indian Tribes of the Hudson River, p. 26.

[93] Lewis and Clark: Expedition up the Missouri, p. 73.

[94] Ruttenber: Indian Tribes of the Hudson River, page 43.

[95] Morgan, in Fifth Annual Report on the condition of the New York
     State Cabinet of Natural History, page 73.

[96] Brice: History of Fort Wayne, 1868, page 28.

[97] Events in Indian History, Lancaster, Pa., 1841, page 143.

[98] History and description of New France, Vol. II, page 256.

[99] Penn, in Memoirs Hist. Soc. Penn'a, Vol. VI, p. 222.

[100] In order to make the authors meaning quite clear, a free
      translation has been given of such words as _porcelaine_,
      _branches_, _colliers_, etc., as his use of them is somewhat

[101] Lafitau: Moeurs des Sauvages Ameriquains, 1724, tom. II,
      pp. 502-'3 and 506-'7.

[102] Loskiel: Missions of the United Brethren. Trans. by La Trobe,
      Book I, p. 26.

[103] Brice: History of Fort Wayne, p. 118.

[104] Gilpin, in Memoirs of the Hist. Soc. of Penna. Vol. VI, p. 248.

[105] Heckewelder: Indian Nations, 1876, p. 110.

[106] Parkman: Jesuits in North America, p. xxxiii.

[107] Events in Indian History, Lancaster, Pa., 1841, p. 143.

[108] Hunter: Indian Manners and Customs, p. 192.

[109] Gumilla: Histoire de Orinoque, Vol. III, p. 91.

[110] Molina: History of Chili, Vol. I, p. 119.

[111] From an original sketch by Mr. Beauchamp.

[112] Pike: Travels through the Western Territories of N. A., 1805-'7,
      p. 103.

[113] Morgan, in Fifth Annual Report on the Condition of the New York
      State Cabinet of Natural History, 1852, p. 72.

[114] Morgan: League of the Iroquois, p. 387.

[115] Heckewelder: Indian Nations, 1876, pp. 108-'9-'10.

[116] Beatty: Journal of Two Months Tour, 1768, p. 67.

[117] Loskiel: Missions of the United Brethren. Trans, by La Trobe,
      1794. Book I, p. 26.

[118] Lafitau: Moeurs des Sauvages Ameriquains, Tome II, p. 314.

[119] Mr. Beauchamp has published many interesting facts in regard to
      these belts in the American Antiquarian, Vol. II, No. 3.

[120] Present chief of the Onondagas.

[121] The proceedings attending the presentation are fully recorded in
      the Memoirs of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, volume iii,
      page 207. A full size lithographic illustration of the belt
      printed in color is also given.

[122] Clavigero: History of Mexico, Trans. by Cullen, vol. I, p. 437.

[123] Davis: Spanish Conquest of New Mexico, p. 121.

[124] Beverly: History of Virginia, p. 196.

[125] Lafitau: Moeurs des Sauvages Ameriquains, p. 61.

[126] Wood: New England Prospect, p. 74.

[127] Kalm: Travels in North America, 1772, vol. ii, p. 320.

[128] _Vide_ Kingsborough, Waldeck, Bancroft, &c.

[129] Schoolcraft, in Trans. Am. Eth. Soc., Vol. II, Plate 1.

[130] Tomlinson, in The American Pioneer, Vol. II, p. 200.

[131] Matson, in Ohio Centennial Report, p. 131.

[132] Schoolcraft: History of the Indian Tribes, &c., part I, plate XIX.

[133] The ossuaries here mentioned are in the township of Beverly,
      twenty miles from Dundas, at the head of Lake Ontario. They are
      situated in a primitive forest, and were discovered upwards of
      thirty years ago through the uprooting of a tree. Large numbers
      of skeletons had been deposited longitudinally in trenches, with
      many implements, utensils, and ornaments. Two brass kettles were
      found in one of the graves. (Schoolcraft: Red Races of America,
      p. 326.)

[134] Rau: Archæological Collection of the National Museum, p. 33.

[135] The handsome illustrations presented in the accompanying plates
      were mostly drawn by Miss Kate C. Osgood, who has no superior in
      this class of work.

[136] Jones: Aboriginal Remains of Tennessee, pp. 42-3.

[137] Jones: Antiquities of the Southern Indians, pp. 373-5.

