Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1871 Kiowa topadok'i

Subjecttopadok'i war leader / kietaisopan 'great warrior'
Culture: Kiowa 
Setting: southern Great Plains 19thc

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

* Mayhall 1962 p3
"The Kiowas were the proud possessors of the southern Great Plains.  With the Comanches and the Kiowa-Apaches, these predators of the Southwest were great horsemen, horse thieves, horse breeders, and horse traders.  For over a century and a half they disputed passage of the white man moving westward."

* Paterek 1994 p116
"The Kiowa were dominated by the Comanche and were allies of the western Shoshone; all three tribes are often referred to as Snake Indians.  They were closely associated with the Kiowa Apache.  Their name is a word in their own language, 'Kaigwu,' signifying 'principal people.'  They came originally from Montana, drifting down the Plains until they finally settled in western Oklahoma in the eighteenth century.  Speakers of the Kiowa branch of the Uto-Aztecan language family, they were buffalo hunters, highly mobile, and practicing no agriculture. They were among the most bitter enemies of early white settlers, who often regarded the Kiowa as exceedingly predatory."

* Mayhall 1962 p16-17
"The Kiowas raided far south and southwestward, to Matagorda Bay in Texas, south of Durango and through Sonora and Sinaloa in Mexico to the Gulf of California, and at one time into the canyon of the Colorado with a raid and massacre of the Havasupai.  Plunder, scalps, horses, and captives were the objects of these parties, which sometimes lasted two years.  Fear and dread struck the settlements of northern Mexico and the settled area of Texas.  The Texans mobilized militia and later developed the Texas Rangers to guard their frontiers.  The Kiowas, with the Comanches farther south, were the masters of the south Plains, and a harsh hand fell upon all who might dispute their sway."

* Mayhall 1962 p137-138
"Warfare was the most honorable profession for men.  War raids were of two kinds: Small raids for horses and wealth, and larger raids for revenge or obtaining scalps, customarily tribal in personnel.  These usually set out after vows made at the Sun Dance.  A travel song, or gua-dagya, helped enlist recruits to smoke the pipe.  A large party usually had four captains.  The most common raids came to be the small ones for horses.
​   "Raiding for horses and war honors by unusual bravery were the activities that led to tribal success.  Deeds on the field of battle gained a man the title of kietai or kataikI, warrior.  Performing deeds out of a list of twelve or more gave one the right to kietai.  Great bravery elevated one to kietaisopan, or great warrior.  He was then eligible for the Koitsenko honorific society.  Recitations of deeds were made and checked upon by eyewitnesses or other warriors, and vouched for by swearing on the pipe.
​   "War parties were family, topadoga, or tribal, with the war leader, or topadok'i, in absolute control and exercising a military discipline.  Positions of authority were for the full-bloods.  Captives, half-bloods, and quarter-bloods might become notable warriors, but did not become topadok'is."


* Burnett 1995 p56
"During the summer months, Kiowa men wore a breechcloth which was attached to their belts and hung to their knees.  They wore deerskin moccasins when it was warm.  In colder weather they added leggings made of tanned buffalo hide or deerskin.  These leggings covered their body from the hip to the feet and were usually decorated with shells, animal teeth, and beads.  They also wore V-necked shirts made from the skins of buffalo, deer, or antelope.  During a winter storm, buffalo robes and snowshoes were also added."

* Paterek 1994 p118
"The Kiowa went bareheaded most of the time.  Occasionally the men wore the otter-fur turban, so common on the Central Plains; a folded otter skin was wrapped around the head, sometimes with the tail left extending straight out at the side, down the back, or simply tucked in.  Beaded or quilled medallions or conchas were added as decoration."

* Mayhall 1962 p120
"Men wore buckskin shirts, long sleeved, with fringe of human hair in the side seams; leggings; breechcloths; soft- or hard-soled moccasins with long flaps that trailed the ground, all the flaps beaded and ornamented with tinkling metal bits; war bonnets of eagle feathers; some fur caps; and furry buffalo robes, painted inside."

* Fashion, costume, and culture volume 2 2004 p363
"The Kiowa Indians of the Plains wore breechclouts of tanned leather with flaps that hung to the knees in both the front and the back."

* Paterek 1994 p116
"Tanned-leather breechclouts were of the fitted type with knee-length flaps in back and front. Leggings of skin were also snugly fitted, but with a wide triangular flap on the lower half; this flap was not only heavily fringed but was painted a bright red or orange, in contrast to the rest of the legging, which was painted yellow or a combination of yellow and green.  The legging was long enough to cover much of the moccasin.  The fringes on both the leggings and breechclout, as well as later shirts, were long and usually twisted into fine cords.  The Kiowa did not wear shirts until cloth ones were introduced by the traders.  Some men then wore hide shirts, which had long, tight sleeves, a triangular neck flap, and side slits at the bottom; the heavy, long fringes and and [sic] the yellow- or green-painted backgrounds were the only decorations, except for the occasional use of narrow beaded edgings, mescal beads, and some hair locks."


* Mayhall 1962 p120
"Male ornaments were breastplates of pipestone, pendants on leather thongs, earrings, feathers in scalplocks, fur wrappings on hair braids, necklaces of shells and beads, sometimes a bear's tooth as fetish or amulet, and often silver disks attached to hair braids."

* Paterek 1994 p119
"A warrior often painted his face, his shield, and his horse all the same color.  In general, painting was done with solid colors."


* Burnett 1995 p58
"Their main weapons were bows and arrows and lances.  Their arrow cases or quivers were never made of deer, antelope, or buffalo skin unless it was absolutely necessary.  They liked to use panther skin or Mexican leather.  Later, when they were able to obtain firearms from the white man, guns were used.  However, they never abandoned the use of lances or bows and arrows."


* Paterek 1994 p119
"Large shields were carried by the Southern Plains warriors, and their armor, for both men and horses, was of tough rawhide."




* Paterek 1994 p118
"Moccasins were unlike those of many tribes in that the leather uppers were sewn to the rawhide soles with the right side out, leaving and exposed seam allowance and giving the moccasins a tendency to curl up around the edges, a protection in the sharp underbrush; the toes often tended to be quite pointed.  The seamed back ended in a long, heavy fringe at the heel.  A long tongue, separately attached, was often forked and usually beaded along the edge.  Uppers were sometimes elegantly painted or, later, in imitation of tribes to the north, fully beaded.  The fringed rectangular cuff, generally split at the back, had a small beaded border.  All exposed leather on these moccasins was painted."