Warriors of the Plains

On Friday I went to see the Warriors of the Plains exhibition at the British Museum. The exhibition focuses on the material culture of Native North American Indians of the Plains between 1800 and the present, and the importance of the objects in a social and ceremonial context.

Highlights for me were the buffalo skin robe at the entrance to the exhibition, decorated with scenes of warfare and the exploits of the owner/maker, such as horse stealing. The stylistic rendering of the human figures and horses was beautifully simple and evocative and I made a few sketches to influence my own creations.

I’m planning to make a ‘coup stick’, a couple of which were on display in the exhibition. These are short clubs that were used to touch enemies without harming them. To do this without getting caught was a deed of great skill and honour. It reminded me of some of the games we played on Native Skills 1 and 2.

I also viewed the permanent displays of Native American artefacts and was impressed by the delicacy of some of the coil baskets and clay pots and the simplicity and effectiveness of their designs. I was drawn to the creations of some of the Northern-most peoples, including walrus ivory wrist guards, bow drill bows, harpoons and composite bows.

Lots of inspiration and ideas for my next creations! I would recommend the Warriors of the Plains exhibition to anyone who happens to be in London. It runs from 7 January to 5 April 2010 in the exhibition space on level 4.

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4 comments so far

  1. James on

    Hey Dan

    Grandfather was very skilled in the art of war fare but hated violence. he used to use a stick with red paint instead of a weapon. When fighting him, warriors would see his skill by where the paint had struck their body… His opponents would give up. There are only a handful of times when he had to use violence. One of those times was saving a Lipan woman from another tribe.

  2. James on

    “To do this without getting caught was a deed of great skill and honour. It reminded me of some of the games we played on Native Skills 1 and 2.” you wait until the Native Scout class!

  3. James on

    Another thought… I’ve got a great book with lots of examples of coup sticks. I’ll lend it to you the next time we see each other!

  4. tangiblesanctity on

    Great, thanks James! 🙂


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