[138] Anderson, in the Cincinnati Quarterly Journal of Science, October,
      1875, p. 378.

[139] Abbott: Primitive Industry, pp. 70, 72, and 73.

[140] _Ibid._, p. 207.

[141] Since this paragraph has been in type I have seen the specimen,
      and find that the looped figure is clearly defined.

[142] Kingsborough: vol. II, Plate 20.

[143] Let any one who thinks lightly of such a work undertake, without
      machinery or well-adapted appliances, to cut a groove or notch
      even, in a moderately compact specimen of _Busycon_, and he will
      probably increase his good opinion of the skill and patience of
      the ancient workman if he does nothing else.

[144] E. G. Squier: Serpent Symbol, page 69, quoting MSS. of J. H.

[145] I am very much indebted to Prof. F. F. Hilder, of Saint Louis, for
      photographs of three of these specimens as well as for much
      information in regard to their history.

[146] Croswell, in Transactions Academy of Science of Saint Louis,
      vol. III, p. 537.

[147] Jones: Antiquities of the Southern Indian, plate XXX.

[148] Archæological Collection of the National Museum, p. 69.

[149] Squier: Peru, p. 186.

[150] Bancroft: Native Races of the Pacific States, vol. IV., p. 37.

[151] Carr, in Tenth Annual Report Peabody Museum, p. 87.

[152] Jones: Antiquities of the Southern Indians, p. 430.

[153] Schoolcraft: Notes on the Iroquois, p. 235.

[154] Kingsborough, Vol. III, pl. 22.


  Abbott, C. C., describes bird totems 284
  Adair, James, describes shell tweezers 212
              , on use of shell money 237
  Agricultural implements. (_See_ Implements.)
  Amiantis shells, Manufacture of beads from 226
  Art, Antiquity of shell works of 187
     , Burial of shell works of 187
     , Evolution of 185, 192, 202, 210, 213, 225
     , Inception of 186
     , Materials employed in 185, 188
     , Preservation of shell works of 186
  Asphaltum used by California Indians 191, 209, 218
  Atwater, Caleb, describes shell necklace 231
                                  vessel 197

  Beads of other materials 219, 232, 235
           shell 219
       , Classification of 219
        discoidal in form 221
       , Kinds of, used in belts 247
       , Manner of stringing 234, 236, 244, 248
       , Manufacture of 236
                       , by whites 238
        massive in form 223
       , Mnemonic use of 240, 254
        or "Runtees" 228
       , Perforated 219
        tubular in form 226
        used as money 219, 233
                ornaments 219, 230, 234
  Beatty, Charles, describes wampum belts 250
  Beauchamp, W. M., Beads sketched by 228
                  , on belts of wampum 252
                       strings of wampum 248
  Belts, wampum, Character of the patterns woven into 240, 246, 248
               , Dimensions of 250, 253
               , Keeper of the Iroquois 241, 244
                made by Indian women 249
               , Manufacture of 248
               , Method of handling, in councils 241, 246
               , Number of beads in 233, 251
               , Profuse use of 242
               , Rarity of, in collections 249
               ; the Penn belt 253
               , Use of, as mnemonic records 240, 254
               , W. A. Brice on use and repudiation of 242, 246
  Beverly, R., describes shell beads 229
                               money 237
                               pendants 256
                               spoon 201
             , mentions shell knives 202
                              tweezers 212
  Bird; carving of eagle's head 285
      , Embodiment of the, in art 280
       engraved on bone 284
                   stone 284
                   shell gorgets 280
      , Examples of the, engraved on shell gorgets 281
      , Gold ornament representing head of 285
      , Myths of the 280
      , Significant character of the, in engraved designs 281, 284
      , Species of, represented 282, 284
      , Superstitions in regard to the 280
      , The Dakotas' thunder 281
      , Totemic use of the 284
  Bourke, Lieut. John G., on Moqui shell vessels 193
  Bowers, Stephen, Shell objects collected by 209, 226
  Brakebill mound 215, 275, 292, 296
  Brice, W. A., on repudiation of wampum 246
                   use of wampum belts 242
  Brinton, D. G., on the origin of the cross 270
  Busycon shells, Columellæ of, used as pendants 209, 258
                                        pins 213
                , Gorgets derived from 273, 276, 282, 290, 292, 294, 296
                , Pendants derived from 209, 259
                , Perforated plates derived from 265
                 used as beads 220, 224
                         celts 204
                         vessels 194, 197
                         weapons 211
                      in the arts 191

