Cliffrose Bark Skirt

Cliffrose Bark Skirt
What: The bark the Paiute woman used for a skirt came from the shrub called Cliffrose or cowania, also known to the Paiute as Buckbrush. Skirts, blankets and diapers were made out of this bark since it did not itch like the juniper bark.

The Cliffrose is a stout shrub with shreddy bark and small lobed leaves which are white beneath. When in bloom it has 5 rounded petals and numerous yellow stamens. They have a weather-beaten appearance. The few pistils have long plumose styles which become 2 to 3 inches long in bloom. It grows on rocky slopes and mesas. The larger size shrub is found near the North rim of the

Grand Canyon and the lower slopes of the Kaibab mountain. The Cliffrose can also be found on the Kaibab-Paiute reservation. The shrub found on the reservation is smaller then those found at higher elevations.

The bark skirt is made by first shredding the bark from the trunk of the shrub in long strands. The strands are then placed over a waist cord made of yucca fiber and then attached by twining yucca fiber to hold the strands in place, leaving enough fiber at the end to tie the skirt on to the body. The yucca fiber for the waist cord is made by cutting the long sword shaped leaf of the yucca plant and then by pounding the leaf shaft with a rough rock to remove the outer wax like covering. When the outer covering is removed, the long fibrous material starts to appear. It is then pounded more gently until most or all the fiber appears, it is then shredded by hand and made into long stringy fibrous strands. After the strands are made it is then made into a rope or braided and then used for the waist cord. When the skirt is complete it is trimmed to above the knees.

The Kaibab Paiute Indians made these skirts. The winters on the Arizona Strip can be very cold at times. They had to use what was available to keep them warm. The photo below shows other items made out of Cliffrose.

Bark items: mat, bag, skirt, leggings
Bark items: mat, bag, skirt, leggings

Last updated: February 24, 2015

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