Page:The American Indian.djvu/77

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.

the shortness and other characteristics of the fiber. In this case, the fiber must be made into a roving and then twisted from each end under the necessary draft, or tension. Thus, in the New World, we find that wherever cotton or wool are spun, a stick or spindle is used to facilitate the twist and to wind the finished thread. In Europe, spinning was by the whorl and distaff method; the spindle, being provided with a whorl or fly-wheel, was twirled and dropped, its weight providing the draft, and the momentum of the whorl the twist. There is yet no reason to believe that this method was practised in the New World before its discovery, the draft here being given by a pull of the hands, the spindle resting in a bowl on the ground, or simply held in the hands. The New World whorl is, therefore, not a true whorl, and was often dispensed with, as seems to have been the case in parts of Peru.

The uniformity of the aboriginal method of spinning cotton is clear when we compare such studies as Roth's[1] for the less cultured peoples of South America with the processes used in Old Peru. On this account we are scarcely left any other alternative than to conclude that the cotton complex of the entire New World is essentially one, as is the maize complex (p. 28), and that it was likewise diffused from a single center. Just what may be the relation between the wool and cotton complexes is not clear, for we have the salmon area peoples spinning wool and not cotton, and again the buffalo-hair spinning of the Mississippi Valley. As to how the latter was spun, we have no precise data, but in the salmon area a form of the characteristic New World spindle method was used.[2] Cotton could not be raised there, obviously.


The making of string readily suggests nets, a form of textile almost as world-wide as fiber twisting. Accompanying the art are two implements: the shuttle and the mesh gauge. Unfortunately, no careful study of the net technique and the distribution of the implements is available, but one who reads Rau's searching paper on modes of fishing[3] will see at a glance the importance of the problem. First, the manner of tying

  1. Roth, 1910. I.
  2. Kissell, 1916. II.
  3. Rau, 1884. I.