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Oó-je-en-á-he-a, Woman Who Lives in a Bear's Den

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. 1985.66.166 Not currently on view


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“This extraordinary length of hair amongst the Crows is confined to the men alone; for the women, though all of them with glossy and beautiful hair, and a great profusion of it, are unable to cultivate it to so great length; or else they are not allowed to compete with their lords in a fashion so ornamental (and on which the men so highly pride themselves), and are obliged in many cases to cut it short off.” George Catlin further explained that the “Crow women (and Blackfeet also) are not handsome, and I shall at present say but little of them. They are, like all other Indian women, the slaves of their husbands: being obliged to perform all the domestic duties and drudgeries of the tribe, and not allowed to join in their religious rites or ceremonies, nor in the dance or other amusements . . . The Crow and Blackfeet women, like all others I ever saw in any Indian tribe, divide the hair on the forehead, and paint the separation or crease with vermilion or red earth. For what purpose this little, but universal, custom is observed, I never have been able to learn.” (Catlin, Letters and Notes, vol. 1, no. 8, 1841; reprint 1973)

Keywords

Dress - ethnic - Indian dress

Ethnic - Indian - Crow

Portrait female - Woman Who Lives in a Den

Portrait female - Woman Who Lives in a Den - bust

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

metal - aluminum - support added