Gilcrease Museum is reopening. Advance tickets required.

Parfleches

Parfleches are containers or pouches of rawhide that is painted with images or, typically, geometric designs. Plains Indians created the parfleche, though because of its utility, beauty, and convenience, other tribes in North America adopted its use. The Plains Indians began using it because of the introduction of the horse and the shift to a nomadic lifestyle. These required “containers that were lightweight, durable, weatherproof, and manufactured from readily available materials,” such as hides (Torrence 1994, 29). The parfleches transported personal belongings and food supplies and were easily attached to the back of horses or a travois. When a parfleche wears out and becomes unusable, the owner would recycle the rawhide into other objects, such as the fringe on pipe bags, moccasin soles, baby carrier hoods, and knife sheaths.