Threads Through Time-Osage Sampler

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Unknown artist
Native American Marking Sampler with Floral Border, 1847-1868
Wool on cotton
On loan from Historic Arkansas Museum, Little Rock, Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council Grant Purchase

 

From Historic Arkansas Museum

This colorful marking sampler was created by a female Osage student at the Catholic Osage Mission in Neosho County, Kansas. The Mission was operated by the Jesuits and the Sisters of Loretto, under contract with the United States Government, from April of 1847 to about 1870. The Sisters of Loretto were well educated, sophisticated young women who were recruited from Kentucky to come teach at the Osage Manual Labor School for Girls. The Osage Nation petitioned the United States Government to send the “Black Robes”, Jesuits, to teach their children western ways, after decades of ill attempts by the Presbyterian missionaries to educate and proselytize the Osage Nation.

This marking sampler was crafted with wool thread on a cotton fabric, using almost entirely cross-stitches to form this sampler. In the traditional style of a marking sampler, this piece starts with the uppercase alphabet followed by the lowercase version, with each line separated by varying bands showcasing the many patterns and skills of the embroiderer. The Spencerian style cursive that dominates most of sampler was intricately created by sewing the letters in a floral design. Each letter is comprised of several small flowers separated by green, leafy space, and bound with navy blue cross stitches. Following the whimsical letters, the maker marked the provenance of her sampler. Labeled as a “souvenir”, this sampler was probably constructed as both an educational piece and a fundraiser for the Mission.