Breechclout



Abreechclout was a garment designed to cover the genitals. Although breechclouts were worn by some women in the Southeast and by young girls before puberty in many tribes, they were an important male garment that symbolized male sexuality and power in many tribes. Breechclouts were worn by men in every Native American tribe, with the exception of those living in climates warm enough to wear nothing at all. Breechclouts could be made out of bark fiber, grasses, feathers, tanned beaver, rabbit, raccoon, deer, buffalo, or other animal skin, or woven cloth. (When made of cloth, breechclouts are referred to as breechcloths.)

There were many different styles and sizes of breechclouts. The Kiowa Indians of the Plains wore breechclouts of tanned leather with flaps that hung to the knees in both the front and back. Sauk Indian men of the Northeast often wore only a painted red, snuggly-fitting breechclout, fastened with a belt. Both male and female Eskimos wore a fitted breechclout indoors; they looked much like modern-day underwear. The Pueblos of the Southwest wore beautifully embroidered breechclouts made of tanned leather or woven cotton.

A Native American man wearing several items of traditional Indian clothing, including a breechclout. Reproduced by permission of © .
Breechclouts could be very simple unadorned strips of hide or elaborately decorated with paint, beads, fringe, or embroidery.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Hofsinde, Robert. Indian Costumes. New York: William Morrow, 1968.

Hungry Wolf, Adolf. Traditional Dress: Knowledge and Methods of Old-Time Clothing. Summertown, TN: Book Publishing Co., 1990.

Paterek, Josephine. Encyclopedia of American Indian Costume. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 1994.



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