PAINTED PICTORIAL BUFFALO
Lot Sold. Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium: 43,750 USD
width 100 in. by height 90 in.
from Morning Star
Star Gallery, Santa
Fe, Summer 1991, p. 35
OF THE SMOKI MUSEUM,
PRESCOTT AZ, SOLD TO BENEFIT THE PRESERVATION AND DISPLAY OF THE
EARLY AND RARE UPPER MISSOURI RIVER PONY BEADED HIDE BLANKET STRIP
length 64 in. by greatest width 11 in.
to the Smoki Museum
by Barry Goldwater, AZ
the mid-19th century,
bison skin robes were the most common upper garment worn by males,
and the only winter garment for either sex. For ease in fleshing
and tanning, hides were usually split down the center and re-sewn.
The blanket strip, developed as a solution to hide the seam which
was created in the process, became an important part of Native
costume as well as status symbol.
strips were in use
long before artists such as George Catlin and Karl Bodmer arrived
in the West in the 1830s and documented them in their drawings
and paintings. Strips were originally decorated with porcupine
quills but by the late 18th or early 19th Century Native artisans
were incorporating large globular glass beads from Venice, also
known as "pony beads," as seen in this example.
material that pre-dates
1850, as this strip does, is extremely rare; this blanket strip
is one of four known to exist.
comparable example, please
see First American Art, The Charles and Valerie Diker Collection
of American Indian Art, University of Washington Press, 2004,
p. 108, cat. No. 56.
PAINTED HIDE PARFLECHE
length 27 in.
POLYCHROMED WOOD COMB
Lot Sold. Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium: 146,500 USD
height 9 3/4 in.
from Christie's London,
June 1983, lot 101
related example and a
brief discussion see Stephen Phelps, Art and Artefacts of the
Pacific, Africa and the Americas, The James Hooper Collection,
London 1976, p. 323 and p. 308.
Allen Wardwell, 1996,
Tangible Visions, The Monacelli Press, New York, p. 208: "Shaman's
wore both combs and hairpins during curing ceremonies as well
as when not practicing. They are decorated with both spirit helpers
and what appear to be crest emblems."
Sotheby's New York,
December 1998, lot 434; and Sotheby's New York, October 2006,
lots 23 and 24.
POLYCHROMED WOOD FINIAL
Lot Sold. Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium: 43,750 USD
height 30 in.
OR HAIDA POLYCHROMED
WOOD HEADDRESS, OR FRONTLET
height 7 1/2 in.
convex form, finely carved
with a depcition of an eagle, inlaid with brilliant plaques of
Holm, The Box of Daylight:
Northwest Coast Indian Art, University of Washington Press, Seattle,
1983, p. 19: "From the farthest northwestern reach of Tlingit
country at Yakutat Bay, southward along the coast to the middle
of Vancouver Island, dancing chiefs wore crowns as elegant as
rich material and sculp&SHY;tor's skill could make. Traditions
of the tribes assign various places of origin to the dancing
but, whichever is correct, it must have been somewhere in the
north. Some were collected very early in the historic period,
one of the most beauti&SHY;ful by Malaspina in 1791 (Feder
fig. 4). The features of the headdress are the same wherever it
is worn: a cylindrical frame - often made of strips of whale baleen
and covered with cloth - from the back of which hangs a long panel
covered with rows of white ermine skins; an upstanding circlet
of the long, springy whiskers of the Steller's sea lion; and a
spectacular plaque carved of hardwood, painted and inlaid with
abalone shell on the fore&SHY;head. This plaque, or frontlet,
is carved to represent a crest or a mythical character. The figure
in the center is surrounded by a flange that is usually
with inset plates of brilliantly iridescent aba&SHY;lone shell.
Inlays of the same shell flash from the eyes, teeth, and joints.
Sumptuous materials sur&SHY;round the intricate plaque. Often
the crown is cov&SHY;ered with a band of swan skin, luxuriant
with white down, or ermines flank the frontlet. On Haida and Tlingit
headdresses the plaque is often framed by rows of orange and black,
spear-shaped tail feathers of the red-shafted flicker, with a
band of iridescent green and black mallard head-skin across the
dance must have traveled
from tribe to tribe with the headdress as its use spread over
the coast. The dancer appears with blanket and apron and often
a raven rattle (Holm 1972:29 and Holm 1983). Knees slightly bent
and legs spread, he jumps on both feet to the time of the song
beat - &SHY;short jumps, feet hardly off the floor, making the
ermine rows covering his back jump in turn. The blanket was spread
by the wearer's arms or elbows. The crown of sea lion whiskers
holds a loose fluff of eagle down when the dancing begins. The
whis&SHY;kers rustle and clatter as the dancer bobs and tosses
his head, shaking white whisps of down through the whisker barrier
to swirl around his dancing fig&SHY;ure. The white down means
peace, or welcome, to the guests at a potlatch. Chiefs dance to
greet canoes invited from far villages. Canoe-borne
dance in turn, and the swirling down from their headdresses drifts
shoreward on the wind and over the host and his tribe on the beach.
Among the Kwakiutl and their relatives, the dance is a preliminary
to the appearance of a figure masked as a crest of the headdress
dancer, who, possessed, runs from the house. In its rich composite
of material, form, and movement, no Northwest Coast object expresses
the ideas of rank and heredity, super&SHY;natural power, drama,
and aesthetics so well as the dancing headdress."
