Museum of Natural History

fairs & demos
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at the University of Oregon in Eugene, OR in 1999

Parfleche case made by Steven Edholm & Tamara Wilder

This parfleche is a replication of a Western Plateau (?) envelope made circa 1870 (collected by E.C. Miller on the Yakima Reservation in WA 1913.)
(As pictured on page 230 in the book
The American Indian Parfleche: A Tradition in Abstract Painting by Gaylord Torrence.)

Parfleche comes from French and can be literally translated as "against arrow". It probably gained this name from rawhide armor used by many Plains Indian tribes. It is now applied to the many styles of containers which are
made of painted and often softened rawhide.

This replication was made by Steven & Tamara in 1999 and supplied to the exhibit so that it could be handled by visitors for a tactile experience.

Made of elk hide and painted with natural earth pigments except for the blue which is an unknown trade pigment.

The following pictures show the process of making a parfleche.

Elk hide staked out with wooden stakes.

The hide surface must be fleshed and cleaned thoroughly by repeated washing and scraping.

Red & yellow ochre earth pigments, blue/green earth pigment and blue trade pigment.

Ochre pigment shaped and dried into disc for painting. Sections of bone with the pithy core exposed are also used as paintbrushes.

Painting in process.

Finished wet painting is sealed over repeatedly with slime from prickly pear cactus, Opuntia sp., pads and the hide is allowed to dry very slowly.

Dried hide is scraped with a stone scraping tool to remove the hair and grain.

Hide scraped and ready to cut out and pound.

Holes for buckskin ties are burned with hot coals.

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Steven Edholm & Tamara Wilder
PO Box 876 Boonville, CA 95415
voice mail 707-793-2287

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