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Art, Observation, and the Anthropology of Illustration examines the role of sketches, drawings and other artworks in our

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Art, Observation, and an Anthropology of Illustration
 9781350248434, 9781350248465, 9781350248441

Table of contents :
List of plates
List of figures
Notes on contributors
Introduction Max Carocci and Stephanie Pratt
Part One Drawing as method
1 The question of expression when using art as a research method in anthropology: Notes for the anthropologist-artist Paola Tiné
2 Pictorial ethnographies of Solomon Islands Ben Burt
3 ‘You have to be a draughtsman to be an ethnographer!’: The legacy of Giuseppe ‘Bèpo’ Šebesta in ethnographic museography Giovanni Kezich and Antonella Mott
Part Two The production of Indigenous visual knowledge
4 Pictorialization as resource in the Cameroon Grassfields: Ibrahim Njoya’s illustrations for the History and Customs of the Bamum (1927–1930) Simon Dell
5 Owning the image: Indigenous children claim visual sovereignty far from home Jacqueline Fear-Segal
6 Graphically speaking: The stories told by Northwest Coast prints India Rael Young
Part Three Political economies of art
7 Ethnographic study of nineteenth-century Kathmandu through artworks Sanyukta Shrestha
8 Like a porcupine: Holy wounds in Spanish America Peter Mason
9 Art and the limits of representation: Portraits and portrayals of Midwestern Indigenous peoples in the early United States republic Stephanie Pratt
10 Interpreting art and ethnography in George Catlin’s Selection of Indian Pipes Annika K. Johnson

Citation preview

Art, Observation, and an Anthropology of Illustration


Art, Observation, and an Anthropology of Illustration EDITED BY MAX CAROCCI AND STEPHANIE PRATT

BLOOMSBURY VISUAL ARTS Bloomsbury Publishing Plc 50 Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3DP, UK 1385 Broadway, New York, NY 10018, USA 29 Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2, Ireland BLOOMSBURY, BLOOMSBURY VISUAL ARTS and the Diana logo are trademarks of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc ­First published in Great Britain 2022 Selection and editorial matter copyright © Max Carocci and Stephanie Pratt, 2022 Individual chapters copyright © their authors, 2022 Max Carocci and Stephanie Pratt have asserted their right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as Editors of this work. For legal purposes the Acknowledgements on p. xvi constitute an extension of this copyright page. Cover design by Eleanor Rose Cover image: George Catlin painting a portrait of a Native American Blackfoot chief at the base of the Rocky Mountains. Handcoloured lithograph from George Catlin’s Manners, Customs and Condition of the North American Indians, London, 1841 © Florilegius / Alamy All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage or retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publishers. Bloomsbury Publishing Plc does not have any control over, or responsibility for, any third-party websites referred to or in this book. All internet addresses given in this book were correct at the time of going to press. The author and publisher regret any inconvenience caused if addresses have changed or sites have ceased to exist, but can accept no responsibility for any such changes. A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. A catalogue record for this book is available from the Library of Congress. ISBN: HB: 978-1-3502-4843-4 ePDF: 978-1-3502-4844-1 eBook: 978-1-3502-4845-8 Typeset by Integra Software Services Pvt. Ltd. To find out more about our authors and books visit and sign up for our newsletters.


List of plates  vii List of figures  ix Notes on contributors  xiii Acknowledgements  xvi

Introduction  Max Carocci and Stephanie Pratt  1

PART ONE  Drawing as method 1 The question of expression when using art as a research method in anthropology: Notes for the anthropologistartist  Paola Tiné  23 2 Pictorial ethnographies of Solomon Islands  Ben Burt  39 3 ‘You have to be a draughtsman to be an ethnographer!’: The legacy of Giuseppe ‘Bèpo’ Šebesta in ethnographic museography  Giovanni Kezich and Antonella Mott  56

PART TWO  The production of Indigenous visual knowledge 4 Pictorialization as resource in the Cameroon Grassfields: Ibrahim Njoya’s illustrations for the History and Customs of the Bamum (1927–1930)  Simon Dell  75



5 Owning the image: Indigenous children claim visual sovereignty far from home  Jacqueline Fear-Segal  95 6 Graphically speaking: The stories told by Northwest Coast prints  India Rael Young  114

PART THREE  Political economies of art 7 Ethnographic study of nineteenth-century Kathmandu through artworks  Sanyukta Shrestha  135 8 Like a porcupine: Holy wounds in Spanish America  Peter Mason  152 9 Art and the limits of representation: Portraits and portrayals of Midwestern Indigenous peoples in the early United States republic  Stephanie Pratt  177 10 Interpreting art and ethnography in George Catlin’s Selection of Indian Pipes  Annika K. Johnson  196 Index 215


1.1 Paola Tiné, ‘Mother and children’ 1.2 Paola Tiné, ‘Hand in hand’ 1.3 Paola Tiné, ‘Maya by candlelight with yomari plate’ 1.4 Paola Tiné, ‘The mirror of the husband’ 3.1 G. Šebesta, cover design for Giovanna Borzaga, Nel Bosco Verde 3.2 G. Šebesta, set photograph for ‘La cintura incantata’ in Le dita di Fuoco 3.3 Museo degli Usi e Costumi della Gente Trentina / Trentino Folklife Museum, the Copper Foundry 3.4 G. Šebesta, drawing from Il costume di Scanno 4.1 Ibrahim Njoya, ‘King Njoya’ 5.1 Joshua Given (Kiowa), ‘Still life of fruit’ 5.2 Mackay Dougan (Osage), ‘Osage warrior wearing ceremonial regalia in ritual preparations for a buffalo hunt’ 5.3 Abe Somers (Cheyenne), ‘Cheyenne warrior counting coup of American soldier’ 5.4 Frank Engler (Cheyenne), ‘Mounted Cheyenne warrior approaching mounted U.S. cavalry officer’ 5.5 Percy Kable (Cheyenne), ‘Standing Cheyenne warrior and U.S. cavalry officer shaking hands’



6.1 Tim Paul, Thunderbird Dancer 6.2 Susan Point, Autumn Moon 6.3 Andy Everson, Idle No More! 7.1 The Kwachhe Dewal of Patan 7.2 The Teta Thudo chaitya of Patan 7.3 The Bhu Bhandel or Dhansar of Kathmandu 7.4 The Gniato Polo temple of Devi at Bhatgaon 8.1 Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian, Cholula 8.2 Ritual execution from the Codex Zouche-Nuttall 8.3 Anonymous, Flagellation 8.4 Fray Enrique Mideros, Jesus victim of human cruelty and of ingratitude for the Eucharist 8.5 Crucified Christ, Quito school 9.1 Charles Balthazar Julien Févret de Saint-Mémin, Unidentified Osage Warrior Wearing a Bird Headdress 9.2 Samuel Seymour, Pawnee Council 9.3 Charles Bird King, Young Omahaw, War Eagle, Little Missouri, and Pawnees 9.4 George Catlin, ‘The Author painting a Chief at the base of the Rocky Mountains’ from Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and Conditions of the North American Indians 9.5 Attributed to Mató-Tópe (c. 1775–1837), Self-portrait


1.1 Paola Tiné, ‘Family at a restaurant’  31 1.2 Paola Tiné, ‘Family on a motorbike and field notes on the topic of a ritual of commemoration for a dead father (shraddha ritual)’  32 1.3 Paola Tiné, ‘Left behind’  32 1.4 Paola Tiné, ‘Love grows with time’  33 2.1 A drawing of a church with patterned walling in Our Forest of Kwara’ae  41 2.2 This drawing, based on a photograph of Michael Kwa’ioloa, shows how some of the ornaments featured in the book were worn  43 2.3 Bands to wear on the arms, of plaited strips of vine and bark, embroidered in red and yellow patterns  44 2.4 Beads of white, red and black shell and imported glass were strung and woven into straps and belts for the arms, legs and waist  45 2.5 This ‘shell-disk rattle’, named for the way the disks clatter when worn, was and heirloom, photographed in Malaita in 1979  46 2.6 The Pictorial History book includes photographs made between 1913 and 1915 by the first District Officer of Malaita, Thomas Edge-Partington, and his wife Mary  48



2.7 Where possible, biographical continuities were shown between different periods  51 3.1 The ideal pentacle of Šebesta’s interests  60 3.2 Mowing, threshing, winnowing, grinding. Drawings by G. Šebesta  62 3.3 Single and double moulboard ploughs. Drawings by G. Šebesta  65 3.4 Peasant activities. Drawings by G. Šebesta  66 3.5 The assembling of the traditional dress. Drawings by G. Šebesta  68 3.6 Trentino Folklife Museum, section “Costumes”. A show window by G. Šebesta  69 3.7 Levering for metal. Drawing by G. Šebesta  70 4.1 ‘King Njoya with favoured wife’  76 4.2 ‘Queen Mother Njapndunke and her entourage’  86 4.3 ‘The palace of the Bamum Kings’  88 4.4 Bamum, Fumban, Royal Tapestry  89 4.5 ‘King Njoya in Muslim dress’  90 4.6 ‘The Emperor and Empress’  91 5.1 Carlisle Indian School Students on the Campus  97 5.2 Sioux girls as they appeared on arrival at Carlisle Indian School  98 5.3 Sioux girls in their uniforms at Carlisle Indian School  99 5.4 BEFORE: Navajo, Tom Torlino  100 5.5 AFTER: Navajo, Tom Torlino  100



5.6 Luther Standing Bear and family  104 6.1 Page from the Northwest Coast Indian Artist Guild: 1978 Graphic Collection illustrating Joe David’s Spindle-Whorl Design and accompanying text  119 6.2 Floyd Joseph, Capilano Fishing Grounds  123 6.3 Robert Davidson, Every Year the Salmon Come Back  124 6.4 Bill Reid, Three Whales for South Morseby  126 6.5 Joe David, Crown of Title  127 6.6 Andy Everson and Erin Brillion, Land Protectors  129 8.1 The coming of the twelve Spanish Franciscans, cloister of the convent of San Miguel in Huejotzingo, Puebla  153 8.2 Dappled jaguar, portería of the convent of San Gabriel, San Pedro Cholula  157 8.3 Death as archer, portería of the convent of San Gabriel, San Pedro Cholula  158 8.4 Johan Sadeler I, Flagellation  162 8.5 Anonymous, Flagellation  163 8.6 Cornelis Galle II, O Tristissimum Spectaculum  164 8.7 Shrine of Nuestra Señora de Agua Santa  168 9.1 Charles Balthazar Julien Févret de Saint-Mémin, Payouska Chief of the Great Osage  181 9.2 Charles Balthazar Julien Févret de Saint-Mémin, Unidentified Osage Warrior Wearing a Bird Headdress  182 9.3 Alexander Lawson, after Samuel, Seymour, Oto Council  185



 9.4 Charles Grignon, after Benjamin West, The Indians giving a talk to Colonel Bouquet . . .  186  9.5 Samuel Seymour, Kaskaia, Shienne Chief, Arrappaho  187 10.1 George Catlin, Plate 7 from A Selection of Indian Pipes in Catlin’s North American Indian Collection  197 10.2 George Catlin, Plate 1 from A Selection of Indian Pipes in Catlin’s North American Indian Collection  199 10.3 Plate 16 from Drawings of Indian Ceremonial Pipes  201 10.4 Nadia Myre, installation view, Code Switching and Other Work  210 10.5 Nadia Myre, Code Switching and Other Work  211


Ben Burt is an anthropologist who has worked for the British Museum since 1974 as an educator and curator. He has researched with the Kwara’ae people of Malaita in Solomon Islands since 1979 and published a number of books and articles on Malaitan history, culture, artefacts and oral literature, as well as a textbook on world art and a memoir about the British Museum’s Museum of Mankind. Max Carocci is Associate Professor of Art History and Visual Culture at Richmond, the American University in London. He has been researching and curating Native North American arts at the intersection of art and anthropology since his first book Warriors of the Plains (2012). He has curated exhibitions for the British Museum, the Royal Anthropological Institute (London), the Weltkulturen Museum (Frankfurt) and the Venice Biennale, among others. He is currently working on a co-authored book with art historian Stephanie Pratt on mutual representations of Europeans and Native Americans before photography. Simon Dell is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Art History and World Art Studies at the University of East Anglia. His most recent book is The Portrait and the Colonial Imaginary: Photography between France and Africa, 1900–1939 (2020). He dislikes autobiography. Jacqueline Fear-Segal is Professor of American and Indigenous Histories at the University of East Anglia. Her research centres on Indigenous American histories, with a particular interest in Indian Boarding Schools, photography, and Native North American travellers to Europe. Her most recent book is Carlisle Indian Industrial School: Indigenous Histories, Memories, and Reclamations (2016), and she is currently working on Beyond the Spectacle: Native North American Presence in Britain. She co-founded and runs, with Rebecca Tillett, the Native Studies Research Network UK. Annika K. Johnson is associate curator of Native American art at Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Nebraska. Community engagement is central to her curatorial and research practices, which focus on Native American art in the Upper Plains from the nineteenth century to the present. She received



her doctorate in art history at the University of Pittsburgh in 2019 with the support of Smithsonian American Art Museum and Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts fellowships. Her recent curatorial projects include Wendy Red Star’s site-specific installation The Indian Congress (Joslyn Art Museum, 2021), and a touring exhibition featuring Karl Bodmer’s North American portraits, organized in partnership with the Metropolitan Museum of Art (2021–2023). Giovanni Kezich read anthropology and archaeology in Siena and London (PhD, 1989) and served for thirty years (1991–2021) as Director of the Museo degli Usi e Costumi della Gente Trentina / Trentino Folklife Museum, undertaking research in the different fields of oral poetry, herders’ rock art, masquerading and carnival rituals. In this variety of fields, he has thus extensively published articles, collected volumes and monographs, among which: I poeti contadini: Introduzione all’ottava rima popolare (1986); Some Peasant Poets: An Odyssey in the Oral Poetry of Latium (2013); Carnevale re d’Europa (2015, Gambrinus Prize); Carnevale la festa del mondo (2019); and, with co-editor Marta Bazzanella, Shepherds Who Write: Pastoral Graffiti in the Uplands of Europe from Prehistory to the Modern Age, with a preface by M. J. Rowlands (2020). He also translated into Italian D. H. Lawrence’s Etruscan Places in a notable new illustrated edition with a preface by M. Pallottino (1985) and Odysseus’ Ithaca: The Riddle Solved by N. G. Livadas (2000). Peter Mason studied Literæ Humaniores at the University of Oxford and Anthropology at the University of Utrecht. Best known for Deconstructing America: Representations of the Other (1990) and Infelicities: Representations of the Exotic (1998) he has lectured and published widely on the history of art and visual culture in Europe and the Americas. He has been visiting professor in Santiago de Chile and Madrid. Peter lives in Rome and is currently preparing an introduction to Ulisse Aldrovandi. Antonella Mott dialectologist and ethnographer, has been curator at the Museo degli Usi e Costumi della Gente Trentina/Trentino Folklife Museum, since 1995, having been in charge of its territorial network, known as the ‘Ethnographic Itinerary of Trentino’, of which she published cartographies and guides (Guida ai Musei etnografici del Trentino, 2013), as well as a monumental analysis of its landscape, in Atlante etnografico del paesaggio trentino (2021). As a dialectologist, she followed into Paul Scheuermeier’s footsteps with Il Trentino dei contadini: Piccolo atlante sonoro della cultura materiale (CD-ROM, 2003), and was responsible of the ethnographic work in support of Corrado Grassi’s Dizionario del dialetto di Montagne di Trento (2009), of which she has also been the editor. Over the years, she has been involved in organizational as well as scientific capacities in the



project ‘Carnival King of Europe’, supported by the ‘Culture’ Program of the European Union (2007–2012). Stephanie Pratt was Associate Professor (Reader) of Art History at Plymouth University, UK, and is now an independent scholar and cultural consultant. She was appointed Cultural Ambassador for her Tribal Council (at the Crow Creek Dakota Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, USA) in 2015. Her book American Indians in British Art, 1700–1840 (2005) was the first study of its kind, and she explores many of its central themes in her other publications over the last twenty-five years. Sanyukta Shrestha is an independent researcher of Nepalese art history. His research interests focus on ancient and medieval illuminated manuscripts from Nepal. For the last twelve years, he has been researching illuminated manuscripts in the collection of various UK-based institutions including the Royal Asiatic Society, Cambridge University Library and the British Library. He frequently writes for The Kathmandu Post, and his recent book is Fragments of Nepali History in the UK (2019). Paola Tiné (Palermo, 1991) is an artist and academic working at the intersection between visual methodologies and the social sciences. With a background in both anthropology and fine arts, she has been writing in recent years on the theme of creativity in anthropology and on the practical, epistemological and semiotic implications of the use of art in anthropology. Since 2017 she is affiliated with the University of Adelaide (South Australia) where she holds guest lectures in visual anthropology. India Rael Young is the Curator of Art and Images at the Royal BC Museum in Victoria, British Columbia. Her scholarship centres on media and Indigenous arts. Young graduated in 2017 with a doctorate in art history from the University of New Mexico. She went on to Princeton University Art Museum as the Andrew W. Mellon Research Specialist in Native American Art. Young curates exhibitions internationally. She has written for BlackFlash, Canadian Art and First American Art on topics ranging from works on paper to new media. Young also consults on inclusive collection strategies and institutional decolonization.


The editors gratefully acknowledge the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland for the opportunity it gave them to organize the panel Ethnography as Art/ Art as Ethnography, from which this volume originated. As panel organizers we would also like to thank the British Museum for hosting the conference Art, Materiality and Representation of which our session was part, and for the assistance of technicians, administrators and volunteers that contributed to the event’s success. Further thanks go to all the panellists whose intellectual exuberance generated the stimulating discussions that directly or indirectly shaped this volume.

Introduction Art as ethnography/Ethnography as art Max Carocci and Stephanie Pratt

The theme of this book emerged from a series of conversations between anthropologist Max Carocci and art historian Stephanie Pratt over a period of several years. The never-resolved questions raised in their private discussions had the chance to be publicly addressed in a panel that they organized at the conference coordinated by the Royal Anthropological Institute: Art Materiality and Representation, which was held at the British Museum in June 2018. The panel called ‘Art as Ethnography/Ethnography as Art’ brought together experts from various fields equally interested in exploring the multiple overlapping areas of convergence and divergence between the two disciplines, especially focused on notions of representation, observation and accuracy. This book collates the papers that were presented on that occasion with the objective of putting into focus some of the pressing issues that arose from the debates that ensued. The panel organizers took as the point of departure the ways in which art history and anthropology use observation. Anthropologists observe social life to document cultural behaviours of different peoples with the aim of writing an ethnography. The way anthropologists see is inevitably filtered through their own cultural lens, so they need to tune in with, and learn from their informants to refine their skills and attempt to perceive the world in ways that their research participants see it (Grasseni 2006). Art historians, on the other hand, start from the premise that the act of seeing and recording visual experience is always contingent on cultural norms and ways of seeing noted originally by the art historian and critic



John Berger (1972), thus, making any casual or innocent observation a near impossibility. The discipline has since attempted to refine criticism of the so-called innocent eye/observation and looks now to the ways information can be coded in images and decoded using a greater understanding of the contextual, social, semiotic and historical meanings present at the time of the image’s creation (Jay 2002). Panel papers demonstrated the different uses of vision, observation and visual note-taking in an ethnographic context from a polyvocal perspective that teased out common areas of concern and development. Questions that emerged from the panel discussion indicated the extent to which they had been neglected by both disciplines’ surprisingly minimal interest in each other’s methodologies and epistemologies (Phillips  2005). Notwithstanding eminent attempts to reconcile art history and anthropology in the last few years, no current theory about visual culture has been forthcoming in addressing the issues presented in the present volume (Elkins 2007; Elkins, Valiavicharska and Kim 2011; Summers 2003). As observation and vision (and indeed representation) are central to both art history and anthropology, participants based their analysis on the production, circulation and perception of images. Whether field sketches, self-representations produced by untrained artists or staged studio portraits; paintings, illustrations and, not least, drawing as anthropological method became the focus of the contributors’ scrutiny. They form the bulk of the heterogeneous material examined in this collection. Such inventory gave anthropologists the opportunity to ask art historical questions about productions both made and used by them. Vice versa, it encouraged art historians to ask anthropological questions about the broader social contexts in which visual representations circulated and to be more nuanced in their critical understandings of certain instances of visual culture, especially when made from an auto-ethnographic standpoint and the power these images have to represent real relationships and actual historical matters. From an anthropological viewpoint the result of this intellectual exercise was an unprecedented and much-needed reflection on what counts as ethnographic data stored and visualized in images. Furthermore, it was a chance to enquire about the ways in which anthropology has historically used images instead of, or alongside, photography; or as the only means of visual description. Overall, the papers also became an opportunity to explore the extent to which theories developed within visual anthropology could be stretched to the analysis and the employment of non-mechanically produced pictures amongst the discipline’s methods for data collection. From an art historical perspective, the papers with an emphasis on the means by which visual images engaged with a dominant visual culture also had to consider in what ways these same images led to further intellectual, ethnographical and/or cultural understandings between cultures.



­Images as ethnographic illustration Anthropology became an institutional discipline toward the end of the nineteenth century, but an interest in people’s customs and manners undoubtedly predates the establishment of departments dedicated to the study of humans, their cultures and their societies (Hodgen 1971). In the long period before anthropology became a recognized science images have been used as a means to explain, describe, illustrate and compare peoples and places (Campos Françozo 2017; Colding Smith 2013; Honour 1989). A large archive of academic writing has analysed this production. Over the years, it has variously covered Renaissance publications (e.g. Colin 1989; Feest 2014b; Horodowich 2018), fashion compendia (e.g. Colding Smith 2013; Hill-Boone 2016/2017) and diplomatic visits (Feest 2014a). Ethnographic drawings were also used in Enlightenment military, geographical and exploratory surveys (e.g. Baglione and Crémière 2008; Bonehill 2006; Edmonds 2013; Fogel 2015; Howes 2019; Lema Garrett 2014; Porro 2010; Weber 2000) as well as nineteenth-century missionary reports and memoires (e.g. Rolland 2017; Shaw King 2015). This diverse body of knowledge reveals that images have been essential to show built environments (e.g. Oppitz 2001; Shrestha in this volume), dress and material culture (e.g. Domenici 2017; Horstmann and Maaz 2005; Jovanović 1979; Oehrl 2016; Volper 2015), and different ways of life before and after the beginnings of anthropology and the emergence of photography (e.g. Angas 1849; Campos Françozo 2017; Hill-Boone 2017; Horodowich 2005; Hylland Eriksen and Nielsen 2013; Jara and Spadaccini 1992; Martins 2017; Stewart 2018; Von den Steiner 1925–1928). Much of the published work has debated the accuracy of such images, putting in sharp focus the constructed nature of artistic representations throughout the centuries. Collectively these images of encounter have been theorized as works of the imagination – projections, processes of othering and stereotyping – or artistic licence but also as rooted within their own historical contexts (e.g. Álvarez 2010; Bell 1992; Bucher 1981; Berkhofer 1979; Bindman et  al. 2014; Chiappelli 1976; Hallam and Street 2000; Honour 1976; Hulton and Quinn 1964; Joppien and Smith 1988; Mason 1990, 1998; Peers 2009; Pratt 2005; Said 1995; Schwartz 1994; Ten Kate 1911). Popular publications, on the other hand, have put the accent on the exploratory nature of sketching and drawing in travel writing, and natural history expeditions, giving them an aura of romanticism and adventure without necessarily engaging with debates around forms of observation and credibility (Lewis-Jones and Herbert 2017). Aware of this critical literature, panel participants wanted to address questions that integrated new theoretical and methodological perspectives that would take them beyond known paradigms to explore innovative ways to think about some unresolved, yet still current, issues. What



emerged from the conference session is that the cultural, geographical and historical situatedness of image production and reception render the subject suitable to anthropological analysis. Researchers demonstrated a concern with how to makes sense of so many images that sit at the intersection between anthropology and art. Echoing Mitchell’s pivotal study (Mitchell 2004), scholars present at the symposium started asking questions such as: What does anthropology want from images? How does art history deal with ethnographic themes? In what cases does anthropology use images, drawings, and pictures? What relative value does each discipline give to different types of images and their variable media? Ultimately, we had to acknowledge that answers could not be found unless we addressed two fundamental and mutually imbricated problems. What are the conditions that make a picture ethnographic? When does it become art? Furthermore, can visual representations provide us with information about Indigenous or local cultures that can be accessed either via a decoding of the dominant cultural and other normative functions in image-making or through direct translation? In what ways can art historical methods work to unlock previously unknown or unrecognized meanings? Do technical concerns with the media or artistic practices involved, and/or their histories, help in this case? Although much of the material discussed here may be perceived to be relevant to proto-anthropology, ethnohistory or the history of anthropological thinking and methods, the questions addressed in the panel are directly relevant to the current practice of anthropology and its work with contemporary communities. In fact, they have farther reaching implications than an analysis of older images may suggest. Suffice to say that many of the early modern sources discussed here are often the only representations that exist of extinct peoples (Cooke [1709] 1992; Löschner 1993; Marshall 1996; Mason 2019; Oldrich and Binková 1987; Shelvocke [1721] 1992). Importantly, paintings, drawings and sketches are also the few visual records of the predecessors of certain historical peoples, as such they are potential windows onto past societies. As documents of bygone ways of life they constitute an inventory that enables society at large to form ideas about ancient, long-standing societies. Artistic representations, illustrations and paintings with ethnographic subjects have become valuable records especially amongst those groups that claim links to past societies as a means to consolidate their existence in the present through the reconstruction of old customs. Often communities around the world rely on past ethnographic illustrations, artworks and historical pictures to recover cultural knowledge, and to rebuild a sense of identity and continuity with their predecessors. A case in point are the several Indigenous groups that use paintings and drawings as source materials for their reconstruction of certain cultural and ceremonial practices (e.g. Burt in this volume; Glass 2017; Mota Cardoso et al. 2018; Pratt and Troccoli 2013). In addition to being precious cultural resources that communities can use to revitalize their



cultural life, images can become essential economic assets, for example, for the purpose of putting on tourist pageants, enhancing museum displays or for the reconstruction of ambient details and costumes in films. Whether it is material culture, dress or architecture, paintings and drawings have been, and continue to be, essential visual references for manufacturing processes, forgotten practices and, ultimately, collective identities, as well as revenue (e.g. Appelbom Karsten 2017; Lema Garrett 2014; Macklin 2007). The lack of images related to certain societies, on the other hand, leaves many groups to draw inspiration from a limited body of references, often images more loosely related to their ancestors, or their neighbours. This frequently turns their interpretation of their past into a cultural pastiche that risks being perceived as an ‘invented tradition’, therefore unauthentic and artificial (e.g. Theodossopoulos 2013). Old images have a deep impact on contemporary social life because their existence and circulation shape the ways in which different social constituencies know what they know. Irrespective of their loyalty to the subjects they represent, many images used in cultural revitalization, or as emblems of nationalistic projects, are often taken as objective, faithful and realistic representations of bygone societies, physical appearances and material cultures. Although this serious epistemological concern was addressed as early as 1973, during the 72nd Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, the debate initiated in that context does not seem to have generated any major effect henceforth (Bucher 1975; Cohan Sherer 1975). The issue remains open, and it still raises questions about the nature and quality of the data contained in pictures, and the level of interpretative processes that go into the actual reproduction of costumes and customs visualized in such artworks. A study of different conventions and levels of ethnographic accuracy in paintings and other forms of visual records is therefore necessary to evaluate the epistemological trajectories that result in new meanings, forms of knowledge and cultural expressions upon which identity is collectively built. Such analyses can inform a more nuanced evaluation of the dynamics of cultural retrieval and construction, as they depend on social actors’ choices of iconographic material on the bases of perceived image credibility, level of detail or contextual relevance. As both panel convenors and editors we thought that the present endeavour was ever more compelling and necessary in light of this evidence. The motivations for such an undertaking are multiple. The level of analysis presented here can also be useful to inform a better understanding of other forms of image-making such as ethnographic photography, which as some anthropologists have noted, relied at least in the early stages of its history on artistic modes of expression, composition, visual references and themes (Azevedo 2016; Carocci 2012, Pinney 2011; Soukup 2014). A proper examination of an artistic corpus with ethnographic subjects and themes can therefore become an essential component of the broader field of visual anthropology, which at present, is mostly dedicated



to time-based media. Though isolated voices within this sub-discipline have begun to combine a study of sketches in relation to photography or film to reveal significant levels of continuity between these recording methods (Morton 2018; Sheffler 1991; Werner and Clark 1998), these exercises are in their infancy, and in anthropology at least, no overarching framework exists yet to combine a study of artworks and photographs as part of a broader context of visual culture (Dorotinsky Alperstein 2009; Pinney 2006). While a specifically anthropological interest in drawing as practice has emerged over the last few years, the focus has been on methodological questions related to how it differs from photography in capturing lived reality, or as a dialogic method (Burt in this volume; Ballard 2013; Hurdley et  al. 2017; Ingold 2011; Ramos 2004; Taussig 2011; Tiné in this volume). Art historians and other scholars have acknowledged that images have a life independent of the makers and the intentions for which they were originally made, and indeed an entire area in the discipline is dedicated to the understanding of images and their visual translations through time and cultural change in fields such as iconography, iconology and semiotics. The literature is too vast to condense here. Visual images, it has been acknowledged, have lives of their own independent to some extent from their original uses, and it is this quality that makes them difficult to pin down as carriers of direct or untrammelled ‘observation’ (Johnson in this volume). Images as significant carriers of meaning often become relevant to other related images in the decoding process but also in relation to their capacities to condense a specific time, place and subject. This does not mean that images cannot carry information, but just that the investigators must be diligent about finding out what other meanings besides the ethnographical ones are present within any image of an ‘othered’ people (e.g. Mason 2001; Molyneaux 1998; Pratt in this volume). Surprisingly, although in recent years there has been a great emphasis on the repatriation of photography, the establishment of visual resources, and photograph elicitation in ethnography, no similar attempts have been made with the immense corpus of paintings, sketches and illustrations produced over the centuries to document lands and cultures distant to European and Western centres of knowledge. This too renders ever more pressing a study of pictures beyond photography so that art historians and anthropologists can finally advocate building archives of existing iconographic knowledge about different peoples and their cultures, which can potentially incorporate all the imagery related to a group’s heritage. Just recently anthropologists have begun to examine the large body of sketches produced by ethnographers in the field (Appell-Warren 2009; Geismar 2014; Löschner 1993; Korolaien 2017; Kuba 2011), but their studies have not crossed the boundaries of anthropological and folk studies circles. Art historians, on the other hand, have produced a substantially larger body of literature on both trained and untrained artists’ sketches and drawings, which frequently include ethnographic subjects. Only occasionally this corpus touches upon anthropological questions (Feest and Corum 2017;



Kasprycki 2018; Peers and Peterson 1993). For the most part it remains mostly limited to connoisseurship within the ethnic arts circuits (e.g. Arthur 2014; Borell and Hellmich 2017; Clarke 2015; Force and Force 1968; Greub 2011; Martínez-Jacquet 2014; McDonald 2005; Miller 2016; Milroy and Dejardin 2014, Oppitz 2001; Peltier 2003; Stewart 2018). Despite different levels of accomplishment many of these sketches, watercolours or pencil drawings never made it into the art canon and, as a result, they remain suspended in a limbo between art and anthropology that, to this date, finds no disciplinary home. By the same token, artists’ drawings and sketches with ethnographic content have remained within the realm of art history and triggered no real interest among anthropologists. This is despite the fact that they occasionally even included ethnological notes (e.g. Barbeau 1923; Covarrubias 1978; Gómez et  al. 2007; Wiesinger, Jacquin and Péhapré 1992). Although these illustrations address conventionally ethnographic subjects, their value seems to be confined to their artistic merit and the fame of their makers, deserving no substantial commentary by anthropologists at all. The issues surrounding the training or non-training of an artist or illustrator raise further concerns. A case might be made that an untrained artist or recorder of visual information has had less influence on them from dominant cultural norms than would be instituted if that person had been trained in the historical academy system. Thus, the works that resulted from such an amateur artist or artists might be said to be clearer or closer to what has actually been observed as if that recorder had no amount of artistic or aesthetic filters, but this is stating the case too starkly. No scholar yet has put forward a sustained argument along these lines, but some studies have inferred this from the kinds of analysis made about their images, the work of George Catlin in North America being a case in point (Johnson in this volume; Pratt and Troccoli 2013). Before the advent of photography, many trained artists would have been attuned to view places, peoples and objects within a naturalistic lens. That is to say, they would have attempted to record things seen as clearly and cogently as time and materials allowed and within the boundaries of what defined ‘natural’ or naturalistic representation, which for European or Western trained artists meant the illusion of threedimensional spatial relations placed onto a flat surface or as suggested in sculptural terms. Illustrators’ copperplate engravings and later lithographs provided a visual culture of scientific illustration based around notions of truth and factual display, which lasted well into the nineteenth century. These works too would have been viewed with a careful attention to what was contained in the images and how to read them correctly (Smiles 2000). These attitudes towards scientific accuracy and naturalism were part of the cultural baggage that many of these artist/observers, trained or untrained, carried with them in their travels and encounters (Bustamante 2008). They were also to some extent looking over their shoulders at the advent of mechanical devices, being developed in the early nineteenth century, that would help them record things more accurately, such as the deployment of



the physiognotrace/physionotrace (used by a number of artists in the United States before the use of box cameras, see Pratt in this volume). These devices helped artists to record information as closely as possible to what was being observed by the eye. Direct, rapid and/or preparatory sketches also raise this question of accuracy in observation. Can an artist or observer’s sketch be considered closer to the truth of vision and how would this process be detected if at all? (see Dell in this volume). This of course directly speaks to the main question that frames the arguments of this book, and that is: when does an artwork become ethnographic, or worthy of anthropological scrutiny? By the same token, it encourages us to reflect upon when an ethnographic sketch becomes interesting as a piece of art history. The fine line between artistic licence and factual evidence underlines the theoretical distinction between the subjective and objective knowledge, or the particular versus the universal. It is this central polarization that can help us redefine how anthropology generalizes from particular ethnographies, which in visual terms translates into the transformation from individual to exemplary type (Farago 2017). In this regard, we must interrogate to what extent artistic representations or portraits can be considered representative of single individuals, or examples of entire communities. This can only be achieved if there is a dialogue between art history and anthropology, and the present collection sets itself the task of initiating it.

