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Pshán-shaw, Sweet-scented Grass, Twelve-year-old Daughter of Bloody Hand

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. 1985.66.125 Not currently on view


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This portrait, according to George Catlin, gives “a very pretty specimen of the dress and fashion of the women in this tribe [the Arikara]. The inner garment, which is like a slip or frock, is entire in one piece, and beautifully ornamented with embroidery and beads, with a row of elks' teeth passing across the breast, and a robe of the young buffalo's skin, tastefully and elaborately embroidered, gracefully thrown over her shoulders, and hanging down to the ground behind her.” Catlin painted fewer women than men, a fact explained by their secondary place in Indian society. As the young daughter of an Arikara chief, however, Sweet-scented Grass possessed status in the tribe and the means to dress in “a robe of the young buffalo’s skin, tastefully and elaborately embroidered” in northern Plains style. Catlin painted this portrait at an Arikara village in 1832. (Catlin, Letters and Notes, vol. 1, no. 25, 1841, reprint 1973; Truettner, The Natural Man Observed, 1979; Gurney and Heyman, eds., George Catlin and His Indian Gallery, 2002)

Keywords

Architecture Exterior - domestic - hut

Dress - ethnic - Indian dress

Ethnic - Indian - Arikara

Portrait female - Sweet Scented Grass - child

Portrait female - Sweet Scented Grass - full length

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

metal - aluminum - support added