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


SKIN DRESSING

All skin dressing was done by men. The hide was staked out on the ground. Deer hides required no scraping, but bear hides did. A deer hide dried in three or four days. Then it was soaked in a creek for two days. Thereafter it was removed and allowed to drain. Next it was put in a basket with a lubricant solution of pulverized boiled deer brains (lū'pet, S), in which it was soaked overnight. The following morning it was removed, wrung out, and pulled, rubbed, and worked to make it pliable and soft. It was thus worked continually until dry, except that the workman stopped for meals. Sometimes the hair was left on; sometimes it was removed by scraping with a sharp tibia. In such a case the hide was put over a post or small stump and the scraper (lutaa, C) drawn down. This natural scraper required no shaping or sharpening, but could be put to immediate use as soon as the flesh was removed from it.

A bear hide was staked out, hair side down, and covered with rotten wood from a hollow tree, to absorb the fat. This was stirred frequently and then the hide was scraped with a sharp-edged piece of wood with long grain. This scraper was called saka (C). The process was repeated for four or five days. There was no dressing as with deer hide, the bear hide being left stiff and hard. Bear skins were used as seats and beds by chiefs only.

Brains were used on any skin which was to be softened, e.g., a fox or wildcat skin. When available, fresh brains were used, but a deer brain cake was made to preserve the brains for this special use. The fresh brains were intermixed with a long water grass, called ki'si (S). This was then made into a discoidal cake, called koso't (S), and dried for preservation. When needed such a cake was boiled for about an hour, and the solution allowed to cool until lukewarm. In specimen 1-10005 cooked deer brains are enclosed in a small bag formed of deer scrotum and tied at the top with a string.



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