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date: 25 January 2022

Abstract and Keywords

Elaborate rituals, from the cleared space of encounter to physical gestures and gifts, developed over the course of the sixteenth century in La Florida as Native met European. Searching for a common symbolism between cultures is often limited to those items that both groups recognize and use in a similar fashion. Those are frequently reduced to lived experiences, or the material culture of the body: food, shelter, and clothes. Almost all early Florida encounter rituals involved the body: touch, perception, and presentation of physical form. As this code developed, clothes became one of the most common methods of achieving connections as individuals chose items of dress to do some of the work of cultural interpretation that resonated with their own experiences and parent cultures. Beginning with early Spanish Florida and moving chronologically as other European powers entered the region, this chapter explores how these metaphorical encoding and decoding sessions developed. In the discursive and physical worlds of the early American southeast, textiles were key metaphors for connection and recognition. By the end of the sixteenth century, many Native groups from Carolina to Florida had a working knowledge of European textiles and their metaphorical role in the rituals of encounter.

Keywords: cloth, clothing, encounter, exchange, Florida, metaphor, ritual, status, Spanish, translation

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