Daily Art Moment: Jingle

Ojibwa artist, Blouse, 30 x 39 inches, cotton, plastic buttons, tin, and sequins. A black, hip length shirt with elbow length sleeves and a small, rounded collar. Patterned metal jingles set closely together hang from a short yoke edged with a faded peach strip of fabric, stitched and embellished with sequins. The round collar is edged with star shaped sequins and has two long strings that hang to mid garment. Two large black buttons fasten the shirt at mid chest. The sleeves and hem are also edged in evenly spaced sequins. More jingles drop from under the sleeve and garment hem suspended by cloth loops, their colors now ranging from red to faded peach. The shirt’s hem dips slightly at the sides approximately reaching the wearer’s finger tips.

The jingle is a symbol of Native North American women. This blouse with matching skirt, a possible precursor to the jingle dress, is an example of the ingenuity of Native design. This type of dress adornment and dance was first developed to heal and has continued to be a symbol of healing and female empowerment. While cone-shaped copper was found in the Great Lakes region during the early 18th century, oral history accounts trace the jingle dance and dress’s beginnings to multiple Ojibwe communities sometime around the 1918 influenza pandemic (1918–1920). Learn more from this video:

Like other Indigenous practices, the dress style and dance that began with the Anishinaabe is now widely practiced by Native peoples of various tribal affiliations. The metal cones, or jingles, originally made from curled copper and later tobacco tin lids, coins, and thimbles, are still made from repurposed materials by some makers, while others use pre-fabricated jingles. Compared to this blouse and skirt, many contemporary jingle dresses have become more colorful and acoustic with the addition of more metal cones and added design motifs that make each dress unique to the dancer.

Contemporary Native artists incorporate the jingle into other art forms. These include Anishinaabe artists such as Maria Hupfield (Wasauksing First Nation) and artists from other regions, such as Marie Watt (Seneca) and Wendy Red Star (Apsáalooke), who use the jingle in performance, and as an emblem of Native North American women’s presence anywhere from within the community to a vision of the future.

Kendra Greendeer, ArtTable Fellow

Ojibwa artist, Skirt, 27 x 31 ½ inches, cotton, plastic buttons, tin, and sequins. A long, black, slightly A- line shaped skirt decorated with two rows of metal jingles and a pale, peach stitched, fabric strip. The skirt has a flat waistband, fastens on the right side and falls in a slight flare to the hem. At lower calf level a faded peach colored strip of fabric bisects the skirt. It is embellished with a row of sequins in the middle and bordered by a line of black stitching at top and two lines of red stitching below. Jingles hang from under this strip from fabric loops in shades of red, brick, peach and black. The black skirt continues to the hem and finishes with another row of sequins on black with jingles on fabric loops extending from under the hem. The main body of the skirt is pieced in places, especially at the lower right where several rectangles of black fabric are stitched together to make up the garment. A center seam runs vertically down the skirt.

Ojibwa artist, Blouse and Skirt, ca. 1890, cotton. Cotton, plastic buttons, tin, and sequins. The Elizabeth Cole Butler Collection, 2014.14.1,2;

Wendy Red Star (American and Apsa’alooke, born 1981), Stands Towards the Sun, 2011. Gold lamé fabric, gold jingles, and faux eagle feather cap. Museum Purchase: Funds provided by Anonymous © Wendy Red Star, 2016.2.1a,b

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