parfleche envelope, plateau montaine, 19th century Native American Indian antique vintage art for sale purchase auction consign denver colorado art gallery museum


Parfleche Envelope

circa 1870
hide with pigments
34 x 16 ½ x 2 ½ inches
View Additional Images
Additional Information 

A parfleche container in an envelope form, finely painted in an abstract design. Makes a stunning wall hanging alone or in a grouping with other parfleche or can be placed on a shelf or Stand.

This was created by a North American Indian living in the Plateau cultural area - encompassing portions of what is now northern Idaho, western Montana, northeast and central Oregon, eastern Washington and southeast British Columbia. The tribes from this region include Kalispel, Flathead, Kutenai, Palus, Coeur D'Alene and Nez Perce.

Parfleches are rawhide containers which were fundamental to the Plains way of life. Functioning essentially as protective travelling suitcases, they enabled the nomadic tribes to effectively pursue buffalo herds and migrate between seasonal camps. So critical were they to a nomadic existence that over 40 tribes are known to have historically produced parfleches. Collectively, these tribes inhabited an area which encompassed the entirety of the Plains, as well as the parts of the Southwest, the Transmontane and Western Plateau regions. Parfleches were, out of necessity, robust and versatile objects. They were designed to carry and protect within them anything from medicinal bundles to seasonal clothing or food. In fact, it was because of the containers? robusticity and variety that parfleches earned their name in the Anglo world. Derived from parer (to parry or turn aside) and fleche (arrow), the word parfleche was coined by 17th century French Canadian voyageurs and used to describe indigenous objects made from rawhide. Despite their common utilitarian function, parfleches served as one of the major mediums through which Plains Indian tribes could develop their long-standing tradition of painting. In fact, it is in large part due to the parfleche that tribal style emerged. Even though parfleche painting developed simultaneously with beading and weaving, painting as an artistic tradition held particular importance in tribal culture. Believed to have evolved from tattooing, it had always been used as a conduit through which tribal and individual identity could be expressed. As such, many tribeswomen were deeply committed, some even religiously, to decorating their parfleche either with incised or painted motifs that were significant to them and/or the tribe. For some tribes, such as the Cheyenne, the decorative processes which surrounded parfleche production were sacred. For others, it seems that their parfleche designs shared an interesting artistic dialogue with their beadwork, indicating a more casual exchange of design motifs. This particular relationship can be seen in Crow parfleche/beadwork motifs. Nevertheless, each tribe contributed a unique element to parfleche design. The painted and carved motifs we see today vividly demonstrate just how highly evolved the Plains artisans? sense of color palette and spatial composition was. In recent decades, this appreciation for parfleche painted designs has inspired many modern artists.

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
1 + 0 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.



David Cook Galleries welcomes you to submit quality American art for an information evaluation and consultation.

Since 1979, David Cook Galleries has been relied upon by sellers seeking to upgrade, liquidate or alter the focus of their collection. David Cook Galleries consigns/purchases individual items as well as entire collections and estates. The gallery sells on a consignment basis as well as purchases outright. If you are interested in selling your item(s), we ask that you start by submitting images and information via this form. Please note: the gallery does not evaluate works created after 1980 or works that are outside our area of focus.

If you are seeking an appraisal, please click here to visit our APPRAISALS page.

If you would like to discuss the work you are interested in selling, We are also available by phone at 303.623.8181 Tueseday through Saturday, 10:30am - 6pm.  Messages are checked regularly outside our hours of operation.

All information received is held in strict confidence.


  • Paintings and 2-Dimensional art: include image(s) of the back of the piece with details of any notations, signatures or labels
  • An image or scan of any documentation which accompanies the piece including bill of sale, appraisal, letters or other information that pertains to the history/origin of the artwork.
  • Maximim file size of each image is 2mb.  If you have additional files or are unable to re-size your images, please fill out the form without emails and notate the issue in the comments section.  We will reply with the correct email address to send the images to.

Contact Information:

Please attach digital image, if available. We accept jpg, gif, psd, and bmp files. Larger files will take longer to upload.

Artwork Information: (please include as much of the following information as possible)

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
5 + 1 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.