COLLECTION: Tools & Equipment

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Native American prisoner halter

Origin: America, South Lake Erie region
OL: approximately 22 feet.
Apocynum fiber (native hemp), quills, sinew, deer or moose hair tufts, metal tinkle cones (appear hand-rolled, possibly made from off-cuts of metal or lids of tin snuff cans), glass beads, copper alloy, leather (moosehide?)
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1996-816
American Indian prisoner halter consists of a twined woven halter strap, measuring 12 1/2 by 1 1/4 inches, furnished with a loop at one extremity and tapering into a long braided cord at the other end. A similar cord is attached to the loop, both cords measuring 10 1/2 feet long, inclusive the multiple strings terminating at their ends into metal cones. The strap is made of carefully prepared string and thread of vegetable fiber; the warp made of inner-bark fibers of elm or basswood; the weft of Indian hemp, most probably Apocynum Cannabinum. The latter is sometimes referred to as milkweed, though it is actually a dogbane. The fine weft twined over the coarser warp strands created the surface of thirteen parellel ridges. The weaving was most probably started in the middle of the strap, its width at both ends reduced by means of bringing the warp strands together in the twining process. Continuation of the warp strands at one extremity created the braided cord. Also the separately attached cord is braided of the same material. Except for the outer ridges the surface of the strap is decorated with dyed and non-dyed moosehair in a brocading technique called "false embroidery", in which the colored hair is wrapped around the weft element during the process of weaving. In addition to (now faded) red and black dyed hair also the natural off-white winter hair is utilized to create a repeating pattern of rectangular and triangular designs. The strap is edged with white trade beads in a technique called "two-bead edging", whereby the beads are placed in alternating positions, vertical and horizontal. The two cords are braided to form a square section, at intervals wrapped with red and yellow porcupine quills. They terminate into five looped strings with red-dyed hair tassels in tin cones at the ends. Most of the hair tassels have been lost, which is common for artifacts of this type and age. (Description by Dr. Ted. J. Brasser, Peterborough, Ontario).