Plains Indians fashioned
rawhide containers for the storage of various kinds of goods. The
word "parfleche" was
adapted from the early French fur traders. It refers to the untanned
used to make
to make shields, shields used to turn away (pare) arrows (fleches).
the term came to refer to these distinctive rawhide containers
The most common parfleche used to store pemmican has the shape
of a double-folded envelope, there were also boxes, pouches and
Parfleches were well decorated by native women. Their designs contributed
heavily to the genesis of the various tribal styles of bead embroidery
that emerged on the Plains during the 19th century.
Parfleches were mostly made of elk
and horse rawhides. The parfleches
shown on this page are made of wapiti rawhide, decorated with natural