Today, a new generation of artists is carrying on the tradition of beading. Among these, Pauline Loft has beaded since childhood, having been taught this art by older women in the community of Kahnawake. She chose very bright colours for this beaded bag and a floral motif that suits the traditional Kanien’kehá:ka costume well.
Today, a new generation of artists is carrying on the tradition of beading. Among these, Pauline Loft has beaded since childhood, having been taught this art by older women in the community of Kahnawake. She chose very bright colours for this beaded bag and a floral motif that suits the traditional Kanien’kehá:ka costume well.

© 1997, Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Bag

Kanien'kehá:ka (Mohawk)

Artist: Pauline Loft, Photographer: Martin A. Loft
Private Collection
1996
Kahnawake, Quebec, CANADA
© 1997, Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


This beaded headdress or "crown" was designed by Pauline Loft in 1996. The flower and bird motif recalls some historical works created over a century ago. This type of headdress was worn by young girls and is part of the traditional costume.
This beaded headdress or "crown" was designed by Pauline Loft in 1996. The flower and bird motif recalls some historical works created over a century ago. This type of headdress was worn by young girls and is part of the traditional costume.

© 1997, Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Headdress

Kanien'kehá:ka (Mohawk)

Artist: Pauline Loft, Photographer: Martin A. Loft
Private Collection
1996
Kahnawake, Quebec, CANADA
© 1997, Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


The Kanien’kehá:ka Roatitiahkwa Cultural Centre, established in 1978, is recognized as the cultural institution of Kahnawake. Beading classes are one of the major activities organized by the Centre. The Centre is ensuring that the tradition of manufacturing is maintained and that beading remains an integral part of the Iroquois identity by helping to train future artists.

The Kanien’kehá:ka Roatitiahkwa Cultural Centre in Kahnawake offers classes where adults and children can learn the art of beading. Pauline Loft teaches here and shows young students the various beading stitches. Kanien’kehá:ka children can thus grow up understanding the meaning and significance of beading as their mothers and grandmothers did before them.
The Kanien’kehá:ka Roatitiahkwa Cultural Centre, established in 1978, is recognized as the cultural institution of Kahnawake. Beading classes are one of the major activities organized by the Centre. The Centre is ensuring that the tradition of manufacturing is maintained and that beading remains an integral part of the Iroquois identity by helping to train future artists.

The Kanien’kehá:ka Roatitiahkwa Cultural Centre in Kahnawake offers classes where adults and children can learn the art of beading. Pauline Loft teaches here and shows young students the various beading stitches. Kanien’kehá:ka children can thus grow up understanding the meaning and significance of beading as their mothers and grandmothers did before them.

© 1997, Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Beading

Kanien'kehá:ka (Mohawk)

Kanien'kehá:ka Roatitiahkwa Cultural Centre
1997
Kahnawake, Quebec, CANADA
© 1997, Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


Beading Technique

Kanien'kehá:ka (Mohawk)

Kanien'kehá:ka Roatitiahkwa Cultural Centre

Kahnawake, Quebec, CANADA
Modern Photograph
© 1997, Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


Robyn Delaronde (Kanien’kehá:ka) is a self-taught artist from Kahnawake. A full-time teacher, she works at beading in her spare time. She prefers the traditional Iroquois style of beading, developing relief floral motifs on a velvet background. This 1996 pin cushion is inspired by the pin cushions made at the turn of the century for sale to tourists.
Robyn Delaronde (Kanien’kehá:ka) is a self-taught artist from Kahnawake. A full-time teacher, she works at beading in her spare time. She prefers the traditional Iroquois style of beading, developing relief floral motifs on a velvet background. This 1996 pin cushion is inspired by the pin cushions made at the turn of the century for sale to tourists.

© 1997, Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Pin Cushion

Kanien'kehá:ka (Mohawk)

Artist: Robyn Delaronde, Photographer: Martin A. Loft
Private Collection
1996
Kahnawake, Quebec, CANADA
© 1997, Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


Like many other artists who work in beading, Robyn Delaronde is not intimidated by the challenge of different shapes. This 1996 beaded vase is a striking example. Nonetheless, its motif recalls those produced at the turn of the century. Beaded vases were designed to meet Euro-Canadian demand. They were intended to be placed in a living room as conversation pieces.
Like many other artists who work in beading, Robyn Delaronde is not intimidated by the challenge of different shapes. This 1996 beaded vase is a striking example. Nonetheless, its motif recalls those produced at the turn of the century. Beaded vases were designed to meet Euro-Canadian demand. They were intended to be placed in a living room as conversation pieces.

© 1997, Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Vase

Kanien'kehá:ka (Mohawk)

Artist: Robyn Delaronde, Photographer: Martin A. Loft
Private Collection
1996
© 1997, Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


Photograph frames were also highly prized by tourists at the end of the 19th century. Robyn Delaronde not only recreates this genre but reinvents it for 1996, incorporating a bird motif (very popular). Robyn is a perfectionist and her work is sought after not only by collectors in her own community of Kahnawake but by major Eastern Canadian museums.
Photograph frames were also highly prized by tourists at the end of the 19th century. Robyn Delaronde not only recreates this genre but reinvents it for 1996, incorporating a bird motif (very popular). Robyn is a perfectionist and her work is sought after not only by collectors in her own community of Kahnawake but by major Eastern Canadian museums.

© 1997, Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Photograph Frame

Kanien'kehá:ka (Mohawk)

Artist: Robyn Delaronde, Photographer: Martin A. Loft
Private Collection
1996
© 1997, Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


Sandra McComber (Kanien’kehá:ka) from Kahnawake, has created and sold beaded works for most of her adult life. She is one of a small group of craftspeople who can support themselves financially by their beading work. Her style has developed in response to the demand of her clients. This year she is creating headdresses or "crowns" like the one illustrated here, as well as matching arm bands designed to be worn at important events.
Sandra McComber (Kanien’kehá:ka) from Kahnawake, has created and sold beaded works for most of her adult life. She is one of a small group of craftspeople who can support themselves financially by their beading work. Her style has developed in response to the demand of her clients. This year she is creating headdresses or "crowns" like the one illustrated here, as well as matching arm bands designed to be worn at important events.

© 1997, Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Headdress

Kanien'kehá:ka (Mohawk)

Artist: Sandra McComber, Photographer: Martin A. Loft
Private Collection
1997
© 1997, Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


Elva Diabo (Kanien’kehá:ka) is a self-taught artist from Kahnawake. Although she likes to make beaded objects for her family and friends, she has refused to sell any, claiming that it takes too much time to produce them. We see her style in this leather handbag made in 1997. It demonstrates the link between traditional content and contemporary style very well.
Elva Diabo (Kanien’kehá:ka) is a self-taught artist from Kahnawake. Although she likes to make beaded objects for her family and friends, she has refused to sell any, claiming that it takes too much time to produce them. We see her style in this leather handbag made in 1997. It demonstrates the link between traditional content and contemporary style very well.

© 1997, Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

bag

Kanien'kehá:ka (Mohawk)

Artist: Elva Diabo
Private Collection
1997
Kahnawake, Quebec, CANADA
© 1997, Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

The learner will:

  • Using examples, describe the patterns, colours, and motifs in contemporary Iroquois beadwork
  • Explain the importance of beading to contemporary Iroquois culture and reflect on the connection between art and function

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