What Was Chumash Clothing?

Clothing worn by Chumash Indians varied by gender, occasion and season, as in warm weather, women wore skirts with aprons, while men and boys wore belts and small waist wraps. In cooler weather, men and women added additional layers, such as capes made of warm animal furs. Men and women dressed up for celebrations and festive occasions using paints and jewelry.

Chumash Indians lived in southern California, which reduced the need for heavy-duty clothing. Men and women created simple, basic outfits from available supplies. Women sewed two-piece skirts from earthen substances, such as plant fibers and animal hides. They made thin aprons, featuring slimmer cuts in the front and broader back pieces, from similar substances. Men and boys often went naked in mild weather. However, males wore belts made of animal hides or waist-high nets to carry supplies for hunting and fishing expeditions. In the cooler months, men and women wore long capes made of warm fur from animals, such as deer and bear. Chiefs wore knee-length capes to indicate status. Although the Chumash dressed simply in daily life, special occasions involved more elaborate attire. Men and women attending ceremonies wore face paint and jewelry. Participants, including singers and dancers, wore headdresses made with bird feathers and special skirts made from plant fibers.