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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Re: Porcupine hair or tukey beard roaches?

Postby Nonotuck » Mon Mar 12, 2018 5:06 pm

Doesnt coronet imply more of a crown tupe headress and not a roach?
Living in Norwottuck (aka Nonotuck) " In the midst of the River " ....South of Pocumtuck, and Squakeag......:)
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Re: Porcupine hair or tukey beard roaches?

Postby Ken Hamilton » Tue Mar 13, 2018 10:35 am

Sounds like that could sometimes be the case.....but who knows what these writers were describing? Their own Language NOUNS were funny when describing "new" experiences. Colonial era Native researchers are only too aware of this phenomenon. These early writers were s-t-r-e-t-c-h-I-n-g their vocabulary to describe these, exotic things. The fact that unless they add some qualifying descriptive statements, we are NOT sure what they are talking about exactly. Many probably didn't get close enough to find out and only described "from a safe distance"?????

Further, translating archaic French into modern English (by academics) is dubious.....One modern translator called some kind of "roach" object (called "une BRODERIE" in the French text) a "WOGGLE" :shock: (from Pouchot) What the hell is that? The "broderie" can be something sewn/embroidered...but can be an "embellishment" too if spelled slightly different. Same root word. Anyway, it suggests that Pouchot understood that it was an artificially SEWN (embroidered) item, yes?

Heck, we sometimes wonder what they are describing when they describe things from their OWN culture, but we are reminded that they are trying to relate their ideas to their fellow countrymen and readership using KNOWN comparisons. Not only are those early writers are all over the map, but some use TWO or more names for the same item!

Best thing to do is take EACH quotation on a "case by case" basis and weed out fact from modern wish fullness....and if a French quote, use the original Norman term first!
List all known "roach quotations" (hair or feather). and place them in chronological/regional order. Then see what you get. All the Colonial era woodland material culture "experts"/ researchers have done this, yes?
Ken
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Re: Porcupine hair or tukey beard roaches?

Postby EBeachy » Thu Mar 22, 2018 10:35 am

On feather "roaches": thank you for your thoughtfulness. The ones I've seen used have been made with what appear to be chicken feathers, natural and undyed. I would really enjoy seeing one made of flicker tails, woodpecker, or really anything that was made thoughtfully. Again, not trying to encourage anyone to materials not legal to possess.
On hair roaches: The original question or porky and beard fiber is still plausible, just no evidence to support it in the east, before the occuarnce of modern powwow and tourism trade era. I believe the use of them is due to ignorance and availability of them as a made product. Like many items in this "hobby" people often buy what is in front of them, and deamed close enough. I've seen people wear roaches made of plastic fiber at powwow, because it is what they had available or for much less cost. Kind of like buying 85%wool to make anything.
I have also found most people portraying "Native" to mix tribes and cultures without much thought. That may be because it it difficult to accurately replicate enough gear for multiple events a year, and actually understand the combatants involved. I've been asked to portray different tribes at the same event just an hour apart on a proposed schedule! People don't generally understand that there are really fundamental differences between First Nations, just like in continental Europe. Shoot, maybe easier to understand just in the UK. England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, etc are all very different with their own languages and customs all in an area smaller than Michigan.
Maybe another question that should be asked is should I wear this item into a war scenario, or is it more of a village/special occasion item? But then, how much time to you get to show or explain the difference at a public event?
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Re: Porcupine hair or tukey beard roaches?

Postby Ken Hamilton » Fri Mar 30, 2018 6:16 am

Hello Ed,
War or Peace. Interesting that early IMAGES of "Eastern Warriors in combat usually depict head ornaments. Every case? In other words I can't think of one image that does NOT show a head ornament?

So if Red deerhair roaches ARE used in combat (as well as social occasions) then why not feathered ones too. Both can be put away when sleeping or heavy rain, although a feather roach seems to stay much better intact and have less of a crushed appearance if one DOES sleep in it. To put a deer roach away one might well do what they do today and put it over the end of a round base ball bat end section with a smooth nail or wood stick through the scalp lock braid hole and wrap it down around the wood with some material like ace bandage, cloth or even braintanned deerskin. THis extra equipment is not cumbersome especially if one travels by canoe, horse, toboggan or even on foot for the last leg of a raid. The "trekker minimalist" would never do this but a Native would :P
Heck, "trekker minimalists" guys don't bring a mirror, razor, paint kit, paint wipe rags or tattoo pen etc... to keep up an "image" of what would have been a semi permanent appearance (like facial and specific body tattoos, plucked beard and head, prosthetic detached ear-lobes, and other "traditional" body alterations. (see what efforts the good Natives go through for YOUR "living history experience"!!!!!!!!)

Of course, in the North, one will find that these head ornaments are not vey helpful when trying to wear a French Tuque, capote hood, or French Tappaboard hat (all well noted in the 17th cent for example) and was an immediate and obvious issue learned from living history "in the field". But what do we know, we don't have a Ph.D, ha ha.

Personally, I have a small bunch of striped mini-spike feathers tied to my scalp-lock which I sleep in all the time without issue...... But one could also have a small finger woven/beaded tab/fob, ribbon or bead strings like wampum, small hawk bells, or a quilled leather "Wapegnaka" (Sioux word for "bull's tail" if I recall correctly) etc??? Evidently these are common enough to be placed on the wrist lanyard of MANY war clubs a s a 'war trophy" :!:

Ed....The big Indian Social in Bangor next weekend (Sat. April 7th at the Shriners on outer Broadway).

Ken
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