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Exhibitions/ Art Object

Man’s Headdress from a Chief’s Costume

ca. late 18th century
Malecite tribe, New Brunswick, Canada, mid- to late 18th century
Wool broadcloth, silk ribbon, embroidered with metal-wrapped thread, glass beads
height: 25 x 31.5 in (64 x 80 cm)
Credit Line:
New Brunswick Museum, St. John, New Brunswick, Canada, Purchased with the assistance of a Movable Cultural Property grant accorded by the Department of Canadian Heritage under the terms of the Cultural Property Export and Import Act, 1983
Not on view
Textiles represented the principal commodity that Europeans traded to native North Americans for expensive fur pelts and gave as gifts to curry favor with tribal leaders. This headdress is one part of an ensemble for a chief of the Malecite tribe, located around the St. John River valley in eastern Canada. The red-dyed wool may have been produced in Gloucester, England, a region famous for such cloth. Other European-made components, including the yellow silk ribbon, metallic gold thread, and glass beads, further demonstrate the involvement of native tribes in global trade. The heated competition for furs between France and England often allowed Native Americans to dictate the terms of exchange, forcing the Europeans to lower cloth prices, alter designs, and even supply their rivals’ goods to satisfy Indian demands.
Acquired by Sir William ffarington (1730-1781), Worden Hall, Leyland, Lancashire, U.K. (Probably) By family descent to Susan Maria ffarington (c. 1809-January 10, 1894) and Mary Hannah ffarington (c. 1815-October 29, 1888), by 1868 By family descent to Henry Nowell ffarington (1868-1947), Worden Hall, Leyland, Lancashire, U.K.; (sale: estate auction, Worden Hall, Leyland, Lancashire, U.K., 1948) Acquired at the above sale by Mr. Forrester, Leyland, Lancashire, U.K., 1948 By descent to his son, John Forrester, Leyland, Lancashire, U.K.; (sale: Christie’s, London, U.K., 29 June 1983) Acquired by the present owner at the above sale