Image content and image lives: From analysis to context To date, anthropological analysis of visual representations has mostly concentrated on the use of film and photography both as research methods and as artefacts in their own right (Edwards 1992; Grimshaw 2001; Morton and Edwards 2009; Pink et al. 2004; Pinney 2011). Historically, the study of the life of images was left to historians and art historians as a separate area of research that fell outside visual anthropology’s remit. Surprisingly, despite the extensive use of images in both professional and popular anthropology, an analysis and assessment of the role played by drawings, artworks, fieldwork sketches and various forms of illustration such as etchings, prints, woodcuts, paintings in oil, tempera and frescos in this discipline is wanting. The histories of anthropology, ethnology and folklore are replete with examples of illustrations that, for example, help visualize textual accounts (e.g. Horodowich 2018). The present work advocates a study of all forms of artistic representation as complementary or alternative to the study of photographs and film’s role in anthropology, as they not only precede and coexist with the said media, but also, starting from the nineteenth century onwards, share the visual cultures from which the latter fields originate. An anthropological study of illustrations, pictures, figures and images thus



entails not only an examination of their content, mode of expression and genre but also their contextualization in broader social fields of use, diffusion and consumption as culturally and socially constructed artefacts that build unique versions of anthropological knowledge (see Mason in this volume). Combined art historical and anthropological analyses therefore can help elucidate issues related to the images’ objectivity, authenticity, accuracy and ethnographic validity also in relation to other means of representation. Also, they can support anthropologists to shape new theoretical and methodological parameters that can help us investigate the uses of images in ethnographies, and the multiple ways in which they work within and alongside anthropological narratives. Indeed, germane to any elaboration upon these questions is an attention to what kind of pictures are used in anthropological publications, how they relate to the texts in which they are embedded, and whether or not they have been produced by the anthropologist’s hand, if they have been commissioned or if they were simply borrowed. The point at which an image becomes a mere illustration raises questions about whether its function is explanatory, didactic, heuristic or descriptive. That drawings are ubiquitous in anthropologists’ notebooks is a known fact. Anyone who has done fieldwork as an anthropologist knows that, irrespective of their own artistic propensities, sketches, plates and figures prominently feature in descriptions of village plans, dance notations, technologies, designs, spatial relations, charts and kinship diagrams. Although anthropologists’ sketches seldom make it into their published ethnographies, it is fair to say that past and present texts of an anthropological nature have greatly relied on textual description while simultaneously depending on images, sketches, illustrations, drawings, pictures and paintings to complete, not to mention enhance, ethnographies and other representations such as those in museums (e.g. Bogoras 1904–1909; Firth 1975, Kezich and Mott in this volume; Lévi-Strauss 1955; Martins 2017). The use of illustrations in anthropological publications was undoubtedly more popular before the age of photography, and amongst the former Eastern Bloc’s anthropological schools, which produced extensive ethnographic studies through official publications such as the Kazakh Trudy, or the Soviet Sovetskaya Etnografiya published by each country’s national academy of sciences. In Western countries, even today, anthropological knowledge is also partially constructed upon images and the active use of drawings in ethnographic texts, and artefact analyses (e.g. Binkey 2012; Burt 2009; Cloth 2015; Drieux 2016; Perrois and Grand-Dufay 2005; Richards 2012; Sheffler 1991; Sillitoe 2017). Specialized anthropological literature in ethnohistory, material culture or museum studies may employ pictures more than theoretical works. Interpreting them in these contexts means reaching beyond how they appear to underscore the makers’ intentions, ideological apparatuses, and look to reveal their implicit relationships with pre-existing bodies of work with which they have a silent, yet poignant dialogue that only art historians can uncover.



How the contributors addressed the topics Contributors variably engaged with different material that interrogated artists, travellers, naturalists and draughtsmen’s multiple strategies aimed at rendering their illustrations truthful and dependable records of lived experiences and the realities they encountered. They collectively show that what counts as evidence changes over time and across cultural registers. They demonstrate how the rhetorical strategies through which images become believable, or verisimilar accounts enter a process of knowledge production at the point of convergence between artifice and first-hand, ethnographic observation. Contributors evaluate what place images have in both the textual narratives and the visual cultures they are part of (Fear-Segal in this volume). Such a contextualization considers their metatextual, meta-visual, and metanarrative function, and how they relate to each other as an integrated system within historically distinctive epistemic contexts of production, diffusion and fruition (e.g. Horodowich 2018). Seen as constitutive elements of much larger visual, art historical and anthropological projects, contributors illustrate how images are part of a constellation of references that ultimately create historically contingent visual cultures in distinct periods and cultural contexts (Baxandall 1988; Geertz 1976; Young in this volume). An image, as Hans Belting reminds us is ‘more than a product of perception. It is created as a result of personal or collective knowledge and intention’ (Belting 2011: 11). The present chapters indicate how cross referencing of images in the practice of anthropology depends on very specific repertoires that build the discipline’s own version of ethnographic legitimacy, credibility and proof. In all historical periods, image use in books, lectures, presentations and public talks establishes a canon that reveals a political economy of images variably supporting a dominant version of anthropological stories that differ from period to period. Although a critical examination of pictures and illustrations allows the authors to put them in proper cultural and historical contexts (see Mason, Young in this volume), by default it also underlines the absence of specific images from the anthropological canon. These are images that professional anthropologists deem not sufficiently eloquent to tell us anything about the culture they are supposed to represent. Yet, we believe that they are crucial elements that can shed light on the disciplines’ self-imposed boundaries and canons. Selections operated by anthropologists on image choice can reveal how the information they convey qualifies them for publication. An analysis of these processes strikes at the very core of the anthropological project, one that needs to reflect on all the components that give shape to its intellectual corpus and the knowledge it produces. The ten chapters in this collection have been divided into thematic areas that cover several parts of the world. They invite readers to evaluate the



questions they raise through case studies from Cameroon, Nepal, Solomon Islands, Italy, the United States, Canada and Mexico. The first part, ‘Drawing as method’, is dedicated to art and illustration as an anthropological recording technique. A second part, ‘The production of Indigenous visual knowledge1’, gathers chapters in which illustrations function as autoethnographies. The third and final part, ‘Political economies of art’, collates contributions concerned with art historical issues of representation, visuality and information coding within images made in the contact zones between cultures. Collectively these three parts address various facets of the convergence of art and anthropology, which interrogate the place and function that images may have in broader discussions about authenticity, objectivity, observation and the construction of different types of knowledge. Paola Tiné, Ben Burt, Giovanni Kezich and Antonella Mott begin with a series of methodological questions related to the use of art, not just as mere illustration, but as a proper research tool that produces knowledge in its own right. Through case studies from Nepal, Tiné maintains that the ethnographer’s own artworks are a valid instrument for anthropological research that complement and enhance ethnographic texts. Clearly embedding her considerations in anthropology’s long-standing and ambivalent relationship with images and image-making, she upholds images’ responsibility for revealing emotive states that could potentially be lost in what otherwise is a largely textual artefact. Her analytical transparency, she maintains, is as necessary to the artist/ethnographer as reflexivity and positionality are to the ethnographer as author. In revising his long career as a museum ethnographer, Ben Burt juxtaposes the use of drawings and photographs in his own ethnographic research in Solomon Islands. The merit of this exercise is not only to carve a dignified space for artworks in the canon of visual anthropology and museology but also to alert the reader to the ways in which realities can be variously constructed through images, be it photographs or drawings. Like Tiné, he asserts the value of artworks beyond their illustrative function, highlighting the immediacy of images over lengthy textual explanations, which are especially useful in contexts where oral communication and visual literacy dominate. Giovanni Kezich and Antonella Mott present ethnographic illustration in the context of a prominent museum of folk cultures: the Museo degli Usi e Costumi della Gente Trentina in the Italian Alps. Starting from the museum founder Giuseppe Šebesta’s propensities towards draughtsmanship, they elucidate how he used his own drawings to entirely reimagine Italian museology. They indicate the central role of drawings and illustrations in museum, folklore and ethnographic contexts, providing through Šebesta’s own words the rationale for explanatory methods that took him to experiment with new visual languages simultaneously derived from Italian futurism and anthropology’s need for objective clarity. If Tiné’s drawings



show how to express fieldwork’s emotive aspects, Burt invites the readers to consider alternative ways of looking, while Kezich and Mott stress how drawings help ethnographer/curators to explain ethnographic realities. The second part, ‘The production of Indigenous visual knowledge’, presents the works of Simon Dell, Jacqueline Fear-Segal and India Young. These authors focus on the aspects of image-making rarely addressed in scholarly literature, namely, auto-ethnography, and the importance of selfdetermined discourses in relation to a culture’s visual histories. Aesthetics and images encode principles that can be carefully unpacked to reveal different levels of local knowledge expressed in a variety of ways. The thought-provoking chapter by Simon Dell delves into one of the book’s central questions: what is the role of accuracy in observation? Dell dissects and reassembles this question in the case of Cameroon’s Bamum drawings aimed at depicting their own history. Dell’s distinction between seeing and recording becomes the key to interrogate anthropology’s scientific parameters and the search for an objectivity couched in a naturalistic idiom of European origin. Examining Bamum imagery from the perspective of a fast-changing context of colonial exchanges, Dell stresses the contingencies of image-making, whose intelligibility, he suggests, is highly contextual. Any attempt at finding objectivity is rendered futile from the perspective of the Bamum. Similar points about the importance of situated visual literacy are made by Jacqueline Fear-Segal and India Young. Looking at the case of Native American children’s drawings created in the context of the forced assimilation programmes of Carlisle Indian Boarding School, Fear-Segal draws a complex picture in which this form of auto-ethnography ought to be read in conjunction with a photographic visual culture. Drawings made by Indigenous boys at school, she maintains, are paradoxically a means to enculturate Native Americans into a European way of seeing, while supporting the representation of old ways that, she maintains, encouraged a resisting self through the power of drawings. Fear-Segal’s case study moves beyond a purely visual analysis of the images to support the idea that images can be a form of nuanced ethnography, for what they leave implicit and how they transmit specific messages. In the section’s final chapter, India Young stresses how the graphic sign carries culturally specific messages, an argument equally addressed by the previous authors, yet in a different fashion. Meanings, in the case of the Canadian First Nations’ prints she examines through the voices of the artists, emerge from a distinct visual language (the formline) that is understood to be as specific to time and place as any other mode of communication. Like other authors in this collection, she pushes interpretative possibilities beyond the idiom of naturalism to subtly suggest that visual literacy is by no means universal, and that even what to observers may appear as unintelligible signs, are a form of encoding messages in graphic signs that hides multiple ethnographic possibilities.



The third and final part, ‘Political economies of art’, collates the work of Sanyukta Shrestha, Peter Mason, Stephanie Pratt and Annika Johnson. In this section, the four authors address art historical issues incorporating nuanced readings of old material that straddle disciplinary boundaries. Sanyukta Shrestha examines architectural drawings from nineteenthcentury Nepal drawn by local artist Rajman Singh, who gives us a glimpse into disappeared cultural landscapes. The artist’s realist style, here analysed in great detail, contrasts with other modes of representation beyond the naturalist mode, for example the formline prints of Northwest Coast artists discussed by Young that equally convey ethnographic information, and at the same time challenge the primacy of Eurocentric visual conventions. While these precious drawings now remain as perennial records of ancient societies and damaged cultural heritage, Shrestha’s essay underlines the contingent value of a new form of expression, adopted for nationalist aims, over older and more traditional forms that predate the colonial encounter. Offering a perspective on images as performative actors in their own right, Peter Mason addresses in his chapter three themes in Catholic Latin American religious art: San Sebastian, Christ’s flagellation and selfflogging. He argues against the possibility of positively assigning authors to specific representations produced in colonial contexts. Parsing elements to evaluate the extent of European or Indigenous input, he argues, is a futile exercise, which can be more productively replaced by a study of how representations affect the viewers through pre-existing references. If external viewers can learn something from this imagery, it is by asking how the representations acted upon the Indigenous publics through a process triggered by cultural resonances and reverberations. While Mason employs an iconographic analysis in the interpretation of the images, he also frames them anthropologically, that is, in the lived experiences of the viewers, who distinctly engage with religious art through culturally specific filters that position them in very different social-historical contexts. Stephanie Pratt’s chapter advances the challenge of what makes an image ethnographic and/or artistic by examining a group of images of differing Midwestern North American Indigenous sitters to portraits or as captured in drawings made by outsiders to their cultures within a concise historical period, 1800–1840. In doing so, Pratt reads through them singularly and as a group, the particular social art historical contexts in which each and all of them are embedded, not merely as reflections of such contexts but as imbricated within them, influencing and influenced by the changing sociopolitical situation of the US government’s policies towards the Indigenous peoples of those regions of the continent at the time of Jeffersonian influence and to the point of Jacksonian removal in 1830. In this case study, accuracy and observation have deeper meanings than simply gaining direct or verifiable imagery. Instead, such inscriptions of line, form and facial delineation have encoded meanings that can help formulate policy or in the case of Mató-Tópe’s self-portrait redress the



imbalances of visual representation back towards an Indigenous discursive and relational model. The re-evaluation of George Catlin’s North American Indian Collection (1852) by Annika Johnson further questions the meanings behind images in an attempt at bridging the gap between anthropology and art history. By deconstructing the motivations, unspoken messages and ideological premises of Catlin’s representations, Johnson exposes the ‘inner workings’ of colonial North America’s project, one that was simultaneously articulated around the collection of ethnographic data and upon the affirmation of the artist as a knowledge producer. Her analysis suggests that Catlin’s images of Native American pipes convey much more than they show. The figures’ teleological order and narrative sequences are arranged according to implicit schemata that only make sense if the book is understood in its entirety, thus revealing the importance of a study of the relationships between images within one oeuvre.

Note 1

The editors wish to acknowledge the foundational work of Professor Gerald McMaster and his role in establishing Ontario College of Art and Design University’s Wapatah Centre for Indigenous Visual Knowledge in Toronto, Canada, For more on the term ‘Indigenous Visual Culture’, see McMaster, G. (2022), Iljuwas Bill Reid: Life & Work, Toronto: Art Canada Institute.­

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Drawing as method



The question of expression when using art as a research method in anthropology: Notes for the anthropologist-artist Paola Tiné

Introduction Visual methods in anthropology have become increasingly popular in recent years, and much reflection has been carried out on what art can add to social research.1 In fact, the connubium between art and anthropology opens up to new methodological and epistemological queries, such as how specific themes should be communicated through the means of visual methods. Some general criteria to establish the anthropological validity of visual work have been defined by the American Anthropological Association (AAA). By polarizing art and anthropology as two distinct disciplines, these guidelines affirm the importance of ethnography as the necessary link between them. According to these specifications, ‘visual media convey critical forms of knowledge that written accounts cannot’ and ‘the content of ethnographic visual media is necessarily based on research’ (Society for Visual Anthropology [2001] 2015). Moreover, the AAA states that ‘while ethnographic media provide access to visual and acoustic worlds of practice and belief, they also make available opportunities to contemplate



and experience the relationship between theory and observations from the field’ (Society for Visual Anthropology [2001] 2015). In sum, following these orientations, to be academically and anthropologically valid, a work of art has to be the result of ethnographic research conducted in the field with classical qualitative methods. The follow-up analysis and production of visual material can be a very useful resource, if appropriately used, in developing that ‘thick’ understanding (using a term coined by Geertz 1988), which is proper in an anthropological inquiry. While the importance of ethnography as a background to artistic productions has become established, at least theoretically, in anthropological works using visual arts, a reflection of the interrelation between the ‘content’ of the study and the ‘form’ used for the purposes of representation is generally absent in such attempts. This meta-reflection is particularly lacking in projects that include experimental techniques such as drawing,2 painting, sculpture, installations and so on, in comparison to works that make use of photography and video. That is to say, the expressive potential of art is not explored in any depth, revealing an underlining assumption on the superiority of anthropological epistemology over artistic research. In the same way, research-led projects coming from the world of art that call themselves ethnographic, systematically lack an anthropological theorizing. In short, while art and anthropology are often associated, one of the two is often simply accompanying the other, as if it were an interesting experiment, usually lacking in meaningful reflection on the methods and possibilities of both disciplines and their potential to develop any interconnectedness. This essential epistemological fracture between art and anthropology is particularly evident in those cases in which artistic works are created by collaborating artists rather than by the researcher themselves.3 While photography and video-making are historically established tools in the hands of anthropologists, and many reflections have been carried on the partiality of vision and the way in which the camera lens selects and shapes reality from the eyes of the researcher,4 it is not yet clear how collaborative works can reflect the ethnographer’s point of view when they are created by others. It is now time to further explore the practice of the researchers creating such works by themselves and, more importantly, to speculate on the ways in which these artefacts can produce significant theoretical contribution to anthropology. In this chapter, I address this debate, noting that it has already been invited by both critics in the fields of art and anthropology.5 I argue that the anthropologist-artist should reflect upon and explain how it is in each case study that the chosen form of representation contributes to shaping the content, that is how the visual works add theoretical information to the research. In this way, I draw from a concept that I have called elsewhere ‘art-tool’ (Tiné 2019), by which I refer to visual work that acts not only as an illustrative tool but also as an important instrument of research,



providing significant contributions to anthropological enquiry by enriching the specific research themes explored. The researcher should reflect on their own role as an artist, to give the reader a sense of how they are using the selected creative methods, and how they situate themselves in the peculiar context of each research project. Drawing from the Greimasian notion of plastic and figurative components in visual arts (meaning the content and the form expressed through lines, colours and spatial organization; see Greimas 1989), I argue that the authorial ‘voice’ of the anthropologist-artist should also involve a meta-reflection over plastic representation. That is, the visual expedients used to express certain ideas should be made clear, and the author should explain if and how these visual methods have contributed to their own understanding. Through this endeavour, it is possible to depart from a mere illustrative approach to art towards one that adds something new to traditional research methods, namely an interpretation, expressed visually by the researcher. To demonstrate these points, I will briefly discuss some case studies from my doctoral studies in Nepal, in which I explore domestic conflictuality and transitioning notions of love and parenting through the application of selected visual semiotic constructs, drawing from both explicit local and Western visual epistemologies. Before that, however, it is important to understand the role of interpretation and representation in modern anthropology and to reflect on the role of the anthropologist as an author, as proposed by Clifford Geertz (1988).

The art of anthropology The crisis of representation At the beginning of the anthropological discipline, visual methodologies such as photography and video were used as scientific evidence, an assumption that was challenged from 1930, with increasing debate over the partiality of photographic images constructed by the maker (see e.g. Harper 1998). Simultaneously, the idea of anthropology as a ‘positivistic’ discipline started to be questioned. In the late 1980s, Marcus and Fisher ([1986] 1999) coined the term of ‘crisis of representation’ to account for the inadequacy of ethnography and how it had been utilized so far to express the complexities of human social worlds. Thus, the problem of anthropology became a problem of expression, in which the researcher’s authorial voice entered the very debate about the expressive possibilities of the discipline. This new reflexivity, which was encouraged by the spread of feminist and postcolonial studies, became a crucial element in Clifford Geertz’ speculation on the notion of ‘writerly identity’ (1988: 7).



According to Clifford Geertz, ‘anthropology should be seen as a kind of text in which the anthropologist is a creative author’ (Tiné 2021a: 59). The construction of the ‘writerly identity’ (Geertz 1988: 9) can be problematic due to the epistemological preoccupation to ‘prevent subjective views from colouring objective facts’ (1988: 7). For Geertz, the resistance to the notion of authorial voice was based on the ‘confusion, endemic in the West since Plato at least, of the imagined with the imaginary, the fictional with the false, making things out with making them up’. According to him, these resistances need to be overcome to develop an anthropology as ‘comparable art’ (1988: 139–140). Geertz’ proposal marked the epistemological passage of anthropology from a scientific discipline to an interpretative one. The problem of expression can thus be seen as pertaining to the transition from data collection to elaboration, interpretation and representation. The anthropologist-author becomes an artist when artistic methods of expression are used. In this endeavour, a ‘responsibility’ of expression arises. That is, visual methods in anthropology involve the same expressive questions encountered in both artistic and anthropological fields, and the researcher has the responsibility to explore how these intertwine not only in practice but also in theory.

In and out of the field Visual methods in the field can include the use of drawings in diaries, video and photography for data collection; portraiture of interviewees;6 photograph elicitation (Collier and Collier 1986); and delegation of the camera to the informants.7 On the other hand, the use of visual methods in post-fieldwork generally consists of documentary video productions, photographic reports, and installations. After the fieldwork, the researcher has to analyse the data and produce insights from the acquired information, thus adding an interpretation. The passage from the rough material to a meaningful text, through theoretical sampling and comparative literature analysis is the most difficult part of anthropological research, and probably the most misunderstood (Banks 2008; Mac Dougall 1997). As I observed elsewhere, ‘this is the passage from ethnography, seen as the collection of material and data in the field, to anthropology per se,8 seen as the analysis, interpretation and presentation of the research material’ (Tiné 2021a: 59). This needs to be accomplished in a way to ‘convince the reader that we have understood other “forms of life”, showing that we have truly been there’ (Geertz 1988: 4). Post-fieldwork productions are not only the equivalent of raw data but also re-created with specific communicative intentions, to serve the anthropological need of expression and communication of findings. While this endeavour can be seen in ethnographic documentary making, in



which the editing process necessarily involves the analytical effort of the maker, visual arts, such as drawing and painting, have not received the same theoretical and practical dedication and have more commonly been used in the field as a part of the note-taking process. While a selection of these images in the ensuing analysis and dissemination is already a kind of analysis, the creation of new visual work, and a reflection on how this communicates relevant insights that contribute to the text and not simply accompany it, is not yet common in anthropology. In the next section, I will explore the notion of voice as encompassing interpretation and positionality and offer some insights on how we can add reflexivity within the process of expression.

­The authorial voice The notion of voice in anthropology is recurrent in the reflection on interpretative authority and in the relation between the researcher and the people that are researched. As noted by Appadurai (1988: 16–17): much fieldwork is organized talk, and the ethnographic text is the more or less creative imposition of order on the many conversations that lie at the heart of fieldwork. But in fieldwork there is a curious double ventriloquism. While one part of our traditions dictates that we be the transparent medium for the voices of those we encounter in the field, that we speak for the native point of view, it is equally true that we find in what we hear some of what we have been taught to expect by our own training, reading, and cultural backgrounds. Thus our informants are often made to speak for us. That is to say, the authorial voice involves an interpretation in which positionality plays a crucial role. This refers to the ways in which the researcher’s background affects their perspective, but also their relationship with the informants. Anthropologists nowadays agree that interpretation derives from this encounter of epistemological ‘positions’. In artistic enquiry, the search for an artist’s voice generally refers to the unique style of an artist. However, artists also acknowledge that the voice changes according to the object. This was, for example, a reflection made in 1923 by Pablo Picasso, who said ‘whenever I had something to say, I have said it in the manner in which I have felt it ought to be said. Different motives inevitably require different methods of expression’ (quoted in Chipp  1968: 265). Following this line of thought, it is the responsibility of the anthropologist-artist to carry a meta-reflection on the link between content and the form chosen for expression, a link that should be made clear from the author to the viewer.



Plastic representation The concept of plastic representation helps us to reflect on two questions: Which technique/style is used to express what? And, consequently, what does art add to the specific theme discussed? In Greimas’s elaboration of analytical tools for visual semiotics, composition, lines and colours (followed by a topologic, eidetic and chromatic description) are the most relevant plastic aspects, which serve to express the figurative element (see Greimas 1989). Drawing from this approach, we can move forward to encompass other aspects and embrace all of the expressive potential of art. Some operative examples include the use of black and white; different genres (portrait, graphic novel or others formats and mediums); plastic elements such as colours, lines and texture; and even pictorial styles such as expressionism, impressionism and so on. All of these choices follow a culture-shaped and author-made expression, in which the underlying referent for interpretation should be made clear. This meta-reflection should not be taken as discouraging spontaneity in creative work. That is, spontaneity can be an important aspect in the construction of the authorial voice in a given study, and follow-up reflections can reveal important insights to the artist themselves. These reflections should also be included in an accompanying discussion to the artworks. Even ‘chance’ in the making process can be used and explained, although images with a very low figurative gradient (using the Greimas scale), could have less expressive power in relation to the studied subject. However, if reading guidelines are provided, this can also be useful. Think for example of abstractism to express specific emotions. That is, there is no limit to creativity and these notes are only suggestions for the anthropologistartist who will want to experiment along the lines of visual practice and anthropological research. Nevertheless, the interpretation of visual work remains open, so that it can be influenced by the viewer’s background and individual perspectives (Ricoeur 1973). However, clarity by the author is crucial, and this is the main difference between an artist and anthropologistartist. When embracing this expressive responsibility, the anthropologistartist can bring the discipline forward, departing significatively from a merely illustrative function. One example of an author that has consistently been reflecting on the link between content and form is Lydia Nakashima Degarrod. She has made use of the surrealist technique of frottage to provide a visual account of the dreaming process of her informants (Nakashima Degarrod 2020b) and of the situationist technique of drifting to unveil the emotional components of walking without purpose in a city (Nakashima Degarrod 2020a). I will now discuss some case studies from my doctoral studies in Social Anthropology and Development Studies which are included and discussed in a forthcoming volume entitled The Art of Modernity (Tiné n.d.).9



Case studies from The Art of Modernity Overview Based on fifteen-months of ethnographic fieldwork research conducted in the Newar 10 town of Bhaktapur in 2018 to 2019, The Art of Modernity (Tiné n.d.) traces the material, social and ideological basis of the emergence of a Newar middle class from the Jyapu caste of farmers and explores changing domestic relations in the context of larger societal transformations with a focus on the shaping of moral selves and the negotiations of relatedness and conflict. It asks the question: How are Newar middle-class people revising domestic relations and moralities in the context of changing material conditions of life and ideological transformations? How are new pressures and aspirations made to coexist with Indigenous moralities and cosmologies? Drawing from ethnographic data collected amongst more than one hundred households, I investigated how local notions of morality have become embedded into an emic discourse on the notion of modernity and class, and how this is linked to transformations in the domestic sphere.11 As a part of this project, drawing from my background as both a visual artist and an anthropologist, I attempted to put into practice the representation of the ‘world of lived experience’ (Ingold 2011) to offer a visual insight into what I as the researcher have understood and felt, with the goal of bringing the viewer to participate in the experience of the social actors. First of all, a combination of drawing and painting is a methodology that I have chosen in order to create a dialogue with the larger context of the study. This study is situated in a fast-changing society in which Nepali people reflect on the theme of morality by relating it to emic notions of modernity and tradition. Here, it is as if people were building themselves as an artist shapes their artwork. This is the metaphor from which I draw on to use art in the ethnographic enquiry. The idea of the ‘self’ making itself in a reflexive process draws from the concept of the ‘painter of modern life’ by Baudelaire ([1964] 1978). According to Foucault (1986: 14), for Baudelaire, ‘modernity is not simply a form of relationship to the present; it is also a mode of relationship that has to be established with oneself’, where ‘to be modern is not to accept oneself as one in the flux of the passing moments; it is to take oneself as object of a complex and difficult elaboration’ ([1964] 1978: 14). That is to say, the modern person ‘makes their body, their behaviour, their feelings and passions, their very existence, a work of art’ (14–15). As such, ‘modernity does not “liberate man in his own being”; it compels him to face the task of producing himself’ (15). For the varying topics explored, I used several techniques that occasionally intertwined with each other according to the theme. I have used the non



finito (unfinished) technique to communicate domestic relations as involved in a process of becoming; the chiaroscuro technique to provide a visual account of conflictuality; and the local metaphor of the wife as the mirror of the husband to explore transitioning emic notions of love. I will discuss these in further detail in the next sections.

