A Distinguished Warrior

Lot 184: Blackfoot Man's Shirt

Poncho construction, Blackfoot man’s war shirt on native tanned hide. Yellow ochre pigment with tadpole designs painted in black on front and verso, with black painted sleeve stripes. Trimmed in red trade cloth at the collar front and back. Finely executed beaded panels affixed to front of the sleeves and over the shoulders, in light blue, cobalt and pumpkin colored beads. Old, round repair to the front. A striking example of a Plains man’s shirt with great "tadpole" symbolism. Circa 1875-80, 48” tall x 60” wide as mounted on custom stand (included).

Brian Lebel's High Noon Auction - January 23, 2016
Sold $109,250

Of the many items a distinguished warrior owned, his war shirt was perhaps the most important. Blackfoot warriors were some of the fiercest in the Plains. As enemies to both the Crow and the Sioux – two of the most powerful Plains peoples – Blackfoot warrior culture, out of necessity, was highly developed. In creating a shirt, Blackfoot artists endeavored to advertise the prestige of the wearer. On the battlefield, or at a formal gathering, the wearer of such a shirt would have been quickly recognized as an accomplished warrior and leader – one not to be trifled with.