Innumerable as the Starrs of Night,
Or Starrs of Morning,
Dew-drops, which the Sun
on every leaf and every flouer
NGC3132 ©
Beauty is truth, truth beauty,
— that is all
Ye know on earth, and all
ye need to know.

E = M

Energy is eternal delight.
William Blake

Impearls: HIC 4.01: Dress

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Earthdate 2005-11-12

Dress   by A. L. Kroeber

Fig. 3: Blanket of two deerskins, painted. Hupa. The dress of northwestern California was essentially that of all the tribes of the State.  Young men usually folded a deerskin about the hips.  Their elders did not scruple to go naked.  A breechclout was not worn.  Women put on a buckskin apron, about a foot wide, its length slit into fringes, which were wrapped with a braid of lustrous Xerophyllum or strung with pine nuts.  From the rear of the waist a much broader apron or skirt was brought around to meet the front piece.  This rear apron was again fringed, but contained a considerable area of unslit skin.  Women also habitually wore neat, round, snugly fitting caps of basketry (Pl. 73, f).  These were modeled with a nearly flat top, but degenerated after some months into a peak.  In cold weather both sexes threw over the shoulders a blanket or cape, normally of two deer hides sewn together (Fig. 3 3).  A single skin or a garment pieced of small furs might be used instead.  This cape was neither fitted to the form nor squared.  The Yurok appear to have fancied the somewhat ragged effect of dangling legs and neck.  A rectangular blanket woven of strips of rabbit fur, much used through the remainder of California and over large areas eastward, was rare or unknown among the northwestern tribes, perhaps because rabbits are scarce in their country.  Capes and men's loin cloths always had the fur left on.  Women's aprons were always dressed.

Rich women ornamented their dress heavily.  Haliotis and clamshells jangled musically from the ends of the fringes; and occasionally a row of obsidian prisms tinkled with every step.  Poor women contented themselves with less.  They may sometimes have had recourse to a single skirt of fringed inner bark of the maple, which was standard wear for adolescent girls and novitiate shamans.

The only footgear of moment was a one-piece front-seamed moccasin without decoration, donned chiefly for travel, by women gathering firewood, or sometimes as part of full dress.  It was not worn regularly by either sex.  Modern specimens add a heavy sole, but this seems not to have been used in purely native days.  Men put on a knee-length buckskin legging and a rude snowshoe — a hoop with a few cross ties of grapevine — when they went up into the hills in winter to hunt.

Men wore their hair at least half long.  A confining net of string, customary in many other parts of California, was not known here.  In boating, a thong might keep the hair out of the eyes.  Before a fight, it was usually piled on top of the head.  When the hunter donned a deer hide and stuffed deer's head (pl. 8), a disguise as likely to deceive a puma lurking in a tree as the game, he cushioned his hair over the nape and ran several sharp bone skewers through it.  Women gathered their hair in two masses that fell in front of the shoulders and were held together by a thong, or on gala occasions by a strip of mink fur set with small woodpecker scalps.

In mourning, the hair was shortened.  A widow cropped hers closely.  A necklace of braided Xerophyllum was put on by all near mourners.  The Yurok say that this was never removed, being worn until it fell to pieces.  It is likely that if it lasted a year, it was taken off when the name taboo of the dead was lifted.  Perhaps it usually disintegrated before.

The Yurok did not usually mutilate any part of the body for the attachment of ornaments.  Pendants of haliotis were hung around the ears.  The nose, contrary to the custom of some adjacent tribes, was bored only after death.  A reference to this condition was therefore construed as something like a curse.

Women had the entire chin, from the corners of the mouth downward, tattooed solidly except for two narrow blank lines.  A beginning was made with three vertical stripes, which were broadened until they nearly met.  Occasionally a row of points diversified the edges of the area.  This style is universal in northwestern California.  A little familiarity makes it rather pleasing.  Lines and angles and circles always look like something added to the face.  The solid mass, conforming to the contours of the chin, favored by the Yurok, soon seems an integral part of the features and serves to emphasize a well-modeled jaw.  Certainly it is not long before a younger woman or half-breed who has escaped the tattoo strikes one with a sense of shock, as of something necessary missing.  When pressed to explain the custom, the natives, as in all such cases, of course give a reason which is not the cause of the practice, but is interesting as their psychic reaction to the custom.  They say that an untattooed woman looks like a man when she grows old.  (Fig. 45 a 45.)

Fig. 45: Women's tattoo: Yurok and others.

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