PAINTED AND CARVED
length 26 in. by height 15 1/2 in. by width 16 1/2 in.
POLYCHROMED WOOD FRONTLET
Lot Sold. Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium: 92,500 USD
height 6 1/8 in.
TSIMSHIAN POLYCHROMED WOOD
length 16 in.
shallow domed cap, carved
at the front with an animal's head, probably a bear or wolf; composed
of birch, abalone and copper.
R. Johnson Gallery,
Duryee Collection, Seattle
Ellis Gallery, Dundas,
Loeb Collection, Seattle
Art Museum, September
15, 1983-Janaury 8, 1984
Art Museum, February
19-May 10, 1998
Holm, Box of Daylight,
University of Washington Press, Seattle, 1984, pl. 51
C. Brown, Native Visions,
University of Washington Press, Seattle, 1998, pl. 4.46
written assessment on
this piece by Steven C. Brown: "Clan hats on the Northwest
Coast include a broad range of sculptural types and manifestations.
Some are woven spruce-root hats with painted crest-emblem designs
and often status rings attached, and some of these further have
sculptural embellishments in the form of animal heads or dorsal
fins fastened to the hat. Wooden hats that are essentially versions
of the woven hat shape vary from ones with just painted, or painted
and carved, crest-emblem designs to examples with sculptural
integral to the hat. These sculptural features often represent
the heads and/or body parts of crest animals and are usually displayed
in conjunction with two-dimensional design details painted and
carved into the surface. Another general type bypasses the woven
hat form entirely and employs just a sculptural representation
of the crest animal image, which has been hollowed out to accept
the head of the wearer on the bottom of the carving. The format
or composition of the animal figure can vary widely, with some
including just the salient features like the head and fins or
wings, while others include the entire body and limbs of the image.
The subject hat is one of the latter type, and is composed as
a crouching bear-on-all-fours perched on top of the wearer's head.
features suggest the
Tsimshian attribution for this sculpture. These include the rounded
head and slim, rounded snout of the bear, the thin lips, the rounded
modeling that suggests an underlying bone structure about the
eyesockets and cheeks of the face, the small, thin limbs of the
bear, and the extensive use of red (and some white) dashing in
thin lines on the body to represent the long, reddish hair of
the grizzly. The ears are unnaturalistically large, but their
upright, rounded silhouettes reflect the appearance of alert bear's
ears. Abalone inlay enhances the eyes and teeth, and the incisors
are small pieces of copper sheet inset into the mouth. The blue
paint that covers most of the face is a typical characteristic
of animal masks from this area, and though this shade of blue
is a little darker than is commonly encountered, it is within
the usual range of variation that exists in the mineral sources
of the color. It appears therefore to be a native pigment, and
the slight flaking of the paint suggests that the paint binder
is the traditional salmon-egg protein. The bear's mask-like head
is slightly elevated in an alert and aware attitude, which would
further lift the bear's visage above the wearer's head. The bear's
fore and hind legs are slightly separated from the lower rim of
the headgear, which would serve to accentuate the free sculptural
form of the image atop the head of its owner. The slightly asymmetrical
tilt or turn of the bear's head adds greatly to the lively and
alert appearance of the sculpture. A pair of small holes appears
on each side of the hat rim just above its lower edge, which probably
accommodated a thin tie-thong to secure the sculpture on one's
exception of the U-shaped
formline elements in the ears, there is no two-dimensional design
work displayed on the headgear. Changes in formline design style
over time provides an evolutional scale that can assist in dating
undocumented objects. The style of the design elements in these
ears, though, is enough to suggest that the bear was carved around
the mid-nineteenth century or earlier. The U-shapes are fairly
broad in character, which is consistent with the early historic
period style of formline design. The dashing painted on the body
is a feature most commonly seen in the Coast Tsimshian region
of the northern Northwest Coast. Though it appears in other areas
on occasion, particularly among the Kwakwaka'wakw of Vancouver
Island, the technique was most commonly employed by Tsimshian
artists in a general time period between about 1830 and 1865.
the best documented
group of objects from this region and timeframe is the collection
made by the Rev. Robert Dundas in the reformed Christian village
of Old Metlakatla, BC in October, 1863. The collection included
quite a number of ceremonial objects including masks, clappers,
a shaman's rattle, and crest-emblem headpieces including a conical
hat and several forehead-mask types. Several of these objects
were embellished with fine red dashing on a black background similar
to the technique applied here. Some parts of the Dundas collection
show considerable age, even as early as the eighteenth century,
while the majority of the works in that group appear to have been
comparatively young when they were acquired by Rev. Dundas. The
objects that display the kind of red dashing seen here appear
to range in age from a few years to a few decades prior to 1863.
compared to the appearance
of the objects in the Dundas group, the overall style of work
in this bear headpiece seems to be earlier than many of the similarly
painted sculptures in that collection. Therefore it seems appropriate
to attribute this object to sometime in the roughly 30-year period
prior to the 1863 date for the Dundas material, or about 1830-1860.
Worn in a ceremonial context, the image that such a magnificent
headgear would have conveyed was a complex blend of history, mythology,
wealth expression, status, and artistry, all encapsulated in this
lively little crouching bear."