Said to be traditionally of Native American origin yet known to many cultures, the medicine bag is possessed by many to this day where various items would be placed into the bag itself.
It is common to have a medicine bag made of leather or felt and usually within a tribe the medicine man or shaman would possess a medicine bag, but anyone could have one.
The items within a medicine can be quite varied from person to person as it is known that people will keep leaves, feathers, stones, herbs and any other object considered spiritually significant, some people will even carry a small musical instrument in their bags. Some can even say the medicine bag can contain almost anything.
Size wise a medicine bag can be as small as one inch by one inch but can be as large as thirty inches by thirty inches. The medicine bags of the Native Americans are quite large due to the needing to be large to contain such items as ritual masks.
A medicine bag itself is a holy item in which others shouldn’t open as it is within the bag that contains items considered holy in which is used in such things as healing and protection.
The colour of the bag tends to be of an earthly tone or a colour found in nature. Medicine bags are usually decorated with symbols or drawings which includes, but not limited to, plants, totems, runes, and astrological signs.
Cultures across the globe have some sort of medicine bag, such as the gris-gris (also called the grigri), which is used in Voodoo and of African origin. Within the Caribbean there is the wanga/oanga bag with wanga being from an African word meaning ‘charm’ yet also can be translated as ‘spell’. The incense bag of China is traditionally made during the Dragon Boat Festival and filled with herbs to help ward off disease and often have fish or an animal of the zodiac depicted on them.