Every fall, my girlfriends and I struggle to find a bag with the perfect balance of fashion and functionality. Turns out, women of the Sioux tribe solved this issue a few hundred years ago by designing and ornamenting Possible Bags. I found this bag while visiting an exhibition of the Coe Collection of American Indian Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
According to the curator comments,
The Possible Bags were called so because they were used for storing and carrying every possible household item. The bags were a necessity for the nomadic people, such as the vigorous and equestrian Sioux, before they were settled onto reservations in the 1870s…
The backs are not decorated. When used as saddle bags as they often were, only the patterned side would be visible. The ornamental red bands, made from flattened porcupine quills have their origin in the parallel lines of the red quillwork that often decorated earlier Sioux robes and tipi liners. They are frequently found on items associated with women and are thought to have symbolized their trail through life.
Sounds like our modern requirements for a bag? Must hold book, laptop, wallet, keys, phone, lipstick, and anything else I grab on the way out the door. Must be able to function as a saddlebag during commutes across the bridge on bike or a crowded subway car. Must be stylish and represent who I am as a person.
I especially appreciated the intricate beading on the sides of the bag, shown below. I can imagine the women beading their bags and thinking, “I know the bag has to be practical, but shouldn’t it be beautiful as well?” Yes, it should.
I am on a mission for my “possible” bag of the season. I have a feeling that my hunt may be difficult since I am using this amazing example as my inspiration.