Archive for September, 2010

Tipi with Battle Pictures

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

by Matt Reed, Curator of American Indian & Military Collections

While doing regular upkeep on the Indian collections housed within the Oklahoma Museum of History, I discovered something that had been forgotten for many years. Stored on one of our shelving units was a rolled canvas tipi that no one had seen for many decades. This tipi is known as the Tipi with Battle Pictures. The tradition and history embodied by this tipi can be traced ultimately to 1833 when Tohausen or Little Bluff became the sole leader of the Kiowa people.

The tipi is easily distinguished by the way it is decorated. The northern half of the tipi is decorated with sketches depicting the war honors of the best Kiowa warriors. The southern half is decorated with alternating yellow and black stripes. The center back of the tipi features a vertical series of tomahawks to mark the war honors of Heart Eater. The front, above the door, features a series of feathered lances to symbolize the war honors of Sitting on a Tree. At the very top is a depiction of two Kiowa warriors besieged but successfully defending themselves against multiple Osage warriors. To say the least, this tipi is visually remarkable. Part of this tipi design was given to Tohausen in 1845 by the Cheyenne chief Nah-ko-se-vast. The yellow stripes represented Nah-ko-se-vast’s war honors. Tohausen added the alternating black stripes to represent his own war exploits and then invited his society brothers to add the other decorations.

This overall design was subsequently put on a new tipi every year while Tohausen lived. When he passed in 1866, his name and the tipi design went to his son, Tohausen II. Perhaps because of the hard times that he lived in, Tohausen II only renewed the tipi and its design periodically. By the turn of the century the tipi had become a memory. Two of Tohausen II’s sons changed this situation. These two sons, Haungooah and Olhetoint, made plans to construct and decorate a new Tipi with Battle Pictures in 1916. As a part of this plan, two nephews with natural artistic talent were invited to help in the new tipi’s decoration. These two boys, one of them sixteen-year old Stephen Mopope and the other James Auchiah, would contribute to the sketches on the northern half. Later in their lives both of these boys would be part of the Kiowa Five, a group of Kiowa artists that initiated contemporary American Indian art. Haungooah, known in the art world as Silverhorn, contributed several sketches to the same design. Others who might have drawn their war honors include names that should be familiar to those familiar with Oklahoma history: Gotebo, Big Tree, and Sankedoty.

Ironically, this 1916 version of the Tipi with Battle Pictures also figures prominently in another Oklahoma Historical Society venture. This is the recent acquisition and conservation of the silent film ‘Daughter of Dawn’. In fact, the tipi in our collections was authenticated using photo stills from the movie. So not only does OHS have the once lost and thought destroyed ‘Daughter of Dawn’ film, but OHS has also had within its collections the once lost and thought destroyed Tipi with Battle Pictures.

Update 7-19-2012 OHS has completed a restoration and release of the film ‘Daughter of Dawn.’ The film will be released on DVD at a later date. Find out more.

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For the child in all of us…

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

by Jill Holt, Curator of Textiles

Over the first half of this year, we had an exhibit of toys. I have a soft spot in my heart for toys and had a wonderful time putting the exhibit together. So many of today’s toys are made of plastic but there was a time when metal was the preferred material for toys.

One of the metal toys in the exhibit was the “Corner Grocer.” The center panel has lithograph print of the interior of a grocery store and it is flanked with shelves which swing out. The shelves contain miniature canned and boxed goods. There is also a sales counter complete with scales, telephone, and a roll of butcher paper. Wolverine Supply and Manufacturing of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, made this toy beginning in the 1920s.

Another metal toy in the exhibit was the Play Steel Colonial Dollhouse. The lithograph of the interior and exterior was done by the National Can Corporation of New York in the 1940s. The house features a living room and dining/kitchen on the first floor with two bedrooms and a bathroom on the second floor.

I spent many hours playing with similar toys during my childhood and these two toys brought back many happy memories for me.

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