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Sha-có-pay, The Six, Chief of the Plains Ojibwa

1832 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. 1985.66.182 Smithsonian American Art Museum
2nd Floor, South Wing


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“The chief of that part of the Ojibbeway tribe who inhabit these northern regions . . . is a man of huge size; with dignity of manner, and pride and vanity, just about in proportion to his bulk. He sat for his portrait in a most beautiful dress, fringed with scalp locks in profusion; which he had snatched, in his early life from his enemies’ heads, and now wears as proud trophies and proofs of what his arm has accomplished in battles with his enemies. His shirt of buckskin is beautifully embroidered and painted in curious hieroglyphics, the history of his battles and charts of his life.” The Six wears a pair of “hair pipes” over his temples. George Catlin has been criticized for depicting Indians in their finest dress rather than their everyday clothing. But his sitters probably wanted to be recorded in this way to signal their importance. The artist painted Sha-có-pay’s portrait at Fort Union in the upper Midwest in 1832. (Catlin, Letters and Notes, vol. 1, no. 8, 1841, reprint 1973; Truettner, The Natural Man Observed, 1979)

Keywords

Dress - ethnic - Indian dress

Ethnic - Indian - Ojibwa

Portrait male - Six

Portrait male - Six - bust

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

metal - aluminum - support added