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Pipe Dance, Assiniboine

1835-1837 George Catlin Born: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 1796 Died: Jersey City, New Jersey 1872 oil on canvas 19 5/8 x 27 1/2 in. (49.7 x 70.0 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr. 1985.66.453 Not currently on view


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“On a hard-trodden pavement in front of their village . . . the young men, who were to compose the dance, had gathered themselves around a small fire, and each one seated on a buffalo-robe spread upon the ground. In the centre and by the fire, was seated a dignitary, who seemed to be a chief . . . another grim-visaged fellow in another part of the group, commenced beating on a drum or tambourine, accompanied by his voice; when one of the young men seated, sprang instantly on his feet, and commenced singing in time with the taps of the drum, and leaping about on one foot and the other in the most violent manner imaginable. In this way he went several times around the circle, bowing and brandishing his fists in the faces of each one who was seated, until at length he grasped one of them by the hands, and jerked him forcibly up upon his feet; who joined in the dance for a moment, leaving the one who had pulled him up, to continue his steps and his song in the centre of the ring; whilst he danced around in a similar manner, jerking up another . . . and so on . . . until all were upon their feet.” George Catlin made sketches of the dance at Fort Union in 1832. (Catlin, Letters and Notes, vol. 1, no. 8, 1841; reprint 1973)

Keywords

Ceremony - dance - Pipe Dance

Ceremony - Indian

Ethnic - Indian - Assiniboin

Figure group - male

Western

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

metal - aluminum - support added