Saturday, 7 January 2012

Capote and metis sash

This sash is from the 17 th. century

metis sash

Robert Kennicott the American naturalist was at Portage 
La Loche in 1862. Later that year he had these pictures 
taken with the clothes he was wearing on his expedition. 

Robert Kennicott in 1862
In this "Carte de visite" Kennicott is wearing a double breasted capote
(a knee length wool jacket with a hood) tied at the waist
with an Assomption sash (metis sash) and a marten fur skin fire-bag.
His pants are trimmed with ribbon on the outside seams and on the cuffs.
He is wearing a toque on his head. The pants are tied just below the knee                
with garters ending in tassles. On his feet are beaded or embroidered
moccasins. This type of clothing was worn by the French
Canadians and French Canadian Metis of the North West.
Adding colors
The colors of the capote may have been light blue or grey with white buttons.
The toque and the sash could be colored in shades of reds, blues and yellows
and the pants a dark blue with a yellow accent.
The garters may have been red and yellow and made of silk.

Father Emile Petitot  met Kennicott at Portage La Loche in 1862.
Petitot commented on the clothes of Bernard Rogan Ross, the chief 
factor of Fort Simpson who had accompanied Kennicott to the Portage.
My translation of Petitot's descriptions of Ross and Kennicott:

"On July 22 there came from the other side of the Portage a factor of the
Hudson's Bay Company dressed as follows: wool shirt of red and green
squares of Scottish design bordered with yellow 
ribbon stuck in a pair of white pants with purplish red stripes. Around the 
waist an assomption sash. Just below the knees were garters embroidered with
glass beads and adorned with tufts of red silk that hung like scalps. On the
head a florentine toque of green velvet ringed with silk embroidery.
No shoes, no boots but immaculate white Chipewyan moccasins embroidered 
with silk of many colours. This fantastic costume, very elegant,
is characteristic of the "Grand Nord". It was well worn by a little Irish clerk, 
with black eyes and great sideburns, who came to meet Governor Dallas,
that his Iroquois canoemen had brought to Portage La Loche. The chief factor
of Fort Edmonton M. Christie accompanied him."

"The Irishman was followed by a young American naturalist, very smart,
petulant, who talked through his nose by the name of Kennicott.
He also wore a costume of the "Grand Nord" on which he had embroidered in
white ribbon a lizard, a butterfly, a turtle and a snake, the emblems of his 
livelihood. We might say that he looked like a clown of the new "Cirque".
The lovers of science ,we say, are all original and a bit crazed but the
naturalists that we meet in the remote areas of America seem to 
be a unique breed."   ...from "The History of La Loche"


Kennicott describes his fire-bag on January 18, 1862. 
"It (the fire-bag used for carrying flints, steel, touchwood, pipe, knife, etc., etc., by all voyageurs, in place of pockets)
is made of a fine, large marten skin, and is the bonniest one in the district."

page 203 of the "Transactions of the Chicago Academy of Sciences" (volume 1)

Note: The use of a prime fur as clothing or accessory is unusual. Trade furs were too valuable to wear. 
HBC blanket capote

Hurons de Jeune- Lorette
..white capote 1840 Quebec

Tying a metis sash: two quotations

Two ways to tie a sash: military style and metis style.

1."First I have to say that military sashes are different than civilian or metis sashes. I found this on-line somewhere regarding tying military sashes. It works good on that type but not so well on the metis style.

Tying a Sash (military style)

Hold the end (leaving the fringe lose) in the middle of the front
Wrap the sash around the body (keeping it snug). 
The length of a sash usually allows it to make 2 1/2 wraps. 
When the wrapping end is about the desired length of hang, pull the end up from the bottom underneath and over the already wrapped sash kind of like cinching up a horse saddle. 
Then pull the hanging fringe from the middle of the front around to the overlap and give it a tug. 

It should give a very snug hold without the knot and it lies flat. 

When your finished, both hanging ends of the sash should be about even (this is were it takes a bit of trial and error in finding your starting point). By adjusting how much is left hanging in the front when you start you can even up the ends. The sash can then be slid around the body to position the hanging ends wherever you want. 

As for my metis sash I've taken to using a four-in-hand knot which can be tied in the front and moved to the side or back and has the advantage of being adjustable so it can be tightened if necessary.

I've also seen people use a square knot." 

2."There is some way to tie a sash in a flat knot, but I can never remember it. Instead, I just tie mine in front into a square knot. If you study paintings of guys wearing sashes (Rindisbacher and Kreighoff are good), and take a look at photos of Métis from the mid to late 1800s, you'll see them knotted in front, behind, and on either side. No rhyme or reason to it, just personal preference. And most look to be plain knots.

Those guys wore the sash all day, every day ---it was their belt. Study those old paintings and photos, then tie it how and where it's comfortable for you." 

......weaving a metis sash information and videos

Artist Paul Kane ...Scene in the North West...Portrait of John Henry Lefroy 1845-1846
John Lefroy, holding a rawhide gun case with red accents, is wearing a white capote with a dark hood with trim. A decorated bag hangs from his assomption sash. He is wearing a pair of mitts on a string with red and green cuffs, a pair of red leggings (over trousers), with garters just below the knee and moccasins with snowshoes. 
His companion, also on snowshoes, is wearing the same type of clothing and carrying a rifle in a bag. The two dogs harnessed to the toboggan are wearing bells on their backs and on their collars. Each has a small blanket on their back one red and one green.

A Dene Metis from La Loche, Saskatchewan (1920) Boniface Janvier  is wearing a metis sash with
the ends tucked in (or lengths of rope) and metis garters tied just below the knees. He is carrying a rifle, snowshoes,
a HBC blanket, an axe and a kettle. The jacket reaches to just above the knees and he is wearing
a cap. He is possibly heading north of the Clearwater River to a cabin on his trap line for the winter.

Knee garters or leg ties may simply have held the pant legs up so the cuffs would not drag on wet, icy, snowy or muddy ground below the moccasins.  The leg ties on the Boniface Janvier photo above appear to be strips of cloth tied with a knot. 

This was painted by Peter Rindisbacher  in the 1820's in the Red River area. It shows a man with a whip dressed in a blue capote elaborated decorated with multicoloured ribbons, an assomption sash, red leggings (and or trousers) with ornamented cuffs, garters below the knees, mitts joined by a red string and a type of head covering (either a cap or a toque).
This capote may be in two pieces with a hooded short cape that reaches to just above the elbows and worn over the top of the capote.
The man with a rifle in a case breaking trail in snowshoes is wearing a decorated hide buffalo robe with fur on the inside, a pair of blue pants with red cuffs, moccasins and a red hood with a feather.
The passenger in the carriole is probably a 'man of importance' and great care will be taken to bring him safely to his destination.
The three dogs pulling the sleigh are covered in small beaded red blankets with yellow accents. They have sets of bells around their necks and additional bells sticking out above their collars in a colourful display.

a pair of metis more about metis textile

"Leg ties or knee garters, as they were often called, were used by the Native Americans and adopted by the people of the frontier. They serve a practical use as well as being decorations. The garters held leggings in place and protected the kneecap." more

link.........a pair of decorated more.....see a Red River Cree Metis coat from 1875 more on headgear.....hats, toques, scarves etc

link.............. about breechcloths and leggings about Leggings-Mitasses-Botas