There aren't a lot of bead, gem or crystal names beginning with the letter 'U', so today I'll use the opportunity to talk about umbilical pouches, a beautiful tradition of the Lakota Sioux. When a child was about to be born, the mother would create an intricately beaded pouch to hold the umbilical cord. After the birth, the pouch belonged to the child through adulthood and for their whole lives, eventually being buried with them after death. The pouch symbolized the connection between mother and child, as well as the owner's connection to their family and tribe. The Lakota Sioux has a long tradition of fine bead and quillwork, displayed in intricate works of art on clothing -- often incorporating glass and metal beads, quills, hair, paint, and ribbon. Anyone thinking of beginning the craft of beading should take time to pay homage to these skilled artisans and to the beauty of their art.
Shown here is a vintage umbilical pouch for a female; turtles are used for females to symbolize strength and longevity. For males, the image of a lizard is used, to depict speed and adaptability. The shop Northernlodge on Etsy.com will custom design these special pouches for a new infant, so get in touch with them if you'd like to begin this lovely tradition in your own family. And don't forget to check out our entire line of distinctive beads and pendants as inspiration for your own unique projects, at The Bead Collection.