Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1622 Powhatan weroance 
Subjectweroance chief
Culture: Powhatan confederacy tribes
Setting: English wars, Virginia 1609-1646

Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)

* Paterek 1994 p22
"Powhatan was a confederation of tribes in the tidewater country of Virginia brought under one control by Chief Powhatan in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.  Algonquian speakers, they were members of the Potomac, Rappahannock, Pamunkey, Chickahominy, Chesapeake, and Powhatan tribes.  The confederation existed only from Powhatan's unification to the death of his son in 1644, but the constituent tribes probably existed long before the confederacy did.  The name, meaning 'falls in a current of water,' refers to the area from the tidewater to the 'fall line' of the interior.  The people lived in villages and practiced agriculture, but subsistence also depended on fishing, hunting, and gathering.  They dressed more like the Southeastern peoples than their Algonquian cousins to the north, a fact that may be attributed to the climate.  First European contact was in the late sixteenth century."

* Virginia Historical Society > Story of Virginia
"To the Powhatan Indians of eastern Virginia, open land was a source of food and materials to be shared by all.  The idea of individual ownership of land was entirely foreign to them.  To the English, however, unoccupied land was there for the taking and, once tobacco proved profitable, they took it.  
​    "The Powhatans became hostile as soon as they perceived that the English intended to stay.  The English had two advantages in the ensuing wars.  One was firepower.  The other was a secret weapon unknown even to the English -- European diseases to which the Indians had no immunity.  Within forty years of Jamestown's founding, the Powhatans had been defeated by warfare, smallpox, and measles.  The Powhatan empire disintegrated, and its people were forced to live on disconnected pieces of tribal territory far from traditional hunting and fishing grounds."


* Paterek 1994 p23
"Men wore an unusual type of breechclout; made of deerskin, it was draped, tied in the back (which was left bare), and was characteristically fringed.  At times there seems to have been a fold-over section, also draped and fringed.  Some seem to have worn a tail behind.  Instead of this draped breechclout, some men wore a lightweight garment of skin, also draped and fringed, and fastened on one shoulder.  When hunting or during severe weather, men wore gartered leggings.  The very poor covered themselves with grass or leaves fastened to belts."

* Rosenthal/Jones 2008 p568 (Cesare Vecellio, writing in 1590)
"CLOTHING OF A CENTURION of Virginia  Centurions wear certain skins of birds on their heads, with beaks and feet through their ears; they do this in order to look more terrifying.  On their chests they wear a particular object of copper or silver.  They cover their private parts with skins, from which tails hang down.  They have discs of copper at their thighs, and they also wear chains around their legs and arms." 

* Rosenthal/Jones 2008 p569 (Cesare Vecellio, writing in 1590)
"A LEADER on the Battlefield  This set of clothing is even more beautiful that the previous set.  On their heads these leaders wear a lion skin and colored feathers; they cover themselves all over with this kind of skin, and they tie it on with another at their navel.  They wear the same things as the preceding man, with the same tails, and they paint themselves in various ways."


* Burton 1884 p49
"In the account of the expedition sent out (1584) by Raleigh to relieve the colony of Virginia, we read of 'flat, edged truncheons of wood,' about a yard long.  In these were inserted points of stag-horn much in the same manner as is now practised, except that European lance-heads have taken their place."

* Rosenthal/Jones 2008 p568 (Cesare Vecellio, writing in 1590)
"In their hands they carry a staff, which, at the top, is like a blade edged with nails, which they use to strike blows; and in this way they go into battle."


* Taylor 2001 p65
"Some of the earliest illustrations (c.1585) by John White of the Indians of present-day North Carolina and Virginia, show bows which, at a conservative estimate, were 5 feet 6 inches to 6 feet (1.7m to 1.8m) in length.  Of relatively simple construction and resembling the English longbow, they were undoubtedly of a style which extended back at least a further 500 years."


* Taylor 2001 p18
"Pick axe styles were described as early as 1540 by the Spanish explorer, De Soto, who visited groups on the Savannah.  They were provided with copper or stone blades or celts.  Such celts had a sharp edge on one side and a diamond-shaped point at the back; a variant was that used in the Virginia region which had a horn or stone celt which was pointed at both ends, the celt itself being driven through the wooden handle."




* Gleach 1997
* McCary 1957
* Rountree 1989
* Rountree 1990
* Rountree 2005
* Rountree/Davidson 1997
* Rountree/Turner 2002
* Townsend 2004
* Williamson 2003