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  • Gledanh Zhinga
    replied
    I forgot to mention above, that about 1880, S.A. Frost of New York started making the hair pipe form invented by Campbell. They were made from cattle metacarpals [fore shin bones] furnished by Armour & Co. of Chicago.

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  • Gledanh Zhinga
    replied
    Str8Dancer49

    You have done a heap of homework.

    Just a few comments. I saw yesterday at the Santa Ana Star Casino Powwow a straight dancer wearing a breast plate under his vest. I thought that a little strange, but to each his own, these days.

    About hair bone manufacture, I see in the latest "Chronicle of the Early American Industries Association", an article titled, "Wampum Manufacture in New Jersey", mainly about the Campbell family who manufactured shell and bone ornaments for the Indian trade. The author goes so far as to suggest that John W. Campbell may have "invented" the shell hair pipe about 1776 to 1798. The author, an anthropologist named Dan F. Morse, further states that the corn cob pipe was invented in 1872, and bone hairpipes were used as pipe stems for these pipes. The Ponca Chief, White Eagle, noticed that the stems could be removed to make bone breast plates, and soon others followed his lead. Volume 59, Number 1, March, 2006.

    Far fetched? Maybe not, when you think about tobacco can lids being converted into jingles.

    As for pectorals, they are pretty well covered in Norm Feder's series of articles in "American Indian Tradition" magazine, Vol. 8, No's. 2 & 3, 1962. He also talks about other metalwork traded to Plains natives or made by them. The article is titled "Plains Indian Metalworking with Emphasis on Hair Plates". I think Str8Dancer is right on about the pectoral idea, among others, coming from the East.

    Ned and Jody Martin of Nicasio, California, are currently putting together a large book on Western bridles. They will include information on Plains German silver and
    bridles as well as information on Diné real silver bridles. Iron bridle bits will be discussed. Previously, the Martins have published books on cowboy style bits and spurs.

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  • Historian
    replied
    I'm glad to see that there can be times when I can learn something new. Thanks Str8Dancer49 for providing your detailed knowledge on the subject.

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  • master_wuliechsin
    replied
    WoW! Thank you for the Information.

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  • Str8Dancer49
    replied
    Historian - usually your posts are great, but this time you've got a couple oddball things to say....

    First, lemme say I agree w/ the main idea of your first paragraph - that the big breastplates are a symbol of a man being a good provider for his family. But, hairpipes (especially the larger ones) really only became common after the fur trade (and specifically NDN involvement in the fur trade) had started to decline.

    Breastplates ANYWHERE, northern or southern plains, are EXCEEDINGLY rare before the big post-Civil War treaties (Medicine Lodge, Ft. Laramie II), in the late 1860s. Gifts of trade goods were generally presented by the gov't to signatory tribes, which might explain why breastplates start getting popular after these treaties.

    Even on the northern plains, short breastplates w/ 4 rows of 2" hairpipe were the norm until the very late 1870s. In the 1880s, that's when the bigger hairpipes were introduced, and you start to see the longer breastplates. This also coincides w/ the advent of wild west shows, and the big breastplates were a way of dressing up people's dance clothes. Most early wild west shows employed Lakota and Dakota folks, and after the mid 1880s, long breastplates (just past the waist) with big hairpipes become the norm. Between about 1895 and 1920, breastplates get even bigger - men's get longer, and women's get really hefty on the northern plains, with six to eight pipes strung over each sholder, and reaching almost all the way to the ground.

