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Umbilical Cord Amulet

McCord Museum

Indigenous Cultures collection

Umbilical Cord Amulet (Niitsitapi, 1830–1856) and Belt with Umbilical Cord Amulet (Oceti Sakowin, 1930–1950) from the McCord Museum’s Indigenous Cultures collection, Montreal, Canada

“The umbilical cord of a newborn child holds special meaning. It is a reminder of the link between the child and his mother and, by extension, her family, her community and her culture. When the chord falls off it is preserved in a hide container embroidered with prayes for protection and long life. Typically shaped like a turtle for a girl and a lizard or snake for a boy, these amulets are attached to cradles as a baby’s first toy. They are later worn throughout a child’s life and in some cases buried with him or her in old age.”

(Transcript from the accompanying label)

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