The Perfect Parfleche

What is a parfleche?

  • A parfleche is a Native American bag or pouch usually made from dried, stretched, buffalo hide.
  • It held dried meat (pemmican), nuts, medical herbs, and small treasures.
  • The original bags were decorated with symbolic maps of the surrounding areas, often depicting important rivers and mountains.
  • They were later painted in bright, geometric designs, probably to distinguish the owners.


  • Flat parfleches were around 2′ x 3′ in size, and they folded over like an envelope that was tied together with hide laces.  They were perfect for carrying on the side of a horse.
  • The Sioux also made larger raw-hide boxes and tubes.  These were used as suitcases for storing and transporting headdresses, feathers, clothing and moccasins.



Encyclopedia of Britannica, “Parfleche: American Indian Art” at

Wikipedia, “Parfleche” at

State Historical Society of North Dakota, “Parfleche” at


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