Case study 1: Parenting and the unfinished Following the end of the Rana regime in 1951, the introduction of a money economy in Nepal and the affirmation of new ideologies led to the emergence of a middle class in Bhaktapur and of a new consumer society. The possibility of acquiring and spending cash started both creating new needs and supporting new consumer desires and imagined lives, using an expression by Appadurai (1990: 296). In people’s accounts, the notion of ‘better lives’ is a perspective that significantly departs from the memory of their past lives and was a recurrent theme. The possibility of providing a better life to one’s children through hard work and investing in education becomes a new epistemology of the future, nevertheless coexisting with the persisting epistemological narrative of the samsara.12 In the exploration of the concept of better lives, I examined transitioning parents-children relations, highlighting how these have transitioned from the concept of respect as submission to respect as equality, in which understanding and respect of each other’s opinion is valued. To convey the unfolding of lives within the tension towards better lives, I used the unfinished as an aesthetic communicating the sense of becoming. In so doing, I explored not only parents-children relations but also the condition of the elderly who are left behind and the formation of romantic bonds. I employed an array of stylistic expedients including leaving some drawing lines visible, the blurring of boundaries between masses and the use of colour dropping. Additionally, I used my own fieldnotes to communicate the process of analysis involved in the understanding of the studied society as a process of thick description involving ethnography and reflection. Ultimately, the aesthetic of the unfinished is recurrent in both anthropological and artistic literature to signify a process of becoming, particularly on the theme of becoming itself. Therefore, this communicates with pre-existing scholarly and artistic debate on the topic.13

Case study 2: Chiaroscuro and conflict By adopting a feminist approach to the study of the household, I examined the ongoing phenomenon of household fission to explore changing moralities and relations in the making of nuclear families in Bhaktapur. I investigated why conflict leads to separation and why separation is generally occurring



through conflict. I suggest that the reason for this can be found in the increased importance of the nuclear family among a growing middle class, which in turn causes alienation of the elderly. In Figure 1.1, and Figure 1.2, I have attempted to express this sense of strengthening of the bond between members of nuclear families, while in Figure  1.3 I elaborate on the sense of abandonment experienced by the elderly. To account for the contrasting perspectives and issues that feature the daily lives of people in the context of the joint household, I used ‘chiaroscuro’ (from the Italian words chiaro: light and scuro: dark), an artistic technique that builds enlightened scenes in dark settings, which has been explored by painters such as Caravaggio and Rembrandt. In stark contrast to the brightness of Renaissance paintings, their use of chiaroscuro provoked the viewer to immerse themselves in unrevealed meanings and introspection. One of my key informants, Maya, rebelled against the social hierarchy and gender roles in a large joint household, and following a mental breakdown she was said to be possessed by evil spirits.14 In Plate 1.3, inspired by the sixteenth-century penitent Magdalene, I represent the moment in which Maya, having become pregnant, decided to leave the joint household. Drawing from this visual construction, chiaroscuro evokes here the selfreflexivity as well as the conflict and contrasts going on in the life of the person represented.

FIGURE 1.1  Paola Tiné, ‘Family at a restaurant’, pen on paper. 2021.



FIGURE 1.2  Paola Tiné, ‘Family on a motorbike and field notes on the topic of a ritual of commemoration for a dead father (shraddha ritual)’, pen on paper. 2021.

FIGURE 1.3  Paola Tiné, ‘Left behind’, pen on paper. 2021.



Case study 3: Love and the metaphor of the mirror Ideas of love as intimacy and reciprocal understanding are a recurrent topic in people’s reflections on marriage and modernity. However, arranged marriages are still preferred, based on economic and social considerations (including caste), and love is more generally sought after marriage (although with different connotations from person to person). To explore transitioning notions of love in Nepal, I employed the local metaphor of ‘the wife as a mirror of the husband’ and transposed it into a visual representation. Local people say that if the husband dies, the wife ‘will have no face’, wherein the face is a metaphor for social status. As a visual metaphor, I used the image of the mirror to express the subordination of the wife to the husband. Additionally, the mirror is a relatively new element in Nepali imaginary, which was introduced in the nineteenth century and soon became a synonym of modernity and lifestyle (Liechty 1997: 54) and as this emic metaphor testifies, also becoming part of a local imaginary which was added to pre-existing social codes. The technique of the unfinished was useful in this context to provide a visual representation of the making of romantic webs as a process of mutual understanding (aapasi samajdari).

FIGURE 1.4  Paola Tiné, ‘Love grows with time’, pen on paper. 2019.



Discussion and conclusion Despite the fact that the use of visual methodologies has become somewhat of a tendency in academic research in recent years, a reflection on the links between the theoretical messages and their creative expression is often missing. In this chapter, taking from Geertz’ notion of the anthropologist as an author, I argued that the same process of analysis and reflexive representation conducted in written anthropology should be carried out by the anthropologist-artist when artistic methods of representation are used as a form of anthropological enquiry. I reflected on the production of art during the post-fieldwork phase as a tool of analysis and expression of insights, following a process that is akin to the transition from ethnography to anthropological writing. By discussing the role of the anthropologist-artist, I suggested that the authorial voice should encompass a reflection on the positionality of the researcher, as well as on the plastic expedients put into practice for the means of expression of specific contents, and possibly clarify how these methods have enhanced the researcher’s own understanding. To demonstrate these points, I discussed selected case studies from my doctoral studies in Nepal. In exploring the making of moral selves in Nepal, the larger visual project from which I have extracted the images showed in this chapter (see Tiné n.d.) contributes to the understanding of a local experience of development, providing added insights to the emotional nuances of the shaping of relatedness occurring among middle-class people. For example, the images proposed in this chapter have shown how the transformation of ideas about ‘good parenting’ follow the ideology of development, which is adapted by people to their domestic needs and desires. On the other hand, as revealed in the second case study, modernity also means increased conflictuality as a consequence of several factors including education, women’s empowerment, new economic needs and the making of diverse moral judgements that are negotiated between private and public sensitivities. Furthermore, the third case study showed how spousal relations are changing, following the revision of ideas about love and intimacy, and the redefinition of what a ‘moral marriage’ and a ‘moral spouse’ is. This ongoing emic reflexivity is systematically challenging pre-existing moral stances, and the visual grammar of the unfinished, the chiaroscuro and the figurative metaphor of the mirror contribute to provide a sense of such revision of social codes. In closing, I particularly would like to draw the reader’s attention to the image ‘Hand in hand’ (Plate 1.2), in which a father is seen walking from the back holding a child’s hand. As I note in The Art of Modernity (Tiné n.d.): This painting draws the viewer into the world of the people portrayed, as if they could follow them on the road they are traversing. Where they are



going, they only know. Between daily dreams, memories, muddy roads and blue skies, the path is yet to be defined. But it is also already here, in the holding of hands. It can be seen, as a flowing of lives and hopes from one heart to the other. Thus, this work conveys the sense of being in fieri, depicted from their most intimate points of view, as suspended between the past and the present, in a process of giving and taking, in which they shape each other’s moral selves while pursuing the path of development. Ultimately, the aim of these paintings is to contribute a more expressive understanding of a sociocultural system that is being revised by its members as creative agents rather than as passive recipients of developmental programmes and ideologies. Nevertheless, while in each of the case studies the methodologies underling the meaning-making process of the artworks were explained, the interpretation remains open to individual perspectives, which are shaped by the cultural and individual background of the viewer. While acknowledging this open-ended feature of the artistic work, the communicative responsibility of the artist-anthropologist is to provide additional reflection to the anthropological production. The development of such reflections was in my case also crucial for developing ethnographic analysis and for the subsequent writing phase. Consequently, I invite scholars working at the intersection between ethnography and visual methods to experiment along these lines of research.

Acknowledgements The author wishes to thank John Gray (the University of Adelaide), Gregory Donovan (the University of South Australia), Max Carocci and Stephanie Pratt for their extensive support in developing the ideas presented in this chapter. The case studies are based on the author’s doctoral research primarily supported by a PhD bursary from the University of Adelaide (2017–2020, Beacon of Enlightenment Scholarship) and by a generous grant awarded by Sight and Life Foundation (2018, Sight and Life Foundation Research Grant).

Notes 1

Scholars have given various interpretations of what can art express better than words. Some have suggested the topic of religion and spirituality (Dunlop and Dadrowska 2008; Morgan 2005; Williams 2015), political fight (Pinney 2004) and habitus (Sweetman 2009: 491). I have personally written about the expression of emotions and states of mind known in philosophy as qualia (Tiné 2017) and the concept of modern self (Tiné 2021a).



2 Drawing has been used in ethnographic enquiry as a part of data collection since the beginning of the discipline. Here I refer to the use of drawing made as a production that explicitly adds theoretical insights to the enquiry. 3 See for example Laine (2018) and Pink (2007). 4 For a discussion on this, see Knowles and Sweetman (2004). 5 See for example the criticism by art critic Hal Foster (1995: 306) and visual anthropologist Fadwa El Guindi (2011: 678). 6 See for example the work of Zoe Bray, who uses realistic portraiture of informants as a process of ‘thick description’ (Bray 2015). 7 Some researchers have used this method to achieve a representation of the informant’s point of view (Bai 2007; Ginzburg 1995). 8 For a distinction between ethnography and anthropology see Ingold (2008). 9 This visual account is an addendum to my doctoral dissertation (Tiné 2022). In previous works, I have started reflecting on how visual elements communicate in relation to contents, for example in an experimental work on the city life in my early university studies (Tiné 2019), which I also presented in the form of an art exhibition in Siena in 2014. 10 The Newars are the ancient inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal. 11 For similar approaches to emic modernity and class as a cultural practice see Liechty (2003) and Pigg (1993). 12 The samsara, meaning in Sanskrit ‘the ever-turning wheel of life’, is the Hindu belief in metempsychosis, a continuous process of reincarnation towards the final release (moksha). A person’s reincarnation in a higher or lower state of existence corresponds to past deeds in their previous life (karma). 13 See for example contemporary artists such as William Kentridge, Albert Oehlen and Michael Krebber. For anthropological work along these lines, see Biehl and Locke (2017). 14 For a more extensive discussion on this case study see Tiné (2021a).

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Pictorial ethnographies of Solomon Islands Ben Burt

In forty or more years of reading and writing ethnography, I have always particularly enjoyed the pictures that bring the text to life as images of people, their activities, their environment and their artefacts. Whether drawings or paintings, photographs, diagrams or maps, pictures convey ethnographic information that words alone cannot. As cultural products, they also have artistic properties in terms of the formal qualities that enhance their use for communicating, illustrating or ornamenting the ethnography, and here I will describe how I have used drawings and photographs in ethnographies of Malaita Island in Solomon Islands. When Carocci and Pratt (Introduction in this volume) ask ‘what are the conditions that make a picture ethnographic? And when does it become art?’, I would say that any picture can be viewed ethnographically, whether it represents a cultural object or the imagination of a participant in a culture, or both. Whether or not it is also art depends on the meaning of this ambiguous concept. The historical construction of Western concepts of art derives from the elevated status of valuable artefacts belonging to social elites, particularly painting and sculpture (as described by Errington 1998), a value reinforced and perpetuated through the commercial practice of collecting (see Belk 1995). Such a Eurocentric category, with its invidious distinctions of art from craft and fine art from decorative, folk or tribal arts, does not serve the purpose of a discipline such as anthropology, based on cross-cultural comparison. Just as social studies have claimed concepts of ‘society’ and ‘culture’ from the preserve of this elite, so it should claim ‘art’ from its elitist origins. I would contend that art is a property of all cultural production rather than a category of ‘art objects’, taking a lead



from Raymond Firth, ‘who recognised as art the creation of patterns that give meanings to all kinds of human experience, of the mind as well as the senses’ (Firth 1992: 16–18, as summarized in Burt 2013: 142). On this basis, anthropology and art history should be complementary disciplines in the analysis of how and why pictures are created and the meanings they convey, intentionally or otherwise. My ethnographic view sees pictures as a means of documentation to which their artistic value contributes. In this respect it does not seem useful to distinguish too rigidly between the simpler if more skilful techniques of manual imaging and the more mechanical technology of photography. However, I have often felt frustrated by pictures that lack descriptions to give them a cultural and historical context beyond the prior knowledge and imagination of the viewer. As ethnography, pictures can seldom stand on their artistic merits without the benefit of some kind of interpretation and commentary, which is likely to be both ethnographic and art historical. After many years of using drawings and photographs to illustrate ethnographic leaflets and booklets for teachers and students as Education Officer of the British Museum’s Museum of Mankind and writing academic articles and books from my own ethnographic field research in Solomon Islands, I was eventually able to produce my pictorial studies of Malaita. I  hope these can demonstrate the potential of pictures to communicate culture and history beyond the means of ethnographic texts. Malaita is the most populous and culturally conservative island in Solomon Islands, home to about a dozen language and dialect groups. As a major source of migrant plantation labour since the 1870s but resisting colonial control by the British at home, Malaitans gained a reputation for hard work, aggressive assertiveness and enterprise. They are strong advocates for kastom, the Melanesian term for local values and practices founded in ancestral tradition and implying political independence. Until the mid-twentieth century, a large minority of local communities continued to worship the spirits of their ancestors, despite the political, economic and religious challenges of colonialism that undermined faith in ancestral power and gradually persuaded most people to join the mission churches. For these reasons, Malaita became popular with anthropologists and by the 1970s most districts had experienced being researched. When I first arrived there in 1979 to research with the Kwara’ae, the most populous and Christian but least documented language group of Malaita, I was given permission because they too wanted someone to write down their kastom or traditional culture. Community leaders as ‘chiefs’ had been trying to record and uphold inherited norms and values as ‘laws’, inherited land rights and other kinds of local knowledge under their own political leaders since at least the 1950s, in opposition to colonial rule. Now, a year after Solomon Islands had become an independent state, they impressed upon me that my research should benefit them as well as myself. Unfortunately, it proved difficult to write something that was both acceptable to academic publishers and of more than symbolic value to the Kwara’ae chiefs to whom



I sent copies of my published PhD and articles. It was the British Museum’s willingness to publish ethnography for its own sake that eventually enabled me to produce books of the kind that the Kwara’ae seemed to want, with lots of pictures.

E ­ thnographic drawings One of the first was Our Forest of Kwara’ae (Kwa’ioloa and Burt 2001), a study of Indigenous knowledge of their environment and its resources, in effect an account of material culture. I produced this in collaboration with my long-term research partner Michael Kwa’ioloa and with the co-operation of the Kwara’ae chiefs, in Kwara’ae language with an English translation. The section on artefacts was illustrated with line drawings, partly so they could be integrated into the text rather than as separate photographic plates, but also because this allowed me to show what photographs could not. Some of the drawings were based on photographs but edited to select and emphasize relevant details (Figure  2.1). A blurry photograph of a

FIGURE 2.1  A drawing of a church with patterned walling in Our Forest of Kwara’ae, copied from an early twentieth-century mission photograph with the congregation removed. Ben Burt drawing in Kwa’ioloa and Burt (2001: 73). © British Museum.



rare stone adze with original haft could be clarified, details from several photographs could be used for a composite cooking house interior, and ornamented architecture could be shown to better effect by omitting the villagers posing outside their church. In this book the drawings were essential to show the appearance of things described in the text, but my museological interest in visual ethnography encouraged me to produce books where pictures led the discourse rather than just illustrating it. One thing I had always admired was Malaita’s rich tradition of body ornaments, worn for important social occasions and ceremonies as signs of wealth and status. My Christian hosts seldom wore them but, while researching Kwara’ae society and its colonial transformation, I took every opportunity to photograph any ornaments that people had kept as ancestral mementos. I soon concluded that there were more in the British Museum than remained in Kwara’ae, but for all the quantities of Solomon Islands ornaments in such foreign collections, there was very little published information on where they came from and what they meant to the people who made and wore them. Consequently, I thought it would be interesting to combine my own limited research with that of several colleagues, particularly David Akin in the United States and Pierre Maranda in Canada. They had researched in more culturally conservative Malaitan communities where body ornaments were still made and worn and they allowed me to photograph their well-documented collections, helping me to compile a record of body ornaments for the whole island. This was to be a visual study, so in the 2000s I spent many hours making 238 detailed line drawings for a book. I was prompted to take on this task by the fact that, at a time when digital publishing aids were quite limited, it would have been too expensive for the British Museum to publish a book containing that quantity of colour photographs. But this decision did have several important benefits. Many important visual sources for the ornaments were field photographs of greatly varying quality, colour and black and white, some from published books or poor snapshots. Drawings allowed me to standardize the images, removing extraneous content and clarifying technical details, while learning more about the artefacts through close scrutiny. The benefits of this practice were recognized by the British Museum in the mid-twentieth century when it obliged senior curators to make drawings as they registered new acquisitions in the ledgers, the better to know their collections (although unfortunately they were often not particularly good at it). My drawings were more in the tradition of scientific illustration, long used to document objects for disciplines from biology to archaeology. I was inspired by the kind of line engravings of artefacts published by the American Museum of Natural History in its journals of Native American salvage ethnography at the beginning of the twentieth century (e.g. Wissler 1910). These were the work of professional illustrators, like those who



had made ink drawings of artefacts on the British Museum’s registration slips in the nineteenth century, still admired as invaluable curatorial references. I could not hope to emulate such skilled work, but I had the benefit of various late twentieth-century office facilities. I calculated the ratio between the size of source images and the final published drawings to make enlarged photocopies, which I traced with a fibre-tip pen so that the printer could reduce them by two-thirds to produce fine detailed line images. Sometimes I was able to photocopy original ornaments for the tracings instead. Most were to be printed at actual size, with some larger items at 50 per cent or 30 per cent, as noted in their captions. As for the Forest book, I also edited some of the drawings, to restore damage done to one or two ornaments and, more significantly, to add ornaments to two photographs of faces and two full figures to show how they would have been worn (Figure  2.2). I also traced overlays to add a limited range of colours, as two or three reds, yellows, browns and blues, to be overprinted like the flat tints used in old ethnographic illustrations as a cheap alternative to full-colour printing. In the end my provisions for late twentieth-century printing were superseded by early twenty-first-century technology, so that the drawings and overlays were scanned to produce digital images. This actually reduced the quality of the lines compared to earlier printing methods by pixelating them.

FIGURE 2.2  This drawing, based on a photograph of Michael Kwa’ioloa, shows how some of the ornaments featured in the book were worn. They include three of about fifteen different types of ear ornaments, and forty drawings in the book show some of their many variations. Ben Burt drawing, in Burt (2009: 58). © British Museum.



FIGURE 2.3  Bands to wear on the arms, of plaited strips of vine and bark, embroidered in red and yellow patterns. The catalogue showed a sample of the designs and the materials used were described in a preceding chapter. Ben Burt drawings, in Burt (2009: 130). © British Museum.



The ostensible purpose of the book was museological and academic, to collate and put on record data that I and others had accumulated, mostly through work in Malaita. To that end it included historical and ethnographic chapters as an introduction to the catalogue of ornament drawings, considering their manufacture and use, and their relationship to local currencies of shell beads and teeth. These chapters included photographs of Malaitans wearing such things to provide some visual context for their use. The drawings for the catalogue, based wherever possible on ornaments with local provenances and histories, were classified and named in Kwara’ae or other local languages as well as English, to convey Malaitan conceptual categories and show local variations in style. As a museological exercise, Body Ornaments was very much in the Western tradition of incorporating (we could say colonizing) new kinds of artefacts from non-Western cultures into the category of ‘art’ as described above, through collecting as a pervasive feature of the Western culture of material consumption. This removes artefacts from their original contexts to acquire them as part of a class of scarce objects. Possession and knowledge of these things confer prestige and aspire to intellectual and cultural value,

FIGURE 2.4  Beads of white, red and black shell and imported glass were strung and woven into straps and belts for the arms, legs and waist. These sections of belts show three different techniques, each explained in diagrams earlier in the book. Ben Burt drawings, in Burt (2009: 140). © British Museum.



FIGURE 2.5  ‘This shell-disk rattle’, named for the way the disks clatter when worn, was an heirloom, photographed in Malaita in 1979. It was assembled four generations previously from disks incised with different local variations of the same basic design of three frigate birds, characteristic of Malaita. Ben Burt drawing, in Burt (2009: 102). © British Museum. measured also by commercial value in the collectors’ market (Belk 1995: 67, as summarized in Burt 2013: 167). Ethnographers may claim more altruistic motives, but there is no doubt that they too enjoy collecting. In my case the collection was vicarious, of images of artefacts, but its academic justification was the collection of real things by people such as museum curators,



private collectors and dealers, who use such books for identification and authentication. In Body Ornaments the drawings were made to document artefacts as part of a cultural tradition, unlike most pictorial catalogues of Solomon Islands and other Pacific artefacts. These usually focus on the artistic properties of a set of objects assembled as a collection (e.g. Waite and Conru 2008), for an exhibition (e.g. Howarth and Waite 2011) or for a dealer’s catalogue (e.g. Carlier, n.d.). Most picture books of drawings, paintings and photographs do the same, or focus on the image-makers rather than on a society or culture. I tried to make Body Ornaments a study in ethnography rather than art. The book did have another purpose, also supported by the British Museum, which was to return to Malaita some knowledge of a tradition that had been discarded, degraded or transformed by most of the population as a consequence of a century of colonial religious and cultural hegemony. European clothing had made ornaments unfashionable, and some Christian sects identified them with ancestor spirits, as the work of Satan, leading to many being sold abroad or destroyed, with knowledge of them lost to younger generations. That was one reason for drawing every strip of fibre, bead and incised line of patterned decoration and publishing them in proportion to their actual size. I also included expanded diagrams to show the weaving techniques used for various kinds of straps of beads and teeth, influenced by Te Rangi Hiroa’s publications of Polynesian artefacts for the Bishop Museum (e.g. Te Rangi Hiroa 1932, 1944). Malaitans attempting to revive lost ornament styles have been referring to published books for the last forty or fifty years, motivated by earning money from sale to foreign visitors as well as an interest in ancestral heritage. Now they could have models to work from that were clearly identified and described, rather than the generic Solomon Islands art books they were accustomed to, featuring selections of poorly documented artefacts chosen for their aesthetic appeal.

Ethnographic photographs Body Ornaments is an ethnography but a very narrow one, abstracting a category of artefacts from the visual context that defines them in terms of their culture, but pictures can also lead to much more comprehensive ethnographies, particularly by using photographs of people and places as well as artefacts. I had long thought that the British Museum Ethnography Department’s neglect of its huge photograph collection, dating back to the mid-nineteenth century, reflected a fetishization of collectible artefacts at the expense of pictorial documents that were often even more important as ethnographic evidence. I had acquired many historical photographs for this archive over the years, as originals or as copies, and used some for a



monograph and a bilingual clan history (Burt 1994; Burt and Kwa’ioloa 2001). There were evidently resources to do much more, so in the 2010s I compiled a ‘pictorial history’ of Malaita as a historical ethnography, this time mainly of field photographs. Again, this was published by the British Museum as a museological project that included many more images from its photograph archive than from its artefact collection. This project was an opportunity to demonstrate the importance of pictures, but the theme was Malaita, not the British Museum collection, and the research entailed searching other public and private archives in Britain and around the world. I assembled about six hundred pictures, mostly photographs but also some artefacts and maps, arranging and annotating them to form a historical narrative from the 1870s to the 2010s. I was surprised by the huge number of photographs I found for this one island, even from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, from colonial visitors and residents. As cameras became cheaper and more portable from the mid-twentieth century, even more photographs were also made by anthropologists of everyday life and ceremony, especially from the 1960s.

FIGURE 2.6  The Pictorial History book includes photographs made between 1913 and 1915 by the first District Officer of Malaita, Thomas Edge-Partington, and his wife Mary. Among them are views of the station he founded in 1909, now the provincial capital of Malaita. Edge-Partington’s albums were inherited by his descendants and lent for scanning and digital archiving after they had contacted the British Museum to research Thomas’s father, the famous ethnographer James Edge-Partington. Burt (2015: 43). © British Museum, photographs courtesy of the Edge-Partington family.



At the same time, government officers, missionaries, teachers and other expatriate workers photographed economic, infrastructure and religious developments which many anthropologists tended to ignore (Figure  2.6). Some of these photographs were in public archives but many emerged from private collections through the network of former Solomons expatriates in the United Kingdom, who often gravitated to the British Museum, or the Pacific Islands Society, to which I belonged. As Solomon Islands were prepared for independence in the 1970s there were also government publicity and newspaper photographs and eventually, in the twenty-first century, there were digital photographs from Malaitans themselves, often published via online platforms such as Facebook. As I explained in the book’s introduction, following Flusser (2000), one benefit of narrating history through pictures, especially photographs of people and scenes, is that they can convey simultaneously a number of interrelated concepts that words can only relate in sequence. Perusal of the image back and forth allows these concepts to be apprehended holistically, experiencing the power of visual symbolism as created by other imaging techniques such as painting and sculpture. Photographs too can communicate relationships and systems of ideas that are hard to put into words, although viewers tend to mistake images for reflections of the real world rather than the symbols they are. Photographs are ‘made’, rather than ‘taken’ from a pre-existing view, to present a reality contrived by the makers. This is the art always present in photography, if only in decisions of where to point the camera, so it is important to recognize that photographs have connotations contrived by their makers according to their cultural and personal agendas. Even so, from their earliest use for anthropological research in the second half of the nineteenth century, whether in anthropometric poses, contrived ethnographic scenes or compositions derived from the aesthetics of painting, photographs were regarded as more realistic and objective than the manual images they superseded. It was not until the 1980s that the subjectivity of the photographers and their relationships to the subjects were recognized as issues affecting the information conveyed by their works (see Soukup 2014). For most of Malaita’s pictorial history this subjectivity has usually been Eurocentric, as the so-called colonial gaze that denigrated, exoticized or romanticized colonized peoples or proclaimed the civilizing mission of the colonizers to pacify, convert, educate and develop them. More recent photographers have had other kinds of bias, less obvious perhaps for being more accepted by viewers today, and that includes ethnographic researchers like myself who particularly enjoy more ‘traditional’ or exotic sights rather than mundane ‘modern’ ones. This does not mean that the photographers’ intentions prescribe how the photographs can be read, for even without a critical analysis of photography, perceptions of them can be influenced by the contexts in which they are presented. In this book, their roles in



a historical narrative served to contradict the ahistorical, primitivist or romantic presentation of colonial narratives that many of the photographs were originally intended to convey. I grouped the photographs into a series of pages or spreads focusing on particular historical and cultural themes as case studies, mentioning the roles of photographers as visitors or residents, the places they worked, the events they witnessed and where possible the names of persons they showed. Many of these themes did match the intentions of the photographers. I used anthropologists’ photographs to show the objects of their research, with themes such as ancestral religious practices, ceremonial canoe building and musical performances, each specific to a time and place. Such themes are potent reminders of Malaitan kastom or tradition as the way of life and values that has been gradually transformed and eroded by a century of colonial influence from missions, government and commerce. All were used to represent the time they were documented rather than projected back upon the undocumented past, showing the variable pace of change with old-fashioned communities living alongside those who had adopted colonial modernization. Mission photographs of Christian schools and communities showed them continually challenging the traditional religion over a century or more until it is now held by only a small and diminishing minority. Photographs by government officers introduced the colonial administration and portrayed migrant plantation labour. The impact of the Second World War was shown by American armed forces photographs, selected to emphasize the supportive role of Malaitan labourers. After the war, expatriate workers photographed their economic and infrastructure development programmes and the new Solomon Islands capital of Honiara on Guadalcanal. This became home to many Malaitans seeking employment, whose new urban way of life was shown by anthropologists’ photographs. In the 2000s, newspaper photographs showed the involvement of Malaitan settlers in a notorious civil conflict with the people of Guadalcanal. The book concluded with studies of Malaitan life in the 2010s and some recent experiences of the wider world. Such photographs, as collections and singly, were interpreted by introductory texts and brief captions that placed them within the narrative of the book. This pressed them into the service of my own editorial agenda, to explain local culture and its historical transformations in terms that corrected the colonial perspectives pervading Western and sometimes also local understandings of Malaita, Solomon Islands and Melanesia. The choice of themes was frequently opportunistic, depending upon the availability of relevant photographs. There were important gaps in the pictorial record, including traumatic events such as fights and the killing of a district officer and his party in 1927, and the crucial anti-colonial Maasina Rul movement after the war, but even these could be alluded to through images of other things. Regardless, I was able to trace continuities between particular people



and places over time, from a few decades to several generations linking ancestors and descendants (Figure 2.7). Of course, I was influenced not only by the relevant content of the photographs but also, if I had a choice, by whether I thought they made good pictures in terms of composition, making people look good and so on. I also cropped them as I chose, on the basis that they were originally framed according to the equally personal decisions of the photographers. This was usually to fit the page layouts, which I tried to make aesthetically pleasing.

FIGURE 2.7  Where possible, biographical continuities were shown between different periods. Photographs from 2008 posted on the internet by a member of an Australian Christian peace organization provided a page on a post-conflict reconciliation ceremony between Malaitan and Guadalcanal communities, with traditional exchanges and Christian prayers. In 1983, I had made a photograph of the pastor who organized the event, as an in-law of the family I was staying with. Burt (2015: 155 and 195). © British Museum, photograph by Ian Stebhens.



Ethnographic picture books In the Pictorial History there were artistic judgements to be made in selecting, arranging and editing photographs to compose the pages and the narrative, just as there were in the interpretation of images of ornaments and other artefacts by turning them into drawings, or making drawings of people wearing them. In terms of ethnography all this raises questions as to the veracity or accuracy of what are supposed to be representations of some kind of reality, just as there is artistry in the composition of text in written ethnography. In this respect there is little to choose between drawing and photography. If I were producing a Body Ornaments book now, I might be interpreting photographs using a digital graphics programme to produce more idealized and regular images of their motifs and patterns. Then I might go on to digitally enhance, manipulate and combine historical photographs for a Pictorial History. Ultimately, like all ethnography, the veracity of such pictures depends on trust and openness about the methods used. The merit of picture books is that they are so much easier than text to peruse, not only for people of limited or no literacy but also for those without the habit or diligence required for long, especially academic, texts. That includes many Westerners as well as Solomon Islanders, as evidenced by the popularity of graphic novels and some newspapers. With interest aroused by the pictures, it is less effort to learn more about them by reading the annotations or maybe even the academic chapters. This is what I expected for my pictorial ethnographies, although it has not always been easy to test. I sent a few copies of Body Ornaments at my own and the British Museum’s expense to my contacts in Kwara’ae and beyond. One became a ‘portable document format’ or PDF lodged in a public digital archive in the central inland of Kwaio, the most old-fashioned community in Malaita, where many of the newer artefacts in the book had come from. This was the work of David Akin (2015), engaged in a longterm cultural regeneration project there that included making ornaments for export. Another went to Michael Kaura of Bita’ama in north Malaita, who works to revive the making of ornaments in a Christian community, equipping dance teams with them and selling them abroad. Others went to the National Museum and National Library, where they were available to people in town. How much influence the book has had is hard to say, but its contents are now available to future generations and, whether they choose to make or wear ornaments or not, they can better appreciate the artistic culture of their forebears. The response to the Pictorial History was easier to judge. Many people saw the book due to the generosity of John Tod, who had contributed his own photographs from a memorable tour for Voluntary Service Overseas in the 1960s, and the good offices of the Solomon Islands Ministry of Education, each of whom paid for two hundred copies to be given to individuals, schools



and other organizations. Others saw the PDF version available free online from the British Museum website. Unlike Body Ornaments, which had no financial support to distribute more than a dozen or so free copies, the Pictorial History elicited many responses from Malaitans. The vast majority of the photographs had never been seen in Malaita before or even published elsewhere. People saw pictures of historical characters they may have heard about and, of particular interest, of deceased ancestors or themselves as children. Messages on Facebook and by email confirmed a recommendation from Father Ben Wate of Sa’a, south Malaita, whose ancestor of the same name was pictured as the first Malaitan Anglican priest in the late nineteenth century, while he himself was shown officiating as a priest in 2014. Father Ben wrote in the preface that ‘The book is a useful historical guide that should be read in all primary and secondary schools in Malaita, including the rural training centres, church schools and other educational institutions.’ Other messages confirmed Malaitan concerns to recover and pass on documented knowledge of their history and culture: Yes, most people are very interesting about this book when they read and see the historys of Malaita in the past that they can’t see so they were very happy about this book that you have sent to Michael. The book helps them to learn more about their history and their cultural ways of doing things for their families and tribes in around Malaita. My teacher wants to say big thanks for your help for school. The school used the book to teach the form one student to form five students about history and traditional knowledge of Malaita. That’s from me and some more of my friends Thanks Ben, Best regards, Paul naonia Thank you very much for the wonderful gift . . . which I have received from you a few days ago. It is a very nice and wonderful book and it would be very useful not only to me but to my children, the readers and students as well. It is a perfect compilation which depicts the life of Malaitans from the past to our time today . . . My children really like the book. They learn a lot about our traditional cultures from the pictures inside. After skimming through the book they start to have some ideas about what our traditional life styles before really like. James Tuita I regard both books as a way for myself and the British Museum to repatriate Malaitan culture, not by returning museum artefacts, few of which had actually been stolen, or original photographs, which never belonged to the people they show. Instead, pictures can restore cultural and historical knowledge with little cost or controversy, arranged in meaningful contexts with written documentation. Digital technology, from mobile phones to



laptop computers, has enabled Malaitans to extract and reinterpret pictures and text to post on digital platforms such as Facebook. The research and publication entailed in producing such books serves the academic and public service purposes of museums and other institutions that hold the originals, as well as salving their consciences. This goes some way to make amends for the colonial domination that has enriched us but deprived people such as Solomon Islanders of their cultural heritage. It is a kind of restitution, what Malaitans call fa’aabua, which can be achieved through presentations of valuables to show respect for those who have been mistreated or offended, bringing an end to bad feeling and restoring good relationships. By such means can ethnographic pictures play a part in what museums and others now debate as cultural decolonization.

