December 2009 Artifact of the Month

Beaded Gauntlets

ca. 1940

Plateau

1998.8.2

Materials: smoked moose hide, cotton, glass seed beads

Beaded GauntletsExhibited here is a pair of gauntlets from the Schingoethe Permanent Collection that reflects the design diversity and skill of Plateau Indian artists. The large cuff distinguishes the gauntlet from gloves. Its purpose was to protect a bowman's wrist area from repetitive striking from the bowstring. In the late 1800s, borrowed from the American military, Plateau artists produced gauntlets from beaded designs and leather fringe. These gauntlets were used by many showmen, most notable, William Frederick Cody of the famed "Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show." In the early 1900s, rodeos such as the "Pendleton Round-Up" soon replaced show frontiersmen with cowboys, and with it came a new public demand for gauntlets.

Although Plateau-made gauntlets are dated from the 1880s through the 1940s, they are still created today by artists of the Plateau, Plains and Great Basin.