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Par fleche is a French term which translates as “By Arrow”.  In the 19th century, Ute Indians made par fleche of special hand-scraped rawhide parcels to hold valuables. Debra Box is a Southern Ute Indian who makes various object of par fleche rawhide. These lightweight rectangular leather ornaments are painted with earth pigments in traditional Ute designs. These designs are distinctive, and they show well on a southwest Christmas tree. Debra’s work wins prizes at Indian Markets. Each par fleche ornament is three inches by an inch and a half (7.5 cm. X 3.8 cm.) Three sterling silver jump rings and beads dangle from the bottom edge, catching light and moving when the special par fleche ornament is touched. 


To make par fleche leather is a labor of love. Debra uses techniques like those her grandmother and great-grandmother used. Debra goes to a slaughterhouse and buys cowhides. She places each hide in a garbage can with hot water and Tide detergent to cut the grease and loosen the hair. The cowhide is rinsed daily. After three or four days, Debra takes the hide out of the water and laces it on a wooden frame so it can air dry for a week. Then she takes a hide scraper and scrapes the fat and fatty tissue from both sides of the hide. After both sides are free of hair and fat, she places the hide in the sun and rotates it every day so that both sides get sunlight, which bleaches the leather. She keeps the hide bleaching for three weeks. When the hide is white, she takes the hide off the frame and begins to cut it for her creations.  

Par Fleche Leather Christmas Ornament

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