Penn Library

CULTURAL READINGS: Colonization & Print in the Americas

Wampum belt
University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
Iroquois wampum belt: New York or Eastern Canada.

Shell, skin.
(neg.# NC35-12972)

No utterance of any diplomatic occasion was valid until authenticated by the exchange of wampum in the form of strings or belts. Wampum served to engender further diplomatic contact; its presentation was a gesture that required a repricocal effort on the part of the recipient. Acceptance of the gift of wampum implied the acceptance of its message. In this way, wampum functioned like a certificate. This wampum belt is an abstract representation of an alliance between two peoples, signified by the straight path running between them.

Other wampum image La Potherie wampum

Print and Native Cultures

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