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19th Century Native American Parfleche Box
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A rare box form constructed of rawhide and intricately painted in an abstract design with natural pigments and red trade cloth. Parfleches are rawhide containers which were fundamental to the Plains way of life. Functioning essentially as protective travelling suitcases, they enabled the nomadic tribes to effectively pursue buffalo herds and migrate between seasonal camps. So critical were they to a nomadic existence that over 40 tribes are known to have historically produced parfleches.Parfleches were, out of necessity, robust and versatile objects. They were designed to carry and protect within them anything from medicinal bundles to seasonal clothing or food. In fact, it was because of the containers’ robusticity and variety that parfleches earned their name in the Anglo world. Derived from parer (to parry or turn aside) and fleche (arrow), the word parfleche was coined by 17th century French Canadian voyageurs and used to describe indigenous objects made from rawhide. Plains Indian tribes develop their long-standing tradition of painting on parfleches that developed simultaneously with beading and weaving, painting as an artistic tradition held particular importance in tribal culture. Believed to have evolved from tattooing, it had always been used as a conduit through which tribal and individual identity could be expressed.Nevertheless, each tribe contributed a unique element to parfleche design. The painted and carved motifs we see today vividly demonstrate just how highly evolved the Plains artisans’ sense of color palette and spatial composition was. In recent decades, this appreciation for parfleche painted designs has inspired many modern artists. Custom sizes and finishes available.
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HEIGHT: 8 in. (20 cm) WIDTH: 18.5 in. (47 cm) DEPTH: 9 in. (23 cm)
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