Thursday, July 31, 2014

Smoking the Shield

















Smoking the Shield, as painted by George Catlin, 1837-39

“The Sioux shield [is] made of the skin of the buffalo's neck, hardened with the glue extracted from the hoofs and joints of the same animal . . . This skin is at first, twice as large as the size of the required shield; but having got his particular and best friends (who are invited on the occasion) into a ring, to dance and sing around it, and solicit the Great Spirit to instill into it the power to protect him harmless against his enemies, [the young man] spreads over it the glue, which is rubbed and dried in, as the skin is heated; and a second busily drives other and other pegs, inside of those in the ground, as they are gradually giving way and being pulled up by the contraction of the skin. By this curious process, which is most dexterously done, the skin is kept tight whilst it contracts to one-half of its size, taking up the glue and increasing in thickness until it is rendered as thick and hard as required.” (Catlin, Letters and Notes, vol. 1, no. 30, 1841; reprint 1973)

Smithsonian American Art Museum
(Link)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments have temporarily been turned off. Because I currently have a heavy workload, I do not feel that I can do an acceptable job as moderator. Thanks for your understanding.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.