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An American Folk Art
By: Mable Morrow
This superb volume tells in words and pictures about an almost lost art among the North American Indians---the making and decoration of rawhide articles, which were essential in pre-Columbian times and afterward until the last of the buffalo were slaughtered by the invading whites.
Ethnologist Alice Marriott says in a forward: "Not only does this book tell of the preparation and many uses of rawhide; also it provides glimpses of Indian life, particularly Plains Indian life, that can be found nowhere else. It is safe to say that whatever one's specialized field of interest, it will be impossible to write of Indian life in the future without reference to this book. Its view of the life of Indian women, of their philosophy of teaching and child training, can never again be recorded."
Indian rawhide was the basis of one of the major, widespread pre-Columbian folk arts of the North American continent. Rawhide was fashioned into containers for the preservation of dried buffalo meat, the Plains Indians' basic food, and for other supplies. It supplied shelter as the covering for lodges and was fashioned into clothing. When the buffalo disappeared, a whole way of life was destroyed in a relatively few years for the Indians of North America.
The techniques involved in the manufacture and decoration of rawhide have made the subject of great interest to artists and technicians to the present day. The author of this book, volume 132 in The Civilization of the American Indian Series, believes that an understanding of the people and their customs is necessary to an understanding of their arts and crafts. She describes Indian life in North America before the arrival of whites down to the beginning of the twentieth century and, in her design study, demonstrates the intelligent use of materials at hand by the many highly developed Indian peoples. A wide range of Indian tribes is covered---from Apaches to Yakimas, from the Algonquian linguistic family to the Waiillatpuan.
In addition to a detailed discussion of methods of preparation, the author describes all kinds of individual rawhide articles. Many of these are shown in 100 of her own black-and-white drawings and 48 pages of drawings and painting in color some of historic items, some of modern-day pieces. The drawings and paintings, plus rare photographs, provide an exciting visual experience along with the basic text. Of special interest and importance is a chart of parfleche design characteristics identifying articles according to tribe and area.
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