Antique Native American Abstract Painted Parfleche Envelope, Plateau, circa 1890 For Sale
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Antique Native American Abstract Painted Parfleche Envelope, Plateau, circa 1890

About

19th century vintage Native American Parfleche container in an envelope form, finely painted circa 1890 in an abstract design with blue, yellow, orange and red by a North American Indian artist of the Plateau Tribe. Makes a stunning wall hanging or can be placed on a shelf or stand either horizontally or vertically. The plateau Indian culture area is a relatively small region that spans the Canadian border and includes parts of Montana, Idaho and Oregon. Tribes from this area include Wasco, Yakima, Umatilla, and Wishram. Parfleche are rawhide containers which were fundamental to the Plains way of life. Functioning essentially as protective traveling suitcases, they enabled the nomadic tribes to effectively pursue buffalo herds and migrate between seasonal camps. So critical were they to a nomadic existence that over 40 tribes are known to have historically produced parfleche. Collectively, these tribes inhabited an area which encompassed the entirety of the Plains, as well as the parts of the Southwest, the Transmontane and Western Plateau regions. Parfleches were, out of necessity, robust and versatile objects. They were designed to carry and protect within them anything from medicinal bundles to seasonal clothing or food. In fact, it was because of the containers’ robusticity and variety that parfleches earned their name in the Anglo world. Derived from parer (to parry or turn aside) and fleche (arrow), the word parfleche was coined by 17th century French Canadian voyageurs and used to describe indigenous objects made from rawhide. Despite their common utilitarian function, parfleches served as one of the major mediums through which Plains Indian tribes could develop their long-standing tradition of painting. In fact, it is in large part due to the parfleche that tribal style emerged. Even though parfleche painting developed simultaneously with beading and weaving, painting as an artistic tradition held particular importance in tribal culture. Believed to have evolved from tattooing, it had always been used as a conduit through which tribal and individual identity could be expressed. As such, many tribeswomen were deeply committed, some even religiously, to decorating their parfleche either with incised or painted motifs that were significant to them and/or the tribe. For some tribes, such as the Cheyenne, the decorative processes which surrounded parfleche production were sacred. For others, it seems that their parfleche designs shared an interesting artistic dialogue with their beadwork, indicating a more casual exchange of design motifs. This particular relationship can be seen in Crow parfleche/beadwork motifs. Nevertheless, each tribe contributed a unique element to parfleche design. The painted and carved motifs we see today vividly demonstrate just how highly evolved the Plains artisans’ sense of color palette and spatial composition was. In recent decades, this appreciation for parfleche painted designs has inspired many modern artists.

Details

  • Wear
    Wear consistent with age and use.
  • Dimensions
    H 28 in. x W 13 in. x D 2.75 in.H 71.12 cm x W 33.02 cm x D 6.99 cm
  • Seller Location
    Denver, CO
  • Seller Reference Number
    DCG-19273
  • Reference Number
    LU1004614572551
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About the Seller

5 / 5
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1stdibs seller since 2013
Located in Denver, CO
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