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HEREIN LIES WHAT THE MOUNTAIN-LIONS LEFT OF MUCHABONGO. GONE TO THE HAPPY HUNTING GROUNDS, WHERE GAME IS EVER PLENTIFUL, AND THE WHITE MAN NEVER INTRUDES.

early 20th century Unidentified carved and painted wood and plaster, synthetic fiber and buttons, wool cotton, feathers, and shell 9 5/8 x 17 5/8 x 11 3/4 in. (24.6 x 44.9 x 29.7 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. and museum purchase made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson 1986.65.313A-B Not currently on view


Luce Center Label

Nineteenth-century carnivals, dime museums, and freak shows often offered grotesque waxworks alongside preserved body parts and skeletons. This modeled head of Muchabongo may have been part of a Coney Island exhibit that was bought from Phineas Taylor Barnum, founder of the American Museum and “The Greatest Show on Earth.” Objects like this, exhibited at carnivals and international expositions, emphasized racial stereotypes by portraying “exotic” people as curiosities and freaks.

Keywords

Ethnic - Indian

Portrait male - Muchabongo - head

State of being - death

sculpture - assemblage

folk art

glass

metal

plaster

wood