References Akin, D. (2015), ‘Regenerating Local Arts at the Kwaio Cultural Centre’, in B. Burt and L. Bolton (eds), The Things We Value: Culture and History in Solomon Islands, 93–102, Canon Pyon: Sean Kingston Publishing. Belk, R. W. (1995), Collecting in a Consumer Society, London: Routledge. Burt, B. (1994), Tradition and Christianity: The Colonial Transformation of a Solomon Islands Society, New York: Harwood Academic Publishers. Burt, B. (2009), Body Ornaments of Malaita, Solomon Islands, London: British Museum Press; Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press. Burt, B. (2013), World Art: An Introduction to the Art in Artefacts, London: Bloomsbury. Burt, B. (2015), Malaita: A Pictorial History from Solomon Islands, London: British Museum. Burt, B. and M. Kwa’ioloa (2001), A Solomon Islands Chronicle, as Told by Samuel Alasa’a, London: British Museum Press. Carlier, J.-E. (n.d.), Regard sur les Iles Salomon Voyageurs et Curieux, Brussels: Clerebaut. Errington, S. (1998), The Death of Authentic Primitive Art and Other Tales of Progress, Berkeley: University of California Press. Firth, R. (1992), ‘Art and Anthropology’, in J. Coote and A. Shelton (eds), Anthropology, Art and Aesthetics, 15–39, Oxford: Clarendon Press. Flusser, V. (2000), Towards a Philosophy of Photography, London: Reaktion Books. ­Howarth, C. and D. Waite (2011), Varilaku: Pacific Arts from the Solomon Islands, Canberra: National Gallery of Australia. Kwa’ioloa, M. and B. Burt (2001), Na Masu’u kia ’i Kwara’aeTualaka ’i Solomon Islands fa’inia logo na rū ne’e bulao saena fanoa kia kī: Our Forest of Kwara’ae: Our life in Solomon Islands and the Things which Grow in our Home, London: British Museum Press. Soukup, M. (2014), ‘Photography and Drawing in Anthropology’, Slovak Ethnology (62): 534–546.



Te Rangi Hiroa (P. H. Buck) (1932), ‘Ethnology of Manihiki and Rakahanga’, Bishop Museum Bulletin 99. Te Rangi Hiroa (P. H. Buck) (1944), ‘Arts and Crafts of the Cook Islands’, Bishop Museum Bulletin 179. Waite, D. and K. Conru (2008), Solomon Islands Art: The Conru Collection, Berkeley: University of California Press. Wissler, C. (1910), ‘Material Culture of the Blackfoot Indians’, Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History 5: 1.


‘You have to be a draughtsman to be an ethnographer!’: The legacy of Giuseppe ‘Bèpo’ Šebesta in ethnographic museography Giovanni Kezich and Antonella Mott

Any attempt to make a meal of ethnographic museography and turn it into a respectable academic sub-discipline must necessarily take into account a number of characters who are completely foreign to the academic field, and are nevertheless found to have given to the ethnomuseographic endeavour some more or less substantial contribution in works and deeds. Giuseppe ‘Bèpo’ Šebesta (1919–2005) is one of such characters, having been justly credited with a revolution in the field of Italian ethnomuseography, a highly innovative impulse sparked by his own masterpiece of a museum, the Museo degli Usi e Costumi della Gente Trentina (Museum of the Customs and Costumes of the People of Trentino, yet conventionally dubbed in English Trentino Folklife Museum), which he founded just over fifty years ago, in 1968 (Kezich 2019), on the premises of an old and run down Augustinian monastery come school of agriculture (Šebesta 1998). The Museum, possibly the largest local ethnographic museum in the whole of Italy, is a sizeable concern of some forty exhibition rooms, also functioning as a centre of



studies with its own specialized library and archives, promoting research and publications throughout the region and beyond, having been made strong, comparatively, by the substantial provisions that were assigned to it under the regime of special autonomy granted to the Region TrentinoAlto Adige from 1948, which were to be doubled over, after 1972, with the constitution of the Autonomous Province of Trento (Cole and Wolf 1974). The foundation of the Museum, in November of a highly eventful 1968, and in conjunction with the first rumblings of the newly granted local autonomy, was also to be referred to later as the first conspicuous specimen of a whole new trend of ethnographic museums, which would have taken over the country in the following decade. These were to be called at first the musei della civiltà contadina (museums of peasant civilization), according to a discussed category of that age, which implied a sudden shift of attention from the attractiveness of folk customs at their ‘Sunday best’, to the material remains of the looming workaholism that kept the mountain villagers occupied from Monday to Saturday in a relentless striving for self-sufficiency. In this specific perspective and nurtured in various ways by the ‘folkrevival’ movement of the 1960s and a totally new concern for the culture of the underprivileged, a whole levy of new museums took its stance (Togni, Forni and Pisani 1997). Of these, many still hold forth in various locations of the country, from north to south, and we can surely mention a few of the extant in the chronological order of their foundation, following that of Šebesta in Trentino of 1968: the Museo dell’Agricoltura e del Mondo Rurale (Museum of Agriculture and the Rural World) at San Martino in Rio near Reggio Emilia (1968); the Casa-Museo (House-Museum) at Palazzolo Acreide in Sicily (founded by Antonino Uccello in 1971); the Museo degli Usi e Costumi della Gente di Romagna (Museum of the Customs and Costumes of the People of Romagna) at Santarcangelo di Romagna (founded by Šebesta himself in 1973) (Šebesta [1972] 1991); the Museo della Civiltà Contadina (Museum of Peasant Civilization) at San Marino di Bentivoglio near Bologna (founded by Carlo Poni in 1973); the Museo Civico Polironiano (Civic Museum of the Abbey of Polirone) at San Benedetto Po near Mantua (1977); the Museo ‘Cambonino’ della Civiltà Contadina (Museum ‘Cambonino’ of the Peasant Civilization) in Cremona (1978); Museo di Storia della Mezzadria (Museum of the History of Sharecropping) at Senigallia near Ancona (founded by Sergio Anselmi in 1978); and the Museo Lombardo di Storia dell’Agricoltura (Lombardy Museum of History of Agriculture) of Sant’Angelo Lodigiano near Milan (founded by Giuseppe Frediani in 1979). A completely new perspective in museum-making, seeking the juncture between ethnography and rural history in the footsteps of agrarian and economic historians of considerable academic repute such as Carlo Poni (Poni 1982), Sergio Anselmi (Anselmi 2001), Giuseppe Frediani (Togni, Forni and Pisani 1997), who had envisaged



in the museum a significant part of their own scientific endeavour, and could envisage in Šebesta’s work, carried out in perfect solitude in far-off Trentino, an authoritative example to be followed, set forth by a true precursor. Šebesta, the son of a decorator versed in the art of the mural sgraffitto, a native of Tyn nad Vltavou in South Bohemia (then Czechoslovakia) who had found himself stranded in Trento at the ceasefire of November 1918, was bound from the beginning to live the life of an outcast. Born in 1919 in a city that had been just handed over to the Italian state, Šebesta lived his early years as a stateless person, under the obligation of reporting weekly to the police for years on end, as part of the rather uncompromising immigration policies of the time. Within such background, he nurtured his own natural eccentricity by ceaselessly switching from being a draughtsman, a painter, a photographer, a chemical experimenter, a camera technician and a documentary film-maker, specifically trying his hand at cinematic puppetry: and in all that, a born dandy, an eccentric Professor Calculus committed to an aristocratic idea of the good life. Even so, despite his own natural distance from the political sway of that age, Šebesta nevertheless embarked on becoming the most authoritative master of a new ethnographic museology directly descending from the ‘folk revival’ movement of the 1960s and heavily committed to the idea of the ‘class struggle’, thus centred upon a notion of ‘material culture’ of more or less explicit Marxist descent (Tozzi Fontana 1984; Dei and Meloni 2015), within a perspective which in those years seemed to be rising directly from Gramsci’s ashes as much as anything else (Gencarella 2010). This most basic misunderstanding, which was never fully brought to the surface, which is coherent with Šebesta’s own brand of eclecticism, makes it all the more interesting to try and follow his path between art, ethnography and science. A self-inflicted exile on Trento’s backdoor mountains of the Mòcheni (thirteenth-century German miner and farmer immigrants to the southern slopes of the Alps) marked Šebesta’s entrance into ethnography, with a prolonged, freewheeling participant observation to a forlorn world of a near-total Alpine autarchy, as far as foodstuffs, textiles, wood and iron implements were concerned. Sellan describes in detail these predicaments: Šebesta had some very well-defined fields of interest and research, but he was since the outstart attracted above all by working techniques and by the processes of production: this is because he found himself immersed in a culture, that of the Mòcheni, lively and rich, in which the traditional know-how of building and tool-making were still quite widespread. For generations the Mòcheni as well as many other alpine communities, had had contacts, exchanges and trades with other communities, in particular within the Austro-Hungarian empire. From these other communities, fashions and costumes had been introduced, as for what concern the female dress, the rich colours of the silken aprons, and the



printed blue cloths, but even technological innovations, which at times would be adapted, re-elaborated and grafted into the local processes of production. Thus the traditional technical environment remained at length unscathed, and Šebesta found himself surrounded by many objects and tools which had survived in time almost unchanged: let’s think of the cupboards coated with entwined hazel branches so as to preserve milk in the balconies facing north, the wooden locks, the kospm or clogs, the sledges, the baskets for the carrying of manure, the wooden rakes with the teeth of laburnum wood, the shingles made of larch, and then the local women that he met, always with an handkerchief on their heads and precious silken aprons over the long woollen skirts. For Šebesta the direct documentation of the daily work of the Mòcheni, of their making use of the raw materials in the construction of handicrafts was the most rewarding of experiences. (Sellan 2007; my translation) ­He wanted to replicate such a world of microtechnological autarchy in his idea of the Museum, which dawned on him in the mid 1960s when he was well past his prime. It was the result of a rather inconclusive career of trials and errors in a half-dozen different fields, primarily that of the film-maker and cinematic operator, often under the pseudonym of ‘Venceslao Moldavia’ (i.e. ‘Vaclav Vltavou’), as a direct hint to his Czech roots. Quasi una fiaba (‘Almost a folktale’, 12 minutes, Italy, 1955) by Giulio Briani is a short film directly inspired by Šebesta’s original lifestyle amidst the mountains, in solitary confinement: part draughtsman, part ethnographer, part puppeteer, here vividly evoked by Eriberto Eulisse: In this mythologized scenario Šebesta has set a much-fantasized story, drawing at the same time a lucid self-portrait. In the short film we find as main character the author himself, solitary and coy: misunderstood by the old Mòcheni, who watch him with suspicion as he stops to pick a flower, a nail, a dead bird, and made fun of by the young that throw stones at him and mock him. Šebesta really seems to find peace and inspiration only in the most perfect solitude, steeped in the enchantment of nature and overhung by mountains silhouetted against the blue of the sky. The construction of such a real, yet at the same time mythical direction, a fantastic and almost metaphysical, is an element that characterizes in various ways the whole cinematic work of its author, within a very singular poetic of myth and fable. In Quasi una fiaba (‘Almost a folktale’), the live shots merge with the techniques of animation cinema. Reality and fable are superimposed to tell the story of a dead robin which in the course of the film turns into an animated puppet and is finally brought back to life thanks to the intervention of a mountain gnome. After having drawn each figure, Šebesta assembles the parts of his animated bird and the limbs of the mythical gnome. Then, almost by magic, reality vanishes



and the animated film takes shape under the eyes of the viewer. So, within his refuge at St. Orsola’s, which looks like a lair of a wizard, equipped like a laboratory and fitted out like a real cinematic set, we move on to animated film proper, where the gnome ‘with his long white beard, short legs and the soul of an angel, who at night wanders around the woods in search of small creatures in peril’, saves the robin by giving him a new life. In this short film we find all the themes which are dear to the author: his voluntary exile in the valley of the Mòcheni, the attention for all things small, the creation of animated puppets stories directly inspired by nature. (Eulisse 2000; my translation) Notwithstanding the great variety of activities animated by the constant search in and around local narrative traditions (given that myths could be retold and illustrated with still pictures and animated puppets (Plates 3.1 and 3.2), above all, Šebesta is credited with having virtually tilted on its head the world of Italian ethnomuseography. He eliminated local romanticisms of all kinds bringing material culture to the forefront. He pointed directly at the self-reliant technological bases of the traditional agro-pastoral systems, as it can be observed in its alpine specificity. With hindsight, the work of his whole life thus appears to be a rather coherent progress linking in a coherent whole the separate pursuits of ethnography, folklore, children’s literature and cinematic puppetry within a general concern for the study of human dexterity in the context of material culture (Figure 3.1).

FIGURE 3.1  The ideal pentacle of Šebesta’s interests. Courtesy of the Museo degli Usi e Costumi della Gente Trentina.



Curiously, it does appear that in this specific pursuit, Šebesta followed closely his Bohemian homeland’s obsessions, as epitomized in the charismatic figure of Jiří Trnka (1912–1969), the ‘Walt Disney of the East’. He shared many commonalities with Šebesta. Like him, he was an expert of folk traditions, a children’s books illustrator, a cinematic puppeteer and a researcher into elementary gesturing and manual dexterity, here worth summarizing in detail in the words of Eriberto Eulisse: Painter, illustrator, graphic, puppeteer and scenographer Jiri Trnka (1910–1969), is considered the father of the Czech animation film. With the feature film Špalíček (1947), Trnka moves from cartoons to animated puppets proper, with figures which are still limited in their freedom of action, by coming to life thanks to a brilliant animation techniques. Špalíček, which is also translated as ‘The Czech Year’, is a masterful recounting of traditional life and of the slow flowing of the seasons in the Czech countryside. The film combines the most sophisticated techniques of animation of the time with the themes of folklore, and it immediately gained a lot of acclaim both at home and abroad. Špalíček is made of the following episodes: ‘Shrovetide’ (Masopust); ‘Spring’ (Jaro); ‘Legend About St. Prokop’ (Legenda o svatem Prokopu); ‘The Fair’ (Pout’); ‘The Feast’ (Posviceni); The crib (Betlém). From Shrovetide, portraying many masks, we pass on to the slow awakening of nature in Spring. Summer comes, and during harvest time the reapers are caught by a thunderstorm. They take refuge in a hut where an old man, at the light of a candle, begins to tell the story of St. Prokop. At the end of the Summer a procession is set, and finally we get to the fair. It’s a small portrait of life of times past: peasants who look in amazement at the acrobats’ show, or are swindled at a bowling game; lads chasing their lassies; a gypsy clairvoyant engaging in palmistry. Finally, there’s a small masterpiece in animation film, with Trnka’s puppets moving in their turn some smaller miniature puppets, pulling their strings. Theatre within theatre, where the boundary between man and marionette is made all the more subtle, as a tribute to the mastery of the forerunners of the animated film, the traveling puppeteers. (Eulisse 2000; my translation) ­From the perspective of such an original Czech example, it is useful to investigate a little more closely Šebesta’s legacy. Despite high claims, ethnographic museography tends to be rather short of methodological, let alone theoretical, bases of its own, so that a clear stance such as Šebesta’s, alongside a very few acclaimed other pronouncements such as those of Henry Balfour at the Pitt-Rivers Museum, or Georges Henri Rivière at the Musée National des Arts et Traditions Populaires (MNATP), surely deserves some specific attention. [Šebesta] asked the museum of being a laboratory capable non only of demonstrating, but also to recover people’s dexterity, thus ‘awaking our



own operational attitudes which have been put to sleep by the consumer civilization’. To that effect he thought that the exhibition must follow the same logic of a complete operational sequence, through what he called the canali chiusi (‘close channels’): ‘the objects must be placed in such a sequence as to organize a specific discourse, articulate and continuous, starting from roots, and harmoniously unfolding until its own conclusion’. (Kezich and Mott 2003) Let’s then turn to the basic principles of Šebesta’s museography. Among Šebesta’s founding principles there was the separation of the different branches of human activity from the ethnographic context. He took out each single thread and treated it separately, in what he called with characteristic baldness, the ‘closed channels’. He summarized each of these ‘channels’ in a pictogram that he created using his personal stenography when annotating books as well as on his own index cards, and which he ideally wanted reproduced on the Museum’s catalogue forms, captioning and signposting. These ‘channels’ were also a first fundamental step of the organization of the Museum itself, which ideally should be made of as many ‘closed channels’ as practically possible. These separate ‘channels’ were then put into a general layout that began with the primary processes of agriculture, continuing with crafts and industry, to finally end with the arts and symbolic worlds, in a continuous ascending spiral where no visitor should be allowed to retrace their steps. The second step entailed the positioning of implements and tools within each ‘closed channel’ according to the order in which they appeared within a specific operational sequence such as, for instance, that of reaping, threshing, winnowing, followed by grinding (Figure  3.2). Such an ideal progression, was then reproduced segment by segment in the Museum’s layout, so as to make nearly preposterous any overarching verbosity of captions and explanatory panels. Captions and explanations, rather than encumbering the museum layout, were turned into full scale texts, which were represented under different headings similarly entitled: ‘The Way of . . . ’. He took into

FIGURE 3.2  Mowing, threshing, winnowing, grinding. Drawings by G. Šebesta, La via dei mulini, 1976.



consideration the very logic of each of the ‘channels’: La via dei mulini (The Way of Mills) (Šebesta [1976] 1997), La via delle malghe (The Way of the Mountain Dairies) (Šebesta 1982), La via del legno (The Way of Wood) (Šebesta 1983) and La via del rame (The Way of Copper’) (Šebesta 2000). His third principle was that each implement should be as much as possible disassembled or shown in its elementary structure. Alternatively, a sequence of unfinished specimens – which he called intermedi (‘intermediates’) – were to be put on display so as to show the subsequent manufacturing phases of a given implement. A copper cauldron, for example, should be shown together with the photographic evidence, and/or pictorial documentation, which could be illustrative of the process of production, demonstrating a progressive development that could be then transferred into a museum case. Šebesta’s specific aim was to show the elementary structures and operational principles of his implements always supported by his draughtsmanship. In fact, he used to state constantly, in open polemic with anthropological academia and academics, that ‘you cannot be an ethnographer if you are not a draughtsman’. In 1980, one of his papers makes the point clear, in his own quite inimitable style: Even today the real ethnographer who is constantly engaged in fieldwork, gets bewildered by the amount of tools and machineries that come to the surface out of recent and distant past. The sheer mass of materials is imposing, even if the very notion of how to make use of all these tools, and the dialect words that define them have at times gone lost. Part of such findings cannot be moved and must be left in an environment to which one will never return. Thus, all these materials get lost, unless photography and drawing wisely intervene to help fixing its evidence. Browsing through the books of ethnography, however, we seldom find reliable drawings and never enough in number to properly integrate the given descriptions. To get to learn the history of the human experience through the mass of tools that have been created and adopted by man through time is every bit as difficult as to learn about art history. In fact, once a scholar has been able to distinguish the various themes that are found expressed in painting, sculpture, architecture, each with the motivations of its own, he can call himself a true expert only when, browsing again and again in his minds’ eye the materials produced by innumerable artists, he will have captured it all within himself in such a way as to be able to bring it all back to memory whenever he needs it. Yet, if the art historian can rely for this on a body of lectures, texts, galleries and specialized collections, the ethnographer will find no handbooks or reference works in which a specific material culture has been documented to the full in its complexity with photos or drawings, not even in a small territory, let alone a large one. In his field, there are no guidelines to apprehend and become



experts, and therefore classifiers of ergologic materials. For this reason, the majority of ethnographers has eschewed the material experience, and has stuck instead to the sole task of bringing back to the surface usages and rituals already been told by others, and recounted again and again, with minimal or insignificant reworking. (Šebesta 1981; my translation and emphasis) Here Šebesta makes a significant point. When we turn to the study of material culture, that is, humans’ ‘material experience’, appropriate scientific literature does not seem to exist, the references are just not there, and the relevant catalogues, featuring for instance the types of plough, cart, tool, vessel or implement, are few, very partial, and far between. Specialized texts often seem to be more complete and reliable for sectors of the archaeological rather than the ethnographic record. So, in the following passage Šebesta declares his own ideal forebears for the pursuit of the preliminary, essential task of classifying and cataloguing: Diderot and D’Alembert’s Encyclopedia (1751–1772) and, more recently, the illustration work of linguistethnographer Paul Scheuermeier (Scheuermeier 1973), alongside Jaberg and Jud’s Italo-Swiss linguistic atlas (Jaberg and Jud 1928–1940). Šebesta explains it in detail: In the XVIII C., Diderot, D’Alembert and the other Encyclopedists fully understood the necessity to fix in drawings or etchings the rapidly changing reality of their times. By then, the know-how of all trades was kept alive by the craftsman’s experience which was passed on from father to son by means of specific tools and detailed procedures which were destined to be inexorably demised with the emergence of the industrial civilization. The message of the French Enlightenment can be today of considerable usefulness to the refined scholar for a proper understanding and the historic definition of any specific class of artifacts. For the ethnographer it is certainly not so. Researchers into the field of material experience are forced to refer to the very few European dialectological atlases which, for the nature of their enquiry, have inserted in the text drawings or photographs of specific tools, or have drawn up general thematic plates. Yet, in front of the impending mass of terminologies they have generally failed to assign to each word the corresponding tool as depicted in drawing or photographs As for Italy, the reference text is still that of Paul Scheuermeier (1973), with his general volumes and the illustrated plates, which however have gaps which are increasingly difficult to fill in as time goes by. How can in fact the young, even with their best intention, conceive of tools and machineries, and the ways in which they were used up to a very recent past, if they have never seen them? And how, if we do not possess even one drawing, a photograph, accompanied by a reliable description? (Šebesta 1981; my translation, italics in the original)



­Finally, Šebesta recalls his own exemplary contribution to the field of ethnographic draughtsmanship, that which has been matured by contact with linguist G. B. Pellegrini engaged in the drafting of the ASLEF, the linguistic-ethnographic atlas of the Friuli region in north-east Italy (Pellegrini 1972–1986). He states: If general purpose photographs of a watermill can be useful to contextualize it into its environment, only a drawing can highlight its constituent mechanical parts. From the photo of a waterwheel, we can hardly understand the number and the positioning of the buckets, whilst with a drawing we can. Drawing then finds an unparalleled value of its own, every time that comparative plates must be drafted, from which we want to be able to highlight typologies of tools and machineries in a single summary framework. The plates of the AIS (Jaberg and Jakob 1928–1940), will suffice to clarify this fact. So, if in a given territory the different types of the plough have been fully surveyed, only a drawing will be able to lay them in an orderly sequence. Here are some of the same typologies which I myself drafted for the ASLEF (Pellegrini 1972–1986), in the territory of Friuli. (Šebesta 1981; my translation) (Figure 3.3) As can be seen in his own reference index cards, Šebesta’s style of ethnographic rendering was stripped of every naturalism and developed into rather uncompromising geometries in black and white, and to an increasing level of abstraction, which awarded him a prestigious collaboration as draughtsman-ethnographer in the monumental linguistic atlas of Friuli (ASLEF) by the old master Pellegrini: [Šebesta] enriched many of the Atlas tables with various sketches, extraordinary for the essential traits which allow the reader to immediately






FIGURE 3.3  a. Single moulboard plough; b. Double moulboard plough; c. Double moulboard plough with coulter; d. Double moulboard plough; e. Double moulboard plough. Drawings by G. Šebesta in G.B. Pellegrini, ASLEF, 1981–6, vol. IV tav. 581b–c.



understand how the various implements are formed, especially the agricultural ones, which are drawn with an ability and an eye superfine, so that the graphic strokes, albeit reduced to a few lines, do perfectly return the tool’s image. Paradigmatic proof of this, is the iconography prepared for the Atlas section dedicated to the plough, the cart, the flail, the harrow, haymaking and so on. (Pellegrini 2000; my translation) (Figure 3.4) This specific attitude towards synthetic, black-and-white sketching is closely paralleled in the evolution of Šebesta’s own art. Having started from a kind of expressionism rooted in the figurative tradition of his original homeland in Bohemia, Šebesta was also visibly influenced by the quasicontemporary Italian artistic trends of futurism, which had had in his native Trentino at least one important apostle in the person of Fortunato Depero (1892–1960), the hero of a rocketing artistic career from his native Dolomites to Milan and New York and back. Šebesta surely drew inspiration from futurism in terms of a search for abstraction, which points at revealing, within still objects and human bodies in motion, inner structures and energy lines. Ever since he was a child, Šebesta knew how to display entrepreneurial inventiveness, which drove him to continuous experimentation: kites, aeronautic models, multistage rockets, possibly a congenial projection beyond the autarchic boundaries of the micro-nationalist culture of the


b. FIGURE 3.4 



a. Breaking hemp or flax, vol. VI, tav. 1026a; b. Cheesemaking, vol. V, tav. 861 a; c. Carrying hay, vol IV tav. 659a; d. Hay sledge, vol. V tav. 886a. Drawings by G. Šebesta in G.B. Pellegrini, ASLEF, 1981–6.



time. As a spirit and a citizen of the frontier, he always knew how to cultivate a taste for innovation and was soon able to envisage within the specific sector of cinematic development the field of action and experimentation that, in between the two wars, was to become a terrain of cultural and technological confrontation for the protagonists of the international avantgarde: Paul Grimault and Fernand Leger in France; Oskar Fischinger, Walter Ruttman and Hans Richter in Germany; Dave and Max Fleisher, Sullivan, Disney and the great documentarists Norman McLaren and Robert Flaherty in America; and Dziga Vertov and Majakowskij in Russia. He also was a rather disenchanted spectator of the crowded stage of the second futurists and the self-styled ‘aero-painters’, and he had of course every occasion to witness Depero’s wandering sextant, yet welcoming the novelty of some of his trials particularly in publicity and in set design. (Perusini 2000; my translation) Thus, we can see Šebesta’s art following in the footsteps of the avant-garde. This can be seen in the general sway of his decorative taste, especially when it comes to the representation of mechanisms and the making of furniture and an array of decorative objects. More generally, it can be detected in the exalted, hallucinatory geometries aimed at rendering the local legendary lore, in the mural sgraffittos of Czech descent, as well as in his illustrated children’s book Le dita di fuoco (The fingers of fire) (Šebesta 1962). Furthermore, we see the same drive towards a form of pictorial Modernism in his collection of twenty naïve short stories entitled I pittori delle Dolomiti (The Painters of the Dolomites), La cintura incantata (The Enchanted Belt), Le anguane del Cismon (The fairies of Mount Cismon) or in the story Nel bosco verde (In the Green Wood) by Giovanna Borzaga (1966), for whom he drafted the cover (see Plate 3.1). This was in the same visual register of another celebrated protagonist of the same dream world of the Dolomites, The Bears’ Famous Invasion of Sicily by Dino Buzzati (Buzzati 1945). Developing a geometric, anti-naturalist, post-futurist trend, Šebesta opened a significant new chapter in the representation of the human figure, particularly with regard to the schematic rendering of traditional folk costumes, for example, their general stylized outfit, and in the particulars of headpieces, shoes and aprons. A tendency that, still under the influence of Depero’s futurism, can also be perceived amongst other distinguished artists of that age who were interested in the representation of folk art, such as Eugenio Tavolara (1901–1963) in Sardinia (Altea and Camarda 2012; Magnani and Altea 1994). A similar bold achievement in ethnographic sketching was in fact gained by Šebesta in the study of costumes, a field still largely unexplored by systematic research, at least as far as a structural approach is concerned: Drawing also plays a determinant role in the study of costumes, both male and female, for everyday as well as for Sundays. The ‘Napoleonic



survey’ made this opportunity very clear. With a few essential strokes one can highlight the different typologies of the corsets and necklines, the stitching and the cutting of the sleeves, the shape of the hats. Drawings and photographs are necessary for multiple purposes, for a wider and more complete analysis [Plate 3.2]. Both, however, are naturally linked to the sensitivity and competence of the researcher. Only thus we will be able to offer to whomever will come after us a kit of visual materials on the basis of which it will be possible to dispel misunderstandings and uncertainties. (Šebesta 1981; my translation) The natural progression from a drawing’s schematic rendering of folk costumes to the relevant Museum window cases reveals the implications of transferring this kind of aesthetic from ethnographic draughtsmanship to the skill of designing museums (Figure  3.5). In Šebesta’s museography, we are cast in a world in black and white, as in an op art set design of the 1960s, where dark objects such as sickles and whetstones were to be seen in anonymous, uncaptioned sequences against perfectly white backdrops, in turn contained within square and perfectly black frames (Figure 3.6). Today, all this can be very easily dismissed as part of a completely outmoded brand of aesthetics, in contemporary trends as well as in ethnomuseography. This is of course true because all ethnomuseographic representation is subject to the vagaries of history that includes taste and trends, amongst other elements. Yet, Šebesta’s commitment to his idea of modernism seems to open further interesting perspectives. The faithful reproduction of cultural contexts that we may call a ‘naturalist’ stance in museography, is supposed to replicate landscape, its materials and its visual references. In addition, Šebesta’s perspective which he shared with his fellow artists,

FIGURE 3.5  The assembling of the traditional dress: a structural sequence: A. corsage plus skirt; B. plus apron; C. plus flounce; D. plus bib; E. plus shawl; F. plus headkerchief, from G. Šebesta, “Studiare il costume. Le fonti iconografiche e archivistiche” in La Ricerca Folklorica, 1986.



