Object: Parfleche

Cheyenne Parfleche

Southern Cheyenne
West Central Oklahoma
Late 19th – early 20th century
Media: Rawhide, Pigments

This parfleche is decorated in typical Southern Cheyenne style. Reds, yellows and greens were the most prominent colors used by makers in painting parfleches. Originally these pigments were made from natural mineral deposits. Small pieces of porous buffalo bone were used to apply the paint. Note that the designs on the parfleche are outlined in thin brownish-black lines. This is another Southern Cheyenne feature. This pigment was made by mixing buffalo blood with burnt grass. Parfleches provided storage, fulfilling the same role that suitcases and plastic containers do today. The nomadic Southern Cheyenne needed durable containers that could stand up to the rigors of moving camp. Rawhide is both a durable and waterproof material. Envelopes, like this one, were the most common form among the Cheyenne. However they also produced flat and cylindrical cases. Parfleches were used to store a wide variety of materials, including clothing and food. [Michael P. Jordan]

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Ethnology @ SNOMNH is an experimental weblog for sharing the collections of the Division of Ethnology at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.


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