Post Lot Text
Exceptional is the historic object that is accompanied by specific documentation or historic reference. This war shirt is such an object, as there exists in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Museum an 1890 photograph of Plains Cree Chief, Thunderchild (Peeyasiu Awasis 1849 - 1927), wearing it.
War shirts were permitted only to men who had gained stature through their exploits in combat, and who had demonstrated sagacity and superior leadership capability. This shirt is emblematic of Thunderchild's prowess, as the narrow black lines painted on the left side are generally understood to be a convention denoting feats accomplished in battle. Likewise, the painted horse tracks connote that he had served as a war party leader, and/or had captured horses from the enemy. The ermine fur streamers along the sleeves recognized the ferocity of the diminuative, but pugnacious weasel family member. The reduplicated, small blocks of alternating colors, here comprising the complex zigzag pattern in the beaded strips, typify Plains Cree beadwork.
Benson L. Lanford
May 3, 2004