A Breechcloth? Just what is a Breechcloth anyway?

bannerHowdy!  And Happy Tuesday to you!

Today — again — I will be giving away another couple of free e-books today to a couple of lucky bloggers.  One of those books will be my newest release, BLACK EAGLE.  So come on in and leave a message.  Please also be sure to read about our rules for these free give-aways.  If you click on the link to the right here, called Give-Away Guidelines, you’ll see that there are some rules.  Not many.  But they are important.  One rule that I like to stress is that you must come back to the blog to see if you are the winner.  Some sites contact you if you are a winner, but we here at the Junction don’t.  I usually post the winners Wednesday evening — so do check back then.

Okay, on with the blog.  In my writing of the American Indian way of life, I’m often struck by the fact that the men of all tribes of American Indians (save those in the far-far north) wore breechcloths.  Really…  Now, I don’t know about you, but I find the breechcloth quite sexy, so I thought I’d talk about just what the heck they were…or are.

A breechcloth generally looked like this.  They were a style of clothing worn by all American Indian men (and sometimes very young girls until they were of an age to wear dresses).  The breechcloth didn’t just hang down in front and in back like some people might like to believe — they hung over the belt then dipped down on the other side of the belt, and up again in back and again hung over the belt in back, so that if a flap were pulled up, a man would look as though he were wearing underwear.

Off to the right here is another drawing of a man wearing a breechcloth, but this time it’s being worn with leggings —  leggings were a sort of “pant” which were usually made from some soft, yet durable material, like buckskin.  Often the seam that sewed the legs of the pant together were decorated with a fine line of fring or beadwork.  But the breechcloth was a garment that was worn primarily and almost continually.   Often in summer the breechcloth was worn without leggings, which would look something like this picture off to the left.

I guess it might be easy to understand why the Europeans who first came here and met the Indians might have thought they wore too little — and vice versa — to the Indian the sun was a source of food (which it actually is — vitamin D3) and so to cover the body while in the sun seemed mighty foolish to the Native American.  It’s perhaps stating the obvious that many a feminine eye (when no one was looking of course) might have been studying that breechcloth.

The picture off to the right here is one I particularly like — it is of a Lakota chief, Big Eagle.  I have this picture in my files, but I must admit that the picture that I have is a little more stunning than this one is.  But you can clearly see the breechcloth.  Now to the Amerian Indian woman looking at the men — the wearing of  a breechcloth — even if only worn alone — was as common a sight to see as we might think of looking at a man in jeans.  Of course there are men wearing jeans…and then there are men wearing…JEANS.  Probably the same would have gone back then.

Here to the left is another picture of a breechcloth.  Briefly, for those interested, to make the breechcloth wasn’t too difficult.  The breechcloth was made from a long piece of skin or cloth.  It was about 10 or more inches wide and could be as long as about 5 feet.  The clothing usually fell, depending on the style of the tribe, to about a hands width above the knees.  The material, if a skin, was softly tanned, and it became the standard piece of clothing that a man wore almost always.  If leggings were worn, as in the picture here, they were usually made from single skins, were usually form fitting and had a seam that ran along the seam of the leg of the animal used.  They were cut so that the hip portion was higher and slanting toward the crotch for comfort and for a good fit.  The upper part of the legging was tied to the belt and oftentimes another garter was used to hold the leggings to the front, so that it didn’t slip.

And here are some of my favorite pictures of the breechcloths on men.  This picture to the right is from the movie, Dances With Wolves.  I’ve always liked this picture — to me it says alot — including the study of these men, watching of the buffalo.

I’m not certain what movie this picture was from — but I do like it alot.  Although this picture is of Native American actors of today, it has all the flavor of the past.  It is, indeed, one of my favorites.

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed this rather intriguing discussion (picture-wise) of breechcloths.  So tell me, if it were you and you were seeing a man wearing a breechcloth  for the first time, do you think you would have stared?  Now be honest.

Once when I went to a pow-wow long, long ago, there was a man who was dressed in breechcloth and little more.  I must admit that it was hard not to watch him — and, indeed, he had quite a few ladies following him at that pow-wow.  A friend of mine, Michael Badnarik, tells a story of being at an art show and a fellow showed up in breechcloth and leggings.  Michael remarked that he’d never seen so many women stare at a man.  Is there any wonder why?

But to the American  Indian it was nothing more than the standard way in which a man dressed, especially considering that the sun was considered in the same light as food.  What do you think your reaction would have been…if any?





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KAREN KAY aka GEN BAILEY is the multi-published author of American Indian Historical Romances. She has written for such prestigious publishers as AVON/HarperCollins, Berkley/Penguin/Putnam and Samhain Publishing. KAREN KAY’S great grandmother was Choctaw Indian and Kay is honored to be able to write about the American Indian Culture.
Please refer to https://petticoatsandpistols.com/sweepstakesrules for all contest rules.

