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    Native American Painted Hides and Paintings

    Native American Painted Hides and Paintings

    The artwork represented here includes items such as painted deer hide with hair off, ledger art on paper, and contemporary cartoons on canvas. Native Americans always painted on hides and would use these painted hides as personal garments, or as covering on their teepees or as adornment for their horses. Ledger art represents a transitional form of Plains Indian artistry corresponding to the forced relocataion of Plains tribes to government reservations, roughly between 1860 and 1900. Due to the decimation of the buffalo herds and other game animals of the Great Plains during and after the Civil War, painting on buffalo hide gave way to works on paper, muslin, and canvas.

    Changes in the content of pictographic art, the rapid adjustment of Plains artists to the relatively small size of a sheet of ledger paper, and the wealth of detail possible with new coloring materials, contributed to the recognition of Plains ledger drawings as a new form of Native American art. As such, ledger painting portrays a transitional expression of art and material culture that links traditional (pre-reservation) Plains painting to the Plains and Pueblo Indian painting styles that emerged during the 1920s in Indian schools in Oklahoma and New Mexico.

    Beginning in the early 1860s, Plains Indian men adapted their representational style of painting to paper that came from accountants’ ledger books. Traditional paints and bone and stick brushes used to paint on hide were replaced by new implements such as colored pencils, crayons, and occasionally watercolor paints. Initially, the content of ledger drawings continued the tradition of depicting military exploits and important acts of personal heroism already established in representational painting on buffalo hides and animal skins. As the U.S. government implemented the forced relocation of the Plains peoples to reservations, for all practical purposes completed by the end of the 1870s, Plains artists added scenes of ceremony and daily life from the time before the reservation to the repertoire of their artwork, reflecting the social and cultural changes brought about by life on the reservation within the larger context of forced assimilation. 

    Each of the contemporary hides at Kachina House is an original work of art painted on deer hide. The hides vary in size and the artists have found inspiration in the natural shapes and irregularities in each of the hides.
    Ledger paintings were done on antique paper and reflect that transitional time for the Native Americans when so many were relocated to reservations. This artwork is a testament to the creative spirit of the Native people that could not be crushed even during these very black days in their history.

    The cartoon paintings are acrylic originals by Ricardo Cate, who has a comic strip "Without Reservations" which appears in the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper. He will soon release a book of his artwork. 
    If you are planning a trip to the Sedona, Arizona, area we invite you to visit the Kachina House showroom/warehouse. If you have any questions about our products, feel free to contact us toll free at 866-587-0547; we’re only a click or call away and we look forward to hearing from you.


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