FIGURE 3.6  Museo degli Usi e Costumi della Gente Trentina / Trentino Folklife Museum, a showcase from section “Costumes”, 1975. puppeteers, draughtsmen and writers was quite foreign to the notion of ‘culture’ in the anthropological sense. So, as he himself once put it, with characteristic baldness: There is no such thing as the Trentino, and no such thing as Bohemia, either. There are no homelands, I do not have a homeland. There is only one thing in this world, which is the World itself. And in the World, there is Man! (Kezich 2000; my emphasis) In his view, the attention paid to Indigenous material culture pointed to a notion of humans’ universal struggle against nature, poignantly simplified by day-to-day life in dire and hazardous mountain surroundings. In this perspective, the human trace is not seen to proceed from Nature’s own sinuosities, but rather it interacts with it through the elementary geometries of its own, its clear-cut logics, its built-in angles, where humans interfere, bringing along their own specific brand of disturbance. This is really Šebesta’s landscape, this is the juncture where he stands (Figure 3.7). Largely unaware of the ultimate implications of his thinking, however, Šebesta’s work and method took on a momentum well beyond his own three museographic realizations, at San Michele all’Adige, Santarcangelo di Romagna (Šebesta 1991) and Codissago di Castellavazzo (Da Rif 2007). Furthermore, he was highly influential throughout the conspicuous new levy of local ethnographic museums in 1970s Italy (Togni, Forni and Pisani 1997). Šebesta’s idea of the museum and his own method, illuminated by his brilliant black-and-white, skeletal renderings, still functions as a powerful stimulus and a point of reference in a number of local museums where they



FIGURE 3.7  Levering for metal strands. Drawing by G. Šebesta, La via del rame, 1987. add to a community’s sense of identity. His common sense, unpedantic, caption-free museographic style has thus proven replicable in a number of situations, and it is user-friendly too. In fact, for fifty years, the museum spaces that Šebesta has laid out have proven to be consistently useful in an educational perspective as if, with their subliminal logic, they could be promptly made use of as ready-made educational laboratories, so that Šebesta’s work and method, directly influenced as we have seen by some very specific theoretical standpoints, still can be singled out today, as indeed they are, as a substantial contribution to the general pursuit of ethnographic research and anthropological endeavour.

References Altea, G. and A. Camarda (eds) (2012), Eugenio Tavolara. Il mondo magico, Nuoro: Ilisso. Anselmi, S. (2001), Agricoltura e mondo contadino, Bologna: Il Mulino. Borzaga, G. (1966), Nel bosco verde, Trento: Saturnia. ­Buzzati, D. (1945), La famosa invasione degli orsi in Sicilia, Milan: Rizzoli. Cole, J. W. and E. R. Wolf (1974), The Hidden Frontier: Ecology and Ethnicity in an Alpine Valley, New York: Academic Press. Da Rif, F. (2007), ‘L’esperienza del Museo degli Zattieri a Codissago’, SM Annali di San Michele Special Issue, Giuseppe Šebesta e la cultura delle Alpi, 20: 153–157. Dei, F. and P. Meloni (2015), Antropologia della cultura materiale, Rome: Carocci. Eulisse, E. (2000), ‘Dall’etnografia al cinema d’animazione: la mostra Faust & Šebesta’, ‘Faust & Šebesta’, special issue, SM Annali di San Michele, 13: 45.



Gencarella, S. O. (2010), ‘Gramsci, Good Sense, and Critical Folklore’, Studies in Journal of Folklore Research: An International Journal of Folklore and Ethnomusicology, 47(3): 221–252. Jaberg, K. and J. Jud (1928–1940), AIS Sprach- und Sachatlas Italiens und der Südschweiz, 8 vols, Zofingen: Ringier. Kezich, G. (2000), ‘Faust & Šebesta e altri personaggi’, ‘Faust & Šebesta’, special issue, SM Annali di San Michele, 13: 22. Kezich, G. (2019), Museo degli Usi e Costumi della Gente Trentina: I primi 50 anni 1968–2018, Trento: BQE. Kezich, G. and A. Mott (2003), ‘“Bèpo” Šebesta’, Le Monde Alpin et Rhodanien: Revue Régionale d’Ethnologie, 31 (1–4): 191–197. Pellegrini, G. B. (ed.) (1972–1986), ASLEF Atlante storico-linguistico-etnografico friulano, Padoa: Istituto di glottologia dell’università di Padova; Udine: Istituto di filologia romanza della facoltà di lingue e letterature straniere di Trieste. Pellegrini, G. B. (2000), ‘Šebesta etnografo nel Friuli: l’esperienza dell’ASLEF’, ‘Faust & Šebesta’, special issue, SM Annali di San Michele, 13: 82. Magnani, M. and G. Altea (1994), Eugenio Tavolara, Nuoro: Ilisso. Perusini, R. (2000), ‘Ciak! Sulla scena fantastica di Giuseppe Šebesta’, ‘Faust & Šebesta’, special issue, SM Annali di San Michele, 13: 167. Poni, C. (1982), Fossi e cavedagne benedicon le campagne: Studi di storia rurale, Bologna: il Mulino. Scheuermeier, P. (1973), Il lavoro dei contadini, Milan: Longanesi. Šebesta, G. (1962), Le dita di fuoco, Rovereto: Manfrini. Šebesta, G. ([1972] 1991), ‘Opportunità di un museo degli usi e costumi della gente romagnola a Santarcangelo di Romagna’, in Scritti etnografici, 201–203, San Michele all’Adige: MUCGT. Šebesta, G. ([1976] 1997), La via dei mulini, San Michele all’Adige: MUCGT. Šebesta, G. (1981), ‘Fotografia e disegno nella ricerca etnografica’, La ricerca folklorica, 1(2): 37–44; then in: Šebesta, G. (1991), Scritti etnografici, San Michele all’Adige, MUCGT. Šebesta, G. (1982), La via delle malghe, Trento: Centro Trentino Esposizioni. Šebesta, G. (1983), La via del legno, San Michele all’Adige: MUCGT. Šebesta, G. (1986), ‘Studiare il Costume: Le fonti etnografiche e archivistiche’, La ricerca folklorica (14): 53–64. Šebesta, G. (1998), In forma di museo: il film dei primi anni nei ricordi del fondatore, San Michele all’Adige: MUCGT. Šebesta, G. (2000), La via del rame, San Michele all’Adige: MUCGT. Sellan, G. (2007), ‘Šebesta in valle dei mòcheni’, SM Annali di San Michele, 20: 65. Togni, R., G. Forni and F. Pisani (1997), Guida ai musei etnografici italiani, Florence: Olschki. Tozzi Fontana, M. (1984), I musei della cultura materiale, Rome: NIS.



The production of Indigenous visual knowledge



Pictorialization as resource in the Cameroon Grassfields: Ibrahim Njoya’s illustrations for the History and Customs of the Bamum (1927–1930) Simon Dell

Sometime before 1908, King Ibrahim Njoya of the Bamum began to draft a history of his kingdom. This became a lengthy and detailed text, assuming its final form in the 1920s (Dugast and Jeffreys 1950: 63–65). Towards the end of the decade the royal scribe and draughtsman Ibrahim Njoya – the King’s namesake – produced a suite of drawings to illustrate the history (Tardits 1997). The drawings are in ink with graphite on paper, so the physical materials were still exotic in the context of the Cameroon Grassfields at this date. So too were some of the artist’s visual sources. One drawing of the king was made by tracing a photograph the missionary Anna Rein-Wuhrmann had reproduced in a book she had published in Basel: Mein Bamumvolk im Grasland von Kamerun (Plate 4.1 and Figure  4.1). The artist traced the photograph and placed the portrait in an elaborate framing comprising various motifs derived from Bamum textiles. Some of these designs are in indigo, a colour prized in the Kingdom of Bamum and used for prestige goods (Geary 1983: 110). In the drawing the king holds a sword in a scabbard and this hangs over the decorated frame, conveying the impression that the king is standing at a large window.



However, there are not enough visual cues to secure this interpretation of a virtual space, and it is somewhat undermined by other features of the image, such as a version of the alphabet Njoya invented, which is directly below the frame, and which reasserts the presence of the sheet of paper as a planar surface. So, the artist has combined a range of marks and motifs and also brought together the familiar and the unfamiliar, in the process taking up the resources of a European visual tradition. Njoya has exercised his own control over pictorialization, by which I mean ‘the deployment of the resources of the medium – the ordering of color, tone, edge, and figure – and not just the bare registration of a subject matter’ (Baxandall 1985: 33). Njoya’s complex work of pictorialization, his specific visual mediations, are the subject of this chapter. Yet quite why I feel this makes an appropriate contribution to the present volume requires some reflection on the questions this book aims to probe. The volume’s editors have as a ‘point of departure the ways in which art history and anthropology use observation’. They begin with a basic distinction between anthropologists who ‘observe social life in order to document cultural behaviours’ and art historians who ‘start from the premise that the act of seeing and recording visual experience is always

FIGURE 4.1  ‘King Njoya with favoured wife’, 1912, as published in Anna Rein-Wuhrmann, Mein Bamumvolk im Grasland von Kamerun (Basle: Basler Missionsbuchhandlung 1925), 155.


contingent on cultural norms and ways of seeing’. The distinction is a useful one insofar as it draws out a significant difference between the disciplines. Fieldwork is a fundamental method of anthropology and observation in the field is crucial. However, the viewing activities of art historians are of a different order. One attends to works of art but does not observe them and this is not a trivial distinction. For seeing and recording are quite different actions and result in different experiences. Attending to an image as an image entails seeing a series of marks as something-or-other and this visual event is quite different to that of attending to a series of actions or surveying an environment (Davis 2011: 150–155). If observing a scene and viewing an image are distinct, it follows that the former cannot straightforwardly be taken as a basis for understanding the latter. Judging the relationship between scene and image is, to say the least, fraught with difficulties. These difficulties prompt the editors to identify two fundamental and mutually imbricated problems: What are the conditions that make a picture ethnographic? When does it become art? Furthermore, can visual representations provide us with information about Indigenous or local cultures that can be accessed either via a decoding of the dominant cultural and other normative functions in image-making or through direct translation? In what ways can art historical methods work to unlock previously unknown or unrecognized meanings? In beginning to elaborate a response the editors note that a study of different conventions and levels of ethnographic accuracy in paintings and other forms of visual records is therefore necessary to evaluate the epistemological trajectories that result in new meanings, forms of knowledge and cultural expressions upon which identity is collectively built. I certainly agree that attempting to follow the trajectory of an image may be productive. I also agree that a central issue is the relationship between images and forms of knowledge; what seems to me to be more difficult is approaching that relationship by judging levels of accuracy. A basic discrimination can be made between schematic images and more powerfully illusionistic ones, and in a commentary on the work of Ernst Gombrich, Joel Snyder has noted that ‘any picture which provokes a response “akin to visual hallucination” rates a position on the “ladder” of illusionistic representation’ (1980: 501). However, the problem of levels of ethnographic accuracy is much more difficult to resolve; Snyder goes on to note that ‘problems of discrimination become acute at the upper reaches of the “ladder,” and recourse to “information” or to the power of induced “hallucination” does not help in assigning particular pictures to specific rungs’ (501). In what follows, I shall suggest that there are at least two difficulties in attempting to



assess ethnographic accuracy. The first is that appeals to observation cannot secure a judgement as to the accuracy of an image because the knowledge gained from observation is distinct from that gained from – or mediated by – images. The second is that accuracy itself imposes very strict limits on what constitutes a form of knowledge. So I shall argue that considerations of accuracy are not just problematic but actively unhelpful in the analysis of images. I want also to argue that the productive alternative is to attend to the work of pictorialization. It seems to me that both arguments are necessary if one wants to arrive at a better understanding of what images actually do and how they do it. I hope my account of Njoya’s images will demonstrate at least something of this. *** To gain some purchase on all of this it seems useful to distinguish between at least three problems concerning accuracy, or, more precisely, three situations. This exposition is not without a certain aridity but I hope it will nevertheless bring to light a number of difficulties. I shall consider different uses of accuracy and it seems helpful to begin with a situation where judging accuracy is a visual and spatial problem but not a pictorial one. Let us suppose that my friend Robin challenges me to an archery competition. Judging the relative accuracy of our shooting is a matter of considering the disposition of our fired arrows in relation to the bullseye. If I sulk and protest that it is too difficult to judge, there can be recourse to a measure to establish exactly how far each arrow is from the centre of the target. The degrees of accuracy are established by spatial disposition and there is an agreed standard for how to assess the relative dispositions. Let us now turn to a situation involving the pictorial and consider the use of passport photographs. I want to examine the use of these photographs because they are unusual in two respects, which make them comparable to the archery target: they are unusual in that degrees of accuracy are at stake in their use and in that these degrees are subject to regulation. The officer at the border control forms a judgement as to the relationship between the passport holder and the passport photograph and on this basis decides whether the holder may be permitted entry into the country. Yet there are at least two important differences between this situation and the archery competition, and the differences help to establish what I see as the limitations – the unhelpfulness – of appealing to the accuracy of images. The first difference is comparatively straightforward: the perceived accuracy of the passport photograph is a matter of judgement, but it is not established by an agreed standard of measure as in the archery competition; there is no pictorial equivalent for the measure used in the competition, and this was my principal reason for beginning with that example. The target and the passport photograph are literally incommensurate. Officers at border


controls do not have recourse to tape measures or rulers. That they do not do so brings me to the second difference between situations. If an officer decides that my image is unsatisfactory because it is insufficiently accurate, I cannot appeal to a measure as in the archery competition. Now, this is not simply because that type of measure does not exist (although it does not), it is, more importantly, because I am not permitted to make such an appeal. The judgement of the officer is invested with the authority of the state in a way that mine is not. The situation is such that the judgement of the officer will prevail and I am not in a position to dispute it (this is where it is helpful to consider concrete situations rather than abstract propositions). Precisely what kind of judgement is this? The officer is not, ultimately, seeking to make a judgement on the accuracy of the image. He or she is judging its continued compliance with a set of conventions, that is, confirming the judgement made when the original photograph was accepted for use in the production of the passport. Yet it needs to be emphasized that border controls are not put in place to create situations where individuals may be congratulated on possessing acceptable likenesses of themselves. Their purpose is to control movement by establishing the rights (or otherwise) of individuals to enter sovereign territories. The passport photographs are a means to this end; they are used to confirm, for the representatives of the state, the rights of an individual. Providing the photograph is able to do this job it is acceptable to the official. To repeat: what I think of my photograph is neither here nor there. I do not need to share the officer’s judgement, I need to acquiesce to it. I stress this point because I wish to make it clear that this rare situation in which pictorial accuracy is judged is at once entirely instrumental and highly specific, not least in that the judgement is exercised in the name of a specific authority. The fact that certain pictures may serve in this capacity does not mean that it provides a model for judging pictures more generally (Snyder 1980: 510). I think quite the opposite is the case and for reasons that stem directly from the use made of the passport photograph. It is not just that the use is highly specific and so not readily generalized to other cases; it is that this use is best described as minimal. The officer’s judgement is made to establish a right. The plenitude of even this most humble of images is left largely implicit because it is largely irrelevant to the officer. The work of pictorialization is barely at issue here. Having made this sketch, I am able to turn to my third situation, and approach more directly the types of images that tend to concern anthropologists. Let us consider another photograph, one proffered to an informant by an enquiring anthropologist. This situation has the potential to generate a much more diverse range of responses than that elicited by the passport photograph, yet there are important similarities between the situations. The first is that in both cases the images are means to ends. The photograph given to the informant is used, precisely, to generate



information, to confirm or refute a proposition concerning a practice: ‘No, this looks strange: we do not place our upturned dishes on the floor’, or ‘no, we do not hang our old-master paintings faced to the wall’, and so on. This manner of instrumentalizing images indicates a second similarity between the two situations: in both cases the image is submitted to an authority. The passport photographed is submitted to the authority of the state as invested in the officer; the anthropologist’s photograph is submitted to the authority of the community as invested in the informant. In the former case the image is referred to the passport holder, in the latter it is referred to some aspect of the body of knowledge possessed by the informant. That the latter range of reference is much wider than the former does alter the act of submission. In both cases the accuracy of the images is established by an authority rather than through the appeal to an agreed standard. In both cases the images are authorized, and this is simply to say that in both cases authority is located outside of the images. In turn, this has implications for the ways in which the anthropologist’s photograph may be approached. To the extent that the informant’s comments on the image derive their authority from her or his knowledge of the community, the comments will be restricted to that range of reference. The image is reduced to aspects of this knowledge and in this sense its use is restricted; the anthropologist’s photograph is not used in the minimal fashion of the passport photograph, but nevertheless its plenitude is not fully explored. At this point the reader may well wish to make objections. It seems to me that there are three major types of objections (although I suspect there are several more). A first objection would be that my account of the anthropologist’s work is merely a caricature and that images are used in a much more complex and flexible way than I have allowed. An anthropologist would certainly welcome all manner of comments from an informant and not seek to restrict them. For example, remarks might be made concerning the viewpoint from which a photograph was taken and whether the resulting image was in conformity with the informant’s particular sense of decorum. I am very ready to acknowledge such objections and not least because they seem to me to be objections to appeals to accuracy. Consider the example of viewpoint. Precisely when the informant attends to such an aspect of the image, he or she is departing from an account of the image that could be held to be concerned with accuracy. Viewpoints for photographing may be considered more or less appropriate – more or less decorous – but they cannot themselves be described as more or less accurate. An informant’s comments on such visual matters may be made with authority, drawing on a particular body of knowledge, but the comments will necessarily be interpretations. They will exceed the minimal use of the image. As such the interpretations are more than ‘the bare registration of a subject matter’; they are comments on ‘the resources of the medium’ (Baxandall 1985: 33). A second type of objection might consist in protesting against the narrow specificity of the situation of the informant and the photograph, as


anthropologists use a variety of images in a number of different ways. For example, a fieldworker might provide a community with pencils and paper and ask them to represent what cannot be photographed, such as a pantheon of deities. Such images might be of considerable value but, again, that value would depend on their origin in the community and not on a judgement as to their accuracy. If this criterion of value is accepted, I believe it would establish my grounds for having difficulties with the appeal to ethnographic accuracy in visual records. This brings me, then, to the third type of objection: that I have not been considering the ‘visual records’ of anthropologists addressed by the editors of the present volume. The reason I have not yet considered these images is because I wished to establish, first, the ways in which knowledge derived from images might be authorized. I also wanted, second, to suggest the importance of the interpretative role of the source community. These seem the helpful preliminaries to a discussion of visual records. To the extent that such records are produced in the context of the source community as part of fieldwork, they will be mediations of a quite specific kind. As Eduardo Viveiros De Castro notes, in fieldwork there is, necessarily, a process of translation, ‘the translation of the “native’s” practical and discursive concepts into the terms of anthropology’s conceptual apparatus’ (2004: 4). This involves a kind of comparison that necessarily includes the anthropologist’s discourse as one of its terms, and which starts to be processed from the very first moment of fieldwork, if not well before. Controlling this translative comparison between anthropologies is precisely what comprises the art of anthropology. (Viveiros De Castro 2004: 5; emphasis in the original) Viveiros De Castro understands this translation as a process of ‘controlled equivocation’ (2004: 5). Put very simply, such equivocation should be acknowledged to be part of the process of interpreting visual records. If this is accepted, then their position on a rung of Snyder’s ‘ladder’ of representation is largely beside the point. This is so because the interpretative acts involved here are quite distinct from those of the passport officer recognizing continued compliance with a set of conventions. That mechanism of authoritative judgement is unavailable and would hardly be appropriate if it were. It seems time, then, to set considerations of accuracy aside for a while and to consider instead the broader and more fruitful category of forms of knowledge. The alternative approach I have begun to elaborate is to attend more directly to the work of pictorialization, which provides knowledge, but a knowledge that will be understood to be a product of interpretation. Attending to pictorialization enriches the ways one may respond to an image. However, this enriching is not immediately a cause for celebration, as becomes clear if I return to the situation of the informant and the



photograph and begin to examine the conditions for interpretation. A first difficulty to address is that the technology of photography may be more or less exotic for the informant. In most cases it would be familiar, but the skills involved in the interpretation of photographic images would probably also run across or athwart the body of knowledge the anthropologist was soliciting. Doubtless the two competences might be brought into some kind of productive relationship through controlled equivocation; the point is that this would have to be done by an act of convergence or some other kind of negotiation for those informants with a different vision of the world to that of the enquiring anthropologist with a camera. Thus far I have introduced two sets of problems with the use of images. On the one hand there are a range of difficulties with considerations of accuracy and on the other the issues thrown up by different acts of interpretation. I have presented these sets of problems as distinct because in important respects they are. However, I have now to acknowledge that it is not simply a matter of choosing which set of problems one wishes to attend to as both are bound up with a modern conception of nature and naturalism. This ethnocentricity has to be confronted. Perhaps the most sustained and sophisticated meditation on these problems has been offered by Philippe Descola. His account demonstrates – amongst many other things – the extent to which the problems are entangled. This account is prefaced with a reflection on the cost of the naturalist cosmology. A new cosmology had emerged, a prodigious collective invention that provided an unprecedented framework for the development of scientific thought . . . The price to be paid for that simplification included one aspect that it has been possible to overlook, given that we have not been made to account for it: while the Moderns were discovering the lazy propensity of barbaric and savage peoples to judge everything according to their own particular norms, they were masking their own ethnocentricity behind a rational approach to knowledge, the errors of which at that time escaped notice. (Descola 2013: xv) Descola’s dissatisfaction with this state of affairs shapes his anthropological enquiry: Our object must be to make it clear that the project of understanding the relations that human beings establish between one another and with nonhumans cannot be based upon a cosmology and an ontology that are as closely bound as ours are to a particular context. To this end, we need first to show that the opposition between nature and culture is not as universal as it is claimed to be. (Descola 2013: xviii)


Yet of course modern naturalism cannot simply be dismissed, what is required is a more careful explication of its emergence. Strikingly, this leads Descola directly to pictorialization. His account of the creation of the great divide between nature and culture opens with an analysis of a landscape drawing by Roelandt Savery. Whilst conceding this may be arbitrary, Descola associates the image with ‘the emergence of the modern concept of nature’ because the image helped to inaugurate ‘landscape’ as ‘an autonomous genre’ (Descola 2013: 57, 59). This mode of picturing continuous exterior space came, over the course of the fifteenth century, to be organized according to the principles of linear perspective, governed by the gaze of the viewer. The system of perspective creates a distance between man and the world by making the autonomy of things depend upon man; and it systematizes and stabilizes the external universe even as it confers upon the subject absolute mastery over the organization of this newly conquered exteriority. In this way linear perspective established in the domain of representation the possibility of the kind of confrontation between the individual and nature that was to become characteristic of modern ideology. (Descola 2013: 59–60) Over the next 150 years the ramifications of this became clear. This way of representing the human environment in all its exteriority was of course indissociable from the movement to mathematize space that in this same period was being promoted by geometry, physics, optics, ranging from Copernicus’s decentralizing of the cosmos to Descartes’s res extensa. (Descola 2013: 61) One should now see more clearly how the modern concept of nature creates the problems discussed above. On the one hand, the objectivization of reality creates the objects of the new science and attendant tools of measurement, to which the measure used in the archery competition ultimately belongs, albeit in a most humble capacity. On the other hand, the mode of pictorialization elaborated in the fifteenth century – and which provides the matrix for photography – emerges more clearly as part of a naturalist ontological regime, which Descola is at pains to distinguish from totemism, analogism and animism. Yet having established the framework for this, Descola concludes this part of his argument by returning to the status of anthropology as the daughter of scientific thought. Here he concedes that ‘its role is hampered by this heritage’ and that this becomes an obstacle to the ‘comprehension of ontologies and cosmologies whose premisses differ from our own’



(Descola 2013: 81). The task then is to resist attributing ‘to our own vision of the world the value of a standard’ for all and ‘to situate our own exoticism as one particular case within a general grammar of cosmologies’ (88). I shall attempt to do at least something of this in the second part of this chapter, as I turn to consider how ‘our’ naturalist pictorialization was used as a resource in the Kingdom of Bamum. *** Resources are perhaps best understood as potential. A resource suggests the possibility of use, of something mobilized under certain circumstances. An individual is characterized as resourceful when they demonstrate a capacity for identifying new possibilities. Both King Ibrahim Njoya and his namesake, the artist, were such individuals. They had to be; as I shall now show, they had to respond to a changing set of circumstances as the Kingdom of Bamum underwent its first phases of colonial contact. For the Bamum, the colonial period began on 6  July 1902, when a German military mission arrived in Fumban, the capital of Bamum. Much later, Njoya gave his own account of the responses to the Germans: ‘Let’s fight them, let’s drive them out’, said the Bamum. – No, said Njoya. He had seen in a dream what the Whites would do to the Bamum. ‘If we make war on the Whites, the Bamum will be exterminated immediately. Only a few of you will survive, you will be wretched.’ And Njoya himself took from the Bamum their arrows, spears and guns. The Whites arrived and did not make war on them. Thus did Njoya secure the fortunes of the Bamum. – However the Whites inspired much fear. What was to be done? ‘I will go amongst them, said Njoya, and I will learn their ways’. (Njoya 1952: 42–43) Here Njoya demonstrates his sagacity as a ruler and his placatory skills. He would calm his population by coming to understand the new arrivals, by learning their ways. This would have manifold consequences, as Njoya indicates by ending his description of the German arrival with a list of his own achievements. It is a compendium of resourcefulness. In the past the Bamum did not know writing: Njoya taught it to them. In the past the Bamum did not know weaving: Njoya showed them how to weave. In the past the Bamum did not know how to forge iron, they did not know how to dress nor how to ride: Njoya helped them with all these things.In the past the Bamum did not know how to dye white cloth black, nor how to make bricks to build houses. Njoya showed them these things. (Njoya 1952: 43)


­These achievements need to be understood as the continuation of earlier practices of the Bamum. As detailed in Njoya’s history, the Bamum identified themselves as warriors, expanding their kingdom through migration and conquest, as carried through most forcefully by King Mbuembue in the first half of the nineteenth century. He was held to have declared: ‘I will set the borders of my kingdom with blood and iron’ (Njoya 1952: 26). The signs of Bamum martial prowess were found in the insignia they took from those they had defeated and bound in servitude. These important objects came to be the property of the secret societies active in the royal palace in Fumban. Of these societies the most important were Ngüri, a society of princes, Mbansié, a society of retainers, and Mutngu, the society responsible for matters of justice; the objects of Ngüri once belonged to the vanquished Tikar, those of Mbansié to the Koutie and those of Mutngu to the Pambelie (Geary 1983: 145; Tardits 1980: 112, 104). As this shows, appropriation was a sign of strength during the expansion of the kingdom and Njoya’s innovations should be considered in this light. During the colonial period Njoya sought to allay the fears of the Bamum by adopting European symbols, forms and technologies. His appropriations even extended to large architectural projects, including two palaces built using European methods (Dell 2020: 147–189). This continuation of earlier practices is nicely captured in an anecdote related by the artist Ernst Vollbehr, who travelled through the Bamum kingdom in 1911. Vollbehr records a visit to Njoya’s school (yet another of the king’s innovations). On this occasion, the tune of the German national anthem was struck up. However, Vollbehr’s translator then informs him that the text sung was ‘Fumban, Fumban über alles’ (Fumban, Fumban, above all) (Hirschberg 1962: 40). Njoya’s appropriations are instances of extraversion, those tactics that consist ‘in espousing foreign cultural elements and putting them in the service of autochthonous objectives’ (Bayart 2005: 71). Exotic images and, in due course, exotic resources of pictorialization, were amongst those elements Njoya put into his service. That images held many possibilities of use is indicated by a photograph taken in Fumban in November 1905 (Figure 4.2). This shows images of Queen Luise and either Emperor Wilhelm II or Prince Heinrich, hanging over doorways to the palace (Geary 1988: 42). Images of the German imperial family seem to have circulated in Fumban from the first years of colonial contact, but what is significant here is the placement. It was a practice in the Grassfields to hang small apotropaic sculptures or other objects over such thresholds and there is evidence of this in a photograph of Njoya in a doorway, seated beneath medicines of this type (Harter 1986: 61). Yet the use of these medicines seems to have ceased after 1903, when it is probable that they were replaced by portraits, as seen in the 1905 image. Even if the portraits did not directly ‘replace’ the medicines, the removal of the latter in favour of the former ensured there was no competition between these different types of powerful object. So the imperial portraits could,



FIGURE 4.2  Martin Göhring, ‘Queen Mother Njapndunke and her entourage’, photographic print, 1905. Basel Mission Archive, K 784. in their own way, be held to be apotropaic. After all, they represented a distant but powerful group, the agents of which exercised authority – and deadly force – in the Grassfields. Avoiding the destruction of the Bamum was the result of Njoya’s ability to negotiate with these agents. In turn, the Germans would acknowledge the significance of the imperial image for the Bamum: after Njoya supported a campaign against the Kingdom of Nso he was presented with a photograph of Wilhelm II (Geary 1988: 53). Njoya’s appropriations played their role, then, in his successful negotiations with the Germans. However, his fortunes turned after the outbreak of the First World War. In 1915 the Germans retreated from Cameroon, and the Kingdom of Bamum came under British control. In due course administration was transferred to the French, who initially adopted a cautious and conciliatory policy towards Njoya, as during wartime they did not wish to jeopardize relations with the monarch. However, after 1918 the power of the royal household was progressively undermined. This was


intended to be a slowly unfolding project; the reduction was to be calculated and gradual, as the administrators in Cameroon were aware that a swift and brutal transition was in itself dangerous. As this took place, Njoya turned to engagement with Islam. After the German withdrawal he had first elaborated his own syncretic religion, Nuet Kuete. Then, in 1916, a mosque was built in Fumban. In 1918 Njoya asked Bobo Amadou of Yola to send a marabout to Fumban to prepare his conversion (Dubié 1957: 348–350). In 1920 Njoya was obliged to dismiss 1,127 retainers (Tardits 1980: 679–680). Then, in November 1922, the administration of the region was reorganized, with the creation of a new circonscription that permitted the French to place the king under closer surveillance. As Njoya’s power was curtailed, that of his rival Mosé Yeyap grew. Already at some point before December 1919 Yeyap moved from the role of an informal intermediary to that of official interpreter for the French (Njimonya 2006: 164). Yeyap and Njoya’s rivalry was precipitated into conflict on 12 May 1924, when an anonymous letter was delivered to Léopold Veauver, the chief of the subdivision in Fumban; this letter detailed a number of complaints against Yeyap. Gaston Ripert, the chief of the circonscription, was called to Fumban; in the meantime Njoya’s entourage began to gather supporters in the capital. Ripert informed Njoya that if the King’s supporters did not return to their villages they would be dispersed by force. Eventually, on 21 May, the crowd did begin to disperse and the ringleaders were arrested; this was the beginning of the end of Njoya’s reign (Ripert 1980). Ripert took this opportunity to enact a previously formulated policy to suppress the tribute that the king commanded. This act sealed Njoya’s fate, as it destroyed the economy of collective redistribution centred on the palace. Hitherto, the king and the Bamum chiefdom had renewed their relations of obligation through the payment of tribute during the principal festival in the Bamum calendar, the Nguon (Tardits 1980: 310, 773–796). Now they were forced to abandon this festival. The older political structure was replaced with a system of regional chiefs, nominated by Yeyap. After the events of May 1924, the king largely withdrew from public life and dedicated much of his energy to the completion of his history of the Bamum. He would tell his own version of the events that led to the effective end of his reign. The book is concerned with the achievements of the royal house and, above all, Njoya’s achievements; in keeping with this, the reader is reminded several times of the King’s innovations, of things that the Bamum did not have before his reign. Yet by the time Ibrahim Njoya came to prepare his illustrations for the text it had become clear that the history could not be a straightforward celebration of achievement, for Njoya’s power had largely been destroyed. The illustrations – in their quite particular work of pictorialization – are a response to this situation. Twentyone images survive. The suite has fourteen sheets of portraits beginning, of course, with the dynastic founder, Nshare. (Mbuembue is absent from the lineage but in all probability this sheet has been lost.) These portraits



are accompanied by seven other sheets. There is an image of the Nguon ceremony, and images of the meetings of the secret societies Ngüri and Mbansié. There is also a view of a museum that Yeyap had founded, and a further sheet is an assemblage of portraits of Yeyap and the most important of the new regional chiefs. Further, there is a map of Fumban and – on one sheet – a plan and elevation of the palace. The palace had been the ‘village of the king’, the centre of the kingdom (Tardits 1980: 572). Now it was represented in a mode that indicated the loss of centrality (Figure  4.3). Combining the plan and elevation on one sheet is a quite elementary form of architectural drawing and the plan and elevation may be to different scales – as is the case here – but the assumption underlying the practice is that there is a scale and that the different elements of the drawing are, ultimately, commensurate. The scale used in this mode

