Scalp Shirt of Little Big Man. Chief of the Lakota Oglala-Sioux. c. 1897

Scalp, Shirt, Lakota Oglala-Sioux, first nation,
Scalp Shirt of Little Big Man, Chief of the Lakota Oglala-Sioux.

Scalp Shirt of Little Big Man, Sioux.

Chief of the Lakota Oglala-Sioux.

Scalp Shirt.

The shirt depicted on above plate, made of buckskin and trimmed with human scalps, would seem to belong to the same category with the mantles made of votive hair, mentioned as being in use among the California tribe a little more than a century ago. It was presented to me by Little Big Man, who led me to believe that it had once belonged to the great chief of the Sioux, Crazy Horse, or had at least been worn by him.

Of its symbolism I am unable to find the explanation. The colors yellow and blue would seem to represent the earth and water or sky, the feathers attached would refer to the birds, and the round circle on the breast is undoubtedly the sun. There is a cocoon affixed to one shoulder, the significance of which I do not know.

Source: The medicine-men of the Apache by John Gregory Bourke. Smithsonian Institution. Bureau of American Ethnology. Annual report, ninth. Washington 1892.

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