Reproduction Comanche Outfit Based on one Worn by Quanah Parker
Quanah Parker was born in 1845 to a Comanche Indian Chief, Peta Nocona, and his white captive wife, Cynthia Anne Parker. Quanah became a strong and respected leader among the Comanches and other Southern Plains Native American tribes. He led the fight against European settlers in his territory. He also led his people in negotiations with whites when he realized that continuing to fight would only lead to the annihilation of his people.
In the 1980s, crafter Sam Cahoun created this reproduction of an outfit worn by Quanah Parker. The outfit consists of a Braintanned Leather Shirt, Braintanned Leather Leggings, a Breechcloth, a Bone Hairpipe Breastplate, and a Pair of Otter Hair Ties. You can see in the historical photos that Quanah would have also worn Moccasins and a Blanket and carried other accessories.
Creating the Comanche Shirt
The Leather Shirt required four Braintanned Leather Deerskins to make. Cahoun sewed it together with sinew. This style of shirt reflects European influence. Compared to earlier shirt styles, this shirt features noticeable tailoring. The ends of the sleeves and the bottom of the shirt feature cut fringe. To make this, the crafter cut small slits along the edges, then he removed every other cut piece to create a short fringe. Most impressive though, is the abundance of Twisted Braintanned Leather Fringe that adorns the sleeves. The Twisted Fringe alone required two additional Braintanned Leather Deerskins.
Twisting Leather Fringe is a time-consuming process. The crafter must cut each strip of leather into a long, thin lace strand. He or she rolls and twists the lacing until they cannot twist it anymore. Then, he or she folds the strand in half and which allows the the two sides to twist around each other. The twisted leather is wet and allowed to dry to hold the twist in place. When they wet it, they can stretch the lace. Wetting mats down the suede side of the leather for a cleaner, more uniform look.
Sterling Silver crimps adorn some of these Fringes. You can also see tiny Silver Christian Cross pendants where the Fringe attaches to the sleeve. Cahoun also attached Twisted Fringe to the front of the Shirt with tiny Sterling Silver buttons.
Creating the Breechcloth and Leggins
The Breechcloth is made from a Red Wool Trade Blanket with a white selvedge edge showing.
The Leggings are Southern Tab Style with wide flaps lined with Red Wool. A row of Edge Beading along the length of the wool holds the wool to the tabs. Four Peyote Stitch drops adorn the ends of the flaps, two on each side. These drops feature Greasy Yellow, Blue, Red, and White Seed Beads. Black Horse Hair and Red Feather Hackles hang from each of them.
More Twisted Leather Fringe hangs from each leg of the Leggings below the side tabs. The bottoms of the legs feature more short cut fringe. You will also see a Lazy Stitched beaded strip on the cuff of each leg.
Creating the Accessories
A triangular Leather Bib attaches to the front and back of the Shirt. It also sports dozens of pieces of Twisted Fringe which have been attached individually to the two long sides of the Bib.
The Bone Hairpipe Breastplate is a very classic design. It does not have any Beads on it, just the Bone Hairpipe and Leather Breastplate Strips. At the bottom, you will see three German Silver Pendants. Two of these are Crescent Moon shaped. The center pendant is larger with four smaller pendants hanging from it. Two of these are also Crescent Moon shaped.
A single Otter pelt split from head to tail makes up the Otter Braid Wraps. Red wool fabric lines the back side. A row of Edge Beading attaches the Wool to the Otter pelt. Two beaded strips attached to Braintanned Deerskin encase the tops of the Braid Wraps. The lower part of the Otter Braid Wraps sport individual Beaded Rosettes with bits of red and green Silk Ribbon peeking out from underneath.
Peyote Stitch beaded drops further adorn the Braid Wraps. Each side features Yellow, Blue, White, Red and Green Seed Beads. Red Horse Hair hangs from the ends.
Parker would have worn an outfit like this only on occasions that merited solemnity or celebration.