WAMPUM – Diplomatic Perls in Nouvelle -France
The wampum, a pearl found on the Atlantic coast of North America, has a major importance in the north-west Amerindian societies’ functionning. It was used primarily as an ornament or as a symbol of prestige, exchanged as a present, but its use was diversified during the 17th and 18th centuries in the domain of the relations between the native nations and the european colonies established in this vast territory stretching from south Quebec to the present state of South Carolina.
Through its value, the wampum reflects a chapter of the Amerindian, North-American and European history. It also represents a priviliged element to understand the societies which established at the time in the Nouvelle-France (1600-1763) as regards the exchanges, the alliances and the confrontations between Amerindians, French and English. With around 50 items , the exhibition highlights all the aspects of the wampum : the coveted raw material , the way it was transformed into pearls and various objects such as diplomatic necklaces, speech supports, trading goods, symbols of power and prestige, religious