Southern Cheyenne artist
Cradle and Amulet, about 1900
Glass beads, wood, cotton cloth, brass, leather, metal, dyed horsehair
48 1/2 × 14 1/2 × 10 1/4 in. (123.2 × 36.8 × 26 cm.)
Frederick Weygold Collection 1937.68.29, .167
Welcoming a Newborn
Just as we celebrate the birth of a child today with gifts to the new mother and baby, Native American women welcomed new life into their families by making beautifully ornamented cradles. Mothers placed their babies in such cradles to keep them safe while they worked or whenever the family traveled. Aunts, grandmothers, or other female family members usually oversaw production of cradles.
A Baby’s First Toy
Notice the beaded amulet that hangs at the top of the cradle. Much like mobiles suspended over cribs today, the amulet would swing when the cradle moved, entertaining the infant inside. Native Americans placed the baby’s umbilical cord in such amulets to serve as charms ensuring longevity. This amulet in the form of a turtle was made for a girl. Boys’ amulets took the shape of lizards.