In addition to painting symbols on a horse's body intended to empower, honor and protect in times of war, some Plains Indians would fabulously dress up a prized pony with feathers, fringe, quills and more on ceremonial occasions intended to celebrate peace. Each horse in the Native American series tells a story of beauty, mystery and power.
Carries the Spirit is standing tall and proud on its hind legs, as if stepping to the beat of a drum at a powwow. This rearing white stallion has caught the spirit of the two Native dancers in dazzling regalia, who spin and leap dramatically, fringe and feather blowing like grass in the wind. Powwows are tribal gatherings where Native people sing, dance, socialize and honor traditional values, and reflect important aspects of Native American society.
Hopi Indians live in stark, desert conditions on three mesas in Northeastern Arizona. Hopi "kachinas" are stylized religious icons carved from cottonwood roots and painted to represent the masked spirits from Hopi mythology. The inspiration for Hopi Maidens is the ceremony that is held each year in which Hopi maidens and tribesmen dressed as kachinas dance and sing to bring rain for the upcoming harvest. Writes the artist, "One side has a woman's feel with 3 Hopi maidens and a Corn Kachina. The other side has 3 male kachina figures with the Sun Kachina. On the base is the beautiful Butterfly Kachina. I wanted to fill the pony with Hopi inspirations for long life, love, health and strength."
Kachinas are stylized religious icons, meticulously carved from cottonwood roots and painted to represent figures from Hopi mythology. They often wear masks of animals, plants, stars, warriors and clowns. They are the focus of ceremonies and rituals in which they relay the wishes of the Hopi people to the gods - for more rain, a plentiful harvest, good health. In an effort to create a Painted Pony with mystical powers of its own, this colorist from Idaho has adorned her Pony with the designs and symbols of traditional kachina masks, including, on the left side, the Sun Kachina mask, and on the right, the Messenger of the Gods mask.
This Idaho artist has established a national reputation for her brilliant interpretations of wildlife and Native American imagery.
In addition to painting symbols on a horse's body intended to empower, honor and protect in times of war, some Plains Indians would fabulously dress up a prized pony with feathers, fringe, quills and more on ceremonial occasions intended to celebrate peace. A story is told about one gold-and-white spotted pony whose natural colors were so striking that no paint was added; rather, it was adorned with prayer feathers tied to its mane and tail, and it carried a shield with crossed arrows symbolizing friendship and harmony. The details that decorate Legend of the Plains give it the beauty, mystery and power of a "peace pony."
There were few things of more value to the Western Plains Indian Warrior than his horse. Although the duties expected of his horse often differed, depending on whether they were going forth with arrows to hunt for bison or wage war with enemies, his Pony was his fearless partner. Often, before entering battle or pursuing a herd of buffalo, a warrior would honor and protect his horse by dressing and painting him with power symbols. The designs on Little Brave have prepared him for the challenge of the day.
Adornment - jewelry of silver and turquoise, beadwork and ceremonial regalia - is a defining element and recognized hallmark of cultural expression for North American Indians. Maria Ryan, an accomplished artist and designer from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, has been winning awards and pleasing collectors around the world for decades. Her research into the meanings and symbolism behind the designs used in classic Southwestern jewelry, coupled with a fearless artistic style that leads her to experiment with different materials to achieve special effects in her art, resulted in this stunning tribute to the Native American love of jewelry.
According to the Navajo religion, the Universe is perfectly balanced and everything in it walks in beauty. There are times, however, when this balance is upset and harmony must be restored. Navajo Sand Painter depicts these ceremonies involving prayers, songs and sand paintings featuring sacred Navajo symbols carefully drawn with colorful sands by powerful Medicine Men. Mother Earth rejoices.
There are many sacred seasons of our lives, marking important periods of growth and change. One of the most joyous is the journey from childhood to adulthood. Rites of Passage tells the sacred story of girls becoming knowledgeable young women and boys evolving into responsible young men through powerful First Nation colors and symbols. This horse, or Sacred Dog, carries the hopes and dreams of all young people as they travel through life. Green represents growth on this journey of color... blue symbolizes holiness and orange marks the beginning and ending of these sacred transitions in life. The four butterflies represent the Creator and the four stages of life for women. The warrior's footsteps are symbolized by four horse tracks as young men learn about their responsibilities. The Tree of Life stands for the past, present and future generations.
The Native Americans' admiration for the horse took many forms. A favored horse dressed for ceremony or war would often be adorned with striking regalia, as well as painted. The beauty and mystery of the Indian horse mask as the emblem of a warrior Pony is captured with great power by an Oklahoma historian/artist in this masterful tribute to Chief Joseph. The legendary leader of the Nez Perce, who is credited with the successful breeding of the Appaloosa, is remembered for his principled resistance to the forced removal of the Nez Perce from their Idaho homelands. Chief Joseph's surrender speech, in which he said "From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever," immortalized him in American history and popular culture.
