Archive for the 'comanche' Category

Object: Quiver, Bow, and Arrows

Figure 1 Comanche arrows from the Ethnology Collection of the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History

Figure 1 Comanche arrows from the Ethnology Collection of the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History

Figure 2 Comanche Quiver from the Ethnology Collection of the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History

Figure 2 Comanche Quiver from the Ethnology Collection of the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History

Figure 3 Comanche bow from the Ethnology Collection of the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History

Figure 3 Comanche bow from the Ethnology Collection of the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History

E/1930/1/52
E/1930/1/53
E/1930/1/54
Quiver, Bow, and Arrows
Comanche
North America: Southern Plains
Date: 1930
Materials: Wood, feathers, sinew, leather

These objects are common tools when it comes to studying Native Americans. Each tribe has their own way of making bows and arrows and different styles for use. These objects were used by the Comanche people. The bow is 42” long. The arrows are between approximately 22”-26” in length.

There are many things the Comanche are well-known for: one being horsemanship and another being the ability to successfully use the bow while riding on horseback. The size of the bow and arrows are short, making them very maneuverable while riding. Being able to aim easily from side to side while riding was crucial to survival for the Comanche. Not only is the length of the bow important, but the strength of it is also important. The wood used typically is Osage Orange or Bo Dark wood. Sinew is a very strong cordage obtained from the tendons of bison. Sinew is used for many different resources among plains Native Americans. The Comanche used it for many different reasons, and in this case it was tied together to form the string of the bow.

The quiver is used to carry the bow and arrows together, each having a special spot inside the quiver. The quiver is made primarily from bison or cow hide. The quiver can be decorated in a number of ways with beadwork and fringe. One resource implemented in the quiver is called the ‘boss man.’ This is an object with a round circular base that fits in the bottom of the quiver. The base is attached to a handle used to easily pull out the arrows that rest within the quiver.

Figure 4 Comanche Bow demonstration at the Comanche National Museum and Cultural Center

Figure 4 Comanche Bow demonstration at the Comanche National Museum and Cultural Center

The arrows in this collection are short in length to match the bow. The arrows measure between 22”-26” in length. This is very similar to other Comanche arrows studied. The arrow points were typically made from flint, but the Comanche adopted steel points after contact with new European settlers. The wood of the arrows is made from the straightest wood possible, dog wood. The fletching on the back end of the arrows is the Comanche style of Red Tail Hawk feathers. The tough material of sinew is used to tie on the arrow fletching.

To learn more about Comanche bows, arrows, and quivers, take a look at the below videos produced by the Comanche National Museum and Cultural Center:

[Jared Wahkinney]

References

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJkGM-GNRPI.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sez4GNIOaNY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlVaE1j6efY

 

Object: Bag

E/1950/1/1
Comanche: Beaded Bag
North America
20th Century
Materials: Seed beads and leather

This Comanche beaded tanned white leather bag was used for hunting. The Comanche tribe is one of many tribes that comprise the Plains Indians. See map below for reference. For Plains tribes bags were used to transport and store many different types of game. The Plains tribes would adorn bags and pouches with geometric beadwork designs. This bag is made of white, yellow, red, blue and green seed beads which were applied by lazy stitch in geometric, rectangular patterns. The seed beads were applied to the white tanned leather. Attached along the top and sides there are metal jingles with yellow hair tassels.

Glass bead manufacture had been going on for hundreds of years before Plains tribes were introduced to them. By the 1500s, beads had become readily available by the Venetians. The first recording of the introduction of trade beads to the Americas dates back to Christopher Columbus on October 12, 1942. It is believed that trade beads were introduced to certain groups of Native Americans by Coronado in 1540 when he was searching for gold. Plains tribes were not introduced to trade beads until the 1800s. By the middle 1800s there were huge numbers of seed beads ready to be traded or bought by the Plains Indians. With the introduction of beads the Plains tribes moved from the traditional art form of quillwork to adorning clothing, tipis, bags and any other items which were of personal value with beads.

Plains women were responsible for the beadwork. The art form of beadwork was a way in which the women could gain prestige, as men did this through warfare. Beadwork gave women more power and an immense pride in their art. Plains women created beadwork in geometric designs, which required a lot of thought. This has been said to be attributed to the abstract way that Plains women thought. Beadwork was as important to Plains women as was the ritual dances which the Plains men participated in. The women who were doing beadwork have left a lasting impression of the Plains tribes’ cultures through their art, through their beadwork. While this art form began in the 1800s for the Plains tribes, there are many who still practice beadwork. Now, Native American women as well as men take part in creating beautiful, intricate beadwork.

[Heather Ratliff]



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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