The term parfleche comes from early French-speaking fur traders who found the buffalo hide shields of the Crow so strong that they had the capability to "turn away" (par) "arrows" (fleche.) An oblong length of hide is folded in half and sewn up the side to make this storage envelope. It is closed with a single pair of holes in the outer flap. The hide was cleaned and dried, but not tanned. In the days of the buffalo, this was the preferred hide, but it was subsequently replaced by cowhide. Crow envelopes prior to the early nineteenth century were often decorated with patterns made by incising the hide. Later, colored decoration was added using an ingenious brush made from the sponge-like marrow at the end of a buffalo rib. This example, originally one of a pair, was made in this way.
1890 - 1910
28" x 14" (71 cm. x 35.5 cm.)