  Cabeça de Vaca on trade in shells 194
  Cabrillo, João, visits Island of Santa Rosa 260
  Calendars, Pictographic symbols of the Sioux 279
           , Probable use of shell disks as 268, 273, 278
            used by ancient Mexicans 279
                    modern tribes 279
  Carr, Lucien, describes shell gorget 295
  Cassis shells used as vessels 191, 194, 196
  Catlin, George, describes shell adze 205
  Celts, Examples of 203
       , Manufacture of 203
        of shell 203, 205
  Clam shells used as implements 190, 205, 207
                      utensils 190
                   in manufacture of ornaments 263
                                     wampum 190, 226, 238, 257
  Clark, J. S., Photographs made by 252
  Clavigero, F. X., on use of shell ornaments 256
                                    vessels in Mexico 193
  Cleveland, F., describes shell vessels 197
  Columellæ, Manner of extracting, from shell 214
            used in manufacture of heads 219, 223
                                   pins 213, 218
  Conant, A. J., describes shell gorgets 300
               , mentions shell gorgets 287
  Cross design associated with others 270
               combined with spider design 288
               in Aztec paintings 285
               engraved on shell gorgets 268
              , Evolution or derivation of the 270
              , Examples of the, combined with birds 282, 283
              , Examples of the, from mounds 271, 273
              , Introduction of the Christian 269
              , Occurrence of the, in ancient Mexican art 270
                                      Yucatan 270
       , Origin of the, among mound builders 269
       , Prehistoric use of the, in America 268, 270
       , Symbolic character of the 269
  Croswell, C., describes shell gorgets 286
  Curtis, Dr., Shell gorgets collected by 283
  Cyprea shells used as beads 219
                        ornaments 263

  Dall, W. H., use of pins 217
             , Shells identified by 190
  Davis, W. H. H., mentions shell pendants 256
  Dentalium shells used for money 191, 220, 227, 239
                            ornament 191, 218, 220, 227
                        in bushing 218, 227
  Disks, Scalloped, probably time symbols 273
                  , Relation of, to human remains 276
                   shell, from mounds 275, 278
                  , Shell gorgets in the shape of 268, 273, 279
                   stone 277
                         with engravings of knotted serpents 278
                  , Table of 280
                  , The sun suggested by 273
                  , Type example of 273
                  ; use of sun symbols of similar shape 273
  Drake, Daniel, describes shell vessel 197
  Dunning, E. O., Shell ornaments collected by 272
                        pins collected by 215

  Ely mound in Virginia 295
  Engraved gorgets. (_See_ Gorgets.)

  Face, Human, Description of shell gorgets representing the 294
              engraved and carved on shell gorgets 293, 297
              modeled in clay 296
              , Portions of shell used for representing 293
              , Use or significance of shell gorgets representing 295
  Fain's Island mound 215, 272, 288
  Farquharson, B. J., describes shell vessel 197
  Fasciolaria shells, Columellæ of, used for pins 213
                     used as vessels 194
  Figure, Human. (_See_ Human figure.)
  Fishing appliances, Shell 207
                           ; hooks 208
                           , Manufacture of 210
                           ; sinkers 208
  Fissurella shells used as ornaments 191, 220, 261, 263
  Frey, S. L., describes shell vessel 198

  Gilpin, H. D., on the use of wampum belts 246
  Gorgets, Engraved, Classification of 267
                    design on, character of 267
                    described by Beverly 256
                   , Modern examples of 268
                    of shell 267, 305
                   , Significance of designs on 267, 274, 278, 282
                    used as amulets 267
                            insignia 267, 273
                            symbols 268, 273
                            totems 268
  Grave Creek mound 234, 264
  Gray's mound, Oldtown, Tenn. 283
  Gumilla, Joseph, concerning emblems in treaties 247

