Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky

Fabulous exhibition at the Met. Beautiful Indian artefacts from pre-contact to present time. Headdresses made from crow and eagle feathers, one feather for every notable victory in battle. Saddle bags, called parfleche envelopes, ornamented with porcupine quills and glass beads. Buffalo skins drawn with stories of war and hunting or with abstract patterns involving the Thunderbird, a guardian spirit. Pipes carved in the form of human effigies. A long courting whistle in the shape of a snipe. Graceful and concise wooden sculptures of buffalos small enough to be held in the hand. Horse masks. A long cherry wood branch transformed miraculously into a snorting galloping horse. A drawing with the silhouettes of more than 80 species of animals, birds and fish that made up the living environment of a people. A winter count chart, on which the the tribal historian drew a picture representing each year, and so provided the storyteller with a mnemonic: the 80th winter shows the lynching of three Native Americans. Hypnotic, creative, spiritual, tragic: the remnants of a lost world.



Image from Met website

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