The Plains Indian tribes did not generally do much in the way of basketry arts. Instead, they made containers called parfleche out of rawhide (hard, untanned leather) and painted them with traditional vegetal pigments. They were shaped in the form of boxes, handbags, or cylindrical quivers. Some Plains artists still carry this tradition on today. Parfleches were, and still are, meant to carry a variety of necessities.
The word was originally used by French fur traders, and derives from the French language parer meaning “to parry” or “to defend”, and flèche meaning “arrow”, so called because the hide was tough enough to be used as a shield.
Traditionally women were the main creators of parfleches, first painting stretched out raw hides, and then shaping them into their final form. In contemporary culture, both women and men make them.
The bags are traditionally decorated with a distinctive style of graphic artwork, usually depicting landscape features such as rivers and mountains, and even serving as maps.
Condition: Excellent – original condition
Provenance: Acquired from a private collector in Texas who purchased it from the Southwest Museum in Las Angles, California.