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Lay-láw-she-kaw, Goes Up the River, an Aged Chief

1830 George Catlin Born: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 1796 Died: Jersey City, New Jersey 1872 oil on canvas 29 x 24 in. (73.7 x 60.9 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr. 1985.66.277 Not currently on view


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“The present chief of the [Shawnee] tribe,” George Catlin wrote, “is a very aged, but extraordinary man, with a fine and intelligent head, and his ears slit and stretched down to his shoulders, a custom highly valued in this tribe; which is done by severing the rim of the ear with a knife, and stretching it down by wearing heavy weights attached to it at times, to elongate it as much as possible, making a large orifice, through which, on parades, &c. they often pass a bunch of arrows or quills, and wear them as ornaments.” Catlin probably painted this work at Fort Leavenworth (in today’s Kansas) in 1830. (Catlin, Letters and Notes, vol. 2, no. 49, 1841; reprint 1973)

Keywords

Ethnic - Indian - Shawnee

Portrait male - Goes Up The River - elderly

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

metal - aluminum - support added