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Ledger Book Drawing

Arts of the Americas

Beginning in the 1860s, Plains warriors illustrated their battle exploits in ledger books and on ledger- book paper that were acquired through trade, gift, and booty. This practice continued a long visual tradition of Native warriors’ depictions of individual and tribal histories on hide shirts, robes, tipis, and tipi liners. Plains artists often represented warfare between Native tribes, as well as against the U.S. Army. Here, a warrior wearing a long eagle-feather headdress is scalping another fallen warrior, who just dropped his bow and arrows.
MEDIUM Ink, crayon, woven paper
  • Possible Place Collected: Darlington, Missouri, United States
  • DATES ca. 1890
    DIMENSIONS 7 1/4 x 14 in. (18.4 x 35.6 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Arts of the Americas
    ACCESSION NUMBER 1992.76.1
    CREDIT LINE A. Augustus Healy Fund
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION The reservation era of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when Native American tribes had ceded their land to the federal government and were confined to set aside tracts of land, created profound cultural changes for the Plains peoples. The masculine artistic tradition of painting warrior's exploits on hide shirts and robes declined but men continued to record their deeds and their changing way of life in paintings and drawings on canvas, muslin, and small notebooks, or ledger books. Many of these works memorialize individual achievements in hunting and warfare. Some ledger books were carried into battle and "captured" on the battlefield. U.S. Army men who had amicable relations with Indian scouts or were guards of Native American prisoners commissioned others. This drawing depicts one warrior scalping another fallen warrior who is dropping his bow and arrows.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Possibly Cheyenne. Ledger Book Drawing, ca. 1890. Ink, crayon, woven paper, 7 1/4 x 14 in. (18.4 x 35.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, A. Augustus Healy Fund, 1992.76.1 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1992.76.1_transp3554.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 1992.76.1_transp3554.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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