Images from The Graese
Courting Flute, Apache Nation, Southwestern U.S., 19th/early 20th century
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NMM 4044. Courting flute, Apache Nation, Southwestern United States, 19th/early 20th century. End-blown, notched flute of vegetal stalk, perhaps the bloom stalk of an agave, a yucca variety, covered in thinly-processed leather. Geometric designs cover leather surface. Cut cowrie shells and colored beads are suspended from leather tassels. Attached leather straps for carrying and storing. Played by covering all but the notch with the mouth and directing the air stream to split over edge of wood. Arne B. Larson Collection, 1979.
Notch at Playing End of Flute
Attached to the flute are thin leather strips bound with wrapped brass wire, to which are attached blue "padre" beads, purple Venetian beads, and cowrie shells (with tops cut off).
"Padre beads are wound, opaque, light blue glass beads from China. Through Spanish and Russian traders, Padre beads spread rapidly into the Southwest and Northwest. In 1778, English explorer, Captain James Cook made several references to the effect that it was difficult to obtain supplies and furs from the Pacific coast Indians without this particular blue bead. Captain Lewis had this to say about Padre beads and the Indians tribes along the Columbia River . . . 'only the blue and white beads were acceptable, the most desired, are the common cheap, blue beads called Chief Beads' . . . . Padre beads were made in a variety of colors, but blue and white were the most sought after by the Northwest Indians." Source: O. Ned Eddins, Mountain Man Indian Fur Trade Beads.
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