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Miwok Material Culture: Indian Life of the Yosemite Region (1933) by S. A. Barrett and E. W. Gifford


THE HAIR

Adults wore the hair long, sometimes to the waist. It was allowed to flow loosely, was made into a simple knot, or was gathered into a bunch at the back of the head, being tied at the neck with a string called weka (C). It was not only tied, but doubled back on the head, in hot weather or when hunting. It was never worn in gummed rolls, after the Mohave style. Both sexes often used a feather rope or boa to tie the hair at the neck or on top of the head; also at times a head band (tcīta'ka, P; hele'la, N) of plucked beaver skin, about three fingers wide and ornamented with beads.

The hair was cut, with an obsidian knife, only as a sign of mourning for some near relative. It was hidden away or buried with the corpse, to prevent its falling into the hands of some malicious shaman, who might cause illness or even death by placing certain medicines upon it and performing special ceremonies over it.

The hair was brushed with the soaproot fiber brush, plate XXXVI, called caka'nī (N) and sakani (C). This was the brush used in connection with grinding meal; sometimes the identical brush might serve both purposes.

The seeds of a plant called yatcatca (C) were put in the hair when one was without lice, as they produced the same feeling as lice. They were picked out in the same way. Feathers were worn frequently in the hair. Flowers, too, were worn, particularly as wreaths. The showy flowers of the Tiger Lily, Lilium pardalinum (palauda, N; palauta, C), the bulb of which was said to be poisonous, were used for wreaths, as were also the flowers (kayu, C) of the Common Monkey Flower, Mimulus guttatus (puksa, C). The flowers of another Mimulus (hosina, C) were twisted in the hair by children. The yellow flowers of a plant called yonotolu (C) were also used for wreaths. Men used a comb (ta.isa, C), made of about ten small sticks of mountain mahogany, tied side by side with milkweed fiber strings.

The hair net (wayaka, C), (plate LXII, figs. 3 and 4) was worn for dancing, gambling, and when wishing to be dressed up about the house. It was not worn when hunting. Sometimes young women wore the hair net, when dressed for dancing, but it was not worn by old women. The chief might wear daily a hair net, sometimes a beaded one. Other men usually did not wear a hair net daily, as this was regarded as the chief’s privilege. A hair net of cotton string, from West Point, Calaveras county, is forty-six inches long. It is number 64514 of the Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University.

The hair was washed and lathered with soaproot (palawi, C) every few days, as it was believed to make it grow luxuriantly. Each person washed his own hair, at the creek in warm weather, at home in cold weather.

The men had naturally a considerable growth of hair on the face. Some allowed it to grow and wore a beard of fair size, called mū'sūli (P) and mūsūpe'lū (N).85 Others plucked the beard. The body hair was never plucked. The leaves of the white fir were placed in the axillaries by both men and women as deodorizers, when perspiring excessively.

———
85Gifford, 1917, pl. 6.



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