FIGURE 4.3  Ibrahim Njoya, ‘The palace of the Bamum Kings’, ink and graphite on paper, 1927–1930, 35 × 29 centimetres. Private collection.


of drawing is a means of representing coordinate space, which may be made more explicit by the grid of graph paper or, as here, left implicit. As David Summers notes: The principal features of modern Western co-ordinate space are homogeneity, divisibility and infinity, relative to which more primordial spaces are qualitative, continuous and unified, and, as whole, heterogenous with respect to one another. (Summers 2003: 21) Coordinate space, as homogenous and divisible, is an abstraction; the grid of this space is infinite and abstracted from any particular conditions. It is a space to be measured using arbitrary units such as the metre, and the drawing of the plan and elevation – conforming implicitly to such a scale – is thus a particular type of abstraction. This becomes clearer if the plan is compared to an earlier Bamum representation of the palace (Figure 4.4). In this tapestry, the various precincts of the palace are represented by symbols

FIGURE 4.4  Bamum, Fumban, Royal Tapestry, 183 × 549 centimetres, cotton, indigo dyes. Gebauer Collection, Portland Art Museum 70.10.81.



and presented so as to indicate hierarchies and interrelations, not just of precincts but also of their users. The plan, as an abstraction conformed to a scale, cannot do this and the artist has had to have recourse to a Bamum script to designate the uses of the different areas. The coordinate conception of space – in what it enables and disables – is itself a rejection of the cosmological and hierarchical conception of space previously centred on the palace. The spatial conception of the plan is part of a system that denies ‘uniqueness and hierarchy’ and is intended ‘to undercut traditional centres together with the ways of life that have formed around them’ (Summers 2003: 250). In the plan the authority of the palace – its centrality – is at once represented and displaced. Finally, I want to argue that similar operations may be seen in the portrait of Njoya; there is a representation of royal authority and also a displacement. The portrait with which I began has both precedents and a pendant, an image of Njoya in Muslim dress (Figure 4.5), and these images need to be

FIGURE 4.5  Ibrahim Njoya, ‘King Njoya in Muslim dress’, ink and graphite on paper, 1927–1930, 35 × 29 centimetres. Private collection.


taken together. The first precedent for the portrait is the photograph in ReinWuhrmann’s book, which is described as a self-portrait. Yet before becoming a precedent, Njoya’s photograph had itself been derived from precedents. His self-portrait followed a template offered by the image of Kaiser Wilhelm II and his consort, an image endlessly recycled during the Kaiser’s reign (Figure 4.6). Once again, there is an appropriation. This is also appropriate, as the drawn portrait is derived from Njoya’s photographic experiment and presents this innovation in the context of his other achievements, the innovations in weaving, dying and writing present in the image in the frame with motifs from Bamum textiles, and in the version of Njoya’s alphabet. Yet I have already noted that there could no longer be a celebration of achievements. The caption to the portrait establishes the first part of this; it is drawn from Njoya’s history, from his account of the end of his reign. He said to the Bamum: ‘I was named king when I was still young, aged 19. It was the Bamum who brought me up. The Bamum are like my fathers; I cannot be afraid of them and they must not be afraid of me. The help I want to give my fathers is without limits, it will only end when God calls me.’ (Marseille 1997: 141)

FIGURE 4.6  Anonymous, ‘The Emperor and Empress’, carte-de-visite, 1898. Private collection.



There are in fact no less than three versions of this text in Njoya’s history, so it serves as something of a signature (Njoya 1952: 42, 133, 136). The words cited in the caption are closest to those in a speech that is appended to a list of laws Njoya had decided to abrogate. The abrogation was presented as an act of service to the Bamum people, and the speech is also an acknowledgement of service. However, in turn, the speech dedicates Njoya and the Bamum to Allah, closing with a prayer: We pray to God, that God will grant us the Holy Spirit, that he will put his blessing on the things that everyone accepts because of Mohammed, the prophet of God. Amen! (Njoya 1952: 136; emphasis in the original) The pairing of portraits should, I think, be interpreted in this context. Yet it is important to consider that a context need not serve to resolve ambiguity into a single meaning. On the one hand, a Christian missionary could persist in deploring Njoya’s conversion to Islam and could view the final portrait, of Njoya in Muslim dress, in this light. Yet, on the other hand, the second portrait may be viewed as signalling precisely the renunciation of what is shown in the first portrait. Renunciation of the worldly is anticipated in Njoya’s early engagement with Islam. A prayer in Njoya’s Nuet Kuete contains the following injunctions: All listen: God will pardon your sins and not punish them. You see the world? It will pass and all things with it. I am speaking to you: you see the world? It will pass and all things with it. I am speaking to you: you see the world? It deceives, as do all things in it. (Tardits 1980: 972–973) If the two portraits are placed in this context, one can perhaps see more clearly both the representation of authority and its renunciation. This might seem to have carried me a long way from the earlier discussions of accuracy, yet this is not in fact the case. For what I have been trying to show is that the artist Ibrahim Njoya made a series of choices in taking up a naturalist mode of pictorialization. A mode may be appropriated yet need not be maintained. So, once taken up, the artist did not feel obliged to maintain his engagement with the mode in a straightforward fashion, as if it were superior to the others available, as if it offered a vision of the world with ‘the value of a standard’ for all (Descola 2013: 88). This could also be renounced. A mediation could be refused. King Njoya had continued Bamum practices of appropriation in his early negotiations with colonial powers. Medicines had been removed from the thresholds of the palace and images of the German imperial family seem to have done their work instead. So European naturalism could certainly


be understood to have its uses. Yet as a coalition of agents exerted French authority in the kingdom, Njoya relinquished European practices; a set of negotiations ceased. The image of Njoya in Muslim dress seems to me to suggest as much. Even whilst it is in all probability derived from a photograph, it does not show Njoya as one wishing to continue to make experiments with the camera and accept it standards. Here the world is seen in a different way. It is understood to deceive, as do all things in it.

References Baxandall, M. (1985), ‘Art, Society, and the Bouger Principle’, Representations, 12: 32–43. Bayart, J.-B. (2005), The Illusion of Cultural Identity, trans. S. Rendall et al., London: Hurst and Company, in association with the Centre d’Études et de Recherches Internationales. Davis, W. (2011), A General Theory of Visual Culture, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Dell, S. (2020), The Portrait and the Colonial Imaginary: Photography between France and Africa, 1900–1939, Leuven: Leuven University Press. Descola, P. (2013), Beyond Nature and Culture, trans. J. Lloyd, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Dubié, P. (1957), ‘Christianisme, Islam et Animisme chez les Bamoun (Cameroun)’, Bulletin de l’Institut Français d’Afrique Noire, 19 (3–4), Series B: 337–381. Dugast, I. and M. D. W. Jeffreys (1950), L’Écriture des Bamum: Sa naissance, son evolution, sa valuer phonétique, son utilisation, Populations 4, Paris: Mémoires de l’Institut Français d’Afrique Noire, Centre du Cameroun. Geary, C. (1983), Things of the Palace: A Catalogue of the Bamum Palace Museum in Foumban (Cameroon), Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner. Geary, C. (1988), Images from Bamum: German Colonial Photography at the Court of King Njoya, Cameroon, West Africa, 1902–1915, London: National Museum of African Art; Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press. Harter, P. (1986), Arts anciens du Cameroun, Arnouville: Arts d’Afrique Noire. Hirschberg, W. (1962), Die Künstlerstrasse: Auf Studienreise durch Kamerun, Vienna: Wollzeilen. Les dessins bamum (1997), Marseille: Musée d’Arts Africains, Océaniens, Amérindiens; Milan: Skira. Njimonya, J. (2006), ‘Moïse Yeyap’, in A. Loumpet-Galitzine (ed.), Njoya et le royaume bamoum: Les archives de la Société des Missions Évangéliques de Paris, 1917–1937, 161–164, Paris: Karthala. Njoya, I. (1952) Histoire et coutumes des Bamoum, trans. H. Martin, Paris: Mémoires de l’Institut Français d’Afrique Noire, Centre du Cameroun. Rein-Wuhrmann, A. (1925), Mein Bamumvolk im Grasland von Kamerun, Basel: Basler Missionsbuchhandlung. Ripert G. (1980), ‘Lettre de l’Administrateur des Colonies Ripert de la Circonscription de Dschang à Monsieur le Commissaire de la République, 3 juin 1924’, in C. Tardits (ed.), Le Royaume Bamoum, 1004–1016, Paris: Librairie Armand Colin.



Snyder, J. (1980), ‘Picturing Vision’, Critical Inquiry, 6 (3): 499–526. ­Summers, D. (2003), Real Spaces: World Art History and the Rise of Western Modernism, London: Phaidon Press. Tardits, C. (1980), Le Royaume Bamoum, Paris: Librairie Armand Colin. Tardits, C. (1997), ‘Un grand dessinateur: Ibrahim Njoya’, in Les dessins bamum, 55–57, Marseille: Musée d’Arts Africains, Océaniens, Amérindiens; Milan: Skira. Viveiros De Castro, E. (2004), ‘Perspectival Anthropology and the Method of Controlled Equivocation’, Tipití, 2 (1): 3–22.


Owning the image: Indigenous children claim visual sovereignty far from home Jacqueline Fear-Segal

Introduction In the final quarter of the nineteenth century, the US government conquered and confined on reservations all the Native nations of the Plains, progressively and forcibly incorporating their extensive homelands into the expanding United States. Native children were transported to government boarding schools for re-education and transformation in a campaign to obliterate all aspects of their Indigenous cultures and indoctrinate them in the religion, language, values and behaviours of mainstream America (Hixson 2013). Young, far from home and family, living amongst strangers in the midst of an unfamiliar landscape, they were subjected to a relentless programme of cultural demolition. All aspects of their lives were regulated, controlled and surveilled: the times that they ate, slept, studied, worshipped, worked and played were ruled by the bell; the clothes they wore were standard, military-style uniforms; and even their compulsory letters home were read and censored. We know from the scholarship that some students openly revolted against the rigours of the school, for example by running away or even committing arson (Adams 1997; Bell 1998). Many others engaged in less overt forms of rebellion, asserting their agency in veiled ways that James C. Scott, an American scholar of subaltern politics, has helped us to understand as ‘hidden transcripts’ of resistance, or ‘critiques of power



spoken behind the back of the dominant’ (1992), and that Gerald Vizenor defines as ‘acts of survivance’ (2008: 1). This chapter will explore some of the visual ‘hidden transcripts’ and ‘acts of survivance’ created by Indigenous students who were transported to the first government boarding school, in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. These students came from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds and spoke many different languages. Although they were made to learn and speak English at school, their voices are only rarely heard in the written archive, and their words come down to us – in commentary, school newspapers or letters home – refracted through the rigid prism of official power structures. Some of these written accounts have been vigilantly analysed by scholars, bringing insight into the children’s and their parents’ thoughts and responses to boarding schools and revealing the complex and sometimes contradictory ways these native authors engaged with the assimilationist rhetoric of the time (Child 1998; Lomawaima 1994; Emery 2017; Warrior 2005). The visual record, however, has been less studied and presents even greater challenges of interpretation. Pictures never carry a single, unambiguous or indisputable truth, but their great fluidity of meaning can also bring possibilities. This chapter will examine a section of the Carlisle Indian School visual archive, to reveal some of the creative ways that Indigenous students expressed agency and asserted their identities through their claims to pictorial sovereignty in two quite different visual media: photography and drawing. The resilience and resourcefulness that are encapsulated in their visual assertions need to be understood within the historical context of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School and its mission.

The Carlisle Indian School The founding of Carlisle, the first US government boarding school, marked the beginning of a coordinated, federally organized campaign of cultural genocide through re-education (Figure 5.1). Carlisle was an experiment in cultural transformation and it was here that the blueprint for the American federal system of Indian schools would be developed. Deliberately established far from Indian Country in a disused army barracks in Pennsylvania, over eight thousand Native children and young adults from across the United States were transported to Pennsylvania during the thirty-nine years that the school was in operation (1879–1918). Thousands more would be enrolled in the look-alike institutions Carlisle spawned across the West. Carlisle’s founder and first superintendent, Lieutenant Richard Henry Pratt, was a man with a mission. During his three years as the jailor of imprisoned Kiowa, Comanche, Cheyenne and Arapaho leaders and warriors at Fort Marion, Florida (1875–1878), he had set up a fortress school for the younger prisoners and become convinced that ‘education’ offered the best solution to the nation’s vexed ‘Indian



FIGURE 5.1  J. N. Choate, Carlisle Indian School Students on the Campus, 1884. Courtesy of Cumberland County Historical Society. PA-CH2-001. problem’. He argued that if Native children could be treated in the same way as the young Fort Marion prisoners, by being transported to schools far from their reservation communities and the ‘debasing influences of camp life’, they could be stripped of all vestiges of their traditional cultures and readily re-educated in the religion, language, values and behaviour of mainstream settler society. Pratt projected that at schools like Carlisle, this transformation of the ‘Indian’ from ‘savagery’ to ‘civilization’ could be accomplished in a single generation (Pratt 1964). Just three years after the combined forces of the Northern Cheyenne and Lakota nations had wiped out Custer’s Seventh Cavalry, the federal government was keen to support an educational experiment that promised to pacify and ‘civilize’ Native children. This would enable the peaceful settlement of the West and the claiming of Native lands for American’s national project, while Native children were held as ‘hostages for the good behaviour of their people’ (Pratt 1964: 220). Many white Americans, however, were doubtful that ‘savages’ could ever be educated and made fit for ‘civilization’.

Carlisle students’ photographic portraits So, from day one, Pratt recruited the new medium of photography to provide visual ‘proof’ that the dramatic transformation he promised could indeed be rapidly achieved. At midnight on 5 October 1879, Pratt brought



to Carlisle the first party of eighty-six students from Dakota Territory. The next day, he made certain that local photographer, John Nicholas Choate, was on the campus with his stereoscopic camera and mobile studio to make a series of photographs of the new students. Documenting this audacious experiment to provide visual proof of its success was vital to Pratt’s purpose. It is significant that the opening of the Carlisle Indian School coincided with a decade when, as visual anthropologist Christopher Pinney has observed, ‘photography [. . .] reached a new evidentiary crescendo’ (Pinney and Peterson 2003: 1). Photography, a medium claimed internationally as a means to supply evidence for phenomena as apparently dissimilar as race and criminality, was consciously and deliberately employed at Carlisle to chronicle and exhibit this experiment in racially inflected cultural transformation (Figures 5.2 and 5.3). These first photographs of the children newly arrived from the West were made outside and showed them wearing their blankets and regalia. They were later paired with images of the students carefully groomed and grouped, and now dressed in their Carlisle uniforms. The visual narrative embedded in these before-and-after duos suggested that a dramatic transformation

FIGURE 5.2  J. N. Choate. Sioux girls as they appeared on arrival at Carlisle Indian School, 6 October 1879. Courtesy of Cumberland County Historical Society. 00309B#01.



FIGURE 5.3  J. N. Choate. Sioux girls in their uniforms at Carlisle Indian School, 1880. Courtesy of Cumberland County Historical Society. PA-CHI-031. had taken place in the children, deftly implying that their exhibited exterior changes had been matched by analogous interior changes. Choate went on to produce almost a dozen pairs to the same formula, posing groups of various sizes and from different tribes on their arrival, and then later, photographing them in their uniforms, carefully groomed and posed. He became increasingly skilled in creating ‘after’ images, utilizing traditional middle-class poses and studio props to evoke respectability. Three Pueblo students, a trio of Lakota boys, a dozen Navajo boys were all subjected to the same treatment. The most iconic and best known of these duos was of Tom Torlino (Diné) (Fear-Segal 2017) (Figures 5.4 and 5.5). The striking changes Choate succeeded in displaying in Torlino’s dress, hair, ornamentation, gaze and even skin colour made his transformation appear particularly dramatic and convincing. But if we read these beforeand-after images within their wider historical context, instead of acquiescing with Pratt’s insistence that they offer proof of Carlisle’s success, we can instead see them as evidence of what Patrick Wolfe has described as the settler-colonial ‘ruling logic of elimination’ (Wolfe 2006). This way, we can engage with and understand them as part of what Ted Jojola from Isleta Pueblo describes as ‘a magic act called “The Vanishing American”’ (Jojola 2004); and what Anishinaabe poet and writer Gerald Vizenor calls, ‘the evidence of a vanishing race, the assurance of dominance and victimry’ (Vizenor 1998: 155). The Carlisle photographs constitute a very carefully choreographed colonial archive, which was deliberately created and utilized by school officials to sanction and advance the United States’ national, political agenda.



FIGURE 5.4  J. N. Choate, BEFORE: Navajo, Tom Torlino, 1882. Courtesy of Cumberland County Historical Society. 12-26-03.

FIGURE 5.5  J. N. Choate, AFTER: Navajo: Tom Torlino, 1884. Courtesy of Cumberland County Historical Society. 12-26-03.



Some of these photographs, nonetheless, hold meanings and implications far more complex and multilayered than was intended by their makers. ‘What can we see in the photographic representations of the racial other that is not dominance?’ Gerald Vizenor demands. Answering his own question, he construes ‘Portraiture as evidence [. . .] must be more than the eternal silence of a fugitive pose; there, in the stare of the shadows, is an elusive native presence’ (Vizenor 1998: 152, 156). Vizenor’s observation about photographs is echoed and corroborated in a different register by historian and British visual anthropologist Elizabeth Edwards. She too notes that photographs produced in a colonial context have fault lines where alternative histories can be detected: ‘Even the most dense of colonial documents can spring leaks if we . . . interrogate not the sweep of abstractions, but the distinctions and points of fracture in the image’ (Edwards 2001: 12). Focusing on ‘the stare of the shadows’ or the ‘points of fracture’, a guiding assumption underpinning this analysis is that the inconclusive quality of photographs and their infinite recodability means that despite the political and visual sovereignty that empowered Euro-American educators to choreograph, make, disseminate and sell these images of ‘Indians’, Native students and their parents were able to engage with, interpret and utilize these photographs in very different ways, and to view them from radically different perspectives (Edwards 2001: 256). Photographs, as Vizenor, Edwards and others remind us, cannot fully be understood at a single point of their existence. They are socially salient objects, which operate in time, space and culture (Kopytoff 1986: 67). Therefore they are available to be claimed and reframed by their Native subjects in what Vizenor defines as ‘acts of survivance’, and those who perform such acts are, for Vizenor, ‘warriors of defiance’. The concept of ‘survivance’ (combining the notions of survival, endurance, resistance) was delineated and developed by Vizenor to characterize all acts of Native assertion and affirmation. He explains that: The character of survivance creates a sense of native presence over absence, nihility, and victimry. Native survivance is an active sense of presence over absence, deracination, and oblivion; survivance is the continuance of stories, not a mere re-action however pertinent. Survivance is greater than the right of a survivable name. (Vizenor 2008: 1) We have seen how in Carlisle’s carefully created ‘colonial’ photographic archive we can find visual evidence of the school’s uncompromising campaign of cultural genocide. Now, with Vizenor’s concept of survivance in mind, we will turn to the students’ and parents’ active engagement with the Carlisle photographic project, to explore how, when claiming photographs for their own agendas, these ‘warriors of survivance’ often succeeded in destabilizing and subverting the original purposes of these images by



asserting visual sovereignty over a medium that was created and controlled by Euro-Americans. Scholarly discussions of sovereignty have contributed to this study by opening up new ways to consider how the visual can, in Michelle H. Raheja’s words, be ‘a germinal and exciting site for exploring how sovereignty is a creative act of self-representation that has the potential to both undermine stereotypes of Indigenous peoples and to strengthen what Robert Warrior has called the “intellectual health” of communities in the wake of genocide and colonialism’ (Raheja 2007: 1161). From the opening of the Carlisle Indian School until his sudden death in 1902, John Nicholas Choate was the Carlisle Indian School photographer.1 The majority of the photographs Choate made were portraits. They display a monotonous regularity in composition, presenting the supposedly ‘civilized’ students posed in their Carlisle uniforms, surrounded and buttressed by the props and rituals of the late nineteenth-century photographer’s studio. As Eric Homberger has shown us, the technology of photography at this time dictated long exposures that were necessarily arranged and agreed upon. The subject must consciously consent to the occasion, except in the case of ‘involuntary or culturally unequal portraits’ (Homberger 1992). The extreme asymmetries in power relations within the Indian School raise the question of how the students were involved in the photographic process and in what ways this varied on different occasions. Having looked at Choate’s careful choreographed early photographs, over which the students could exert very limited agency, we will now focus on instances when, able to engage with photographic encounters on their own terms, even if minimally, some students became active participants in a larger transcultural interchange or performance. In such circumstances, it can be argued, the photographic encounter at Carlisle operated as a visual ‘contact zone’, to use the term developed from its ethnographic foundation by the literary critic Mary Louise Pratt. Pratt uses it to designate a place where disparate cultures come together and the subordinate group actively and selectively borrows from the dominant (Pratt 1992: 7). At Carlisle, in a variety of different ways, some students succeeded in contributing a special resonance to Mary Louise Pratt’s observation when they claimed photographs for their own agendas. Reflecting more broadly on the readiness of Native Americans to embrace photography, Paul Chaat Smith positions the camera in a long line of technological innovations, ‘along with horses, rifles, flour and knives’, that Native people have enthusiastically adopted, and explains wryly: ‘We have been using photography for our own ends as long as we have been flying, which is to say as long as there have been cameras and airplanes’ (Smith 1992: 7). At Carlisle, most straightforwardly, students used photographs as a visual means to communicate and maintain contact with family and community on the reservation, recruiting for their own purposes photographs more generally made as part of Carlisle’s assimilating mission. Letters written in



English could not be read by family members on the reservation without the help of a literate interpreter. Photographs carried a more immediate message and could be viewed at home without the help of an interlocutor. Parents often sent money and requested their child’s portrait (White Thunder 1880: 3). Thus, students made voluntary trips to Choate’s studio on Carlisle’s Main Street to pose for their portraits, and sent these photographs home. These pictures were identical in structure to white portraits, but the photographic encounters behind them were complex, cross-cultural interactions. A regular exchange of photographs took place between Pennsylvania and the reservations of the West. Not only did Native parents delight in receiving pictures of their children, students also openly welcomed the solace offered by a photograph from home. One student wrote, ‘You must not send me any money. You just keep it and help yourself. But I do ask your picture and I will send my picture some day’ (Morning Star 1885: 8). Out in the West, Native people joined the many Americans who visited local photography studios to have their portraits made (Siegel 2010), and they too became adept at performing for the camera. The vast majority of photographs taken of Carlisle students were crafted to serve the school’s mission and reflected the asymmetry in power relations already discussed. But remarkably, some Carlisle students succeeded in finding ways to use the camera as a medium of self-expression and selfrepresentation. In so doing, they subtly and ingeniously realigned the purpose of the Carlisle photographic project, asserting an ‘elusive native presence’ (to use Vizenor’s words) and so claiming part of the project as their own. One student who displayed this creative ability was the Brulé Lakota boy, Óta Kté or Plenty Kill, who arrived in Pennsylvania with the first group of students (CISDRC, Luther Standing Bear). At Carlisle, Óta Kté would become known as Luther Standing Bear and would become one of Pratt’s star Carlisle pupils. After six years, in 1885, he returned to his reservation and found work at the government school there. Later, he would tour England as the interpreter for Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, witness the Ghost Dance at Pine Ridge, became a spokesman for Native peoples, a critic of government policies in his speeches and writings, and the author of two autobiographical works (Standing Bear [1928] 1975, [1933] 1978). Gerald Vizenor suggests that Luther Standing Bear’s writings mark him out as the first post-Indian ‘warrior of survivance’ (Vizenor 1994: 5) (Figure 5.6). At Carlisle, before he had published any of his writings, Standing Bear’s confidence and composure in front of the camera confirm that he was already able to construct visual renderings of the ‘new stories of tribal courage’, which Vizenor insists are the hallmark of any ‘warrior of survivance’ (Vizenor 1994: 4). Luther Standing Bear’s capacity to claim for himself and exploit the power of the camera is evident in the photographs he posed for in Choate’s studio. In all of them, he conveys assurance and confidence. In one, his jaunty boater and pocket watch with chain, which was a present from



FIGURE 5.6  J. N. Choate, Luther Standing Bear (centre back) and family in Choate studio, c. 1882. Courtesy of Cumberland County Historical Society. PACh1-0-65. his father (Standing Bear [1928] 1975: 151), display Luther Standing Bear’s love of Euro-American clothes, which he writes about so enthusiastically in his autobiography (142–143). Simultaneously, it demonstrates his poise and ability to claim as part of his own identity these Euro-American, middle-class clothes, which he admitted he at first found ‘cumbersome and awkward’ (Standing Bear [1933] 1978: 232). In the photograph taken with his father at the same photo session, Chief Standing Bear wears citizen’s dress and a pocket watch too, along with his braids and a string of beads. Luther would later include this image in his second autobiographical volume (in which he was highly critical of Carlisle), positioning his visit to Choate’s studio as a pivotal moment in his life (Standing Bear [1933] 1978: 235). Another photograph again shows him in command of the photographic encounter. This one includes his father and family members who are also attending Carlisle – Willard Standing Bear, Henry Standing Bear, Victoria Standing Bear – as well as Red Fish and another student, perhaps his daughter. For able and confident students like Luther Standing Bear, photography provided an opportunity to explore new identities, to perform for the camera and, by consciously constructing and owning these images, to use self-representation as a means of empowerment. For Vizenor, ‘survivance is a practice, not an ideology’ and, he insists, it is ‘the practices of survivance’ that ‘create an active presence’ (Vizenor 2008: 11). So, it is noteworthy that photography, the medium Carlisle officials used



consciously and assertively to publicize Native students’ apparently transformed identities, was also employed by students, like Luther Standing Bear, to practice and display their confidence in determining and controlling their own changing identities.

