Beaded Ioway Otoe Vests
Click on the center and right images for enlarged views.
Right Vest (Man Holding Two Pipes): Jimm GoodTracks comments,
The patterns and design of this particular vest, suggest that it was
fashioned for a member or by a member of William ("Wanoshe") FawFaw's
Buffalo Society, as per the buffalo head and stars.
The fact that this is an old crafted item is noted in the rainbow selvage border. The oldest broadcloth had these narrow stripes of rainbow color. The only cultural context for an individual to be holding two Sacred Pipes is indeed with the Hunge/Hunye ceremonial of Adopting Relatives. The Lakota/Dakota call this ceremonial "Hunka" or "Hunkapi".
In the ceremonial, the pipe stems are not attached to any pipe bowls, for the power of the ceremonial and its significance is rendered via the decorated Pipe Stems. There are generally two Pipe Stems that the lone dancer carries which he sways rhythmically over the Child being Adopted while accompanied by the Singing/ Singers. In some cases, only one Stem might be used. I believe the maker of this fine vest made the Stems with Pipe Bowls, in lieu of trying to accomplish the more elaborate feather arrangements attached to the Stems. Further, the Stems differ in the kind of Eagle Feathers attached for the green stem and the blue stem.
Also, of interest is what appears to be deer heads, which would be unique. As there is no Deer Clan for IOM, perhaps they represent Elk Heads for Elk Clan?
The colors are appropriate for an early day beadwork, as are the designs. You may note the four central floral designs at the sides
suggest that they are four birds, which may represent the Four
Directions. I do not believe that they are birds by the intent and design of the maker, but was the result of a spiritual intercession.
Left and Center vests: Jimm GoodTracks comments:
The Flag motif on the other vests was a popular theme throughout the Plains (N.& S.) and appear in many articles of clothing. While in latter days the flags may bear towards the warrior tradition, I heard it said that the earlier use of the motiff and others copied directly from Anglo American issue, were ultilized in the thought that they were imbued with a "power" or "medicine" for the non-Natives, which if a Native also would ultilize them, could in turn, access that same power for themselves, much as they did by employing designs of the Buffalo, Bear, et.al., into their beadwork themes and designs.
Thanks to Earl Fenner and Lionel.