I’m working on twining a pack bag based on Indians Going A-hunting, by Philip Georg Friedrich Von Reck, a 1730’s image of Yuchis going on a hunting trip.  There’s not a lot of detail, so the recreation is a best guess based on the image and Adair’s descriptions of SE women ‘weaving bags’ (quoted on this page: http://amohkali.com/?p=451).  Click the image for a larger view of the portion of the image being referenced.


Detail of von Reck's "Indians going a-hunting"

I’m working from this image and suggestions from some fellow researchers.  Tom Conde, of Conde Trading: – http://www.condetrading.com/ helped me learn the proper way to build a bag from bottom up, rather than top down, and recommended an excellent work on Mississippian textile research.  I also discovered a couple of other works listed in the references below.  These works outline the different weaves used during the Mississippian period in the Southeast; in this case, it seems appropriate to slide those techniques forward, as they fit other cultures use during the 18th century (as described in Petersen).

I’m going for roughly the size of the bag pictured, and from an earlier experiment, know that it’ll need to be between 15 to 20 inches wide, and about 24 inches deep, to work like the one in the picture.

I decided that this should be a very utilitarian bag, open twined, made of a tough fiber.  I’ll use it, throw it on the ground, hang it on my back and from available tree branches.  It will have to support 10 or 20 pounds in normal use, sometimes more. Knowing I couldn’t make enough twine from the fiber I have available in the south this time of year, I decided on a z-twist jute that is much tighter and harder spun than the typical craft and garden three strand.

It’s got roughly 550 feet of twine for the warp, cast onto a support stick.  I’ve gotten the bottom three rows plus first 8 rows of body twining done as of this evening.  I did the bottom and first row holding the support stick by hand, but was killing my back, so knocked up a stand to hold it, even though the stand is likely not correct – if anything, the support stick was probably hung to work on.  Rather than spiral the twining up the warps, I’m doing a complete circle, moving up the bag, then starting a new weaver.  The twining pattern is based on a couple of pot sherds from the Macon Plateau site (in the Ocmulgee National Historic site collection, one is on display in the visitor’s center)

As I got started, I realized somethingabout one of James Adair’s description in History of the American Indians:

“ and they have a couple of threddles, which they move with the hand so as to enable them to make good dispatch, something after our manner of weaving. This is sufficiently confirmed by their method of working broad garters, sashes, shot-pouches, broad belts, and the like, which are decorated all over with beautiful stripes and chequers.” (423)

The likely “threddles” are probably the way native women wrapped the ends of the wefts when twining to keep them from tangling.

Pictures soon.

References:

Adair, James,  History of the American Indians…. 1775. London.  Edward and Charles Dilly, Publisher.

Drooker, Penelope B. Mississippian Village Textiles at Wickliffe. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama press, 1992. Print.

Petersen, James B. A Most Indispensable Art: Native Fiber Industries from Eastern North America. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1996. Print.

Spanos, Mary. 2006. Mississippian textiles at Beckum Village (1CK24), Clarke County, Alabama. Thesis (M.A.) University of Alabama, 2006.

Reck, Philipp G. F, and Kristian Hvidt. Von Reck’s Voyage: Drawings and Journal of Philip Georg Friedrich Von Reck. Savannah: Beehive Press, 1980. Print

Von Reck’s Drawings, Center for Manuscripts & Rare Books Kongelige Bibliotek, Denmark.
http://base.kb.dk/manus_pub/cv/manus/ManusIntro.xsql?nnoc=manus_pub&p_ManusId=22&p_Lang=alt

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