28 thoughts on “A Breechcloth? Just what is a Breechcloth anyway?”

  1. I love the culture of Native Americans. My family descends from Cherokee and Shawnee. I also love your books. Thanks for the chance to win. 🙂

  2. I’ve been reading historical romance novels since I was a young teen. I always liked the idea of a breechcloth. Nothing wrong with “easy access”. Never know where you’ll be when that urge to pee hits. I think early Americans were jealous of the freedoms that Native Americans experienced because of the fact that they didn’t sexualize everything.

  3. Thanks for a chance to win. I guess being a modern woman, and he had a nice body… But having Sioux (Hunkapapa tribe) blood in me, enjoyed the facts behind the breechcloth.

  4. Thank you for the chance to win ,I love the Native Americans culture .Love all books on the Native Americans. They are very in tune with the land.

  5. I am not quite sure how I would respond but I think I would have been fascinated. You always write such intriguing posts. Thanks

    • Hi Debra!

      I know when I saw that man, I looked. Couldn’t help myself. I did try to be discreet, though. : ) They don’t dress like that usually at pow-wows — so it was something to see.

  6. Adam had his leafirst covering, the Indians had their own version. .. I liked the Indians idea better!

  7. Hi Karen! Another very interesting blog! I think I would have glanced once or twice too at a man wearing a breechcloth! Also of a man wearing fitting jeans just right! Love the way my Husband looks in jeans!! Thank you for having another chance to win your book!!

  8. You bet I would take a peek at a man wearing a cheesecloth and I mean a peek!lol! I love reading Native American books! I started reading them over 40 years ago. On my mom’s side of the family, her grandmother or great-grandmother(I forgot what she said)married a Cherokee. I’m so happy I found this website! Also thanks for the giveaway.

    • Hi Donna!

      The Cherokee were such a rich people — by that I don’t mean wealth materially — I mean rich in the sense that they were wise, smart and tolerant of other ideas. : )

    • I meant breechcloth not cheesecloth. I’ve been sick with a sinus infection and have been sicker than a dog. I don’t know why the saying “sicker than a dog” that I’ve heard for years(from mom, don’t make sense, but I say it all the time, lol! So back to my earlier, I even reread it before I hit send, and it didn’t even catch it. Sometimes I’m an idiot. I still would have peeked if it was a cheesecloth,heehee!!
      I talked to mom last night(she lives with me now,she’s 93) and we figured it out, it was her great-mother that was married to a Cherokee. Mom’s grandmother lived with them when mom was real young. Mom’s grandmother talked about her mom and the way she lived. Mom can’t remember all what her grandmother said.

      • Hi Donna!

        Wow! I wish I could so easily trace my lineage — my father did years and years ago, but that’s been lost to us for ages. All I know is the his mother had Choctaw heritage — the Choctaw lived close to the Cherokee.

        You know I do that all the time — type something thinking of something else. : ) All part of the fun.

  9. Have seen men in breechcloths for years. Actually, the first I saw were not here in the US. A variety of native cultures around the world wear a variation of it. I saw my first on the men of mountain tribes in the Philippines. Here I have seen them worn at pow wows. I also made one for our son when he was younger as part of his regalia.
    The picture above with the two men with the pinto horses has the title of what it was from – INTO THE WEST. This was a miniseries that aired on TV several years ago. It was an excellent exploration of the westward expansion from both the settlers’ and the native american perspective. It did not sugarcoat the difficulties and the impact. It came out in 2005 and starred Joseph M. Marshall (Actor), Irene Bedard (Actor) . It is well worth watching. It is available from Amazon for sale. I don’t know if you can still borrow it somewhere.

  10. Hi Patricia!

    Thanks for your insight again. I’m intrigued that you saw the mountain tribes in the Philippines in breechcloths. I also see them at pow-wow’s — but seldom in leather or deerskin and only wearing the breechcloth. : )

    The series INTO THE WEST sounds good. I so seldom watch TV or movies anymore — and when I do it’s usually on a recommendation. Somewhere along the line, I got disenchanted with all the propaganda and no longer had the stomach to watch. We don’t even own a TV anymore — and when we watch anything it’s usually on the computer. : )

    The series sounds fascinating.

  11. Thank you for the interesting post and the informative pictures. We haven’t had a TV for over forty years. Our computers give us what we need. When our children were in school they would go to a friend’s house when there was a required show to watch–it made it more fun for everyone, just like a party and discussion group. They did a lot more reading and their grades were better and nobody rushed from the dinner table to catch a certain show. It strengthened our family.

    • Gosh, Whitney, me, too. Although I grew up with TV and my kids did, too — I was very strict on TV and what they could watch. But nowadays, there’s so much propaganda on the TV and things pushed that I find objectionable, that I just skip it. Don’t miss it at all. In fact, I get a lot more things done because I don’t have TV — nor do I watch movies. : ) But I certainly do read alot.

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