  Hafting of implements of shell 203, 205, 211
  Haldemann, S. S., describes shell beads 227, 230
  Haliotis shells used as vessels 189, 191
                       in manufacturing beads 225, 227
                                        fish hooks 209
                                        pendants 209, 261
                          trade 191
  Heckewelder, Johann, describes shell tweezers 212
                                 wampum belts 250
                     , on the use of wampum belts 246
  Hennite shells used in manufacture of beads 225, 227
  Hilder, F. F., describes shell gorgets 286, 288, 303
               , photographs of gorgets procured by 286
  Human figure engraved on shell gorgets 297
                                        , Comparison of, with other
                                                           examples 302
                                                           examples 301
  Hunter, J. D., concerning emblems in treaties 247
  Hutchinson, Thomas, on the antiquity of wampum 235

  Implements of shell, Agricultural 207
  Insignia or badges of shell 264, 266, 273

  Jones, C. C., describes shell pins 215
                                vessel 196
                          stone disks 277
              , mentions shell gorgets 287, 293, 298
  Jones, Joseph, describes shell disk 276
                                 gorgets 297
                                 spoons 201
                                 vessel 196

  Kalm, Peter, mentions shell knives 202
             , on shell money 238
                        pendants 257
  Knight, E. H., describes shell weapons 211
  Knives of shell 201
                 , rarity of, in collections 203
                  used by Honda Indians 202
                          Pacific Coast tribes 203
                          Patagonians 203
  Kohl, J. G., on trade in shells 194

  Lafitau, J. F., on the use of shell pendants 256
                                wampum 243
                                wampum belts 250
  Lawson, John, on the use of shell money 237
  Le Moyne, d'Iberville, on the use of shell vessels 193
  Lewis and Clark describe shell ornaments 233
                  on value of beads 239
  Lick Creek mound 215, 224, 272, 278, 296
  Lindström, P., on the use of shell money 236
  Lord, J. K., on shell money 239
  Loskiel G. H., gives an account of wampum 245
               , on the antiquity of use of wampum 235
                        manufacture of wampum 235
                        origin of the word wampum 239
                        wampum belts 250
  Low, C. P., Shell spoons collected by 200
                           described by 200
  Lyon, S. S., Shell spoons collected by 200

  McMahan mound 214, 292, 294, 298, 301, 303
  Manufacture of shell objects 204, 210, 212, 216, 218, 220, 228, 236,
    255, 261, 263, 286, 293
  Marginella shells used as beads 219
  Matson, J. S. B., Beads discovered by 231
                  , describes shell plates 265
  Mnemonic records, Interpretation of 241, 244, 246
                  , Iroquois keeper of 241, 244
                   of Mexicans 240
                      N. A. Indians 240
                      Peruvians 240
                  , Origin of 240
                  , Use of materials other than shell for 245, 247
                  , Use of wampum for 240, 254
  Molina, G. I., concerning emblems in treaties 247
  Morgan, L. H., on the antiquity of wampum 235
                        origin of the word wampum 239
                        uses of wampum 235
                    wampum belts 249
                           records 241
  Morton, Thomas, on the use of shell money 236
  Myth, Spider, obtained by J. W. Powell 286
  Mytilus, shells used as utensils 191, 212
                       in manufacture of fish hooks 210
                                         ornaments 261

  Oliva shells used as beads 219, 222
  Olivella shells used as beads 220
  Ornaments of shell 213, 305
  Osgood, Kate C., Drawings made by 268
  Oyster shells used as utensils 191

