This cradleboard (tikanagan) is composed of a carrying board and a cradle bag. The carrying board is painted red and has a protective hoop secured near the top of the front section. Also near the top edge, two hearts have been carved out of the board for decoration.
A cradle bag has been attached to a u-shaped brace that holds it in place. The bag is made from finely woven woollen trade cloth or stroud, and is embroidered with colourful glass beads obtained from the fur trade post. Hide thongs are used to close the bag.
A hide carrying strap attached to the back is used to transport the infant or to hang the board up so that the child is out of harm’s way.
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Check the Beaver Index - e.g., Land of the Ojibway, by Janet Carruthers, March 1952.
The tikanagan was an ingenious piece of Aboriginal childcare technology that served as the contemporary equivalent of a crib, a carriage, a highchair, and a playpen. It was designed to keep infants warm, safe, and easy to carry about.
The construction of the cradle bag was the responsibility of the mother and her female relatives, while the husband or a close male relative made the carrying board.
The protruding hoop on the cradleboard served to protect the child’s head during an accidental fall. The hoop was also used to suspend protective amulets and playthings as well as cloth coverings that warded off mosquitoes and the cold. The tikanagans were often passed down from generation to generation.