M11104 | Knife sheath

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Knife sheath
Anonyme - Anonymous
Eastern Woodlands
Aboriginal: Huron-Wendat
1840-1920, 19th century or 20th century
Tanned and smoked hide, leather, porcupine quills, stroud, cotton thread
6.7 x 17.5 cm
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Sheath (39)
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Keys to History

Knife sheaths like this one were part of the basic equipment of the hunter-trapper. They were often made from the leg of a caribou that had not been dehaired. It was decorated with an attractively embroidered black leather band. Often, the embroidered motifs on the band depicted balsam fir branches.

More rare is a knife sheath like the one shown here, made entirely of hide embellished with red stroud used to make the fringe and band (with a sawtooth pattern). The embroidered motif, resembling a cat's paw, was frequently used at the time. Hunting knives were essential, especially when moose hunting, which the Huron-Wendat did more of after they moved from Huronia to Lorette in 1697. In their original homeland near Georgian Bay, farming had been their main livelihood.

  • What

    In addition to being a decorative element of the Huron-Wendat man's outfit, this object also had a utilitarian role: it protected the knife blade from damage while keeping it well sharpened.

  • Where

    The Huron-Wendat wore this accessory as they travelled their hunting and trapping grounds and on special occasions, when they dressed in ceremonial clothing.

  • When

    A knife sheath was very useful when hunting and trapping in the woods.

  • Who

    This element of traditional clothing was worn especially by men.