Post Lot Text
Historic photographs taken by Charles M. Bell, Fred E. Miller, and others reveal a certain genre of beaded buckskin coat typical of the Crow tribe during the last two decades of the 19th century. Usually the entire background was painted with yellow earthen pigment, small, highly stylized floral motifs were generally beaded on the body and sleeves, and fringes were supplied at various points. Such jackets are sometimes popularly termed "scout coats." (See O'Connor, 1985: plates 25, 27.) Nearly as many boys' as men's examples exist in collections, and boys are also pictured in period photographs wearing such. (See O'Connor, 1985: figure 43, Plate 77.) The object type bears virtually nothing relating to scouts -- Indian or White, nor to the U. S. military per se, despite a small number of photographic images of similar but undecorated buckskin jackets.
This adult man's jacket is constructed of native-tanned cowhide painted yellow overall, and beaded with motifs utilizing the applique and lane-stitch techniques. Additional features include a false pocket on each side, red and navy blue cloth highlights, and sections of fringe. Of particular note is the asymmetry evident in the beadwork -- a feature uncharacteristic of Crow Indian arts. Specifically, the designs on each side of the chest exhibit similar colors, but dissimilar arrangement of the component motifs. The designs on each side at the bottom front are identical in form, but the colors differ. The left lapel is undecorated. However, the breast placket on the right bears a series of crescent/foliate motifs worked in light and dark green yarns that fall vertically along the center of the chest when the jacket is buttoned. Similar crescents in shades of red, green, brown and yellow yarns decorate the right sleeve's back side, but are absent on the left sleeve. In addition, the beadwork differs on the sleeves, and on each side gusset. It is a significant construction detail that the beadwork on the right side gusset at least was applied after the garment was assembled, for it lies over one of the seams. Therefore, it is likely that the parts of the coat were assembled first, and the applied decoration accomplished subsequently.
Benson L. Lanford
12 May 2006