Sha-kó-ka, Mint, a Pretty Girl

  • George Catlin, Sha-kó-ka, Mint, a Pretty Girl, 1832, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr., 1985.66.134

Luce Center Label

“A very pretty and modest girl,” George Catlin wrote, “twelve years of age, with grey hair! peculiar to the Mandans . . . There are very many, of both sexes, and of every age, from infancy to manhood and old age, with hair of a bright silvery grey; and in some instances almost perfectly white. This singular and eccentric appearance is much oftener seen among the women than it is with the men; for many of the latter who have it, seem ashamed of it, and artfully conceal it, by filling their hair with glue and black and red earth. The women, on the other hand, seem proud of it, and display it often in an almost incredible profusion, which spreads over their shoulders and falls as low as the knee. I have ascertained, on a careful enquiry, that about one in ten or twelve of the whole tribe are what the French call ‘cheveux gris,’ or greyhairs; and that this strange and unaccountable phenomenon is not the result of disease or habit; but that it is unquestionably a hereditary character which runs in families, and indicates no inequality in disposition or intellect. And by passing this hair through my hands, as I often have, I have found it uniformly to be as coarse and harsh as a horse’s mane; differing materially from the hair of other colours, which amongst the Mandans, is generally as fine and as soft as silk.” Catlin painted Sha-kó-ka at a Mandan village in 1832. (Catlin, Letters and Notes, vol. 1, no. 13, 1841, reprint 1973, and 1848 Catalogue, Catlin’s Indian Gallery, SAAM online exhibition)

Title
Sha-kó-ka, Mint, a Pretty Girl
Artist
Date
1832
On View
Not on view.
Dimensions
29 x 24 in. (73.7 x 60.9 cm)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr.

Mediums
Mediums Description
oil on canvas
Classifications
Keywords
  • Portrait female – Mint – bust
  • Ethnic – Indian – Mandan
  • Portrait female – Mint
  • Dress – ethnic – Indian dress
Object Number
1985.66.134
Palette
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI