Umatilla polychrome parfleche envelope. This is truly a fantastic geometric pattern pigment polychrome painted parfleche envelope from the Umatilla Native American Indian tribe and dating to the late 19th Century. The piece shows a Great American Bison Buffalo parfleche rawhide construction with exceptional mineral ocher pigment polychrome painted design in a geometric traditional pattern showing reds, blues, greens, and yellows. The bag is held together with later added hide ties. The term parfleche was first coined by the French fur traders and derived from the French word “parer” meaning defend and “fleche” meaning arrows, as the hide was tough enough to be used as a shield and deflect an arrow. The original containers had graphics that were maps, geographical depictions such as rivers and mountains, or symbols that told the family’s stories. Once the parfleche left the family, the story was lost and the parfleche became Native American art rather than a meaningful storyteller. This piece shows fine original paint and overall good condition for being well over 100 years of age. Many examples offered for sale are merely tourist trade parfleche with poor painting and thin hides, which this example is most definitely not as it shows a heavy Bison hide and wonderful painting dating to the circa 1880-1890’s. This is truly an extraordinary nomadic traveling storage piece that now is seen as one of the original American works of art. From one of the largest American Indian Collections in the country in Billings, Montana.
PERIOD: Circa 1890
SIZE: 27"L by 16.5"W by about 2" thick tied shut