Porcupine hair or tukey beard roaches?

Eastern Woodland Indian Cultural Research & Portrayal of the 18th Century

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Porcupine hair or tukey beard roaches?

Postby Ken Hamilton » Thu Sep 14, 2017 7:39 am

I KNOW there were red deer hair roaches (perhaps even red dyed MOOSE in the north?) in the colonial period in the "East" (ie. Lake Superior to Maine and all over the South as well). There are numerous references to them, which describe red dyed hair Only...but NO references to added porcupine hair or turkey beard until Catlin's time on the Prairies?????....... (one could also suspect several questionable descriptions of "red dyed feathers" as well?). Although I would point out Pierre Raddison being called "Porcupine head" by the Cree...referring to a mysterious head ornament which might well be a porcupine roach?????.....and a couple of RED DEER HAIR (surely a "buck" and not a doe :wink: ) "roaches" and red deer hair OBJECTS using the same hair weaving techniques are 17th cent. examples in Sweeden.....(......the only other red hair ONLY roaches seem to be early 19th cent. pieces?

I mean, even the several red hair edged "U" shaped (quilled surface) leather "roaches" are themselves merely edged with red deer hair and no other type of longer hair or beard.

Early Pawnee creation stories recall the deep symbolism concerning the meaning of the long, black turkey beards woven on the edges of red roaches...implying the "smoke of a burning enemy lodge" or "discovered enemy camp fire" (ie. either previous or intended victory). Without getting into the possible MEANING of the red "crowns', "coronets", "ruff" etc... of the various red deer hair roaches
described as "emblems of authority" etc... (including one laid at the feet of the King of England by the Cherokee delegation in 1730, as the "crown of your (sic) Nation"), what other evidence is there for either Porky" or Turkey beard roaches?????????

If you use EITHER, why? Why not?
Any thoughts?
Ken

Bone and antler roach spreaders (especially with eagle feather sockets) are another story :!:
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Re: Porcupine hair or tukey beard roaches?

Postby EBeachy » Fri Feb 02, 2018 11:45 am

This has been up for a while with no response. My two cents, is that porcupine guard hair and turkey beard is wrong for our area and time, but may be easier to find in the modern era. I've always wanted to embroider with turkey beard, too, but haven't seen it on any original bags or materials. I would also say, I've never seen good evidence for hackle (feather) roaches, but have seen few people wearing them.
Really am surprised to see no comments here. Maybe that itself speaks volumes on the ability to defend beard and guard hair head pieces...
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Re: Porcupine hair or tukey beard roaches?

Postby Ken Hamilton » Sat Feb 03, 2018 5:53 pm

Hello Ebeachy,
Personally, I would not mind seeing a "feathered" roach (hackles or otherwise). The LACK of 18th cent. examples of "feathered roaches" can be compared to the lack of plain red deer hair roaches from that century. There is a great early 19th cent. detailed portrait of the Ojibwa chief "Kitchi Ogima" (ie. "Big Chief") by Paul Kane. Perhaps you know the one.....he wears a lightly quilled neck sheath with a brass handled cartouche knife in it and holds a pipe tomahawk?

The red feather (hackles?) roach he wears is a great example of what they should look like. Otherwise, there certainly are MANY period drawings of what are obviously a large bunch/tuft of feathers on the heads of Natives, and cannot possibly be interpreted as "red deer hair".

Are these simplified, generic "anglicizms" by period artists? Yup. Why not depict red deer hair? Are feathers' more recognizable as being "Indian" to that sort of "propaganda art"? Yup. Funny that many of these are depicted wearing a fringed "rifleman's/hunting frock" too, of which there is evidence that these are NOT desirable on the PA frontier during the Revolution...but sure WERE used everywhere by the 1790's (Detroit /Ohio area, NY State, and the Southeast.

Anyway, what if one simply used stripped quill "fletchings" or even a small roach of small wing secondary spike tips....or even a kind of feather roach using smaller bird feathers (like flicker or woodpecker tail or wing feathers, etc...)? Although I am not trying to suggest any non-Native use a protected species....I am suggesting that there are other alternatives to "hackles". The small, sharp pointed sharply pointed minor/secondary spikes from a turkey wing are a good example. If carefully chosen, their black and white striped barbs can have a "bird of prey" appearance at quick glance? As they are today, the reality of Native use of these things draws on the "qualities" of each species (ie. speed, fierceness, keen sight, habits, or even place in a creation myth etc...) and can be enhanced by specific dye colors, trimming, or even the choice of which POSITION a particular feather resides in a TAIL (for example consider the "straight" center tail feather, and what that means as opposed to a left or right leaning # 4 feather?). So, it may well be that the individual might well have to spend a few years and personal resources to acquire a "full set" of straight, center feathers. This might go completely un noticed by museum personnel, but be obvious to a traditional Native......if a museum object had an object with such materials. Who knows what Natives thought back then?

Further, I would point out the historical use of those bouncy, curled STRIPPED feathers seen on some woodland headdresses (notably post 1800 Huron chiefs hats and Iroquois Gustowehs), which might even represent "arrow fletchings" ....NOT being used on a war arrow (ie. "peace"). This suggests that this feather technique was not unknown to them, ...yes? Something like that anyway.

So, some of the major "anti-feather roach" guys are ones who use (and MAKE) the "U" shaped, quilled leather based red deer hair roaches......but yet, they are also the ones who discount PLAIN RED DEER HAIR ROACHES...(which differ from modern roaches because they are a complete "carpet" of hair and not JUST on the edge of a yarn base)......so I think some views are skewed. Because if they were "honest" and "complete" in their research, then they would equally promote (and use) full red deer hair roaches, because there are numerous (ample) VERY CLEAR, quotes and descriptions from all over the east coast beginning in the 17th cent. (found in some of the EARLIEST English accounts of N. America ( :!: )...and continuing throughout the entire colonial period. I have a whole list of these quotes and even found another one recently from a 1724 casualty report in Durham NH during the "Dummer's War" (sometimes "Lovewell's War). In the report, (worth quoting here I think, and just for the fun of making an obscure "roach quote" known to you all :D ), 18th cent. author and NH historian J. Belknap quotes the witness as saying:

,"....The slain Indian (says he) was a person of distinction, and wore a kind of coronet of scarlet dyed fur, with an appendage of four small bells, by the sound of which the others might follow him through the thickets..."

Although I don't think this in any way suggests "feathers".................OTHER QUOTES DO.

Do they doubt these quotes exist???? It simply means they are not as well read as they claim. I don't want anybody to "bully" or "brow beat" us into a misleading, or false understanding of this topic.

Best regards,
Ken

I am saying all this because there is ample 19th cent evidence for ornaments and objects in collections using these feathers in this very fashion......sometimes attached to bone spreaders etc.......and done in a time when these techniques are somewhat DECLINING with acculturation, and could, possibly (?) suggest a much more prolific earlier use?
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