  Pachydesma shells used as utensils 190
                         in manufacture of beads 226
                                           ornaments 261
                                           pendants 209
  Palmer, E., Collections by 303
  Parkman, Francis, on the use of wampum 247
  Pearls perforated for beads 225
         used by Powhatan 232
  Pecten shells used as implements 206
                        ornaments 189, 261
                        rattles 190, 206
                        vessels 189
                     in art 189
  Pectunculus shells, Manufacture of rings from 263
  Pendants, Beads used as 230
          , Classification of 255, 207
          , Engraved 267, 305
          , Forms and sizes of 255, 258, 261, 263
          , Historic use of 255, 268
           illustrated by Lafitau 257
                       in De Bry 257
                          Mexican paintings 257
                          sculptures of Mexico and Yucatan 258
          , Importance of, in evolution of art 255
           of shell 209, 255
              the Atlantic coast 258
          , Origin of use of 255
          , Ornamental notching of edges of 262
          , Perforations of 255, 261
          , Plain, of the Pacific coast 260
                          Atlantic coast 258
          , Various uses of 255, 261, 267
  Penn, J. G., describes Penn belt 259
  Perforated tablets. _See_ Tablets.
  Perforations of objects of shell 216, 220, 223, 227, 236, 262
  Perkins, G. H., Shell beads illustrated by 224
  Perrine, F. M., Shell gorgets belonging to 270
  Pins, cut from body of shell 216
      , Examples of 213, 218
       made from collumellæ of shell 213, 218
       obtained from mounds 213, 218
       of shell 213, 218
      , Use of bone 217
              , problematicals 213, 217
  Potter, W. B., Shell gorget owned by 299, 303
  Powell, J. W., Nose ornament collected by 227
               , Shell disk collected by 273
                       spoon collected by 199
               , Spider myth obtained by 286
  Powers, Stephen, describes shell beads 239
                                   ornaments 233
  Pratt, H. W., on shell money 239
  Pratz, Lepage du, describes shell ornaments 232
  Putnam, F. W., describes bone pins 217
                           shell fish-hooks 209
                                 gorgets 276, 282, 295
                                 pins 218
                                 spoons 195
                                 vessels 196
               , on use of asphaltum 227
                    value of Haliotis shells 191

  Rasle, Father Sebastian, on the use of shell beads 231
  Rau, Charles, describes gold ornament 285
                          shell gorget 289
                                vessel 196
                                weapon 210
              , on classification of perforated plates 266
                   cut of stone disk 278
  Records. (_See_ Mnemonic records.)
  "Runtees," a variety of shell beads 228
          , Manner of stringing 229
          , Origin of 230
          , Signification of figures engraved upon 228
  Ruttenber, E. M., on the Keeper of wampum 241
                           manufacture of shell money 238

  Scalloped disks. (_See_ Disks.)
  Schoolcraft, H. R., describes shell beads 228
                                      ornaments 297
                                      pendants 260
                                      plates 264
  Schumacher, Paul, Shell objects collected by 209, 217
  Scrapers of shell 205
          , Examples of 205
  Serpent characteristics that attract the savage 289
          design, Discovery of shell gorgets ornamented with 289
                 engraved upon shell gorgets 268, 289, 293
                               stone disks 278
                , Examples of gorgets ornamented with 290
                 of Mexico and Peru 293
                ; the rattlesnake 289
         , Embodiment of the, in art 289
         ; rattlesnake species represented on shell 291, 293
         , Superstitions in regard to 289
         , Use of the, as a religious symbol 289
  Shells, Artificial distribution of 196, 205, 213, 230
        , Trade in 188, 191, 193, 196, 236
         used as models for the potter 198
              in natural state 187, 191
  Smith, Erminnie A., Wampum belt loaned by 251
  Smith, John, describes shell ornaments 232
  Spider characteristics that attract savages 286
         design engraved upon shell gorgets 286, 289
               , Examples of, on shell gorgets 286
                in art 286
        , Myths concerning the 286
  Spoons of shell deposited with the dead 199
                 , Examples of 199
                 , Manufacture of 198
            the Unio shell 198, 201
  Squier, E. G., mentions spider myths 286
  Squier and Davis describe shell beads 225
  Stearns, R. E. C., on shell money 239
  Strachey, William, mentions shell knives 202
  Stratton, C. L., Shell pins collected by 215
  Strombus shells, Columellæ of, used in manufacture of beads 224
                                                        pendants 208
                                                        pins 213, 215
                  used as vessels 191, 194, 197
                       in manufacture of celts 204
                                         gorgets 295
  Swan, J. G., describes shell ornaments 233

  Tablets, Perforated, Forms of 264
                     , made of shell 264, 267
                     , Manner of burial of 265
                     , Method of attachment of 266
                     , Perforations of 265
                     , Theories of use of 264
                     , Undetermined character of 264
  Time symbols, Probable use of shell disks as 268, 273, 278
  Tomlinson, A. B., describes shell plate 264
  Trill, C. F., Drawings made by 251
  Troost, Dr. Gerard, Shell objects collected by 224
  Tweezers of shell 212

  Unio shells obtained from mounds 190
              used as implements 190, 205
                      utensils 190, 199
                   in manufacture of beads 223
                                     ornament 260
                                     spoons 199

