Corn husks are the dried husks of the corn plant and are used primarily to wrap tamales. Corn husks hold the tamales together and help keep them from drying out. Tamales are a popular food item in Mexico, and also enjoy some fame in the US. A Tamale is made by wrapping a filling of meat (usually seasoned pork or chicken) in a shell made of corn meal dough called Masa. The individual tamales are then wrapped in corn husks and tied off at the ends, then cooked by steaming. Tamales originated as military rations. Their corn husk wrappers filed with protein and carbs made tamales ideal for traveling warriors in the early days of the American continent. In addition to meat fillings, tamales can be filled with traditional sweet mixtures of dried fruits to make a sweet tamale. Modern kitchens fill the Masa and corn husk shells with many different mixtures of meat and/or vegetables and fruit. Although popular in North America, tamales can also be found in Central and South America and the Caribbean.
Corn husks have other uses. Corn husk dolls are a traditional native American craft. They play a part in creation stories of Native American tribes. The most common legends suggest that the Creator made a corn husk doll for some purpose and released her amoung humans. Over time the corn husk doll eventually came to see herself as beautiful, and the vanity lead her to misbehaving and subsequent punishment. That's why traditional corn husk dolls have no faces. Corn, beans, and squash play a big role in Native American mythology. They called them the "three sisters" or "the sustainers of life". Today corn husks are used in other crafts, everything from flowers to wreaths to masks. Inexpensive and easily obtained, corn husks have many uses!