In the 19th century, L’Assomption, Quebec, was the centre of production for braided sashes known as ceintures flechées. The style of braiding was practiced by First Nations peoples and adapted into the classic flat-braided sash worn by French fur trappers and farmers. The sash-making cottage industry flourished in L’Assomption until the late 19th century, when the Hudson’s Bay Company began importing cheap, loom-woven imitations from England.
Where was this textile created?
Sash (ceinture flechée)
North America: Canada, Central Canada, Quebec, L'Assomption
Late 19th century
20 cm x 205 cm
Gift of Lloyd Solish
T89.0158 Textile Museum of Canada
At first glance this sash seems to be woven, but when you look more closely you see the diagonal plaiting of a wide, flat braid, made of several fine strands of tightly spun wool. The term flechées refers to the typical arrowhead design, created by the interchange of the colours.
Whether the ceintures flechées originated in First Nations or European textile practices, it is justly famous as a remarkable type of braiding. Try making a braid with eight or twelve strands of yarn and you will appreciate the skill of the makers who braided with upwards of 100 strands to make a sash.
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