When the plains Indians were moving from place to place, they carried their clothing, valuables, tools, etc. in a par fleche, which was made from dried buffalo hide and decorated with brightly colored geometric designs. The parfleche was used by the Indian as we would use a suitcase.
A great informational handout on the Plains Indian Parfleche can be found at http://history.nd.gov/activities/parfleche.pdf . You can print off the two sheets which give information about the parfleche and directions on how to make one from felt and using acrylic or tempera paints. Instead of the felt, we used brown grocery bag paper as the rawhide and colored our geometric designs with markers. We used the measurements and the cutting directions from the handout.
Supplies we used:
- Brown grocery bag (cut to lay flat)
- Pencil and eraser
- Colored markers
- Black Sharpie
- White-Out (correction fluid)
- Paper punch
- 18” Heavy string or cord
- Colored pony beads
- Run off a copy or copies of the handout for the parfleche measurements and folding instructions.
- Draw geometric designs down the center of the parfleche and color with the markers.
- For small areas that are to be white, use the correction fluid. Outline the designs with a black Sharpie.
- With the paper punch, make two holes at each end.
- Lace the cord through the holes and tie to hold the parfleche closed. Thread colored pony beads on the cord and knot the ends.
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