Student drawings and visual systems of meaning One explanation for why both adult Native Americans and Carlisle students such as Luther Standing Bear felt confident to lay claim to the medium of photography was their cultural familiarity with visual systems of meaning, and the different ways these could be used for definitions of the public self. For generations, young men of the Plains had used hides, robes and tipis as surfaces on which to draw and paint their successes in war and visually assert their prowess and status. As the United States had rapidly and progressively destroyed the buffalo herds and confined Native nations on reservations, their daily lives were suddenly and dramatically changed and curtailed. One result of this was that in agency towns, paper as well as pencils and inks became available and the men now began to draw their stories in ledger books. Artistic conventions remained the same, but in these ledger books, materials, subject matter and layout were altered as the men adapted their art to their new situation and resources (Berlo 1996; Calloway 2012; Szabo 1994). These cataclysmic social and economic transformations happened on all reservations across the West and it is noteworthy that photography and ledger art emerged during the same period. As Frank Goodyear observed, ‘Native peoples learned to use both mediums for their own purposes’ (Goodyear 2003: 6). At Carlisle too, we know that students turned to drawing, actively employing the artistic traditions of the Plains, using pencil and crayon to explore and express aspects of their own identities. Small, pictographic drawings sketched in the margins of students’ school slates (recorded in photographs) provide evidence that many of the early students brought with them both a knowledge and a love of drawing (Standing Bear [1928] 1975: 159). Luther Standing Bear reports that when given some wooden plates and a box of water colours, ‘I painted Indian designs on all my plates’ (146) and also notes that when Earnest White Thunder was horribly homesick, before he died, drawing brought him solace (159). When acting as the Plains Indian prisoners’ jailer at Fort Marion, Florida, Pratt had noticed that the prisoners were drawing on the prison walls. He encouraged their drawing activity, providing them with paper and crayons and allowing them to sell their work, which was popular with the tourists (Szabo 1994: 70). At Carlisle, Pratt continued to encourage drawing (Szarbo 2004), but he rapidly integrated it into the school’s ‘civilizing’ programme by organizing art classes to teach the children about perspective and Euro-American representational styles. Similar classes were later included in the Indian schools’ national curriculum,



a programme Marinella Lentis describes as ‘colonization of consciousness’ (Lentis 2017). Some of these crude representational images have survived in the archive, like the one drawn by Joshua Given (Plate 5.1). More remarkably, a small collection of student art, drawn in the pictographic Plains style and dating from the 1880s, has also survived and been preserved in the collections of the Cumberland County Historical Society. This is a unique record, in a medium with direct links to visual modes of representation developed on the Plains over generations. Gayatri Spivak, in her seminal work, ‘Can the subaltern speak?’ reminded us that the reclamation of the pure ‘native text’ in a postcolonial or settler-colonial context is a utopian ideal (Spivak 1988). Nevertheless, these student drawings, although often hard to interpret, offer a rare and unique first-hand record that was created by students while at the school. The drawings have received very limited scholarly attention (Szabo 2004). Yet they offer us rare glimpses of students’ tribal self-definition and even defiance, in the face of a programme that was geared to obliterate all aspects of their cultures. Some of the drawings clearly indicate the students’ familiarity with visual modes of representation that had been developed on the Plains over generations, and their active memories and knowledge of their cultures. Modern scholars writing about Plains Indian art make clear that Plains pictographic drawing and ledger art was a sophisticated form of communication. Working within a tight set of rules, it utilized a visual code to convey very clear and precise meanings that could only be read and interpreted within the context of its own cultural production. Karen Daniels Petersen explains that ‘without a knowledge of the basic rules of Plains Indian drawing, the language of the pictures is a foreign tongue’ (Petersen 1971). All the drawings displayed an economy of detail. Backgrounds and all irrelevant features were omitted. Clothing, however, was very important and frequently drawn in great detail, to indicate both status and individual identity. Focus was always on the exploits or actions of an individual or group, generally male. Movement, which was important, was from right to left. While they are obviously the work of children, some of the Carlisle drawings share many similarities with the ledger art being produced on the reservations of the West at this time. Included in the Carlisle student ledger art is a small group of four drawings that stand out as being different from the more traditional action images, and could perhaps even be classified as portraits. Each shows a single, full-length figure, accompanied by student name and tribal affiliation. In these four Carlisle portraits, unlike in traditional Plains art, focus is on the individual himself. All action is absent, and in this respect these drawings have an affiliation with static patterns of representation more familiar to Western traditions of portraiture. But the figures are dressed traditionally and in all of these drawings very careful attention has been paid to the details of clothing and regalia. Whether they were drawn spontaneously or as part of a school exercise, all these portraits display the students’ clear



memories of specific items of regalia, as well as their capacity to reproduce them. These portraits can, I suggest, be deemed student alternatives to the photographic portraits produced at Carlisle. The most elaborate of these portrait drawings was made by McKay Dougan (Osage) (Plate 5.2). Dougan’s accomplished portrait presents a spectacular image of an Osage leader, whose identity is made known by the pictographs on his shield (Tahuska n.d.; Rafinesque Papers 1808–1840). Covering most of a 17.8-centimetre (7-inch) square page, the image has been inked with assiduous care and precision. From the archival record we can learn very little about this student. A student record card gives his dates of arrival (6 September 1982) and departure (7 June 1985), his age on arrival (seventeen), and the fact that he left Carlisle because he was ‘sick’ (CISDRC, McKay Dougan). But from his drawing we can find out a little more about McKay Dougan. In it, Dougan displays intimate knowledge of both the appearance and construction of Osage regalia. From this we can infer that he had an understanding of the Osage cosmos and its full spiritual complexity. The two-row, bone, hair pipe breastplate, worn on special occasions, signals the wealth and status of its wearer. The rare Osage splithorn headdress indicates this leader’s authority during ‘ritual preparations for the hunt’.2 A sacred object, the headdress was made from materials that represented the creative forces of the cosmos. As was usual in pictographic art, the facial features of this man are rudimentary. It is his regalia that carries the story, and also the ceremonial lines of red paint on his cheeks. McKay Dougan has drawn a powerful warrior, who with his ceremonial regalia and red face paint is, quite literally, dressed to kill. This drawing does not comply with one of the main characteristics of ledger art, namely there is no action. There is, however, a clear assertion of individual worth. The artist has matched the intricate detail of his drawing with the elaborate writing and decoration of his own name: large, strong, red letters that run parallel with the lance and the warrior and an additional outline of red dots decorating each letter.3 In this way, McKay Dougan has spatially aligned and chromatically integrated himself with the powerful Osage figure he has drawn, and in so doing has perhaps asserted and confirmed his own personal sense of being Osage. McKay Dougan would have been old enough to have participated in the last Osage buffalo hunts and to have witnessed the ceremonial preparations beforehand (Mathews 1939). The full meanings of this image are not obvious and knowable. What we can conclude, however, is that McKay Dougan was confident in his own cultural heritage, carried within him very exact memories of the precise detail of how a great warrior would dress in preparation for the hunt, and openly claimed a personal relationship with these traditions. Drawings such as this carry intricate and multivocal messages that can be read and interpreted in different ways. By depicting a named individual from the Osage tribe and writing his own name alongside him, McKay Dougan was perhaps inscribing a version of himself that linked him to a high-ranking, respected



and powerful Osage. The spirit of rebellion implicit in McKay Dougan’s drawing, at a school dedicated to destroying Native cultures, was probably not fully understood because its meaning was hidden to all except those with a knowledge of Osage culture and would not have been understood by his Euro-American teachers. It can be read as a ‘hidden transcript’ of the type delineated by James C. Scott, and evidence of ‘the elusive native presence’ understood by Vizenor. It seems likely that if there was an intended audience, it was the Native students at Carlisle and particularly the Osage. None of the Carlisle drawings depict the students’ school activities or offer any visual accounts of student response to the educational project. However, some of these surviving Carlisle drawings do contain indicators of their creators’ attitude to power relations between Indians and whites. The Indian–white power relations that Cheyenne students chose to depict in their drawings warrant attention because they show Indians indisputably in positions of power and command. Carlisle’s early Cheyenne students arrived in the east very well versed in Plains visual traditions and this is demonstrated in the surviving drawings of Abe Sommers, Percy Kable and Frank Engler, three Cheyenne student artists. Close analysis of their drawings reveals how these students turned to their deep connections with the heritage of Plains visual traditions, subtly and skilfully to assert and uphold the authority of Cheyenne men, and thus, by inference, their own too, and to depict the power and confidence denied them at Carlisle. Although sometimes illustrated covertly, power relations in these drawings invariably favour the Cheyenne and place them in a position of control and authority. Abe Sommers’s drawing is very direct in its message – a powerful Cheyenne warrior is counting coup on an American cavalry soldier and has taken possession of his horse, the bravest of deeds (Plains Indian Ledger Art) (Plate 5.3). Although its meaning may seem clear at one glance, the inner knowledge of Cheyenne society the artist displays as well as his familiarity with the pictographic tradition enhances its interpretation. Firstly, the respective identities of the two figures are communicated through the detail of their clothing. The soldier’s hat, belt, neck-scarf, buttons and buttonholes, as well as the military stripes down his trousers and chevrons on his sleeves, clearly show that he is a cavalry soldier.4 He has no weapons and appears totally at the Indian’s mercy. The Cheyenne warrior, mounted on his horse wearing his straight-up, ceremonial war bonnet, with two rows of blacktipped eagle feathers, dominates the page.5 His Cheyenne clothing is meticulously drawn, with shirt, arm bands, leggings and the long breechclout that for the Cheyenne was a marker of masculinity (Grinnell 1972: 221). Most significant of all is the lance he is using to count coup. Its design was the one used by a Cheyenne warrior society, the Elk Society, whose common nickname was ‘Crooked Lances’ (Petter 1915: 998). These lances were ‘carried in war, but as ceremonial rather than lethal weapons – chiefly for the purpose of touching the enemy’ (Grinnell 1972: 186). Abe Sommers has drawn the lance in all its detail. It unequivocally proclaims the courage



of the Cheyenne warrior and exhibits his position of strength in relation to the American soldier, who has fallen. This is the most confrontational and violent of the surviving Carlisle drawings. There are two other Carlisle Cheyenne drawings that, although ostensibly conveying a message of peace and reconciliation, also carry within them a coded message of Cheyenne superiority and triumph (Plates 5.4 and 5.5). Both these drawings show an American soldier and a Cheyenne warrior engaged in a meeting that involves shaking hands. Yet there are details in both that suggest that for the Cheyenne, this gesture of friendship is ambiguous. Frank Engler’s mounted warrior is riding towards the officer, but he has not yet extended his hand. In Percy Kable’s image, the two men are already engaged in a handshake and have set aside their weapons. Their guns are clearly visible and have been drawn from memory with great attention to detail. But significantly, although disarmed, the Cheyenne has kept a round of live ammunition beside his weapon; carefully arranged, its shape mirrors the design, and by implication, the power of the war bonnet the Cheyenne warrior is wearing. More subtly, in the structure of their compositions and the positioning of figures, these students also reveal their supreme pride and confidence in their Cheyenne heritage. Work by Candace Greene directs attention to ways in which information about Cheyenne social relationships are expressed implicitly, rather than explicitly, through composition and the placement of figures. In the majority of images that include Cheyenne and non-Cheyenne people, the Cheyenne figure is placed on the right and, as Greene explains, this placement mirrors the Cheyenne sense of their tribal identity as both separate and superior, due to their spiritual power (Greene 1996: 29). Having analysed a wide range of images, Greene concludes that the figure positioned on the right almost invariably holds more power, as well as being the initiator of the action, with the one placed on the left being weaker, and the recipient of the action. Greene’s careful analysis of Cheyenne pictographic patterning enables more informed and multilayered reading of the Carlisle drawings. All three Cheyenne student artists visually placed the Cheyenne figure in a position of command and spiritual superiority. The traditions of Cheyenne ledger art gave these students a means to convey ‘messages about social relationships’ that if declared openly, would have been judged subversive, and directly counter to Carlisle’s mission to indoctrinate and instil a belief in the supremacy of American values. Close attention to Cheyenne drawings shows how they opened a rare and exceptional space for self-representation, as well as bold expressions of pride, dignity and even dominance and superiority. The Cheyenne students, and others benefitting from strong visual traditions at home, could engage and use them to assert the strength and assurance of their own identities when far from home in the alien and destructive environment of Carlisle. Many of the strong Plains tribes – Cheyenne,



Arapaho and Sioux – who shared in these traditions, were also nations that contributed large contingents to the school student body. This meant that for student artists there was an informed audience on the Carlisle campus, able to read and appreciate their drawings and paintings; reassurance and strength gained from the pictures’ meanings could be understood and shared within the student body. Although much of the drawings’ meaning was undetectable to white officials, nevertheless their style and content ran directly counter to the school’s mission to destroy all aspects of ‘Indianness’. Traditional drawing, which might have been deemed subversive, was apparently permitted and promoted. Hence, these drawings raise a puzzling question. If Carlisle was intent on obliterating all elements of Native cultures, why were such drawings in the pictographic style permitted, even if their deeper meanings could not be readily understood and, equally importantly, why were they preserved? One part of the answer may lie in the comparative purposes for which they were used by the school. A school newspaper report on the Indian School exhibit at the Cumberland County Fair, in 1882, explains how among the items of the children’s work on display were: ‘Rude and grotesque paintings, side by side with very fine specimens of . . . drawing, showing what rapid progress the boys and girls have made’ (Eadle Keatah Toh 1882: 2). This suggests that on such occasions, the student drawings were used as the artistic equivalent of the before/after photographs, and were both permitted and preserved to provide evidence of the children’s supposed progress from ‘savagery’ to ‘civilization’.

Conclusion Photography was a Western medium whose early development occurred in a time frame that corresponded almost exactly with the dispossession of Native nations of the American West. Despite the medium’s newness, Native people on the Plains were quick to become active subjects in the photographic encounter, presenting themselves for the camera in ways that expressed their own agency, choosing poses, gestures and in particular clothing to exert an impact on the photographic images made of them by Euro-American photographers (Sandweiss 2004: 17). Within the power structures of a boarding school, Native students had fewer freedoms, so it is remarkable that some demonstrated an ability to recruit photography for their own purposes and agenda and a means of empowerment. Drawing was different; it had a long tradition of development on the Plains and operated according to a set of well-established conventions. Yet even in a school dedicated to expunging all ‘Indianness’, some students who arrived at Carlisle in the early years were able to engage with ‘practices of survivance’ (Vizenor) by creating images that linked them epistemologically, imaginatively and visually to traditional knowledge systems. The visual archive of the Carlisle Indian



School – photographs and drawings – carries within it the invitation to study ‘the stare of the shadows’ (Vizenor) or ‘points of fracture’ (Edwards), to discover how, even at a school dedicated to eliminating all aspects of Native cultures, some students found subtle ways to protect and assert their identities by making creative claims to visual sovereignty.

Notes 1





There was no Native eye behind the camera lens at Carlisle, except briefly and remarkably between 1894 and 1896, when a Puyallup student, John Leslie was apprenticed to J. N. Choate. Some of Leslie’s photographs were sold as part of Choate’s commercial list and Leslie also contributed most of the images for Carlisle’s 1895 catalogue. By the mid 1890s cameras were more readily available and there is evidence that they were sometimes used by students informally on campus. There is another similar split-horn headdress in the Brooklyn Museum that was owned by the Osage leader Shunkahmolah. According to Osages consulted by the museum, the split-horn headdress was used in ‘ritual preparations for the hunt’ and was worn as a symbol of authority, see Brooklyn Museum (n.d.). Although it is possible that the dots are guide lines for the writing and were put there by a teacher, I conclude that this is not the case because: (1) they are not in a straight line, (2) they are not in pencil, as is the case in two of the other portraits, and (3) they do not shape the letters, but instead top and tail them. Enlisted and field officers wore sky-blue kersey trousers, which were close in colour to this crayon. An officer’s stripe, 1872–1886, was lemon yellow. A corporal wore two gold chevrons on his sleeve. Leavey Foundation for Historic Preservation, n.d. The black-tipped white feathers are from young golden eagles, which the Cheyenne call moeniz, ‘war eagle’. Plains Indian Ledger Art n.d.

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Pinney, C. and N. Peterson (2003), Photography’s Other Histories, Durham, NC, and London: Duke University Press. Plains Indian Ledger Art (n.d.), ‘Arrow’s Elk Society Ledger’. Available online: (accessed 5 December 2021). Pratt, M. L. (1992), Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturalism, New York: Routledge. Pratt, R. H. (1964), Battlefield and Classroom: Four Decades with the American Indian, 1867–1904, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Rafinesque Papers (1808–1840), ‘Osage Pictographs’, Mss.B.R124 - C. S. (Constantine Samuel). American Philosophical Society. Raheja, M. H. (2007), ‘Reading Nanook’s Smile: Visual Sovereignty, Indigenous Revisions of Ethnography, and ‘Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner)’, American Quarterly, 59 (4) (December): 1159–1185. Sandweiss, M. A. (2004), Print the Legend: Photography and the American West, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Scott, J. C. (1992), Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Siegel, E. (2010), Galleries of Friendship and Fame: A History of Nineteenth Century American Photograph Albums, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Smith, P. C. (1992), ‘Every Picture Tells a Story’, in L. Lippard (ed.), Partial Recall: with Essays on Photographs of Native North Americans, 95–99, New York: The New Press. Spivak, G. C. (1988), Can the Subaltern Speak?, Basingstoke: Macmillan. Standing Bear, L. ([1928] 1975), My People the Sioux, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Standing Bear, L. ([1933] 1978), Land of the Spotted Eagle, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Szabo, J. (1994), Howling Wolf and the History of Ledger Art, Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. Szabo, J. (2004), ‘Drawing Life’s Changes: Late Nineteenth-Century Plains Drawings from Hampton Institute and Carlisle Indian School’, Native Indian Studies, 18 (1): 41–51. Tahuska, et al. (n.d.), Osage Indian Pictographs, Signs and Emblems, with English Translations, American Philosophical Society Digital Collections. ­Vizenor, G. (1994), Manifest Manners: Postindian Warriors of Survivance, Hanover, NH: Weslyan University Press. Vizenor, G. (1998), Fugitive Poses, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Vizenor, G. (2008), ‘Aesthetics of Survivance’, in G. Vizenor (ed.), Survivance: Narratives of Native Presence, 1–24, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Warrior, R. (2005), The People and the Word: Reading Native Nonfiction, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. White Thunder to Ernest White Thunder, reprinted in Eadle Keahtah Toh, April 1880, 2. Wolfe, P. (2006), ‘Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native’, Journal of Genocide Research, (8): 387–409.


Graphically speaking: The stories told by Northwest Coast prints India Rael Young

Screen prints, also known as serigraphs or silkscreens, have now been part of the Northwest Coast Indigenous arts canon, alongside carvings, jewellery and weaving, for the span of a lifetime. In the mid-twentieth century a few coastal artists pulled graphic designs from other media onto paper. Then, in the early 1970s a new wave of young artists made the aesthetics of Northwest Coast design iconic by disseminating bold, black and red graphics near and far as limited-edition prints. As part of the marketing strategy, artists and dealers paired artist statements with each print to ensure they conveyed stories from the coast. This chapter tells the story of Northwest Coast Indigenous prints through their unique proscription as storytellers. It considers how prints, and the histories they carry, participate as social constructs and contracts. As artists developed the medium, they ensured that prints performed a specific function – to communicate Indigenous values about heritage, culture and politics to non-Native audiences. Those intentions can be seen in the artist statements that often are shared at a print’s point of sale, and when artists, dealers and others use prints as illustrations of specific stories. Sometimes too, prints are circulated to mark an event and carry a current story. When artists speak about the roles prints play in their practices certain keywords reoccur, namely ‘education’ and ‘cultural knowledge’.



Artists have occasionally used the medium as a cultural object, gifting prints at ceremonies or creating a piece to commemorate a familial or community life event. Most often, however, artists use their prints to convey cultural knowledge to the broader public. They tell stories of survivance, cultural values, political concerns and – a fairly radical act from artists whose cultures have been at the heart of anthropological discourse since Captain Cook – as biography. Three of the most prolific printmakers on the coast, Roy Henry Vickers, Susan Point and Robert Davidson discuss how they use the relationship between prints and stories to engage non-Native audiences: I­ know that our story is important. Each person’s story is important. So if I’m creating images to teach people – and that’s why I started with fine art prints is to reach a broader audience, to teach them about the Haida, the Tsimshian, and the Kwakwaka’wakw, and all the sub-parts of all of those nations, and the fact that they’re all different nations – so if I’m going to do that then I should really write down what I’m doing. (Roy Henry Vickers, interview by India Young, Victoria, 9 November 2014) I have used printmaking to create images of educational value, giving historical insight into the roots of my culture, the environment and current social issues. With each theme, my primary objective has always been to create an image that challenges the viewer to use their own imagination, with the hope that they see more than what is obvious. (Point and Wyatt 2014: 3) I do my storytelling through the print. When I made a presentation in front of a review panel in Masset against Enbridge [pipeline], I used my art to illustrate the value of the environment – our environment for human kind, not just for the Haida. The stories came with the images. For example, it’s also a teaching tool. (Robert Davidson, interview by India Young, Surrey, 20 February 2015) Vickers wants his artworks to convey distinctions between different nations, to reach broad audiences and for those audiences to understand that each person and each print has their own unique story to tell. Point connects to the roots of her culture by presenting current environmental and social issues. Davidson considers prints as a teaching tool. This chapter first situates screen prints within the Northwest Coast art world to illuminate how and why storytelling became important. It then illustrates how Indigenous printmakers use their artworks to share and commemorate cultural, autobiographical and political histories.



Setting the scene The Northwest Coast has a long graphic tradition. Indeed, you can map the geographical parameters of the construct that is the Northwest Coast by the nations that employ distinctive, interrelated graphics. Both in carvings and weavings, makers replicate certain imagery and subject matter with formal design elements (Holm 2015; Paul 1944). The twentieth century carried those traditions onto works on paper as carriers of ethnographic information. At the turn of the nineteenth century Haida artist Charles Edenshaw and Tlingit ethnographer Louis Shotridge transcribed three-dimensional designs onto the two-dimensional plane as contributions to the dissemination of anthropological knowledge about the Northwest Coast. Later Kwakwaka’wakw artists George Hunt and Mungo Martin created similar relationships with white anthropologists who encouraged transcriptions of carved or painted designs for use in their own publications. Artists in the 1950s began to create a public face for Northwest Coast arts and two unique trajectories emerged: prints with texts. In the preceding decades white social reformers in Canada started to circulate their own interpretations of Northwest Coast designs reproduced as women’s work, like cross-stitching and rug hooking. Indigenous artists quickly stepped in to claim the production and dissemination of their cultural images. In this era, in 1948, at a conference amongst anthropologists and social reformers, Ellen Neel famously declared Northwest Coast arts as equal to European arts. Some artists turned their attention to artworks that could be framed. Gitxsan artist Judith Morgan began painting on canvas while at residential school in Port Alberni. Nuu-chah-nulth artist George Clutesi began painting and writing in response to assimilation efforts of residential schools. Meanwhile, a group of Kwakwaka’wakw artists turned their attention to the burgeoning art market in Vancouver. Vancouver itself was still a young city and the entire arts community was still finding its footing. Martin along with Ben Dick, Lloyd Wadhams and Henry Speck focused their attention on watercolour while Neel and Doug Cranmer began to use the fairly new medium of screen-printing to reproduce designs on clothing and art cards. For a brief moment in 1964 it appeared as though Indigenous artists would build the contemporary Vancouver arts scene alongside white artists when Henry Speck showed forty works on paper at the New Design Gallery. BC Indian Designs Limited, a company almost certainly created by Speck himself, published the sixteen-page colour screen-printed catalogue, Kwakiult Art, that accompanied the exhibition. This was the first exhibition to place an Indigenous artist within the same frameworks as white artists: at a public art gallery (not an anthropology museum or commercial gallery) as a solo show (and not in conversation with cultural, historical belongings). It would not happen again until Bill Reid’s exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 1974, and that too would prove only a blip for the normative, white West Coast art world.



Instead of working for inclusion in public galleries, by the end of the 1960s, Northwest Coast artists carved their own space in the commercial art world. They sought to have their works recognized not simply as ethnographic specimen, or as tourist curios, but as works of art. Artists focused their attention on Northwest Coast arts traditions – namely carving, weaving and jewellery and began to use prints, rather than painting, to lure non-Native audiences into their space.

­The market, ‘authenticity’ and auto-ethnography The contemporary Northwest Coast art world manifested a flourishing, multimillion-dollar industry. It focuses on culturally specific media, mainly carving but also jewellery and textiles. Artists have always walked a careful line by creating certain kinds of artworks for commercial spaces. They typically avoid inherently spiritual belongings or add non-traditional flourishes to traditional subject matter to protect the boundaries of Indigenous knowledge. Prints, and their accompanying artist statements, most explicitly construct a bridge to non-Native audiences. They strategically present accessible facets of Indigenous culture and values. When prints first emerged on the scene predominantly non-Native dealers wanted to ensure their audiences could still ‘read’ the prints as ‘authentic’. This section looks at how the artists statements from the 1970s seemingly positioned the new medium within a constructed authenticity – and how artists themselves quickly subverted the practice to directly address non-Native audiences. Tim Paul’s print Thunderbird Dancer (Plate 6.1) provides a typical example of both a print and an artist statement from the era. This design incorporates the family crest belonging to four chiefs from Hesquiat. The masks depicted here and worn by two thunderbird dancers were used at potlatches and feasts. The two painted hanging screens also show the thunderbird and the family showing their crests. The three lightning serpents or snakes shown on the painted boards are always loosely associated with the thunderbird. (Paul and Rickard 1978) Paul, alongside a group of young Nuu-chah-nulth artists – Joe David, Art Thompson and Hupquachew (known today by the name Ki-ke-in) – deployed their multimedia practice to carve out a specifically Nuu-chahnulth style within the Northwest Coast market (Young 2017). The aesthetic from these Nuu-chah-nulth artists is now unmistakable. Riffing off each other, these artists each employed architectural geometries to define the space of the paper, and to hint at coastal Nuu-chah-nulth landscapes, architecture and objects. This new, very hip, contemporary graphic pulled



in bold 1970s colours – rainbows, mustard yellows and bubble gum pinks. Their prints embraced a postmodern sensibility, deconstructing forms into parts that combine into a whole, seen here in Paul’s off-kilter house post that jumbles the depth perception while centring equally discombobulated thunderbird dancers. Meanwhile, Paul’s artist statement presents a fairly dry and anthropological interpretation. There are chiefly crests. There is a ceremonial screen. There are supernatural animals. It contains all the ethnographic signifiers that non-Native anthropologists and commercial audiences might wish to read into the image. At the time, gallery owners such as Bud Mintz at Potlatch Arts, Bill Ellis at Canadian Native Prints in Vancouver and, most notably, printmaker Vincent Rickard at Open Pacific Graphics (later Pacific Editions) in Victoria, created sell sheets with artist biographies, print edition information and artist statements. In these statements Ellis and Rickard encouraged artists to write down the stories of the imagery. They invited descriptions that could create clear relationships between prints, as an explicitly non-Native medium, to the more easily recognizable and iconic cultural objects. John Livingston, former co-owner with Chief Tony Hunt of Arts of the Raven, in Victoria, explains the dynamic between prints and sculpture best: The higher the carving prices went the stronger the demand for prints. Our mandate in Arts of the Raven – obviously, we would have liked nothing better than to sell nothing but $10,000 pieces and have a real, high-end gallery, but it couldn’t work in those days, so our mandate was to offer something of quality whether it was $5 or $1,500 or $2,000. As carving prices started to rise the gap got wider between the reproductions and the hand carved stuff. That’s why there was this huge flood of junky totem poles and shoe polish plaques. The market was hungry to take home something that was hand carved, but they wouldn’t pay the money. We said, ‘look, you cannot buy a quality carving for $100. It’s not possible. But you can, for $100, buy a really classy design, as a limited edition print that’s going to hold value’. (John Livingston, interview by India Young, Victoria, 24 February 2015) Gallery owners felt themselves compelled to ‘indigenize’ the medium to create an ‘authentic’ buying experience akin to the purchase of a mask, bracelet or bowl. In the mid 1970s, artist statements appeared as a mechanism to legitimate prints within more overtly Indigenous media. Because Northwest Coast material culture had been brokered to the public through the field of ethnography and the anthropology museum, there seemed a subliminal pressure to authenticate screen prints as Indigenous. It is noteworthy that artists showed little interest in the dominant media of the mainstream art world – paint on canvas – and gallery dealers did not share



artist statements for artworks in other media. When buying an engraved Raven bracelet by Phil Janze, the purchaser would not receive a written story of the Crooked Beak or Raven crest. Likewise, no purchaser of Frank Stella’s Ahab and Starbuck print would receive Stella’s abbreviated version of Moby Dick. The white walls and typically minimalist textual information of a mainstream commercial art gallery cultivate the feeling of exclusivity and individuality for each artwork. As Kiowa art historian Aaron Fry has been known to point out, within these spaces an audience is supposed ‘to simply look and know’.1 His summation implies that audiences who visit both commercial and public art galleries understand the culture of the art world, and feel confident reading the imagery and objects. Within Native galleries explicitly cultural items, such as bentwood boxes and dance masks, have the same legibility. The aesthetics of Northwest Coast prints should carry the same cultural weight. Yet by the end of the 1970s artist statements became a hallmark of the Northwest Coast print. A series of print exhibitions and their corresponding exhibition catalogues helped solidify the expectation of a text accompanying a print (Figure 6.1). Between 1977 and 1981, at least six catalogues of print exhibitions paired each reproduction with a specific ‘story’ of the image and this catalogue structure remains in use today (Ellis 1978; Point and

FIGURE 6.1  Page from the Northwest Coast Indian Artist Guild: 1978 Graphic Collection illustrating Joe David’s Spindle-Whirl Design and accompanying text.



Wyatt 2014). Anthropologists and gallery owners contributed introductory essays and artists described their designs. In the second publication from the Northwest Coast Indian Artists Guild, Norman Tait’s biography illustrates how prints were being positioned: I work mainly in wood and silver, and occasionally I work with horn, gold and ivory, which hold a great interest for me. Silkscreen printing, the contemporary medium of Northwest Coast art, is new to me. I am finding that the legends lend themselves to expression in this art-form. (Northwest Coast Indian Artists Guild 1978) Artworks and the corresponding artist statements in this publication illustrate legends of the Raven-Finned Killer Whale, how Killer Whale became the crest animal for a Kwakwaka’wakw lineage and how the mischievous Raven broke its beak (Northwest Coast Indian Artists Guild 1978). A few artist statements also illustrate a shift in how artists wrote about their prints. Tait tucks his cultural values into the ‘story’ he shares with Dogfish and Spirit. ‘In the native tradition, all animals have their own intelligent spirit. Before a hunt or fishing expedition, the flesh about to be taken would not be misused or wasted. Then he was asked to be generous to the hunter and his family’ (Northwest Coast Indian Artists Guild 1978). The print itself presents iconic Northwest Coast design. It uses all the graphic signifiers of Northwest Coast prints: centring a black and red figure within a blank background, balanced asymmetry between the spirit body and the shark body, and perfected, interrelated forms (for a description of graphic forms see Holm 2015). Much like the other prints illustrated in the catalogue, it might be related to any number of cultural, familial or personal histories. Tait chose to impress an additional message into his narrative: respect where your food comes from and do not be wasteful. While gallery owners may have conceived of such narratives for commercial purposes, artists immediately saw the potential to communicate directly to outside audiences about Indigenous values and lifeways. In developing the medium in the 1970s and 1980s artists embedded prints within coastal arts practices to perform a specific function; prints communicate Indigenous values about heritage, history, spirituality and politics to non-Native audiences. As stated above, when coastal artists speak about the roles prints play in their practice they use the keywords ‘education’ and ‘cultural knowledge’.

­Repurposing the medium: The stories prints carry The relationship between an image, an artist statement and often the title shares a wealth of information to non-Native audiences. Foremost, it gets to the heart of the relationship between object and story on the Northwest Coast.



