Edward S. Curtis (1868-1952)

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Edward S. Curtis - Plate 035 Hastobiga (Navaho Medicine Man) border=
Plate 035 Hastobiga (Navaho Medicine Man)
Portfolio, 22 x 18 inches
Vintage Photogravure
Though it differs throughout tribes, there are many similarities in Native American Medicine. The primary function of most medicine men is to secure the help of the spirits. Sometimes this help may be sought to heal illness, psyche, or to promote harmony between people or nature. Medicine men are not necessarily doctors or herbalists in the way many think. They provide more of a bridge between spiritual worlds and the human world.

Photographed by Edward S. Curtis in 1904, "Hastobiga" was a Navajo Medicine man. In this image he is wearing a headband and what looks like a brown robe. He looks as if he is deep in thought. His pensive expression is deepened by the photographer’s choice to keep half of his face in a deep shadow.

From Edward Curtis' North American Indian. Originally an edition of 500 sets was proposed, but only 214 sets were subscribed to, and another 60 were compiled and sold later. One set belonged to fabulously wealthy railroad magnate Edward Harriman, another of Curtis' patrons. It was Harriman that financed the 1899 Alaska expedition for which Curtis served as the original photographer, and which would provide the inspiration and impetus for Curtis' magnum opus, The North American Indian. Harriman’s set is of the highest quality available, printed on Indian Proof Paper (tissue) tipped in, and Dutch Van Gelder paper.
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