Collector: Collected by
2nd Baron of Wharncliffe John Stuart-Wortley-Mackenzie
Date Made/Found: early-19th century
, 1801 - 1855
Material and Medium: buckskin, porcupine quills, human hair, paint
Dimensions: Overall: 990 x 280 x 1070mm (39 x 11 x 42 1/8in.) - measured on current mount
Place Object Found:
United States of America
Accession Number: X1978.800
North American Plains warrior shirt made to honour the warrior's victories. Its decoration reveals his life as a warrior living on the Great Plains of North America. Such shirts would be worn on special occasions only by men in authority or those who had distinguished themselves in battle.
The painted figures represent the many enemies that this warrior overpowered and the hoof prints symbolise the horses that he captured and distributed amongst his people. The warrior himself is also painted on the shirt wearing a red and black military sash. His faint footprints walk over the chests of the enemies who are carrying guns, knives and tomahawks.
Successful warriors like the owner of this shirt were believed to have strong connections to the spirit world which would have helped them perform their brave deeds.
Shirt is made of deer skin decorated with quillwork, pony beads and drawing which illustrates the shirt owner's war record.
Both sleeves are edged with human hair tassels and have illustrations of horse tracks indicating raids for horses on enemy tribes. Under the left sleeve, it has additional illustration of five horse whips hidden under.
Near the collar, there are crescent shaped motifs which appear to be painted with overlapping layers of red and blue pigments outlined by pony beads (some have fallen off).
The shirt edges are fringed and tinted in red while the upper torso area on both sides is stained blue. On the lower back area, there is illustration of a series of human figures with the 'hero' on the right. His footprints pass over eight other figures reflecting victories over enemies. There are also four similar sequences on the lower front area. On two of these sequences, one figure wears a black and red trade cloth military sash.
There is a total of 22 defeated men and possibly one woman carrying weapons of bows and arrows, flintlock, musket, rifle, stock war clubs and tomahawk.
The shirt was collected by 2nd Baron of Wharncliffe on his visit to America in 1824.Display Location: