Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1851 Blackfoot warrior
Subject: warrior
Culture: Blackfeet, Piegan, Blood
Setting: Blackfoot confederacy, northern Great Plains late 18-19thc
Object: costume


* Paterek 1994 p97
"...[T]he Blackfeet did not wear the typical Plains halo warbonnet; even before 1800 they wore their characteristic stand-up warbonnet of a circlet of erect feathers springing from a wide rawhide headband, with rolled strips of ermine at the sides.  This high crown headdress was originally part of the regalia of the Bull Society; it was considered better for windy weather and for riding than the halo bonnet and was also more conspicuous in battle and thus an indication of bravery.  The buffalo-horn headdress was worn rarely, and then only by especially distinguished men.  Fur hats, made of a simple band of fur, were for winter wear, usually from the pelts of coyote, badger, or otter.  Rawhide visors were a protection from the summer sun."

* Bancroft-Hunt & Forman 1981 p68 caption
"Among the Blackfoot, a high position in a warrior society might be marked by the wearing of a war cap surmounted by buffalo horns.  Feathers taken from flesh-eating birds are usd to emphasize this warrior's power of overcoming his foes."


* Brasser 2009 p154 (describing a man's shirt, ca. 1840)
"Long shirts with minimal tailoring were common before the use of horses made shorter shirts more comfortable.  As a conventional expression of respect for the animal spirits, the leg skins were left as pendants at the bottom of such traditional shirts.  The brown painted stripes refer to hostile enemy encounters, indicating that the shirt owner was a distinguished war veteran.  Very few shirts with large quillwork panels on front and back have survived.  Their disappearance by around 1850 coincided with a change in the buffalo drive hunt because of the use of horses.  Before that time, special 'buffalo callers' lured the herd into the corral.  This buffalo trap, called 'bloody kettle' by the Blackfeet, is represented by the red claw designs on the panels of these shirts.  Most probably these shirts were restricted to ceremonial use by such buffalo callers."

* Bancroft-Hunt & Forman 1981 p29 (describing a Blackfoot man's shirt, ca. 1820)
"It would have been worn only by an exceptional warrior on special occasions ....  The Blackfoot sometimes transferred ownership of this type of hair-fringed shirt, when both the seller and the buyer, who had to have an indisputable prominence in the tribe, enhanced their prestige through public recognition of their achievements."


* Bancroft-Hunt & Forman 1981 p57 caption
"Leggings with black stripes could only be worn by Blackfoot warriors of distinction."

* Bancroft-Hunt 1995 p88 caption
"The right to use painted stripes on their leggings was the exclusive privilege of a few outstanding warriors, and has its origins in a myth where it is said to have been granted by the Sun when the culture hero Scarface defeated the monsters by which the Sun was threatened."

Body Art

* Paterek 1994 p99
"Face painting was common, both for war and for ceremonial use; body painting was more to be found with the latter.  A face painted black indicated a heroic deed of recent vintage.  Stripes, circles, and dots were painted on the face in hues of blue, red, yellow, black, and white."


* Paterek 1994 p97
"Men's robes were of elk or buffalo hide with the hair left on.  Lighter weight robes were of tanned mountain sheep hide. ... Representations of battle scenes and symbols of war were painted on the robes or created in quillwork.  Most popular were the 'hourglass' figure indicating enemy wounded, hand shape (enemy killed in battle), and the horizontal battle stripes.  Capotes were worn in the winter, made of the Hudson's Bay blankets obtained in trade.  Blankets were also acquired from the weavers of the Southwest at the great trading center of Santa Fe."