Book Review: A Bag Worth a Pony The Art of the Ojibwe Bandolier Bag

To say that I am a book lover would be a vast understatement. I love the hunt of finding good books, looking at books, and reading books. Between my husband, my kids, and myself, we must have over 1000 books to our names (and those are just the ones we have kept and not passed on to friends). Why am I sharing this? It’s to put in context my next statement: the book, A Bag Worth a Pony The Art of the Ojibwe Bandolier Bag is one of the most beautiful, fascinating, and inspiring books I have ever come across. I truly savored every page.

An excerpt describing the book states: “Bandolier bags, or gashkibidaaganag—the large, heavily beaded shoulder bags made and worn by several North American Indian tribes around the Great Lakes—are prized cultural icons here and around the world. From the 1870s to the present day, Ojibwe bead artists of Minnesota have been especially well known for their lively, creative designs. Neighboring Dakota people would trade a pony for a beautiful beaded bag.”

The author, Marcia Anderson, relates the history of these amazing beaded bags and shares their cultural significance as well as details of the lives of the people who made them. While this is not a “how to” book, Anderson does dedicate a good number of pages detailing the materials used as well as the techniques. The book is full of gorgeous full color photos of numerous bags, and as a bead artist, I would get lost staring at the patterns and intricate beadwork. The amount of work that had to go into each bag is incredible and you can tell that it was truly a work of love and pride.

This is all beadwork! 

I love how this book blends history, art, anthropology, and bead artistry. I feel like I learned so much on so many levels reading this book. Every page was truly a delight and this book now proudly resides on in my “forever keep” pile.

If you are interested in reading this book yourself, it is available for sale on Amazon and through other booksellers. 

Note: This is the personal review of Julie Bean, not sponsored by a publisher or an advertiser.

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