Edward S. Curtis (1868-1952)

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Edward S. Curtis - Plate 147 Apsaroke War Group border=
SOLD
Title:
Plate 147 Apsaroke War Group
Date:
1905
Size:
Portfolio, 18 x 22 inches
Medium:
Vintage Photogravure
 
This image taken by photographer Edward S. Curtis displays warriors of either the Lumpwood or Fox societies. Lumpwood and Fox are both tribal military organizations which inspired native men to be fierce and brave in battle. Each society had four staffs, which had symbolic uses in war, two straight staffs and two that were bent at the end.

Each spring new staffs were produced and given to brave members. Those who were given a staff then were responsible for making a lone stand against the enemy in battle. They would plan the staff into the ground in a place which the warrior would not retreat past. It was known that the staff holder may have to die if necessary. After a season of warfare had passed, if the staff bearer was still alive he would then take the staff as a trophy.

The curved staffs would be wound with narrow strips of deerskin an outer covering of strips of otter skin, with tails hanging down. The straight staffs bore a tuft of eagle feathers at its top. Interestingly, it was not considered a disgrace to refuse the staff, for it was known that it was not something to take lightly and if a man felt that he was not ready to die he could decline without ruining his reputation.

In this photograph by Edward S. Curtis the warrior on the right holds a curved staff and would be the bearer of the great responsibility described above. The photo was taken in 1905. This incredibly fine image is available for sale in our Aspen Art Gallery.
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