Now, a brand new website is taking an in-depth look at both the historical and present-day value of Native American jackets.
“Native Americans took great pride in weaving clothing, and utilized a wide variety of materials to create jackets,” said NativeAmericanJacket.com spokesperson Lee Johnston. “They used tanking and leather-working to create beautiful clothing, and jackets were often worked until their creators achieved proper texture and softness.”
Native American jackets feature many different patterns and designs, and may include beads among other traditional cultural materials. An individual’s jacket design might depict status within a tribe, and might reveal a woman’s marital status. Jackets were used to determine tribesman’s statuses as well, and were used within many ceremonies and social gatherings.
“The symbols imbued into jackets might further represent the wearer’s local tribe, and various adornments—like beads, lace and colored thread—might show skill or prowess within a family of hunters,” said Johnston. “If a woman’s jacket consisted of elk eyeteeth, it proved the talent and art of her male family members as hunters.”
Jackets were commonly composed of various animal hides, and—depending upon the origination of a select tribe—might feature several different animals for clothing creation. The Native Americans frequently used deer, big horn sheep, buffalo, antelope, moose, elk, coyote and wolf skin.
In addition to hide, Native Americans frequently adorned their jackets with various accessories—which commonly consisted of animal derivatives. Porcupine quills, teeth, bones, shells, coins, fossils and rocks were all considered sacred, and were considered decorative pieces. These accessories were attached to jackets using thread, and later utilized beads to increase attractiveness.
In North America, beads were often traded across territories, and Native American clothing soon became adorned with brightly colored beads. A Native American jacket required thousands of hours to create, and was—by no means—an easy article to focus on. Both the design and adornment took thousands of hours to complete, and the jacket itself required the artistic virtue of a skilled craftsman or craftswoman.
“The critically acclaimed beauty of Native American clothing doesn’t only depict art, it reveals history,” said Johnston. “Many forms and styles were considered utilitarian—though the jacket also revealed extensive cultural and personal information pertaining to its wearer, and was a very important part of Native American culture.”
Native American jackets
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