The term "Metis half-leggings" originated in the mid-1800s when indigenous employees of fur trading companies wore xe’xépil (leggings) below the knee to protect expensive cloth trousers from wear. The Metis are an indigenous Canadian people, settling primarily in western Canada, but also in some parts of the northwestern United States. Though the specific creator is unknown, these xe’xépil (half-leggings) were most likely made by Nimíipuu (Nez Perce) peoples, but in the Metis style, due to the influence or direct interactions with Metis peoples. This particular set of xe’xépil (leggings) was most likely made in the early 1900s/20th century.
This pair of Metis xe’xépil (half-leggings) is made from buckskin and embroidered with beads in various floral patterns. This pattern is representative of the Metis style beaded floral pattern, a design borrowed from the eastern Woodland tribes. The xe’xépil (leggings) have buckskin fringe and are adorned with beaded flowers and leaves in a variety of colors, including pink, green, yellow, blue, black, red, and white.
Image 1: This photo provides an overview of one xe’xépil (legging) (1986.2.1b) in the pair of Metis xe’xépil (half-leggings). As seen in the museum tags/labels in the photo, each individual xe’xépil (half-legging) in the pair is separately cataloged as 1986.2.1a and 1986.2.1b, respectively. The other legging (1986.2.1a) is behind the xe’xépil (legging) in this photo. The individual xe’xépil (legging) in this photo (1986.2.1b) is fringed and has embroidered beaded flowers and leaves along the right side in the photo/left side if being worn.
Image 2: This photo showcases the second xe’xépil (legging) (1986.2.1a) in the pair of Metis half-leggings. Similarly to the other xe’xépil/ (egging), this individual xe’xépil (legging) is also fringed and embroidered with beaded flowers and leaves. In contrast to the other xe’xépil (legging), this xe’xépil (legging) (1986.2.1a) has the embroidered beadwork on the left side in the photo/right side if being worn.
Image 3: In this photo, one can see the intricate beadwork embroidery detail in an individual xe’xépil (legging) (1986.2.1b). This flower is composed of beads in various colors, including black, white, yellow, green, red, and different shades of blue.
Image 4: This photo showcases more of the beaded floral pattern on the xe’xépil (leggings). These three flowers/plants are embroidered vertically along the right side of one legging (1986.2.1b) and are composed of beads in various colors, including pink, black, white, yellow, green, red, and different shades of blue.
Image 5: This photo displays additional beadwork embroidery detail of the flowers on one individual xe’xépil (legging) (1986.2.1b). This floral pattern is located in the upper right hand corner of the xe’xépil (legging) above the buckskin fringe. The embroidered flowers and plants are composed of red, blue, black, pink, and mutliple shades of green beads.