  Velie, J. W., Shell pendants collected by 208
  Vessels, artificially shaped 192
         , Engraved shell 193
          in clay imitating shells 198
         , Manufacture of shell 194, 196
         , Natural shells 190
          of the Mound Builders 194, 196
          used by the Florida Indians 193
                      Moquis Indians 193
               in Mexico 192
  Wampum, Antiquity of use of as currency 234
         as currency 234
        , Derivation of the word 238
         in costumes 232, 234
        , Literature of 241, 248
        , Manufacture of 226, 236
                        , by whites 238
        , Mnemonic use of 240, 254
        , Modern use of 239, 252
        , Origin of mnemonic use of 240
        , Symbolic uses of 241, 248
        , Use of, in strings 243, 248
                     treaties and councils 242
                , on Pacific Coast 239
        , Varieties of beads used as 247
  Weapons of shell 210
         , Manner of hafting 211
  Whipple, Lieut. E. W., Necklace obtained by 220
  Whiteley, Colonel, Shell gorgets procured by 303
  Whitney, J. L., describes shell plate 265
  Williams, C. F., Shell gorgets collected by 282
  Williams, Roger, on the name wampum 239
                          use of shell money 236
  Wood, William, describes shell pendants 256
               , mentions shell implements 205, 207
                                ornaments 232
  Wyman, Jeffries, describes shell celt 204
                                   gorgets 289
                                   pins 216
                                   vessel 196
                                   weapons 211


  page         original text                correction
  186          of curions construction      of curious construction
  198          in ancient grave             in an ancient grave
  199          Fig. I, Plate XXIV           Fig. 1, Plate XXIV
  Plate XXVI   6. Perforated pecten,        6. Perforated Pecten,
  203 n 36      _Ibid_                      _Ibid._
  214, 294, 301, 303
               the McMahon mound            the McMahan Mound
  217          very different type          very different type.
  218          collumellæ of marine         columellæ of marine
  Plate XXXI   An untrimmed columela.       An untrimmed columella
  219          the _Maginella_              the _Marginella_
  222          In fig. 1 I present          In Fig. 1 I present
  225          East St. Louis, Ills.        East St. Louis, Ill.
  232 n 69     View the American            A View of the American
  236          the Salvages have found      the Savages have found
  236          of New Sweeden:              of New Sweden:
  238          of making wampum.            of making wampum."
  240          would be assinged to         would be assigned to
  242          Algonkin and and Iroquois    Algonkin and Iroquois
  242          Cannehoot, a Seneca sachem   Cannehoot, a Seneca sachem,
  246 n 102    Book 1, p. 26.               Book I, p. 26.
  246          by his remontrances          by his remonstrances
  248          chiefs of the Chippeway      chiefs of the Chippewa
  250 n 118    Tome, II, p. 314.            Tome II, p. 314.
  251          belts of the Irqouois        belts of the Iroquois
  252          and be lost                  and be lost.
  252          Mr. Beauchamp, states        Mr. Beauchamp states
  252          The belt shown in Fig 3      The belt shown in Fig. 3
  255          a phenominal art.            a phenomenal art.
  264          as from the main land.       as from the main-land.
  271          in Fig. 1., Plate LI,        in Fig. 1, Plate LI,
  282          On it face, however          On its face, however
  282          the State of Missisippi      the State of Mississippi
  286          illustrated in Plate LX.     illustrated in Plate LXI.
  287 2x       Mr. Crosswell                Mr. Croswell
  Plate LXII   1. McMahan Mound, Tenn.      2. McMahan Mound, Tenn.
  296          painted or tatooed design    painted or tattooed design
  Plate LXIX   Acquia Creek, Va.            Aquia Creek, Va.
  298          hands againstthe             hands against the
  302          broad many-featherd tail     broad many-feathered tail
  303          (Plates LXXI and LXXIII),    (Plates LXXI and LXXII),
  304          In Fig. 3 I present          In Fig. 2 I present


  original text     modern name       Pagenumbers
  Cerrithidea       Cerithidea        220
  Cyprea            Cypraea           219, 220 2x, 230, Plate XLVIII,
                                        263 2x, 264
  Hennites          Hinnites          225, 227, Plate XXXV
  Lucupina          Lucapina          264
  silignoidens      siligineoides     200
  vericosus         verrucosus        206

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Art in Shell of the Ancient Americans - Second annual report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the - Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, 1880-81, pages - 179-306" ***

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