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The Izze-kloth or Medicine cord is a sacred cord worn by Apache medicine men that is believed to confer strength and special powers of healing to the wearer.[1] The izze-kloth is usually made from strands of animal hide and its length punctuated with beads and shells.[2] Often, an izze-kloth has four strands, each dyed a different color (usually, yellow, blue, white and black).[3]


The izze-kloth holds great sacred symbolism and people regarded as unbelievers in the cord are almost never permitted to view, touch or discuss it.[4] Nineteenth-century ethnological reports on Native American beliefs often commented on the difficulty in understanding the purpose and use of the izze-kloth because "the Apache look upon these cords as so sacred that strangers are not allowed to see them, much less handle them or talk about them."[5]

See also


  1. ^ Patricia D. Netzley, Apache Warrior, KidHaven Press, 2002, ISBN 978-0-7377-0989-6, "... a pouch filled with pollen from various plants that they thought would given them extra strength. This bag was tied to a cord called an izze-kloth, or Killer of Enemies, which was wrapped around the warrior's body from right shoulder to ... Braided from four strands of hide, the izze-kloth was made by a di-yin specializing in war ..." 
  2. ^ Garrick Mallery, Picture-Writing Of The American Indians, Kessinger Publishing, 2006, ISBN 978-1-4286-0732-3, "... varieties of the izze-kloth or medicine cord of the Apache. A condensed extract of his remarks is as follows : These cords, in their perfection, are decorated with beads and shells strung along at intervals, with pieces of the sacred green chalchihuitl ..." 
  3. ^ Allan A. Macfarlan, Paulette Jumeau Macfarlan, Knotcraft, the practical and entertaining art of tying knots, Courier Dover Publications, 1983, ISBN 978-0-486-24515-7, "... Each strand of these izze-kloth cords was dyed a different color. The colors generally used were yellow, blue, white, and black, and many of these necklaces were decorated at intervals with olivella or other shells ..." 
  4. ^ James Hastings, Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics: Part 2, Kessinger Publishing, 2003, ISBN 978-0-7661-3670-0, "... The izze-kloth, used by leaders and laity alike, is the most sacred emblem the Apache possesses, so much so that it must be ... both the izze-kloth and the medicine-hat losing their efficacy when in any way handled by an unbeliever ..." 
  5. ^ Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology, Annual report of the Bureau of American Ethnology to the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, Issue 9, Government Printing Office, United States Government, 1892, "... There is probably no more mysterious or interesting portion of the religious or 'medicinal' equipment of the Apache Indian, whether he be medicine-man or simply a member of the laity, than the 'izze-kloth' or medicine cord ... the Apache look upon these cords as so sacred that strangers are not allowed to see them, much less handle them or talk about them ..."