NATIVE AMERICAN INDIAN OSAGE woman's beautiful silk ribbon work leggings. This antique pair of leggings is made of beautiful blue wool broadcloth or stroud cloth with a 6 color band mohair selvedge or list. On Osage woman's leggings the list is at the top, while on men's leggings it usually runs the length of the leg down the back. This pair has two different bands of China silk ribbonwork, one for the front and one for the back. You must look good going and coming. The use of broadcloth is interesting and the best book written and illustrated on the subject is: " The Tradecloth Handbook" by Carolyn Corey. Osages love their broadcloth, and when they became so wealthy from oil production in the late 1800's and early 1900's they traveled to Europe and demanded the import of this beautiful wool. The use of silk ribbons to create very small intricate geometric designs is another Osage characteristic. The colors of ribbons on this pair are: one side: shell or peach, gold, ruby red, ivory, olive green and hot pink: the other side is: the same gold, purple, ivory, and hot pink. The ribbon work is sewn on a sewing machine, in this case a treddle machine. Both front and back side edges are edge beaded in opaque white beads. The ankles have been trimmed in a stronger gross grain purple ribbon.
CONDITION: Very good. The wool is clean and I don't see any holes. The China silk ribbon is deteriorating which is characteristic of it. China imported the silk and they were paid by weight, smart as they are, they weighted the bolts with salt. Helped them, but aided in the breaking down of the silk. Because of the break down it helps us to date this pair of leggings. The edge beading is perfect and the ankle ribbons are soiled but good.
SIZE: The leggings are custom made for the individual and are hand sewn and shaped to fit from the knee to the ankle, so measurement is wider at the top than the bottom. The leggings would have had ribbons or braided wool strands to tie around them to use as garters. Length: 21 1/4": Width: Top is 11" and Bottom is 8 1/2". Ribbon work panels each are 1 3/4" wide. List at top is: 1 1/2" wide.
CIRCA: Possibly late 1800's, but absolutely early 1900"s. The Osage women loved their warm leggings and even into the late teens you would see them wearing fashionable shoes with their leggings ( silk panels were on the inside).
SPECIAL NOTE: If you have an interest in native ribbon work, the best book is: "Scarlet Ribbons" American Indian Technique for Today's Quilters, by Helen Kelley.
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