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Quill-Work (Porcupine & Bird Feather)

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  • Quill-Work (Porcupine & Bird Feather)

    Porcupine -and- Bird Quill Decoration

    Native Americans in areas where the porcupine was present frequently used the flattened and split quills as interwoven and stitched decorative work. In areas where the porcupine was not commonly present, the quills from bird feathers were also used. In both cases the quills were colourfully dyed and used for elaborate decoration of clothing including shirts, belts, armbands, leggings and moccasins, as well as for utility items such as knife-sheaths and quivers.

    Here’s an example of a quill-work knife sheath from the Great Lakes region:

    … and a bone item believed to have been a quill-flattener from the Sioux:

    Both pictures are from William C. Orchard’s paper “The Technique of Porcupine-Quill Decoration among the North American Indians” published in 1916 by the Museum of the American Indian in New York. It can be downloaded here from the On-Line Digital Archive of Documents on Weaving and Related Topics hosted by the University of Arizona.

    The 88 page document details the hunting techniques for porcupines, the preparation and dying of the quills, the implements used and the weaving and stitching techniques used to decorate items.
    Last edited by painshill; 01-31-2016, 11:45 AM.
    I keep six honest serving-men (they taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When and How and Where and Who.