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Clad with the 'Hair of Trees': a history of Native American Spanish moss textile industries

Carocci, Max (2010) Clad with the 'Hair of Trees': a history of Native American Spanish moss textile industries. Textile History 41 (1), pp. 3-27. ISSN 0040-4969.

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1179/174329510x12670196126485

Abstract

This article examines textile industries related to the plant known as 'Spanish Moss' (Tillandsia usneoides) that were developed by Native Americans over the centuries. In revising the known historical accounts that mention this plant either as garment or as domestic textile, it reveals a widespread and refined empirical knowledge of Spanish Moss ecology that continues into the present day with important implications for the maintenance of cultural continuity and identity among Native Americans of the southeast United States. In this first, comprehensive look at documents that make reference to the plant, indigenous North American Spanish Moss textiles and garments are analysed from an anthropological perspective that highlights the significance of social and cultural meanings embodied in objects. The framework provided by this perspective indicates how a comparative anthropological interpretation of past records that mention Spanish Moss textile industries can be useful to reconstruct hidden, or poorly known histories of textiles. Whilst data generated by a fresh look at the sources can enrich the existing literature about the plant, they simultaneously contribute to further developing methodologies suitable to an understanding of culturally specific knowledge associated with weaving and manufacturing processes.

Item Type: Article
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Arts > History of Art
Depositing User: Administrator
Date Deposited: 21 Feb 2011 09:17
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2013 12:20
URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/3090

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