Archive for the 'copper' Category

Object: Moccasins

E/50/8/8 a-b
Kiowa, Oklahoma
Materials: Native tanned leather, sinew, glass beads, copper tinklers

These moccasins, created from tanned buffalo hide sewn with sinew and decorated with glass beads and metal tinklers were worn by a Kiowa man in the early 20th century. The word moccasin, derived from the Algonquin language, actually comes from the ‘V’ shape of the instep, or the front part of the shoes where the toes would rest. Moccasins come in a variety of shapes, styles, sizes and colors depending on the culture that creates them. The Kiowa, for example, are known for their two-pieced, hard sole moccasins that were decorated with hexagonal and triangular beaded shapes. The Kiowa are also known for their sewing pattern called the “lazy stitch technique.” This technique is done by pushing the needle under the top layer of skin on a hide, but not all the way through, as with many other types of stitches. The Kiowa have a unique style that is portrayed through their material culture.

The Kiowa are a Native American tribe whose roots lie in the great plains. Though the plains are known to have many grasses, the Northern plains environment still contains various flora and sharp rocks that can harm a person’s feet. Hard soled moccasins were created for protection from the environment. The Kiowa are known for their hard sole moccasins, which allowed them able to maneuver in the plains environment with ease. This was especially important during the winter months because the moccasins served as protection from the cold.

Aside from being used for protection the moccasins also held a cultural value. They were worn with traditional dance regalia and used during spiritual ceremonies. The Sun Dance was among the many ceremonials  where traditional dress was worn. Today, the Kiowa continue to ritualize dancing within their community. The Gourd Dance and the Black Leggings Society dances are performed every year by members of the tribe. Watch the video below to see a Kiowa War Dance song.

Work Cited

Native American Languages.
Native American Indian Moccasins. http://www.native-languages.org/moccasins.htm

Open Inquiry Archive.
What Makes These Things Kiowa?. http://openinquiryarchive.net/2012/05/29/what-makes-these-things-kiowa/

Prindle, Tara.
Native American Clothing: Overview of the Moccasin. http://www.nativetech.org/clothing/moccasin/moctext.html

Texas Behind History.
The Kiowa. http://www.texasbeyondhistory.net/plateaus/peoples/kiowa.html.

[Alyxandra Stanco]

Object: Flute

E/1956/25/1
Quena, flute
Peru: Inca, Quechua
Materials: Copper

Traditionally constructed from bone, ceramic or cane, this flute known as the quena is considered a fundamental aspect of South American music. Research suggests that it was developed during the reign of the Inca Empire, which spanned over a vast portion of the continent, and was centralized in the Andes Mountains of Peru. There is evidence, however, that notched flutes similar to the quena were being used by the Moche culture along the Peruvian coast, dating back to 100 CE.

In the mid 15th century, a power began to rise in the mountains of Peru, eventually becoming the Inca Empire, ranging from Columbia in the north all the way to Chile in the South. The Incas were very successful at maintaining control over the various indigenous peoples within their empire, and had an extremely effective method of food production and storage. They also were skilled architects, erecting temples, cities and complex road systems with precision. The Inca people, along with their technological and agricultural advancements, were highly ritualistic. Dancing and music at festivals is likely how the quena flute became integrated into the Inca culture, and later dispersed to other regions in the Americas.

This particular instrument is a contemporary version of the traditional quena, and like many others, is made of copper. A distinct feature of quena flutes is a notch in the mouthpiece, typically in a U, V or square shape. The different shapes of the notch result in slightly different acoustics, but all quenas produce a light, lyrical, bird-like sound. While the quena is historically significant, it continues to be in use today throughout South America, in both traditional festivals in the Andean region and also incorporated into contemporary, popular music. [Kristina Sokolowsky]


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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