Medicine Man, Performing His Mysteries over a Dying Man (Q20486967)

Label from: English (en)

genre: portrait (Q134307)
artist: George Catlin (Q455133)
collection: Smithsonian American Art Museum (Q1192305)
location: Smithsonian American Art Museum (Q1192305)
country of origin: United States of America (Q30)
material used: oil paint (Q296955) canvas (Q4259259)
depicts: medicine man (Q266750) Indigenous peoples of the United States (Q49297) dance (Q11639)
instance of: painting (Q3305213)
Smithsonian American Art Museum ID: 4271

information from the Smithsonian American Art Museum catalog

description: In 1832, George Catlin witnessed a dramatic ritual at Fort Union, two thousand miles northwest of St. Louis. According to the artist, the medicine man began the healing by administering roots and herbs. If this failed, he would try “shaking his frightful rattles, and singing songs of incantation.” Catlin wrote that the medicine man’s clothing often consisted of “the skins of snakes, and frogs, and bats,---beaks and tows and tails of birds,---hoofs of deer, goats, and antelopes,” each possessing “anomalies or deformities,” which gave them their healing power. This healer wore the skin of a yellow bear attached with the hides of snakes. Catlin actually owned the costume, and he sometimes wore it to enhance the spectacle of his Indian Gallery. (Gurney and Heyman, eds., George Catlin and His Indian Gallery, 2002)
keywords Occupation – medicine – doctor Ceremony – Indian – Medicine Ceremony

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