Parfleche Case

Crow, Montana

American

Parfleche Case, ca. 1885

  • On View

Cattle rawhide and pigment

Dimensions: 25 5/16 × 16 1/2 in. (64.3 × 41.9 cm)

Museum purchase from the Chandler/Pohrt Collection, 1985.32

The women of the Plains tribes made rawhide cases for the storage of a variety of goods including clothing and foodstuffs. These rugged containers were well suited to their nomadic lifestyle. The front surface provided an ideal "canvas" for decoration with bold geometric designs in primary colors. The term "parfleche" was adapted from the French of early fur traders. It refers to the raw hide - cleaned, dried, but untanned hide. This material was also used for shields and had the ability to "turn away" (par) "arrows" (fleche). In time, the term came to refer to these distinctive rectangular cases.

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