    Down south, the short breastplates were sometimes originally made with bone pipestems, cut in half, w/ the little "flange" filed off. Around 1885, the long hairpipes are introduced to Oklahoma, and some folks start adopting the "bigger" breastplate style. I've seen a picture of Quanah Parker on horseback wearing a long breastplate, c. 1905+/-, but he's usually photo'd w/ his 4-row short breastplate. Like so many things, these ornaments were becoming markers of specific cultural affiliations, so an economic explanation really doesn't get at the heart of how that process works. The C&A folks went w/ the big breastplates (and the pic of Quanah also shows him holding a Cheyenne pipebag, so the breastplate was probably a gift) while their Comanche and Kiowa neighbors kept on w/ the short ones at the exact same time. (c. 1880-1900 is when Kiowas and Comanches also started wearing tab leggings, while C&A men continued to use flap and fringe style leggins - and all of this is smack in the middle of the reservation era, so the economic explanation just doesn't really work as you've related it in your post....)

    As for the pectorals - dude, you've got to be kidding me! Conquistadors? Again, temporally, this just doesn't add up. Conquistadors were gone by around 1610, when Onate got kicked out of New Mexico for abusing the Pueblos (Acoma in particular). The Comanches were not quite on the Southern Plains yet, and the Kiowas wouldn't be along for another 150+ years. Plus, check out Richard and Shirley Flint's recent research on Coronado (his expeditions onto the Plains were around 1539-1541, btw, so even more anachronistic) - one of the things they found is that he and his crew and their horses were NOT wearing Spanish metal armor, but instead wore Aztec/Mexica padded cotton armor (including, apparently, the tall pointy hats of Nahuatl nobility) because it was both better suited to the climate and proved at least as effective against arrows as the metal armor.

    Now, later, in the mid 1700s, Spain had this artistic movement called the Mudejar revival - based on Islamic arts from the Moorish occupation of the Iberian Peninsula between 711 and 1492. One thing that came out of this that was definately transported to the Americas, including New Mexico and Texas, was a curved pendant worn on the breast of horses, often with little hands on the ends called the "Hands of Fatima." Also worn with the Fatima pendant were small silver representations of pomegranite blossoms, again derived from Islamic/Mudejar art. These forms, the pendant and blossoms, were adapted by Navajo silversmiths and reworked into squash blossom necklaces. But there's no evidence that these forms were picked up by Comanche folks, and by 1790, when the Kiowas are on the S. Plains, the Mudejar revival is over. Southern Plains folks didn't even bother with that early Navajo silverwork - instead, they traded (or raided) for Navajo weaving.

    I don't know of any Southern Plains silverwork from before the 1830s.... which helps explain where pectorals actually came from. 1830s and 1840s saw a whole lot of new folks moving into the southern plains - namely SE NDNs, and we had our own silverwork traditions, including armbands, bracelets, and gorgets based on European military crescent-shaped gorgets given to our leaders throughout the 1700s into the early 1800s. These SE crescent gorgets are the most likely inspiration for Southern Plains silver pectorals...... cause the Spanish Colonial sources just don't add up temporally.

    --------

    BTW.... I've got 2 breastplates - a long one that I wear most of the time, and a shorter one w/ a silver pectoral that I wear occassionally w/ a vest......

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  • master_wuliechsin
    replied
    Thank you for the infomation.You are an excellent source of knowledge.

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  • Historian
    replied
    It is my understanding that bone hairpipe breastplates, worn by many plains tribes, were generally considered as a symbol of a man's capability as a hunter/provider, very similar to the symbolic meaning behind dentalium shells and elk teeth worn on the dresses of women in some plains tribes....

    {content edited}

    ...As far as Straight Dancers wearing breastplates, most dancers I have talked with agree it is a personal choice. I have seen some Ponca Straight Dancers wear the long breastplates since it was not uncommon for for Ponca men to do so when they living in northern Nebraska/southern South Dakota before 1877, when they were forcibly moved to Oklahoma. I have seen many Kiowa and Comanche Straight Dancers wear the shorter breastplates.
    Last edited by Historian; 04-24-2006, 12:19 AM.

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  • _wuliechsin_
    started a topic Breastplate or not?

    Breastplate or not?

    I would like to take a poll on Straight Dancers wearing breastplates is that a Traditional thing or more of a Pan-Indian Idea, or is there a speaical meaning behid it. Do you guys wear a Breastplate or not?

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