What this gifted Oklahoma artist may lack in formal training he more than makes up for with his rich and detailed knowledge of the American West, and an extraordinary talent for authentically capturing its history in both art and craft.
Seeking a new way of rendering the inseparable relationship between the Indian and his horse, this full-blooded Seminole artist - whose great-grandfather made the long walk on "The Trail of Tears" when the Seminole tribe was forced to move from the Florida Everglades to the Indian Territories of Oklahoma - turned the distinctive white markings of a Paint Horse into ghostlike portraits of his grandfather, animal spirits and iconic images of Plains Indian warriors.
This Painted Pony represents both the male and female lifestyle of the Plains Indian people, as rendered by the acclaimed Cherokee father-and-daughter artists, Bill and Traci Rabbit. On Side 1, Bill depicts the ultimate warrior – his profile accompanied by symbols that tell the dramatic story of his many victories. On Side 2, Traci depicts the grace, strength and determination of women in Native society – a sun radiating healing beams, her dress signifying her skill at beading and design, a buffalo hunt in the background relating the importance of both the buffalo and the horse to Native Americans.
Traditionally, the Chief was the greatest warrior in the tribe, and he was easy to recognize because he wore a grand eagle-feather headdress, with each feather representing a special deed or brave action. Frequently, before battle or a hunt, the Chief would adorn his prize pony with eagle feathers that reflected power, prestige and accomplishments in the belief they strengthened its spirit. Spirit of the Chief imagines the personal spirit-horse of a great Chief.
Within the spiritual teachings of Native Americans, the Medicine Wheel symbolizes the sacred circle of life. It has four basic directions, each associated with a different color, each represented by an animal spirit guide and each offering its own lessons. North is white and is represented by the buffalo, whose gift is wisdom. East is yellow and is represented by the eagle, whose gift is illumination. South is red and is represented by the wolf, whose gift is adaptability. West is black and is represented by the bear, whose gift is strength. Rich with symbolism, Spirits of the Four Directions offers another way of looking at the world, and giving meaning to our lives.
There is a Navajo healing ceremony that bears the name "Beautyway." The term cannot be precisely translated. Its meaning has to do with being in harmony with all things, all people, all animals; and when you recognize the beauty in your surroundings, that success, well being and happiness will come your way. Stands in Beauty reminds us that beauty is everywhere, if we take the time to look around us.
On a barren, windswept hill in eastern Montana there stands a tall obelisk inscribed with the names of the 268 men of the 7th Cavalry who lost their lives on June 26, 1876, in the Battle of Little Bighorn. Custer's Last Stand is remembered by most Americans as a shocking defeat for the United States 7th Cavalry. However, for Native Americans, it is remembered as the last chapter in the Native American struggle to preserve and defend their homeland and traditional way of life. There has been no equivalent memorial for Native Americans' heroic sacrifice, until now. This gives War Cry its power and poignancy.
This Comanche Pony was the "Lord of the Plains," renowned for his legendary fighting spirit and fearlessness in the face of battle. His name is War Pony. He is boldly painted and decorated for battle with thunder and lightning bolts for added speed and endurance, red coup marks to intimidate the enemy and a single red hand print signifying an important victory. The two small dragonflies represent hope and renewal, while scarlet ribbons and eagle feathers flutter from his mane and tail. With a war shield, Indian lance and buffalo robe saddle, War Pony protects his beloved warrior in battle, proving again and again that he has the courageous heart of a protector and a war horse.
A special bond existed between a warrior and his horse. They communicated on the most intimate and subtle levels. A whispered word, the squeeze of a leg or a shift in body position could often determine the outcome of a hunt or fight. As the Apsaalooke Chief Plenty Coups is quoted as saying, "My horse fights with me and fasts with me, because if he is to carry me in battle he must know my heart and I must know his or we shall never become brothers."
A warrior also often painted his favorite war pony with the same pattern and colors he used for his own face and body, letting everyone know that they were as one, in heart and soul; that they were Warrior Brothers.
The Zuni Indians of New Mexico have inhabited the deserts of New Mexico and Arizona for over 1,000 years. Their pueblo was the first stop on the infamous search for the "Seven Cities of Cibola" by the Spanish in 1539. Among the rich traditions the Zuni are known for is pottery making. Zuni pots are distinguishable from the pottery of other pueblos by 1) material (Zuni potters dig their own clay); 2) design (the surface of their pots is usually a reddish color superbly decorated with fine lines and complicated geometric patterns created with white paint); and 3) shape (in addition to spherical bowls, Zuni pots were sometimes shaped like animals). Zuni Mare was respectfully inspired by the traditions of ancient as well as contemporary Zuni artisans.