COSTUME - FANCY STUFF PAGE 1
image for picture)
the difference between a fancy outfit and a commonplace one? They both
serve the same purpose, don't they? Yes, they serve the same purpose,
but not the same function. For instance both a Timex and Rolex serve
the same purpose, they both tell time, but the Rolex possesses a status
the Timex is devoid of.
costume on your left (pardon the faded look, these were scanned long
ago when I didn't know what I was doing) is made of the same material
as is a simple costume. The difference is in the workmanship and the
time consuming details that have been added. The vest and apron is no
different then those pictured in the Odds and Ends page, but the added
beading and tassels causes this costume to stand out in comparison to
leggings also have an added appeal with their flared appearance (the
leggings themselves fit rather tightly, the flare is added material
forming a kind of chaps like the cowboys wore to keep their legs from
being torn up by the brush along the trail).
plains Indian costume pictured above, this one is a woodland Indian
design depicting flowers and vines and other non-ridged objects. The
style of the two costumes are much the same, but the final appearance
of them is strikingly different. Compare the apron of this costume to
the very plain apron below it. The difference isn't in the material
used, though there is a big difference in that it's velveteen I used
here, but in the added detail. Here I used embroidery thread for making
the designs. The Indians of the plains would have used paint or beads.
The woodland Indians (as would those elsewhere) might have used
porcupine quills died various colors for their designs. Beads as we
know them were non-existent to the Native Americans until they were
brought over by traders from other countries. Natural products were
therefore used, which. among others, is a reason few of the older
pieces survived the times.
The tassels are
nothing more than pieces of yarn folded over a piece of tying
thread, then wrapped at the top and trimmed to length. The Indians used
whatever was available. We think of them as the great conservationists.
This is not necessarily so. If they had plastic bags, they would
have used them just as we do. They used in their designs anything they
considered pretty or attractive, and they followed their own tastes as
we do. The difference between them and those of us of modern society is
they respected nature to the point of worshiping it (at times and in
some ways, as it has been with mankind since the Tower of Babel), and
they respected the animals that gave their life so the Indian could
story of a family of Indians who received a visitor. Being the good
host Native Americans are reputed to be, the host offered some salmon
to his guest, with the warning that none of the bones be broken or
lost. After the meal the host sent his two sons to the river with the
bones. The boys returned, but one had a missing arm. The lodge was
searched until the missing bone was located, and the boys ventured to
the river, and returned again, this time both boys being complete.
These were the salmon people, the people who sacrifice themselves for
Indians tended to be ancestor worshipers, not as we associate them or
as are the Indians of India, but they held animals in high regard
believing that some are their ancestors, and that all mankind came
through the process of having once been animals. First came those under
the earth, having no eyes because there was no light under the surface
of the earth. Then came the mole people who lived both under the earth,
and above it. Then came the animal kingdom, where we have so many
colorful stories about the trickster fox and other popular stories.
There were men
referred to as "A man of soft moccasins." As it is in any cultures a
person is treated with respect when he gives respect, he is loved if he
offers love to others. In the days of old people of the land, the
Indians, wore leather garments, this being especially true of their
footwear. We all know that a good pair of shoes made with soft leather
is preferred over a common pair right off the shelf. Leather in ancient
days were softened by chewing, the action of the teeth on the leather,
and the saliva produces, caused the leather to become limp and pliable.
This was not a task a person would take on willingly. For a man to wear
moccasins treated in this manner meant that his "woman" thought well of
him, and this in turn meant that he treated her well.
On another page
of this section I told of the difficulty historians have finding the
truth. Truth is not obtainable to man because we by nature reject truth
even when it's forced down our throat. Consider the Bible as a
for-instance. It is the same as it was 2,000 years ago, and more than
half of the Bible extends thousands of years beyond that. The Bible is
over a thousand pages of non-conflicting information, given to us
through pictures, parables, and outright demonstration. Every aspect of
our life and what is expected of us is presented in various ways. Yet
we are unable to see what is being said. We all believe we see the
truth, but the truth we see is very different than the truth thousands
of others see. Mankind is created intellectually blind, but he imagines
himself to be the only one who sees. My father at the end of his life
was totally blind. Yet he insisted that he could see things at the feet
of other people that they couldn't see. The blinder we are, the more
certain we are that we are the only ones with vision.
never know the truth about the American Indians, if for no other reason
than that we enjoy the fables that have been presented to us, and truth
would only interfere with our distorted images. "My mind is made up,
don't confuse me with the facts."
have to be expensive or elaborate to be attractive. These on the left
are made simply, the sides fastening with ties rather than being sewn
at the seams. The shirt pattern used was provided lots of extra
material that was cut into fringes. Even the sleeves are not seamed but
are tied with pieces of leather. The shirt is more of a front and back
fastened at the neck, similar to how a sheet is cut when Junior wants
to be a ghost on Halloween.
