Jingle Dress

North American Indian jingle dress. North American Indian jingle dress.

A jingle dress is a North American Indian woman’s garment decorated with multiple rows of hollow metal cones. The dress originated among Ojibwe communities in the Great Lakes region (USA). While Ojibwe women wore sashes in the late 1800's decorated with metal cones, the jingle dress first appeared in the 1920's.

The dress was originally worn by dancers during healing ceremonies. The tinkling sound of up to a hundred or more cones was considered to be a form of spiritual medicine. The dress itself was usually of dyed black, blue, green or red cotton cloth. The same type of cones sometimes decorate men’s jackets and waistcoats.

The dresses were decorated with approximately 5 cm long cones commonly made from tin, recycled from snuff cans, though brass and other metals might also be used. Rows of cones were stitched around collars, cuffs, hems, sleeves and elsewhere on the dresses.

The dress and the ceremonial dance associated with it declined in the 1950's. They were revived and spread to other American Indian nations in the 1980's, due to the growth of inter-tribal pow wows, or festive gatherings that feature traditional drumming and dancing competitions.

Modern jingle dress regalia may include a colourful skirt and top decorated with metal cones, plastic beads, sequins and satin ribbons. In addition, beaded hair ties, belt and headband lace sleeves, may be worn with leggings decorated with cones or beading. Other accessories include bracelets and chokers, feather fans and moccasins.

The Minnesota Historical Society (USA) includes in its collection a jingle dress made in 2008 (accession numbers 2013.40.1.A-M).

See also: Ojibwe applied decoration; Sybil Carter Indian Lace Association


Digital source of illustration (retrieved 30 June 2016).


Last modified on Tuesday, 24 January 2017 17:12