Indigenising folk art: eighteenth-century powder horns in British military collections - NMS Research Repository
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Book chapter

Indigenising folk art: eighteenth-century powder horns in British military collections

September 2020

Abstract

Engraved power horns are a well-known aspect of the material culture of the Seven Years’ War (1756–1763), also known in North America as the French and Indian War. In looking at collections in military museums across the UK it emerged that powder horns were a distinctive form of material culture from this campaign. Powder horns were often personalised and artistically adapted, and they feature widely in North American collecting institutions and remain of considerable interest to private collectors. Though many are decorated with detailed maps of the theatre of war, others carry more personalised imagery or inscriptions and were made ‘on the hoof’ by amateur artists as mementoes. This chapter focuses on three examples which have an additionally important feature, the carrying straps likely procured from indigenous allies, which documentary evidence suggests might have been military issue. These include straps that are cut down tumplines (burden straps), glass wampum belts, woven belts or quillwork ‘prisoner ties’. Such items are known from early antiquarian collections. This chapter reviews the possible intercultural relationships encapsulated in the survival of these objects in military museums, and discusses their symbolic value within the military culture of the eighteenth-century British Army.

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