Popular Science Monthly/Volume 50/March 1897/The Cliff-Dweller's Sandal

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ONE of the commonest elements in any picture of modern Latin America is the cargador, or porter. Upon his back may be seen water, merchandise of every sort, in curious receptacles, supported and held in place by a strap across his forehead

PSM V50 D696 Chasque runner from peru.jpg

Chasque Runner between Chililaya and Puno, Peru, wearing Single Toe String. (Wiener, Perou et Bolivie, Paris, 1880, p. 593.

or across his breast. His dress also is the quaintest mixture, partly old, partly new, of the primitive aboriginal and of the later European cut and stuffs. But at present we are concerned with his feet and their gear. Underneath is a sole of hide, harness leather or sole leather as the case may be, cut in the form of the foot and having a hole through the front and gashes through the margin just beneath the ankle. About the foot is the lacing, consisting of a narrow strap knotted at one end, drawn up through the hole in front between the first and the second toe, then carried over the back of the foot through a side gash, where it makes a half hitch, then backward over the heel to the other gash, making another half hitch, thence over the instep, where it is tied into itself to complete the round. There is another style in which the toe string is omitted, a cross lacing over the top of the foot and above the heel like that on a west coast baby frame, holding the sole to the foot. There are many varieties of these types, as may be seen in Wiener's Pérou et Bolivie, pages 676-681.

The geographical and chronological distribution of the sandal first named is most suggestive. So far as the National Museum collections teach, this form occurs throughout the Japanese area, but nowhere in Korea or China. By climate it is debarred from Manchuria, Mongolia, and all Siberia, and it is not seen in Tibet.

But both the Japanese type of sandal and the divided mitten-like sock occur again in Kashmir and countries westward and southward. Thence this sandal is found in southern Asia, and has walked all about the Mediterranean for thousands of years. It was the footgear of the Melanochroic Caucasian from very early times. The Mohammedans have scattered it here and there in Africa and thence wore it into Spain. The Latin peoples that conquered middle and South America introduced there for the first time in the history of the Western world this sandal with the single toe string.

Before that there were in America fur boots in arctic areas, buckskin moccasins down to the borders of the arid region, and thence southward the foot was protected by a sandal, not of raw-hide, for there was none in existence, but of fiber in various kinds of plaiting, and kept on the foot by lacing all round the border and by toe strings and toe loops inclosing toes No. 2 and 3. Fortunately, the meager collections from the cliff dwellings in the United States National Museum are abundantly supplemented by the materials in Cambridge and in the University of Pennsylvania. Through the courtesy of Prof. Putnam and Mr. Stewart Culin I am able to say that the ancient sandal of Arizona and New Mexico never had the single toe string between toes No. 1 and 2. The old types were either of rawhide slashed about the margin, or of fiber with loops about the margin, or of fiber with strip or loop inclosing toes 2 and 3. The examples shown in the plate are from the cliff dwellings of Arizona. Fig. 1 is in the basketry stitch of northern California, "twined work" on a warp of yucca twine in two layers; the weft of Apocynum is treated precisely like that of the Ute, Apache, California, and some mound-builder fabrics, by twining two filaments about the warp strands. Decorations are inserted by varying the color and the overlapping of the warp. The lacing is better shown in the next example.

Fig. 2 is of Yucca angustifolia fronds not shredded, but plaited diagonally in the manner most widely spread over the Western world. The lacing consists of toe loop, heel loop, and string. The last named commences on the instep and is looped about the toe loop, the heel loop on the right, over the instep and about the heel loop on the left, back to the starting point and knotted.

Fig. 3 is of coarser yucca fiber shredded somewhat, and plaited more coarsely than Fig. 2. The lacing is on the same plan as in

PSM V50 D698 Sandals made from the yucca plant.jpg


Fig. 2, but the knots are all at the toe loop, and the entire lacing is in one piece.

Fig. 4 is quite different from the other three, and is practically woven on four coarse warp strands, by wickerwork, the thick ends of the leaves being left on top and shredded to form a soft bed for the foot. The toe loop is as in Fig. 2. Many sandals of eastern Asia are woven on the same plan, the long ends of the warp being left underneath next to the ground.