Arts of Peace

Pipe-tomahawk. This pipe-tomahawk was collected in the early 1870s and probably belonged to Red Cloud, an important tribal leader among the Oglala Lakota (Sioux) from the mid 19th into the early 20th centuries. PM 74-18-10/7650
Wampum belt, Northeastern Ontario, Canada. The wampum served a variety of roles, often ceremonial or political in nature, including to communicate a condolence or an invitation. PM 03-9-10/62375

Unlike war, peace has always been ephemeral. Although often sought, peace has rarely been attained or maintained for long. Throughout human history, successful periods of peace were negotiated, new alliances were formed, and gifts were exchanged to solidify new relationships. However, peace with one group often brought an ally to confront another adversary and such peace was usually short and tenuous. Rare intervals of extended peace, such as the Tokugawa peace in Japan during the Edo period between 1603 and 1868, and the Iroquois Confederacy of the 16th to 18th centuries, are more often the exception than the rule.

Typically, feasts and formal ceremonies have been important to the peace-making process, but such activities rarely leave distinctive objects. With few exceptions, the objects involved in transacting peace have been gift items rather than specialized works of art.

Two items on display