Monday, April 16, 2018

Bear Wings aka Charles Murphy ledger drawings

Salvete Omnes,
today we are back on the Great Plains - so to speak - and a rare glimpse into the world of Plains Indians
Smithsonian Institution has had many images from their collections digitalized.
One of them is a set of 16 ledger drawings  by a rather unknown artist Charles Murphy  - Cheyenne - on the tipi covers and social customs of the Cheyenne, but there are more ledger drawings drawn by Charles Murphy.

They come from the James Mooney collection, and it was Mr. Mooney, author of many books eg Kiowa calendar history,  who commissioned them
 Full Record from the Smithsonian [terms of use]:
Mooney, James 1861-1921 
Physical description:   1 volume of 16 drawings : graphite, colored pencil, and ink ; 23 x 29 cm
Culture:   Cheyenne Indians, Indians of North America Great Plains 
Type: Ledger drawings
Date: 1904 1904-1906
Notes:    The drawings were commissioned by James Mooney of the Bureau of American Ethnology. A typed label in the book explains the purpose of the first drawing: "Design for a full size group, for the Field Museum, where the tipi and other equipments are now deposited. Tipi, travois, costumes, tipi furnishings, etc. made by Cheyenne Indians. Drawing also by a Cheyenne Indian from suggestion and dictation of owner of original tipi. James Mooney."
Summary:  Tablet containing 16 drawings including pictures of tipi designs, camp scenes, games, and Sun Dance ceremony. Inscribed, "Cheyenne Indian Sketches, Tipis No. 2" and "Drawn by Nakoimens = Bear Wings, alias Charles Murphy. Cheyenne, Cantonment, Okla"
Cite as:  Manuscript 2531, Volume 10, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
Repository Loc.:  National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Museum Support Center, Suitland, Maryland
Tipi/Teepee and a family group

Starving Coyote tipi cover - war deeds: horses captured

Glad Road tipi cover - dragon flies and horse
women and men playing snow-snake game
women bring firewood
skinning the bison 
women working the hides

horse race - war bridle and no saddles
 nota bene I have got this book In Sun's Likeness and Power, 2-volume set: Cheyenne Accounts of Shield and Tipi Heraldry, authored 'jointly' by James Mooney and father Powell )  and what a study it is.


Tarzan said...

Just recently discovered you, I love your blog, it is amazing. I am a amateur researcher on the Plains Indian era with the Cheyenne my focus and with a special focus on the Northern Cheyenne and Northern Suhtai especially. I haven't seen all of your posts yet, I am still going through them as I get time. Thank you for all the information.

Dario T. W. said...

Thank you Mike - nice to hear from you.
I would like to blog more about the Plains horse people, perhaps I will this year,
I am interested in your research

Tarzan said...

So I am still holding out trying to find 'In Sun's Likeness and Power' under $200. I was very lucky in finding "People of the Sacred Mountain: A History of the Northern Cheyenne Chiefs and Warrior Societies, 1830-1879" for well under its usual $200+. It's not that I don't think these books are worth it, they're really worth more, but I have several thousand dollars in books on the Cheyenne and the Plains Wars in just the last few years, when I decided to start working on a book about them.
I have a few more scholarly articles to get, at $50 a pop, it's so hard to get a hold of obscure niche topics within the Native American field.
Have you ever tried to draw a modern version of ledger art? I've seen others do it and it can be really neat, I'd like to see you try it with your style. Do you have tipi drawings? I know you cover such a wide range of subjects, it's all about timing and what you're into at the moment.

Dario T. W. said...

thank you for commenting - :)
yes, I have seen the 'modern' ledger artwork - it is very interesting.
I have not done much tipis sketches - perhaps one day - at the moment I am working on some Polish cavalrymen art etc.
I have a plan for some posts and sketches about the early Apaches and Spanish during the 1600-1800, and some on the later periods, but mostly reading the sources, published in various historical magazines during the 1880s-1940s. And memoirs, diaries and reports - so not much per sketching on the Plains peoples and their history
Good luck on your project about the Cheyennes - what topic if you may share