Location: Wisconsin Historical Museum; Madison WI
A detail shot through exhibit glass of a Jingle Dress in the second floor exhibit. Jingle dresses are dance costumes worn by women at a Pow wow. Origin of the Jingle Dress is attributed to the Ojibwe, northern Minnesota, from reoccuring dreams among four bands/tribes. The Mille Lac and Whitefish Bay bands nearly identical dreams involved ill tribal members, so it is sometimes considered a healing dress.
The dance is designed to incorporate the sound of the jingles by allowing them to move; that is, to make them jingle, or be made “happy.” The steps are in a zigzag pattern to reflect the zigzagging involved in the journey of life. While a jingle dress can be bought, it is usually (traditionally) made by the dancer or her family. The most important aspect of the dress is the jingle cone, made from snuff can lids as thay have a more melodic tone. While time consuming, many dancers prefer to roll their own cones so they can achieve a specific sound while they dance. Many traditionalists say that a dress should have 365 jingle cones.
- dresses were originally made of fabric in solid, “healthy” colors – red, green/yellow, black and blue. Each dress was adorned with jingles on the sleeves, the top, and one, two, or three rows of jingles on the bottom. The dance is characterized by light footwork danced close to ground; the dancer dances in a pattern, her feet never cross, nor does she dance backward or turn a complete circle. - the jingle dresses are made from multi-coloured fabric decorated with tin jingles. The jingle count on a child’s dress is from 100-140. The contemporary dancer carries a feather fan, often wearing eagle plumes or feathers in her hair.
The dance is fancier, with intricate footwork and the dress design is often cut to accommodate these footwork maneuvers; often cross their feet, turn full circles and dance backwards.