Saturday, 27 August 2011

Native American Indian Moccasins

Here are some photos I took of a friends incredible collection of American Indian Moccasins. I was immediately drawn to their beautiful detail made up of vibrant colours and unique patterns created with the use of delicate craftsmanship. Each pair differed from the other. 

Clothing varied between tribes but the moccasin was very commonly worn. The cut and patterns altered between tribes therefore Indian People could tell each other's association by their footwear.

The cut, beadwork, quillwork and painted designs differed between tribes. Names of some of the large nations such as the Blackfoot and the Chippewas refer to their characteristic moccasin style.

All American Indian moccasins were originally made of soft leather stitched together with sinew (Sinew is the tendon which connects muscle to bone and is therefore capable of withstanding stress and strain). 

In some tribes the leather was left to harden for added durability before being used for the sole. Rabbit fur and later sheepskin was used to line the leather for added warmth. Sheepskin is still being used today to line winter boots and slippers.

The shoe is called the moccasin because this was the original name used by the Algonquian tribe. One of the first of the Indians discovered by the Europeans. Other spellings of the word include mocasin, mocassin, moccassin or mocussin. 

Indian women also wore moccasin boots, which were basically women's thigh-length leggings sewn to their original moccasins. They were usually heavily quilled.

The Inuit (Eskimos) invented heavier-duty boots called mukluks. Mukluks were made from sealskin, fur, and reindeer hide. Moccasins are still being made today by American Indian craftsmen.

I was really inspired by my friends collection and so I created a drawing of some of the moccasins using oils pastels with ink. The image celebrates the individual moccasin. I love the colour combinations and beadwork and wanted to show this in my drawing.

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