Dress and Adornment (American Indians Ready Reference)
Article abstract: Designed for comfort, protection, and utility, American Indian clothing and decoration also often designated group affiliation, social role, and rank; it often conveyed—and still conveys—a spiritual message to both wearer and observers
European accounts of early contact vividly describe the wide variety of clothing worn by the original people of North America. Recorded in detail by skilled artists, varied styles of dress emphasized the uniqueness of each group.
Drawings showed Inuit (Eskimo) people of the far north dressed in two-layered outfits of caribou skin, one layer with fur turned out, the other with fur against the body. Sealskin mittens, moccasins, and parkas, all lined with fur, made an insulated cocoonlike outfit designed for survival in the bitterest of Arctic winters. The decorative touch to the male Eskimo’s outfit was a carved ivory labret—a disk “buttoned” into his perforated lower lip. Its trade value was twenty-five caribou skins. A ruff of wolverine fur on the hooded parka and eye coverings with narrow slits to protect against the sun’s glare on snow left no part of the body exposed to the elements.
In distinct contrast, the men of the Plateau west of the Rockies were shown wearing...
(The entire section is 2455 words.)
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