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LAKOTA SIOUX PARFLECHE CYLINDER – UNUSUAL SMALL SIZE PERHAPS TO STORE CEREMONIAL ITEMS, FEATHERS, OR FOR SMALL PERSONAL  ITEMS HUNG FROM A SADDLE:  This is an unusually small Lakota Sioux Parfleche Cylinder.  The painted design serves to identify the tribal origin, as documented in the seminal work on the subject, THE AMERICAN INDIAN PARFLECHE by Gaylord Torrence.   Torrence provides well captioned examples of the various tribal patterns of painting these useful storage vessels, as well as detailed descriptions of the individual tribal styles and methods of design, construction, and decoration.  The photographs of Lakota Sioux painted parfleches he offers on pages 93 and 105 provide excellent examples for comparison and which identify this piece as originating with the same people.    

In Torrence’s discussion of styles and size, he notes that many of the surviving Lakota cylinders are on the small size such as the one offered here, as compared to the large cylinders from other tribes which are found.  His descriptions of the manner in which the Lakota cylinders were assembled and decorated apply almost without exception to the specimen offered here.   

The cylinder, measuring 11 ½” long, 4” in diameter at the top and 3” in diameter at the bottom, is fashioned of rawhide which holds it shape without any curling or disfiguring.   

The exterior wall of the cylinder is painted all the way around, with two separate patterns on the opposing sides, again in character with, and in patterns seen, on known Lakota examples.  The paint shows the wear expected on an old piece such as this, however the design elements are legible and colors are still vivid.  The top and bottom plugs or covers are both made of the same hide and both are painted.  The edges of the cylinder wall are joined with a series of native tanned leather thongs, every other one holding a glass trade bead.  The bottom cover is stitched into place with a sinew thread while the top cover is attached with five native tanned leather thongs, four of which hold a glass trade bead.    

The interior surfaces of the cylinder walls, and the top and bottom cover, all have the aged brown surface associated with old native made rawhide.  This brown coloring does not appear on modern commercial made rawhide, but rather is the result of the way in which the native peoples treated the hides destined to be used for parfleches and then the effects of time and age.  This is a telling feature which testifies to the age of this piece.   

Overall, this is an excellent example of a fairly scarce Parfleche Cylinder which presents extremely well as a nice old piece.  (0331) $1850



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