News-Antique.com - Feb 04,2008 - Feb. 5, 2008-- “The American Indian is of the soil, whether it be the region of forests, plains, pueblos, or mesas. He fits into the landscape…He once grew as naturally as the wild sunflowers and he belongs just as the buffalo belonged.” Luther Standing Bear, Oglala, Sioux
Before the white man came, the clothing Native Americans wore came directly from the animal kingdom. Elk, moose, buffalo, mountain sheep and antelope hides were sewn together with bone awls and sinew.
Peyote rattles, grizzly bear claws and golden eagle feathers were as much a part of their everyday lives as wallets and cell phones are today.
When the Indians were herded onto reservations and forbidden to practice their customs many of their possessions went to private collectors. Today we call these prized objects--art. But if you scour Native American languages no word comes close to our definition of art.
The idea of creating art for its own sake was crazy to them. For traditional Native Americans, there was no separation between life and art. There was no separation between what was beautiful and what was functional.
They lived day-by-day, off the land, as an act of faith. Their spirituality, clothing, ceremonies, sacred objects, were entwined with life. No words were needed to separate them.
All that changed. The buffalo, essential to their existence, were slaughtered. The source of all their needs from food and clothing to tools, ornaments and cooking utensils virtually vanished. With the destruction of the herds came the destruction of traditional Native American ways of life.
The artifacts left behind tell the story of Plains Indians’ culture. They include everything from children’s clothes and women’s dresses to men’s ceremonial or “war” shirts and buffalo robes.
On Sept 23, Skinner Auctioneers in Boston, Mass., offered a selection of vintage Native American clothing including a Plains Indian war shirt in its American Indian & Ethnographic Art sale. A Plains Indian War Shirt; sold for $303,000.
Read the entire article at www.LiveAuctionTalk.com.