Saturday, August 23, 2008

Native American Dress

Beverley, Robert, ca. 1673-1722.

Indian man in his Summer Dress.

The upper part of his Hair is cut short, to make a ridge, which stands up like the Comb of a Cock, the rest is either shorn off, or knotted behind his

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Ear. On his Head are stuck three Feathers of the Wild Turkey, Pheasant, Hawk, or such like. At his Ear is hung a fine Shell with Pearl Drops. At his Breast is a Tablet or fine Shell, smooth as polish'd Marble, which sometimes also has etched on it, a Star, Half Moon, or other Figure, according to the makers fancy. Upon his Neck, and Wrists, hang Strings of Beads, Peak and Roenoke. His Apron is made of a Deer skin, gashed round the edges, which hang like Tassels or Fringe; at the upper end of the Fringe is an edging of Peak, to make it finer. His Quiver is of a thin Bark; but sometimes they make it of the Skin of a Fox, or young Wolf, with the Head hanging to it, which has a wild sort of Terror in it; and to make it yet more Warlike, they tye it on with the Tail of a Panther, Buffaloe, or such like, letting the end hang down between their Legs. The prickt lines on his Shoulders, Breast and Legs, represent the Figures painted thereon. In his Left Hand he holds a Bow, and in his Right an Arrow. The mark upon his Shoulder blade, is a distinction used by the Indians in Travelling, to shew the Nation they are of. And perhaps is the same with that which Baron Lahontan calls the Arms and Heraldry of the Indians. Thus the several letter'd marks, are used by several other Nations about Virginia, when they make a Journey to their Friends and Allies.

The Landskip is a natural representation of an Indian Field.

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Tab. 3. Is two Indian Men in their Winter Dress.

Seldom any but the Elder people wore the Winter Cloaks, (which they call Match-coats,) till they got a supply of European goods; and now most have them of one sort or other in the cold Winter Weather. Fig. 1. wears the proper Indian Match-coat, which is made of Skins, drest with the Furr on, sowed together, and worn with the Furr inwards, having the edges also gashed for beauty sake. On his Feet are Moccasins. By him stand some Indian Cabins on the Banks of the River. Fig. 2. wears the Duffield Match-coat bought of the English, on his Head is a Coronet of Peak, on his Legs are Stockings made of Duffields: That is, they take a length to reach from the Ankle to the Knee, so broad as to wrap round the Leg; this they sow together, letting the edges stand out an Inch beyond the Seam. When this is on, they Garter below Knee, and fasten the lower end in the Moccasin.

§. 4. I don't find that the Indians have any other distinction in their dress, or the fashion of their Hair, than only what a greater degree of Riches enables them to make; except it be their Religious persons, who are known by the particular cut of the Hair, and the unusual figure of their Garments; as our Clergy are distinguisht by their Canonical Habit.

The Habit of the Indian Priest, is a Cloak made in the form of a Woman's Petticoat; but instead of tying it about their middle, they fasten the gatherings about their Neck, and tye it upon the Right Shoulder, always keeping one Arm out to use upon occasion. This Cloak hangs even at the bottom,

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but reaches no lower than the middle of the Thigh; but what is most particular in it, is, that it is constantly made of a skin drest soft, with the Pelt or Furr on the outside, and revers'd; insomuch, that when the Cloak has been a little worn, the hair falls down in flakes, and looks very shagged, and frightful.

The cut of their Hair is likewise peculiar to their Function; for 'tis all shaven close except a thin Crest, like a Cocks-comb which stands bristling up, and runs in a semi-circle from the Forehead up along the Crown to the nape of the Neck: They likewise have a border of Hair over the Forehead, which by its own natural strength, and by the stiffning it receives from Grease and Paint, will stand out like the peak of a Bonnet.

Tab. 4. Is a Priest and a Conjurer in their proper Habits.

The Priest's Habit is sufficiently describ'd above.*

The Conjurer shaves all his Hair off, except the Crest on the Crown, upon his Ear he wears the skin of some dark colour'd Bird; he, as well as the Priest, is commmonly grim'd with Soot or the like; to save his modesty he hangs an Otter-skin at his Girdle, fastning the Tail between his Legs; upon his Thigh bangs his Pocket, which is fastn'd by tucking it under his Girdle, the bottom of this likewise is fring'd with Tassils for ornament sake. In the middle between them is the Huskanawing spoke of §. 32.

The dress of the Woman is little different from that of the Men, except in the tying of their Hair. The Ladies of Distinction wear deep Necklaces, Pendants and Bracelets, made of small Cylinders of the Conque shell, which they call

Peak: They likewise keep their Skin clean, and shining with Oyl, while the Men are commonly bedaub'd all over with Paint.

They are remarkable for having small round Breasts, and so firm, that they are hardly ever observ'd to hang down, even in old Women. They commonly go naked as far as the Navel downward, and upward to the middle of the Thigh, by which means they have the advantage of discovering their fine Limbs, and compleat Shape.

Tab. 5. Is a couple of Young Women.

The first wearing a Coronet, Necklace, and Bracelet of Peak; the second a wreath of Furs on her Head, and her Hair is bound with a Fillet of Peak and Beads. Between the two, is a Woman under a Tree, making a Basket of Silk-Grass, after their own manner.

Tab 6. Is a Woman, and a Boy running after her.

One of her Hands refts in her Necklace of Peak, and the other holds a Gourd, in which they put Water, or other liquid.

The Boy wears a Necklace of Runtees, in his right hand is an Indian Rattle, and in his left a roasting Ear of Corn. Round his Waste is a small string, and another brought cress thro his Crotch, and for decency a soft skin is fastn'd before.

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