Instead of beads or
embroidery, paint was applied to fabric. The costume on the left has no
backing to the paint but rather the paint is applied, in simple
triangles, to the bare fabric (suede cloth in this case). The other
costume has a strip of canvas over the shoulders and is painted white
as a background for the simple painted designs. This is an effective
and fairly simple way of making a costume, and in fitting with the
manner some were created in the days old.
The sash is a piece
of thick fabric, The legging are not full trousers, but fit over the
legs and extend up the side where they fasten to a belt of some nature.
All the leggings are made this way, although a pair of trousers can be
converted into a pair of leggings by adding fringe at the seam, or a
flap as shown in the previous pictures, or a strip of colorful material
as depicted here.
The costume on your
right was made by an 11 year old boy on an old treadle sewing machine,
having been designed by him out of the many reference books at his
costumes are elaborate, but not as complete as the ones shown above.
Here are two examples of pieces intended for dance, not for general
wear. The costume on the right is a Crow bustle (named after the
people, not the bird, even though it's crow feathers adorning the
bustle). The other is a decorated double trail that is generally worn
under a highly feathered and flared bustle. These are worn by what are
called "Fancy dancers," who wear simple but colorful cotton shirts and
boxer shorts that add to the spectacular display.
American was not without imagination. This, and the fact that there
were so many different cultures represented in the New Land, provides
for a great array of picturesque costumes and customs. This bone
breastplate is an example of their ability to create beauty and
As with all cultures before the Industrial
Revolution, the Summer half of the year was spent preparing for the
Winter season when nothing could be done other than live off that which
had been prepared earlier, and hiding from the inclement weather. As a
boy living on my grandfather's farm I learned the ways of our
ancestors. Summer vacation did not mean having nothing to do but be in
the way and cause trouble, but it was a time that, in addition to the
many daily chores, we were sent into the fields and spent the hot days
picking cherries, hops, strawberries and green beans in order to earn
the money to buy our school books and the clothes needed to protect our
The Indian was no different. During the cold Winter
months they would use their time adding to and repairing their meager
belongings. While the men were out hunting game, the women would be
making and decorating their clothing, this being nearly all they owned.
Time afforded the Indian during the winter accounts for the highly
decorative clothing and other possessions.
When I traveled by bicycle, carrying all I owned in
bags draped over a rack attached to my bike, I learned the value and
importance of maintaining what little I possessed. It wasn't in the
accumulation of goods that wealth is had, but in the quality of what's
had that's important. We've lost this appreciation for the small things
in this age of plenty and worthlessness. It's not the purpose and
functionality of what we possess that we value today, but how big it
is, how expensive it is, and how impressed others are with what we own
that we place our sense of value on.
the previous breast plate, this Crow loop necklace is made with small
bone (plastic in this case) disks strung on a thin waxed string.
We are a wasteful society. We throw away more
than we consume. The food we discard could possibly feed the poor of
the world, or at least a huge portion of it. When the wheat fields were
producing too much crop, and the farmers were concerned that this
abundance would cause their harvest to bring in less income, the
government paid the farmers to burn their crop and not plant for the
coming years. When beef was in abundance, people were paid to destroy
the cows in order to keep the price of beef high. We are a wasteful
people, concerned more for the almighty dollar than for the starving of
The Native American, for the most part (this, like
any rule, is not all inclusive as the Potlatches of the Northwest
Indians clearly demonstrate) were not wasteful. The used every part of
what they had at their disposal. For instance the sinew of an animal
was used for sewing, the hooves and horns were either made into
ornaments or utensils, or they were boiled and used for glue. The teeth
of many animals, as were the claws, were used for decorating clothing.
The feathers were used for ornaments or for stuffing of clothing for
warmth. Scraps of food were not thrown away but given to the dogs that
were ever present (and often ever barking or howling). The hides of the
animals were made into clothing and tepee covers. The bladders and the
stomachs were dried and used for carrying water like a canteen. We find
this utility of nature in other third-world countries even today. This
and other "civilized" countries being devoid of appreciation for what
God has given to us, look down our noses at those who use,
respect, and appreciate every little thing God has allowed us to use of
haven't yet tired of my commentaries, something I had no intention of
including, check out the next page of this section (the "next" thumb
below). Maybe I'll stick to the subject at hand, but don't count too
heavily on it.