Bone shuttle and instruments for twine making - Plate 28

Bone Shuttle

Last Updated on April 2, 2013 by Dennis

Bone shuttle and instruments for twine making - Plate 28
Bone shuttle and instruments for twine making – Plate 28

In making their mats or rude lodge-tapestry, and other coarse fabrics, the aborigines employed an instrument of bone, of a peculiar construction, which has the properties of a shuttle. It was designed to introduce the woof in preparing these fabrics, as they did, from rushes and other, flexible materials used for the purpose. The art was rude,” and of a kind “to fall into disuse, by the coast tribes, as soon as European manufactures were introduced. It is therefore, when found in opening graves, &c., a proof of the ante-European period.

One of these antique implements, herewith figured, (Plate 28, Fig. 1) was disclosed about- 1835, in opening an old grave, in the course of some excavations which were undertaken within the enclosure of Fort Niagara, N. Y. This grave must have been older than the origin of that fortress the foundations of which were laid by La Salle among the Seneca Iroquois, in 1678.

This instrument is constructed of finely polished bone. It is ten and a half inches in length, perfectly round, about one eighth of an inch in thickness, and has a double barbed head one and a quarter inches in length. Between the barbs, is a mouth or slit, which would enable it to carry the thread across and through the warp. The instrument is slightly, curved, probably owing to the difficulty of finding one of so fine a quality, perfectly straight.


Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe. Archives of aboriginal knowledge. Containing all the original paper laid before Congress respecting the history, antiquities, language, ethnology, pictography, rites, superstitions, and mythology, of the Indian tribes of the United States. Philadelphia, J. B. Lippincott & Co. 1860.

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