Published on April 11, 2013 by Casey
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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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.
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.
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.