Replica of a North American, colonial buckskin shirt. Replica of a North American, colonial buckskin shirt.

Buckskin is the soft preserved hide of an animal, such as a cow, deer, elk, moose or sheep. The English term ‘buck-skin’ derives from the word ‘buck’, meaning a male deer. The first recorded English use of the term dates back to AD 1433. Since 1804 the term has also specifically referred to a sheepskin that is processed in order to look like buckskin.

Buckskin is made by scraping the skin on both sides in order to remove fat, flesh and hairs. This process is called fleshing. The skin is preserved (tanned) using a dressing made from any emulsified fat, such as animal brains mixed with water, egg yolks, or an oil and soap mixture of some kind. The skin is stretched, and the dressing is evenly spread over both surfaces and then the skin is physically manipulated in order to make it soft and pliable. The dressed skin is left to dry. The final stage is to smoke the tanned hide in wood smoke, which prevents it from becoming stiff when wet. The smoking also helps to deter insects.

Source: Shorter Oxford English Dictionary: 'Buckskin'.

Digital source of illustration (retrieved 27 June 2016).


Last modified on Thursday, 27 April 2017 08:25
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