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


SOAPROOT BRUSH

The soaproot brush, caka'nī (N), was a hair brush, a scrubber for cooking baskets, and a mealing implement. It was made of fibers from the dry, outer layers of the soaproot (Chlorogalum pomeridianum), palawi (C), laid so that the natural curvature of their bases nested. They were bound temporarily with a withe (plate XXXVI, fig. 1), and the loose upper ends wrapped with a string to produce a handle (plate XXXVI fig. 3). The inner part of the soaproot bulb was then scraped to make a mucilaginous dressing which was thoroughly worked into the handle. Upon exposure to the sun and air for a day or two this became very hard. Sometimes pine pitch was used instead of the soaproot juice. Plate XXXVI, fig. 4, shows one of these newly made soaproot brushes, while figures 5 and 7 of this same plate show examples of these brushes which have been so much used that they are worn down. Figures 2 and 6 are good examples of the soaproot brush in prime condition.


EXPLANATION OF PLATE XXXVI.

Soaproot brushes used as meal and hair brushes.

Figure 1. Soaproot leaves bound with a twig and ready for the application of soaproot juice or pitch to make the handle. Spec. No. 1-9954 (N).

Figure 2. Soaproot brush in prime condition, Spec. No. 1-9926 (N).

Figure 3. Soaproot brush made of fibers bound with string but not held together by any adhesive agent. Spec. No. 1-10176 (C).

Figure 4. New soaproot brush, showing newly applied soaproot juice to make handle. Spec. No. 1-10245 (S).

Figure 5. Very old and much worn soaproot brush. Length 123 mm. Spec. No. 1-9955 (N).

Figure 6. Soaproot brush. Spec. No. 1-10268 (C).

Figure 7. Very old soaproot brush. Spec. No. 1-9973 (N).

Neg. No. 5966.

Soaproot brushes used as meal and hair brushes.
[click to enlarge]


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