Brain Tan hides:
The purpose of this guide is to acquaint the reader with the use, purpose, and basic knowledge of brain tanned hides. The how-to of brain tanning, I leave to the more experienced teachers.
The origin of brain tanning animal hides is often attributed to the First Nations People or Native Americans.
It has been noted that any animal has enough brain material to tan its own hide. The brain makes the tanned hide very soft and nearly snow white.
The method of brain tanning is very labor intensive, with much scraping of the hide. The process is well worth the labor involved when you see the results; a beautiful soft hide.
Although deer hide is most often though of, when brain tanning is mentioned, buffalo, elk, bear, and even smaller animals can be tanned in this fashion.
After the brain tanning process is complete, the hide is often smoked over a fire to achieve the golden color you often see in brain tanned buckskin. This color is even referred to as "buckskin".
Different wood can be used to achieve different colors and smoked scents in the hide. Books can be purchased on brain tanning. Most all Beadworkers, who strive to keep to traditional beading methods, will use brain tanned hides.
My apologies to brain tanners for this very elementary explanation of their 'art'. For it is an art form to produce such beautiful animal hides for clothing, and other articles of everyday use, such as beaded knife sheaths, purses, pipe bags and moccasins.