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Sinew Cordage

Sinew is made from the ligaments and tendons of an animal's body.

Tendons and ligaments are made of thick, closely packed bundles of collagen fibers.
Tendons form flexible cables that connect a muscle to a bone. Ligaments are similar to a tendon, but connect one bone to another bone.

The tendons of large animals such as big horn sheep, deer, elk, moose, and bison were used for sinew.





The tendons would come from the animal's hind legs or from along both sides of the spine beginning at the neck and running just past the ribs.

In the illustration at right, the tendons from an animal's hind leg are colored red, blue and yellow. These are the tendons from which sinew would have been produced.











Sinew is very strong and is an excellent material for thread, bindings, and bowstrings.



The sinew was prepared soon after the animal was slaughtered. It was scraped clean with an obsidian tool to remove all the natural glue. Then the sinew was soaked in water, and rubbed between the hands to soften it.

After the sinew was rubbed, the fibers could be stripped off with an awl or a sharp obsidian tool.

To process the tendon into cordage it could also be pounded with rocks or chewed in the mouth to soften and loosen the fibers.

Sinew cordage was applied moist so that it became stiff as it dried. Sinew thread was used for sewing clothing.