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Decorated Shirt

Arts of the Americas

MEDIUM Buckskin, porcupine quills, glass beads, pigment, sinew
DATES early 19th century
DIMENSIONS 59 x 41 x 16 in. (149.9 x 104.1 x 40.6 cm)  (show scale)
COLLECTIONS Arts of the Americas
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CREDIT LINE Henry L. Batterman Fund and Frank Sherman Benson Fund
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CAPTION Yanktonai, Nakota, Sioux (Native American). Decorated Shirt, early 19th century. Buckskin, porcupine quills, glass beads, pigment, sinew, 59 x 41 x 16 in. (149.9 x 104.1 x 40.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Henry L. Batterman Fund and Frank Sherman Benson Fund, 50.67.3a. Creative Commons-BY
IMAGE front, 50.67.3a_front_SL4.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2014
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION The object is the shirt of a Yanktonai Sioux Man. It matches leggings #50.67.3b-c. It is constructed of soft light tan pliable leather. The sides of the shirt are open and have leather thongs to lace them together. The lower edge of the shirt is cut into short rectangles like a fringe. The large triangular bibs frame the neck, one at the front of the shirt, and one at the back, and are decorated with red and black dots. The neck is decorated with dark blue cut glass beads spaced about 1 1/2 inches apart. The lower edges of the shirt, the sleeve cuffs, and the triangular neckpieces are decorated with diamond-shaped perforations in lines, triangles and face patterns. There is a porcupine quill medallion in the center of the chest at the bottom point of the triangle. It is made up of concentric rings of red, blue, yellow, brown, and white plaited quills. The seams of the shoulders and the sleeves are decorated with leather fringes and red and blue quills wrapped around hair bundles. Among some tribes it is believed that hair carries some of the characteristics of the person or animal from which it comes. Therefore, using hair in clothing may give the wearer additional strength, speed, or another positive attribute. Each sleeve is decorated on the underside with a series of seven black lines. The body of the shirt is also decorated with drawings of hunting scenes that include horses, a bison, and spears. Holes in the leather are backed with red stroud cloth. Stroud cloth is a coarse, close-weave wool textile that was imported from England and commonly used among Native Americans in garments and blankets. Red was the most frequently used color although navy and green were also produced and traded, and the colored selvedges were often prized as decorative elements. The shirt is in stable condition. There is old insect damage to the medallion quills. Many of the quills are faded. Also, some of the red stroud cloth patches have old insect damage. A leather tassel is torn along decorative perforations. See additional material in Jarvis report in Arts of Americas' files.
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Decorated Shirt