Honoring the Warriors

Beaded Bandolier Bag By Martha Berry

Title: Honoring the Warriors - Beaded Bandolier Bag by Martha Berry

Materials: Czech glass beads on wool stroud, cotton, silk ribbon, wool yarn. To the extent possible, all materials are period authentic to c. 1820.

Size: Approx. 38" H x 16" W x 1" D

Completion: October 5, 2010, requiring 318 Ĺ hours

Awards: Best of Class - Beadwork/Quillwork, Cherokee Art Market 2010, Tulsa, OK. Best of Division - Traditional Beadwork/Quillwork, Cherokee Art Market 2010, Tulsa, OK

This bandolier bag was a labor of love for me. I created it to honor all the warriors in my family, from pre-contact to today. In particular, it honors my husband who was a combat correspondent, US Army, Vietnam, 1971-72; and my uncle who lost his life in WWII.

The motifs are all pre-contact Mississippian designs from either pottery or shell carvings. The motifs on the pouch are of particular interest as they are all pileated woodpeckers. Although falcon and turkey designs were associated with warriors, they are thought to have represented military leaders. Woodpeckers, however, represented the ordinary soldier, the ones who ultimately have to face the enemy on the battlefield. This piece was created to honor those men and women.

Color is significant in the bandolier bag. Red is the Cherokee color for war, so I chose scarlet saved-edge wool stroud cloth. This cloth is made in the same manner that it was in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Both the wool stroud cloth and the silk ribbon were obtained through a Revolutionary War reenactors' supply house because they cannot be found in fabric stores.

The black ribbon on the strap represents death. When telegrams bearing the news of a death were delivered during WWII, the paper used had a black border. This is the paper that my grandmother would have held as she read the news of her sonís death aboard the USS Indianapolis during WWII. He is the only military person in the recent history of my family who was killed in battle. The blue ribbon on the pouch, signifying water, also honors him and his sacrifice for our country.

I am proud of, and humbled by, men and women who have the courage to say their goodbyes and go off to war not knowing if they will return. I thank them for their service, I honor them with this bandolier bag.