Off-Topic | Jeriah Hildwine

December 24, 2009 · Print This Article

Ghillie Suits

Guest post by Jeriah Hildwine

Bob Jones, Ghillie Suit.

Recently on display at 65 Grand was An Object In The Woods, featuring artwork by Bob Jones.  One of Jones’ works is titled Ghillie Suit.  I hardly needed the title to know what it was about; I’m quite familiar with that soft-edged overspray of Krylon Camouflage Ultra-Flat spray paint (available in Brown, Olive Green, Black, and Khaki) anywhere, particularly with the telltale silhouettes of foliage (in this case hay).  The association is a fond one, and the work fits well into Jones’ theme.  It is a distinctly rural image, the quintessential “object in the woods.”

A ghillie suit is a garment intended to provide the wearer with concealment, typically in a wooded environment (although desert and snow versions do exist).  The most common etymology is that the garment was named after the gillies (“lads” or “servants”), who were Scottish game wardens tasked with protecting a landowner’s game from poachers.  These gamekeepers sometimes wore suits of shredded rags to help them blend in with their surroundings, either as a form of portable hunting blind or to conceal themselves from the poachers they were pursuing.  The suits entered military usage with the Lovat Scouts, a Scottish Highland unit of the British Army formed during the Second Boer War (1879-1915).  This unit served as sharpshooters, and were in some ways the antecedents of the military sniper, who remain the primary users of ghillie suits to this day. Read more