Hide Grainer

Hide Grainers

Bone hide grainers are found on proto-historic Wichita sites in Oklahoma. They are represented by flattened pieces of cancellous bone which have been used in the tanning process for hide or skin preparation. Several examples have been found at the Bryson-Paddock site in Kay County, Oklahoma, but they have not been reported elsewhere in the state.

The hide grainer was made from the joint end of a large bone, usually the large leg bone of a bison, which was trimmed or abraded so that a large flat area of the cancellous portion of the bone was exposed (Figure 31). This flat spongy surface was used like an abrader to rub and smooth the surface of hides which were being prepared for bedding or other purposes. The hide grainer with its abrasive surface could be used to smooth out irregularities in the thickness of the hide or to remove hair or fatty tissues during the tanning process.


It is suspected that these artifacts were more common than the present archaeological record suggests. The cancellous portion of the bone is more subject to weathering and erosion than the harder parts of the shaft and outside surfaces; consequently, unless the specimens are well preserved they may not be recognized as artifacts but may be considered as bone refuse.

In other sections of the plains, the cancellous portions of bones were sometimes used as paint applicators. These artifacts, however, are usually smaller in size, show more careful shaping, and still have pigment imbedded in the spongy pores of the bone. As far as is known, the cancellous bone paint applicators have not been found in Oklahoma.

Table of Contents