Making Knife Sheaths

Published on April 11, 2013 by Casey

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Making Knife Sheaths
Making Knife Sheaths

Making Knife Sheaths – Materials used to make the Knife Sheaths

Knife sheaths were made by using a combination of raw materials but the basic sheath was made from hides or leather. Tanned hides, rawhide or buckskin was the most common types of leather used to make sheaths for knives.

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    Tanned hides: Tanning is the process of treating skins of animals to produce leather. The animal skin was softened by soaking in water. The hide or skin would then be pounded to remove any remaining flesh and fat and scraping any hair fibers off the hide. The process would then continue by soaking the skin in a solution of animal brains or urine
    Buckskin or Deerskin: A soft yellowish suede tanned leather originally from deerskin i.e. the skin of a male deer, a buck
    Rawhide: Rawhide is not leather, but a de-haired hide that is not tanned. Most rawhide comes from cows, but it can come from any animal, such as elk or deer. Rawhide is tough and durable

The hide or leather material was then often decorated with quillwork or beadwork. An additional embellishment was to add a fringe to the knife sheaths.

Making Knife Sheaths – Quillwork

Sheaths for knives were decorated by a technique called quillwork. The quills refer to porcupine quills. Porcupine quilling is an ancient Native American Indian art used particularly among Great Plains Indians and Woodland Indians. The method for creating quillwork involved softening and dying stiff porcupine quills and weaving them on to the leather knife sheaths.

Making Knife Sheaths – Beadwork

Knife sheaths were also decorated by some tribes by a technique called beadwork. Native American beads were carved from natural materials like shells, coral, turquoise, wood, amber, animal bones, horns and teeth and used to produce beaded leather for making knife sheaths. The beads were sewn onto the leather individually, or in loops, or rows, of beads previously stitched together into strings using animal sinew.

Source: warpaths2peacepipes Unabridged
Based on the collective work of, © 2015 Native American Encyclopedia.
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