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Porcupine Quillwork

The use of porcupine quills in embroidery is one of the oldest decorative traditions among American Indian tribes. The practice predates European contact by hundreds of years and was replaced gradually by glass beads brought by white traders. In the museum, we have an example of quillwork from the Sioux tribe as adornment on a pair of moccasins.

Once harvested from the porcupine, quills were washed and sorted by size. Quills that are between two to three inches long are ideal for crafting. Porcupine quills are naturally white in color with black tips. Plant materials such as sunflower for yell...

 

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