Friday, November 19, 2010

Attitude and Gratitude—Leather and Lace

Thanksgiving is days away. We have a great deal for which to be thankful and ought to have an attitude of gratitude. What does all of this have to do with cowhide rugs, you ask - ? Everything! The Pilgrims and Indians alike were very grateful for LEATHER - and we are too.

The holiday goes back several centuries, to 1621. In early autumn, the 53 surviving Pilgrims of the Mayflower celebrated their successful harvest, as was the English custom. During this time, according to Edward Winslow’s writing Mourt's Relation , about ninety Indians came by with their great king Massasoit. The Wampanoag had lived in southeastern New England for thousands of years. They were farmers, fishermen, and hunters in a seasonal cycle. They hunted with the Pilgrims and their contribution to the Thanksgiving meal was venison. This meant there were animal skins to be cured and tanned, which probably became part of the gift to the hosting Pilgrims.

Massasoit was the most powerful leader, (also know as sachem) of the several tribes of the Wampanoag nation. His headquarters, located forty miles southwest of Plymouth, MA, was in Rhode Island. At the time of the first Thanksgiving, Massasoit was in his middle years and securely established as a strong, dignified and subtle leader. Because his people had been devastated by disease and were vulnerable to the powerful Narragansett tribes, Massasoit's mission among the Pilgrims was to forge an alliance. And not just with the Europeans, but with other Native groups. He intended to ensure his people's survival. His relationship with the Pilgrims, part of his active diplomacy, was strengthened when Edward Winslow saved his life in 1623.

Under their covenant, the two cultures shared expertise and food, farming and fertilizing methods. (Yep, it was the Indian who taught the Pilgrim to bury fish in the furrows so the plants had the proper nutrients to grow strong and produce a good crop.)

Both cultures wore leather shoes: the Indians were soft and pliable with durable soles; the Pilgrims hard and heavy soled. The Pilgrim bound his books and papers in leather; the Indian relied on oral histories. Both used hides for protection against the elements in clothing and shelter. They just used them in different ways. Leather, like true friendship, was prized because it was durable.

Leather has been prized throughout history, and remains a solid gift idea for giving. An elegant and unique cowhide rug makes a great gift for this holiday season as well - especially for those who are hard to buy for.

We have a great deal to be thankful for this holiday season. We can relax on our cowhide pillow against the back of a comfortable leather couch and enjoy our decorator cowhides hanging on the walls. Ahhh, what a great setting to read more about the early settlers and Pilgrims. What’s this book? James Fenimore Cooper’s Last of the Mohicans. Looks very interesting. Lots of leather in the cover picture.