Rons Primitive Skills

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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Tule uses

Tule Scirpus lacustris was once a very common plant here in the central valley of California. The valley floor was a maze of marsh's and lakes. The water table was close to the surface and it was a very delicate balance. Some marshland disappeared naturally but most succumbed to man. When the settlers moved in they drained the marsh's for agriculture thus driving out the natives and the plants that depended on the marsh environment. The natives used the tule for so many things: boats and rafts, mats to cover their houses, mats for sleeping on, mats for floor covering, clothing such as rain shawls and skirts, hats, dolls and other toys, duck decoys for hunting, basketry, and other uses. If you look at a tule reed head on you will notice it is made up of long tubular air pockets. This is why it floats so well and why it is such a great insulator. Dead air space is one of the important insulators in survival situations such as debris shelters and layered clothing.
At a recent basketry demonstration my wife and I bought some articles made from tule by the local Native American folks. All of these are simple designs, but elegant art work.


Miniature berry gathering basket head on view. The handle is redbud bark.
A side view of the basket.
A tule doll.
A duck decoy. The head was tied in with the twining. Some were used like this, others were covered with feathered duck skins.
 

1 comment:

buzzard said...

what wonderful crafts, excellently done