This sash looks woven, but is actually plaited using a finger-weaving technique that is widespread in the Americas, yet mostly unknown elsewhere. French settlers likely borrowed this technique from the Iroquois. Fur traders wore these sashes, together with felt hats trimmed with ostrich feathers, as they journeyed by canoe to trade with First Nations peoples.

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    North America: Canada, Central Canada, Ontario, Ottawa Valley

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    North America: Canada, Central Canada, Quebec

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What role did the ceinture flechée play in the political relationship between the French, the Iroquois, the British and the Metis?

responded: Jan 25, 2012

Posted by Karly Hill

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The ceinture flechee is a finger woven sash that dates back to the late 18th century, worn by natives and early settlers across what is now Canada. It is crafted using an arduous finger weaving technique that creates an exceptionally tightly woven textile that is almost water resistant due to its finely woven structure. It was worn by the habitant, or working class, as well as the upper, bourgeois classes around the waist over the winter outerwear to keep the frigid northern wind from entering under jackets and pants. It also served to provide back support to labourers such as fur traders who had to carry heavy loads. It is debated whether it originated among the Iroquois peoples or the European settlers, the Iroquois had traditionally used finger weaving techniques but the materials used in making the ceinture flechee weren’t present until the settlers had colonized Canada. In the west it was seen as a symbol of the Metis people who turned it into a staple in the Metis wardrobe even adapting different patterns to represent certain families or villages much like The Scottish tartan patterns differentiated clans. However in the east it was more associated with the French-Canadiens and Acadian people. It is a symbol of the Lower Canada Rebellion 1837-38 which was a battle between the British Colonials and the people of Lower Canada, which is present day Quebec. The French-Canadiens sought to make Lower Canada an independent republic from the British Empire, and to this day the ceinture fleche is worn in Quebec during the winter carnival by the mascot, ‘Le Bohomme’ to celebrate French culture. The ceinture flechees’ association with the Lower Canada Rebellion is part of the political role that this garment played in representing the French rebels against the British.

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