What Are the Basics of Plains Indian Clothing Design?


Quick Answer

Plains Indian clothing design entailed little more than breechclouts and a belt for men and simple dresses of deer hide for women in summer. The man’s breechclout was tucked under and over the belt in the front and back, in a way that resembles modern men’s underwear to keep their genitals protected and covered. Women used deerskin and elk hides for their everyday dresses. They also wore finer dresses made from sheep and antelope hides for special occasions and ceremonies.

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Full Answer

Embellishment for women’s clothing consisted of artwork painted with porcupine quills or quills stitched into the skin, elk teeth, hair and fringe. Women’s dresses later featured beadwork in their designs. Winter clothing design consisted of buckskin leggings for both sexes and robes made from thick buffalo hides with the fur left intact. The underside of the hide was often embellished with artwork painted by using porcupine quills or by sewing the quills into the hide. The designs normally depicted family histories, noteworthy battles and wars fought by the braves, and heroic exploits performed during hunting expeditions.

Plains Indians used similar embellishment techniques for decorating other types of clothing, especially moccasins. Moccasins typically featured designs painted by using porcupine quills or sewing beads into geometric patterns. The designs and patterns varied by tribe and by region.

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