Octopus Bag

  • #FCBAG1259

BAG 1259, is known today as an octopus bag because of the four pairs of long tabs at the bottom. In the nineteenth century, such bags were called fire bags since they were used to store flint, steel, and tinder. The bag style apparently originated around the Canadian side of the Great Lakes and was probably developed by the mixed-blood M├ętis. It is remotely possible that the tabs have some connection to the old, whole-skin tobacco bags used by the French Canadian voyagers, as well as the Indians, in the eighteenth century.

This style spread across the continent. Late nineteenth century photographs show the octopus bag in use among the Tlingits on the Pacific. It also enjoyed favor as far north as the Sub arctic. This example, with its asymmetrical beaded design, was probably made around the Great Slave Lake by a Slavey woman about 1900. The bag itself is the coarse
wool flannel called stroud.

Illustrated in Spirits in the Art, by James A. Hanson, p-259.

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