Bison Robes


   Bison robes were worn as coats, since buffalo have wool rather than hair to keep warm.  Robes for personal use were painted and head, full legs with dew claws and ears intact.  Ears were pulled to the inside, since it was believed the animal was still listening.

   Young women's robes were porcupine-quilled with multiple lanes, named puberty robes.  Later a woman used a painted box and border design.  Men had robes with drawn war exploits of their society.  Others had a star-burst, commonly called a war bonnet or feather design. 

  When a need arose, a robe might be sold at a trading post where later the hide would be covered with red wool as a buggy robe.  An ordinary robe might bring 50 cents, whereas a painted robe could be twice the price.

   The painted robe above had been trimmed of its nose, tail and stake holes.  The design starts in the center with four circles, representing the four directions.  The balance of the design is to appease the Thunder Being powers with red for Lightning and blue for Thunder.  The wavy lines inside the three circles depict a whirlwind.

   The second robe has lacing holes intact.  It had the face removed, possibly to make a buffalo headdress.  It was skinned in the historic manner on the outside of the front legs and sinew-sewn, making the edge of each side of a robe fairly straight.