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Curated Submission
Quebec, Canada
19th century
DIMENSIONS in centimetres
205 x 20
Materials & techniques
Wool; Finger-woven
Gift of Lloyd Solish
Textile Museum of Canada T89.0158

Fur traders often wore a ceinture fléchée, a brightly coloured sash with flowing fringes, together with a felt hat trimmed with ostrich feathers, as they journeyed by canoe from Montreal to trade with the Iroquois and other First Nations peoples. This wool sash was also worn in Quebec by both the bourgeois and the habitant classes. Tied around the waist over the jacket, the ceinture fléchée was fashionable and provided protection from the cold. In western Canada, the sashes were adopted by the Metis and became a symbol of their identity.

The sashes themselves became an important trade item, and arrow patterned sashes were produced in large numbers in L’Assomption, Quebec, during the 19th century. While this sash appears to be loom woven, it is plaited in a diagonal “arrowhead” design with lightning zigzags (éclairs) on either side of the red centre line, or heart (coeur). This complex technique referred to as finger weaving is not known anywhere else in the world with the exception of Scandinavia, but is widespread in North and South America. It is likely the French settlers borrowed this technique from their Iroquois neighbours and elaborated on the process to create the distinctive multicoloured sashes.

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