Anywhere, in any culture, an object may be imbued with the power to carry a story: a photograph from graduation or a wedding ring present two examples. Objects can convey specific stories, and with Northwest Coast prints, those stories are meant to be told and retold. Each edition and each moment of exchange offers the opportunity to disseminate a history. This section looks at ways artists subvert non-Native expectations to share cultural values and to insist upon personal agency. Artworks, historic and contemporary, express the interests and the immediacies of the makers. While it seems obvious, this is a lesson Northwest Coast printmakers must continually reinscribe. Musqueam elder Jim Kew explains the phenomenon in relation to his relative and foremost coastal printmaker Susan Point. One of our elders, an older brother to Susan, Larry, is a lore master. He wanted to differentiate how oral history is told in our communities and how stories are told in industrial communities. He said, ‘In a university plagiarism is a bad word,’ but when you’re retelling a myth from your ancestors that’s 100,000 years old, you’re supposed to remember it exactly. You’re supposed to tell it exactly. Because that’s the original message. But when the artists redo old designs to create a print design they are not dealing with the audience that the original artist conceived. They are dealing with an audience who is outside of that home culture and they must, necessarily, reconstruct their message to reach their new target audience. (Kew 2017) In her nearly fifty-year career, Point has produced over five hundred print editions. She, along with every print artist on the coast, has returned time and again to the subject of salmon. To observe the reoccurrence of salmon as a theme illustrates how prints can be made to work for and with Indigenous world views. In a 1988 print, Fishing, Point foregrounds a massive red salmon with white salmon eggs in Salish forms upon an ocean and sky created only with colour (for a description of Salish forms see Peterson 2013; Young 2016). A hazy canoe and figures in the same blue as the water dissolve into the sunset. In a memorable print from 1998, Vanishing Salmon, she used her signature fade-pull to illustrate the metaphor of the salmon’s gradual disappearance from the region. Point rarely subscribes to the Northwest Coast custom of releasing artist statements alongside her prints, but in a recent exhibition catalogue that conforms to a now forty-year-old structure, the print Autumn Moon (Plate 6.2) pairs with her text: I­ have often drawn inspiration from the landscape of British Columbia and was inspired to create this piece during a camping trip to the Kootenays. My family (including five of my grandchildren) took a trip to Kootney Lake, where we saw a school of Kokanee (land-locked) salmon swimming through the tributary waters getting ready to spawn. Swirling



beneath the surface, the rich colours of the Kokanee are illuminated by the reflection of the full autumn moon, represented by the soft grey circular background. (Thom and Point 2017: 100) This artist statement shares an artist’s observations about the relationship between coastal and interior territories, about salmon types, salmon harvests and about how to measure time seasonally. It also centres Point and her family in their everyday lives. Her summer holiday might look like anyone’s in the Pacific Northwest. To view this print in the context of her holiday might encourage non-Native audiences to be more observant of nature or to recognize shared experiences of the outdoors. With this text, Point insists that the print cannot be read through an anthropological lens; her work is personal and individual. Northwest Coast prints feature many animals intrinsic to the coast, bears, ravens, frogs, to name a few. Not surprisingly salmon, like their life cycle, perpetually return in subject matter. Six Northwest Coast species support all coastal ecosystems and feed every nation connected to a waterway from Alaska to Oregon. Their life cycles determined winter and summer settlements. In some communities, salmon runs can define familial stewardship over streams and rivers. Often, when artists represent salmon in a print, they express the animal’s integral importance to coastal communities as part of a larger conversation about Indigenous sovereignty over salmon fishing rights and concerns about salmon sustainability. Artists today feel compelled to articulate salmon’s centrality to Indigenous lifeways in the face of diminishing access to traditional fishing territories, to threats of overfishing and the devastating impacts of fish farming. When prints circulate through the Northwest Coast gallery system the accompanying texts tend towards subtle messaging instead of overt calls to action. In the 1980s (and still today) Indigenous communities in British Columbia battled with the government over fishing rights and sustainability. Many artists created prints to quietly carry the message into law and doctor’s offices, civic spaces and homes on the coast and abroad. Floyd Joseph’s series of prints was accomplished from 1982 to 1986: Stamish Winter Ground, Salmon Cycle, Capilano Fishing Grounds (Figure 6.2) and Natural Spawning Grounds. Each print presents a different appeal to outside audiences, both visually and textually. Much like Point with Autumn Moon, Stamish Winter Ground shares Joseph’s family story of returning to a particular stream in the fall and watching the salmon at night. Joseph personifies salmon in his art statement for Salmon Cycle, making their plight more relatable while sharing his culture’s deeper connection to the natural world. Since I carry the name ‘Tyee’, I find it important to express my concern for the continued existence of the salmon. This spindle design is upside down to indicate the low ebb of the salmon, which is part of the continuing cycle. Legendary stories tell of how the Squamish People were starving,



­F IGURE 6.2  Floyd Joseph, Capilano Fishing Grounds, 1985. Screen print edition, 150. 37.5 × 55.5 centimetres. Courtesy of the Legacy Galleries, University of Victoria, Canada Council for the Arts Acquisition Grant, purchased from the Collection of Vincent Rickard, U990.14.710. so they asked the Salmon People to send some salmon into their waters as a source of food. The Salmon People agreed under the condition that the people would return the bones back to the water so that the Salmon People could regenerate. When this respect is not upheld, as is the case today, the numbers of the Salmon People diminish. (Joseph and Rickard 1983) [Capilano Fishing Grounds] commemorates Floyd’s successful landmark court case for native fishing rights. The salmon, spring and cohos, are shown in many different ways representing different paths at different times that native people go through for similar reasons. (Joseph and Rickard 1985) [Natural Spawning Grounds] depicts the tremendous impact logging has on our natural spawning grounds and emphasizes the conflict between manmade resources and the natural web of life. As the great forests are diminished, this will have a strong impact on the prosperity of the coming salmon. (Joseph and Rickard 1986) With Capilano Fishing Grounds he quickly slides in a line about Indigenous sovereignty and obliquely observes that many Indigenous communities face



similar challenges. In 1990, Joseph’s Musqueam neighbours won a precedentsetting Supreme Court case upholding the Indigenous title to fishing rights. The final print in the series connects the health of salmon to life throughout the coast at the same time that Indigenous communities from Meares Island to Gwaii Hanaas were fighting to prevent logging in their territories. Joseph writes openly about his concerns around salmon sustainability. He suggests that salmon are more than a resource; they are life forces that inform Indigenous relationship to these lands. His personal stories pull audiences into viewing the world more closely and they create more meaningful connections between patrons and artists. The gentle education of Joseph’s work, which is the kind most often expressed through the text/ image relationship, allows non-Native viewers and patrons an inclusive authority that makes Indigenous communities and worldviews not only more knowable, but more relatable. In this same era, Robert Davidson released his most ambitious print series to date. Five monumental prints ‘seem to exist outside of ordinary spatial dimensions and have a forceful quality’. Every Year the Salmon Come Back was the most ambitious and most expensive (Figure 6.3). About the print, Davidson has written: A narrative originating from personal experience of the Yakun River salmon harvest. A cyclical metaphor: when the salmon come they generate and influence my life cycle – at that time, I am at the river fishing with

FIGURE 6.3  Robert Davidson, Every Year the Salmon Come Back, 1983. Screen print edition, 99. 75.8 × 107 centimetres. Courtesy of the artist.



everybody else. They come back to give birth and also to die and from death comes new life; Everything hinged on when I went to the river, since it was our responsibility to learn to be a part of the team to catch the fish . . . when the salmon are hitting the net and we’re all cheering, we’re all excited because it means food on the table, food for the winter. (Davidson and Ee 1983; see also Davidson and Brotherton 2013: 49) In 1986, Robert Davidson gifted this print to Robert Cockburn for his participation in a Vancouver benefit concern in support of the Haida’s Athlii Gwaii land claims. At the onstage presentation Davidson used the metaphor of the cycle of life as an example of the Haida heritage, history and sovereignty that were at stake (Wong 1986). This storytelling moment exemplifies how prints help relay cultural world views. The hundreds of salmon prints in circulation, sometimes overtly and most often subtly, reinforce Indigenous ties to place and perspective. Davidson’s act of gifting the print also created a story itself. It presented a moment for everyone present to share and retell when they carried the memory home. Not much has been written about the history of Northwest Coast prints. In the few Northwest Coast anthropological art texts that mention prints scholars focus on prints gifted at potlatches. With only this lens they participate in the effort to authenticate prints as an Indigenous tradition (Jonaitis 2006; McLennan and Duffek 2000). Gifting prints extends far beyond the contexts of Indigenous ceremony and still it carries the same values out into the world. Prints can also carry stories and educate non-Native audiences through exchange. Like some belongings used on ceremonial occasions such prints are made to memorialize, and later to retell, specific historical events (Young 2017). Their dissemination perpetuates the histories they record. Davidson’s print exchange with Cockburn was only a small part of the many overlapping print histories that circulated to raise awareness of Indigenous sovereignty in the mid 1980s. During this time several coastal nations were at odds with corporations and provincial and federal governments over resources, land claims and treaty rights. Bill Reid, whose artwork is reproduced on the Canadian twenty-dollar bill, ceased work on his sculpture at the Canadian Embassy in Washington DC in solidarity with the Haida blockading loggers from their lands. He also created the lithograph Three Haida Whales for South Morseby (Figure 6.4) to raise money for the Skidegate Band Council who successfully evicted the logging companies and preserved what is now Gwaii Haanas National Park. The prints were sold for $100 through Leona Lattimer at the Centennial Museum Gift Shop in Vancouver. For anyone who purchased the print from Lattimer the history of its relationship to the creation of Gwaii Haanas carries on. These variations on the political print continue to recall the collective efforts of Davidson, Cockburn, Reid and the Haida Nation that reclaimed territory.



FIGURE 6.4  Bill Reid, Three Whales for South Morseby, 1986. Lithograph edition, 50.5 × 30.7 centimetres. Courtesy of the Bill Reid Estate and Simon Fraser University Bill Reid Collection, 2002.1.21. At the same time, the Nuu-chah-nulth similarly activated over shared concerns about logging and land. Joe David, like Reid, used monumentality to impress a memorable experience. He raised two massive Welcome Figures on Victoria’s Parliament lawns during a logging protest for his home territories on Meares Island. He also silk-screened T-shirts and the print The Crown of Title (Figure 6.5), the sale of which likewise funded the protests and contributed to the ultimate protections of Nuu-chah-nulth land. The imagery and the title of David’s piece pun on conflicting concepts of sovereignty and ownership. Only Nuu-chah-nulth chiefs would wear the hat depicted in the image. David affirms the historic and continued stewardship of his nation through terms understood by both coastal and government bodies. People who attended those protests continue to wear David’s shirts. Both the prints and shirts create opportunities to tell a story about an event that initiated meaningful political change. Over the years David has continued his practice of political printmaking with other shirts and silk screens, most recently working with Anna Hoover to raise awareness



FIGURE 6.5  Joe David, Crown of Title, 1985. Screen print edition, 36.20 × 36.20 centimetres. Courtesy of the Legacy Galleries, University of Victoria, Canada Council for the Arts Acquisition Grant, purchased from the Collection of Vincent Rickard, U990.14.500. of the environmental concerns about Pebble Mine in Hoover’s Indigenous territory in Southwestern Alaska (Hoover 2013). His and others’ artworks circulate to create lasting memories for coastal communities, Indigenous and otherwise, that evoke retellings of significant political happenings.

Conclusion With the twenty-first century a new generation of artists, with new technologies, interests and social frameworks has emerged. This generation benefits from and expands upon the aesthetics, mechanisms and spaces established over the second half of the last century. Today’s Indigenous printmakers have begun to alter the routines and parameters of the ‘Northwest Coast’ art world. Most significantly, digital technologies have transformed access to and dissemination of artworks. More than ever artists can speak directly to new audiences. This chapter concludes with one last story about a print that carries an autobiography into the political movements of this generation.



Andy Everson has been an innovator for digital design and dissemination on the coast. He is also one of the only artists who continues the practice of writing artist statements. As with his predecessors, most of his prints subtly convey Indigenous worldviews by layering appealing subject matter, iconic coastal aesthetics and tightly crafted narratives. Everson, who professes not to have an activist mindset, has made several prints that draw attention to issues that matter to Indigenous communities today. In 2012, a movement swept through Canada and the world. Idle No More was a social response to federal Canadian legislation that infringed on Indigenous sovereignty and treaty rights and critically endangered the environment. As the movement gathered momentum Everson created an image, Idle No More! (Plate 6.3), that immediately went viral. The image was shared across social media to signal participation in the larger call to action (Young 2014). In 2016, Everson released it as a screen print edition. On his commercial website where the print is still available, he writes: Motivated by the prospect of several awful omnibus bills being pushed through Canadian parliament, the Idle No More movement was created as a way to demonstrate that Indigenous peoples would no longer stand idly by. Beginning in December of 2012, the movement spread like wildfire. Flash mobs were held in malls and solidarity rallies were organized outside MP’s offices across the country. Soon, demonstrations were held in the United States, Europe and beyond. While begun and maintained primarily by Indigenous peoples, settler supporters offered a significant amount of support to the movement in many regions. Going to my first rally on December 29, I needed a poster to bring along. Knowing that the fist and feather with its image of strength and spirituality was quickly becoming the symbol of the movement, I thought it would be fitting if I created one in the formline style indicative of the west coast. I quickly drew up this image at my dining room table and then put it on my Facebook page and it suddenly went viral. Soon, this image appeared on poster boards, buttons, t-shirts, stickers and banners. My feeling was that I wanted this image to go out into the world and find a life of its own. It did. I decided to finally put the image to paper to commemorate the significance that this movement had on worldwide Indigenous peoples. While it has certainly gotten a lot more quiet on the Idle No More front in recent years, the image of the fist and feather is as poignant as ever. (Everson 2016) ­The image, and the intent behind it, has remained in circulation since 2012. It returns to the public conscious with every new call to action to uphold Indigenous sovereignty. It could be seen on posters and T-shirts amongst the water protectors in North Dakota in 2016 and the Indigenous-led protests of salmon farms in Everson’s home territory in 2018. Just this week a variation



FIGURE 6.6  Andy Everson and Erin Brillion, Land Protectors, 2021. T-shirt. Courtesy of the artists.

on the original print has renewed its digital march across our social media. Everson has released a new T-shirt in blue with the same circular band and Salish design forms that harken to the spindle whorls so prolific in Point’s work. Land Protectors (Figure 6.6) memorializes the day Pacheedaht, Ditidaht and Huu-ay-aht First Nations asked the government of British Columbia to remove loggers from their traditional territories to protect an old growth forest. As Everson and his partner, Erin Brillion, say in their socials: It represents that we stand up for the preservation of our environment and natural habitats. We push back against corporate and capitalistic forces that seek to destroy everything to profit a few. (Everson 2016) Through the careful and continued work of the previous generation, Everson and other printmakers today have a framework to circulate Indigenous values and a teaching tool to engage broad audiences. Screen prints, and now digital prints, together with artists sharing their stories participate in the ‘social work’ of Indigenous storytelling.



Northwest Coast nations have long histories of imbuing objects with the power and purpose to carry stories from one generation to the next. Prints participate in new iterations of the familiar cultural practices to combine aesthetics and texts with the performance of remembering and retelling. Artists use prints to create opportunities to share fragments of Indigenous worldviews and values with non-Native audiences. This activation of an object – to carry a story or to recall an event – sets prints apart from both the printmaking of the mainstream art world and the other media that circulate in the Northwest Coast art market.

Note 1

Professor Aaron Fry routinely positions this assessment of art galleries in his classes at the University of New Mexico to set up a distinction between assumptions about Euro-American art and Indigenous arts.

References Davidson, R. and B. Brotherton (2013), Robert Davidson: Abstract Impulse, Seattle, WA: Seattle Art Museum. Davidson, R. and M. Ee (1983), ‘Recent Prints: Robert Davidson’, Vancouver, BC: Screencraft Enterprises. Ellis, B. (1978), First Annual Collection ’Ksan: 1978 Original Graphics, Vancouver, BC: Children of the Raven Publishing. Everson, A. (2016), ‘Idle No More!’, Andy Everson: Northwest Coast Artist. Available online: (accessed 4 May 2021). Holm, B. (2015), Northwest Coast Indian Art: An Analysis of Form, Seattle: University of Washington Press. Hoover, A. (2013), ‘Sounding the Alarm Fashion STATEMENT: Native Artists Against Pebble Mine’, Hemisphere: Visual Art of the Americas (6): 75–92. Jonaitis, A. (2006), Art of the Northwest Coast, Seattle: University of Washington Press. Joseph, F. and V. Rickard (1983), ‘Salmon Cycle’, Victoria, BC: Pacific Editions. Joseph, F. and V. Rickard (1985), ‘Capilano Fishing Grounds’, Victoria, BC: Pacific Editions. Kew, K. (2017), ‘Susan Point Master of Tradition’, Vancouver Art Gallery, 2 May. Available online: (accessed 6 December 2021). McLennan, B. and K. Duffek (2000), The Transforming Image: Painted Arts of Northwest Coast First Nations, Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press. Northwest Coast Indian Artists Guild (1978), Northwest Coast Indian Artists Guild, 1978 Graphics Collection, Ottawa: Canadian Indian Marketing Service. Paul, F. (1944), Spruce Root Basketry of the Alaska Tlingit, Lawrence, KS: US Bureau of Indian Affairs, Branch of Education.



Paul, T. and V. Rickard (1978), ‘Thunderbird Dancer’, Victoria, BC: Pacific Editions. Peterson, S. (2013), ‘Coast Salish Design: An Anticipated Southern Analysis’, in R. K. Wright and K. B. Bunn-Marcuse (eds), In the Spirit of the Ancestors: Contemporary Northwest Coast Art at the Burke Museum, 13–21, Seattle: University of Washington Press. Point, S. and G. Wyatt (2014), Susan Point: Works on Paper, Vancouver, BC: Figure 1 Publishing. Thom, I. and S. Point (2017), Susan Point: Spindle Whorl, London: Black Dog Press. Wong, T. (1986), ‘Cockburn Helps Haidas’, The Ubyssey, 25 February. Young, I. R. (2014), ‘Momentum: The Ripple of Indigenous Art Activism from Idle No More’, Hemisphere: Visual Cultures of the Americas, 7 (1): 76–92. Young, I. R. (2016), ‘The Visual Vernacular of Northwest Coast Indigenous Prints and Coast Salish Aesthetics’, in A. Walsh (ed.), Out of the Frame: Salish Printmaking, 8–13, Victoria, BC: Legacy Art Gallery, University of Victoria. Young, I. R. (2017), ‘Cultural imPRINT: A History of Northwest Coast Native and First Nations Prints’, PhD diss., University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.



Political economies of art



Ethnographic study of nineteenth-century Kathmandu through artworks Sanyukta Shrestha

The big jump of Nepalese art into realism As Percy Brown (1912) rightly puts it, Nepalese art is quintessentially a religious art. Until the early nineteenth century, the art practice of Nepalese artists involved drawing and sculpting hundreds of divinities and mandala compositions. Since its revelation a few decades ago, traditional Nepali art has had a successful run of exhibitions and auctions in world museums and art houses (Kramrisch 1964). This was soon followed by several academic research studies mainly serving curatorial purposes (Banerjee and Thapa 1966; Pal 1974) and with heavy inferences from already well-studied Indian counterparts. During the rule of King Mahendra Shah between 1955 and 1972, all efforts were focused on creating a national identity for Nepal. While several ethnic linguistic heritages were suppressed through the imposing of a one-language policy (Giri 2009), the monarch had to rely on the rich artistic heritage of the Newars, the Indigenous ethnic community of Kathmandu, to create its national identity through art and craft. This further pushed Nepali art to the outside world, packaged more as a devotional and decorative offering. However, a century before King Mahendra’s attempt to create Nepal’s own sovereign identity through its art, British Resident Brian Houghton



Hodgson (1800–1894) was active in commissioning and supervising local artists outside the traditional school. Thanks to Hodgson, the traditional artists of Kathmandu, the Chitrakars, were already acquainted with realistic art by the mid-nineteenth century (Hunter 1896). Until then, the valley of Kathmandu was still called Nepal, or Nepaul Proper by the Western writers, and the language of Nepal was still called Parbatiya and not Nepali (Hutt and Whelpton 2011). Not many people from the Western world had visited Nepal before Brian Hodgson, yet most of them published works about Nepal’s history, religion and culture. However, owing to his linguistic and Buddhist religious expertise, Hodgson was one of the first to study Nepal with a more scientific approach. After staying for two decades, he resigned as British Resident and briefly returned to England in early 1844, and in 1845 he moved to Darjeeling, where he revisited his collections from Nepal for further academic research. Just before leaving Nepal, Hodgson commissioned an extraordinary visual documentation project with the aim of capturing Kathmandu Valley’s Buddhist architecture. In paving the way for realism in Nepalese art, Hodgson employed a team of artists. His main draughtsman was Rajman Singh. Besides Rajman, only one more signature, that of Tursmoney Chitrakar, has been found in the drawing titled ‘Three Carnivores’, now in the collection of the Natural History Museum in London.

Rajman Singh While the Nepali populace widely believed Bhajuman (Bhajumacha) Chitrakar was the first realist painter from the Nepali art community, mainly owing to his well-documented accompaniment of the then Prime Minister of Nepal, Jung Bahadur Rana, in 1850 in South Asia’s first diplomatic visit to England (Dixit 1968; Rana 1909), it was not until 2005 when Harihar and Indu Joshi published their research work (Joshi and Joshi 2005) that the name of Rajman Singh surfaced in Nepal’s art history scene. However, Rajman Singh’s fifty architectural drawings had already been used for comparative research by James Fergusson as early as 1884–1885 when he researched Hodgson’s collection leading to his 1876 publication on Indian architecture (Fergusson [1868] 1876; Waterhouse 2004). Little is known about Rajman Singh Chitrakar, but it is a common consensus that he belonged to the occupational caste of Newar artists from Patan (Chitrakar 2012; Dixit and Mishra 2016; Gutschow 2016; Subedi 2017). Reportedly on 4  June 2005, researcher Harihar Joshi found Rajman Singh’s name in the family genealogy of Chitrakars at the residence of Neel Bahadur Chitrakar, which showed Rajman as the eldest son of Jugaman Chitrakar (Joshi and Joshi 2005). Hodgson trained Rajman Singh in realism and commissioned drawings from the early 1820s



to the mid 1850s. His early drawings consist of Buddhist monuments from Kathmandu done for then Assistant Resident Hodgson and now preserved in Musée Guimet in Paris. It was Singh’s zoological drawings of hundreds of birds and animals of Nepal that led to ninety-seven research papers by the more active, then resident Hodgson, resulting in critical acclaim for Singh as an artist in European art circles by the 1830s (Waterhouse 2004). A total of fifty architectural drawings by him are now preserved in the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland (RAS), London, catalogue no. 22.001–22.050 (Head 1991). As Rajman belonged to a Chitrakar family, it was normal for researchers to believe that he used to practice traditional Nepali arts of paubha painting before undergoing his training with Hodgson (Chitrakar 2012). However, it remained an assumption without evidence. Only recently in 2017, an 84 folios, 70 × 155 millimetres, illuminated manuscript titled Nepalese Artist’s Manual (catalogue no. 8454) was found with the art dealer Sam Fogg in Mayfair, London. On its back page of yellow-stained Nepalese paper, a mention of the King Rajendra Bikram Shah Dev and dated Nepal era 954 was found. The artist credited for copying this manuscript was Rajman Singh (Shrestha 2019). While it is surprising not to find any of Rajman’s works left in Nepal, it is possible that his works could have travelled to Europe following his well-deserved popularity amongst the scholars of RAS in the 1830s.

Observations on selected artworks of Rajman Singh The RAS’s collection of Rajman’s drawings is placed in a set of five boxes labelled ‘Architectural Series’. His pencil sketches document the lifestyle of Kathmandu Valley, along with its natural and architectural backdrop. As the earliest known depiction of Nepalese social life, these artworks were created when photography was not yet in common practice. All earlier works of traditional drawing were far from adopting a realism approach and their subjects were rarely other than mythical figures and narratives. The collection stands as important visual information on the culture and customs, fashion and lifestyle, including religious and social beliefs, prevalent within the confines of Kathmandu Valley in the mid 1840s. It serves as an interesting comparison with present-day social life in the valley, tracing back some of the continuing practices as well as those that differ. Furthermore, when we include later works by other artists such as Henry Ambrose Oldfield (see below), comparison of the common location in their drawings helps us visualize how the landscape and social setting changed over time.



The great chaitya of Swayambhu in Nepal with part of its vihar (RAS 22.005) While comparing Rajman’s drawings to the actual sites between 1884 and 1885, Fergusson was not able to find a small temple in the courtyard of the Kwachhe Dewal / Balkumari temple’s drawing (RAS 22.021) and considered it as inserted by Rajman ‘to make a pleasing composition’ (Waterhouse 2004). In 1891, this had led Alfred Foucher to accuse Rajman of being inclined to fantasize, while Waterhouse considered this as Rajman’s attempt to amalgamate, rather than fantasize (Waterhouse 2004). In contrast to Fergusson’s case in 1884 where there were some extra structures, when we compare Rajman’s Swoyambhu drawing (RAS 22.005) with the site’s present-day set-up, today it is more crowded with additional stupas. With reference to where the pagoda-styled Harati Ajima temple and shikara-styled Pratapapura are in the drawing, the artist’s perspective has to be the northeast view of Swoyambhu. Considering this view at least, there are almost double the number of smaller stupas in the foreground compared with what is depicted in Rajman’s drawing. The same is true about residential houses in the periphery, suggesting that the religious site was more a part of the immediate social setting than the comparatively isolated pilgrimage site today. Whether he simplified the foreground elements constituting identical stupas is a possibility that cannot be ruled out. However, his work on the houses in the background, comparatively denser and nearer to the central shrine, cannot be ignored. Visible from the face of the shrine, there are at least four stone inscriptions in the drawing that are not to be found at the site anymore. Such inscriptions are generally a record of various religious acts by the patrons, often accompanying some valuable historical records of the reigning king or local events of great importance. Considered one of the earliest known realistic artworks from the Nepal school, the sketch is a commendable one for its excellent rendering of isometry. A thorough understanding of the natural laws of perspective in classical drawing (Storey 1910) is displayed by Rajman in this work, amongst others, with faint lines used as a guide for a two-point perspective method. Although produced with commendable shading skills, the sketch is mainly rich in controlled line drawings reminiscent of traditional paubha paintings. Originating from Kathmandu Valley and travelling as far as China and Mongolia, paubha painting is the traditional painting style that uses precise line drawings, opaque colouring and dry-shading technique with natural pigments (Shakya 2000). In each of the structures, motifs engraved inside their elements are ignored. However, the architectural outline of all buildings is precisely sketched. For instance, in the central stupa, its harmika (Slusser et  al. 1997), or the central cube above the dome or gvaha, shows some decorative elements such as kalash, and flowers are included. However, the



pentagonal shields above it, known as halipati, are missing the detail of all Buddha characters engraved in the traditional style of Newah metalworks.

Hill and chaitya of Swayambhu Nath in the valley of Nepal (RAS 22.009) Once again, with reference to the surrounding structures, the second amongst three sketches of Swoyambhu by Rajman is clearly from the south-east facade, whereas most pilgrims approach the shrine from atop the hill. People are seen in groups with porters and animals, coming and going, while some are seen resting on the ground. A kind of social quality is reflected in the townscape with several restrooms, sattah as they are called in local language, on the way before one reaches the base of the hill. Religious patronage is dominant as can be seen with each of the sattah paired with a slightly shorter stupa, called a chibaa. One of them is seen largely destroyed, most probably due to an earthquake. However, there is no such scale of earthquake on record, except the 1834 Nepal–India jolt (Chaulagain, Gautam and Rodrigues 2017), which would be at least around a decade before the time of this drawing. It is not so different to the reality of Kathmandu at the time of this writing, as it has been recovering in all respects – social, economic and infrastructural – with innumerable major temples supported by retrofit structures since the last major earthquake of 2015. It is as if the lavish weekly and monthly festivals of the local Newah communities, accompanied almost every time with long-running traditional feasts and community dance performances, are more of a need than any luxury to overcome the traumatic experiences of their lives intersecting a major earthquake belt, making natural calamity almost inevitable every half century or less.

The Rudra Varna or Woku Vihar of the city of Patan in the valley of Nepal (RAS 22.004) In the Newah architecture, bahaa is a residential courtyard populated by several families. It derives its Nepalbhasa name from vihar in Sanskrit, meaning a monastery (Locke 1985). Somewhat similar to the British public housing of a close in terms of having no through access, a bahaa is bound together with the common religious belief in Newah Buddhism and shared by households from different occupations. Traditionally, the wider Newah social structure itself was defined in terms of a hierarchy within occupational castes (Gellner and Quigley 1995). Thus, the residents of a bahaa can make its closed set of families self-sustaining, with the provision of different service and resource providers living in that bahaa.



Rajman’s drawing of Woku bahaa perfectly presents the closed environment of a courtyard being used for all different purposes. It is also the biggest bahaa with the highest number of branches (Locke 1985). While a family is seen visiting the site for worship, men are also taking their time off relaxing on the base of the central shrine or even sleeping in sattah forming either side of the entrance of the complex. If we compare Rajman’s artwork with a photograph by Hugh R. Downs taken a century later and included by Locke (1985), the building on the back can be seen plastered, retaining the traditional door and windows only, and with an additional first floor. Moreover, as documented by Shrestha (2019), the building already has a second floor with a completely modern outlook retaining none of the traditional elements. There is even a handicraft shop on the ground floor, signifying loss of patronage to religious and community sites such as a bahaa, making way for commercialization. This transformation of Woku bahaa over a period of nearly two and a half decades is a striking example of how the inherent purpose and general use of community space within the bahaa is in rapid decline in general. Hodgson’s note in black ink credits Dan Jyoti Bandya in NS 801 for building the bahaa, however, Locke has mentioned Dhan Jyoti Shakya and NS 800. Why Locke decided to rename Bandya to Shakya is not clear.

Distant view of the City of Patan in the valley of Nepal (RAS 22.001) As an exception in the set of architectural drawings, item RAS 22.001 presents a distant view of the city of Patan. Although the final title in ink does not have it, a working title in pencil still reads ‘from the North’, making it clear that the view is from the Kathmandu side. The river, which must be the Bagmati, hence, is seen without a bridge. A ferry is in operation instead, portraying a totally different lifestyle from what is known of the location. The name of the nearby place ‘Pulchok’, meaning the site of the bridge, appears in the notes of the drawing. This means there is a strong possibility that some form of a bridge was already erected but did not make it to the frame of the artwork. Besides summarizing how Patan as a city is full of temples, the drawing also shows the entrance gate of the city as it stood in the mid-nineteenth century. The gate, which is known today as Patan Gate, seems to be a simpler arch structure at that time. With no women seen in the farms, one of the earliest known depictions of khamoo is also worth noting. Also known as kharpan, a typical pair of carrying baskets hung on a stick of bamboo designed to rest on the carrier’s shoulders, it is popularly used by the Jyapu community or the Indigenous farmers of Kathmandu Valley. While khamoo are in fact noted to be ‘reminiscent of China’ (Gellner 1986), the drawing also documents other agricultural tools that are still used in the valley today.



The Thudo chaitya at Pulchok in valley of Nepal (near Patan) (RAS 22.006) The drawing of Thudo chaitya is one of most layered perspectives with several levels arranged as the foreground, middle ground and background. A  remarkable display of the artist’s understanding of spatial distribution over the depth of vision is achieved by a varying scale of depicting people across the frame. This is a great leap from the traditional art school of the valley that is fully based on two-dimensional paubha painting. As in other drawings, the emphasis with light and shade is mainly on architectural segments forming most of the frame. People, livestock and other items remain figurative suggestions as outlines only. The buildings in the backdrop show a selection of thatched and tiled roofs. Only a bigger building complex that appears more like an institution, and a community restroom or sattah next to it, have their roofs tiled while others are thatched with hay. This contrast could signify the varying social status within the neighbourhood. In most of the drawings including RAS 22.006, even though a sattah frequently forms a part of the town’s architecture, people are mostly seen sitting on the ground. Besides giving the impression that there could have been a certain social hierarchy making some more comfortable than others to use a sattah, it could also be a more general practice in the predominantly Buddhist society of the valley being rather mindful of the more needy users of the sattah, like travellers or those with a special purpose. A long-running wall separates the townscape in the background from the big stupa in the busy foreground. While it should define the borders of the town, it could very well mark some level of political distinction. The giant central stupa titled Thudo chaitya, probably Thur-dyo in Nepalbhasa, Thur for the site of the Buddhist shrine and Dyo for God, still stands as a huge mound of sand to date. However, the townscape around the stupa, which has added life to this drawing, has now been transformed into a contemporary setting with the loss of the serene natural view. Mostly heavily dressed, local men are seen taking care of their livestock including buffaloes. Women are seen applying traditional spinning tools to dry strings of fabric in the open, held by an array of poles dug into the ground. A Tibetan lama couple is shown holding a thyasafu, meaning a folded book in Nepalbhasa. The sight of lamas holding these books supports the idea of religious beliefs being historically transferred from the valley to the north.

Temple of Indrayani on the banks of Vishnumati in Kathmandu (RAS 22.015) Although the title given by Hodgson for RAS 22.015 mentions Indrayani temple, the artist does leave a pencil scribe reading ‘Luti Indrayanidevan’. To date, the local name of the deity is Luti Ajima, one of the eight Ajimas or the



guardian mothers, believed to save the children from illness. Among them, Luti Ajima is believed to cure children with dysentery (Gupto 2018). Ajimas are also believed to possess people in the valley (Coon 1989; Gellner 1994). Although at a distance, it is clear in the drawing that a child and a caretaker are standing at the entrance of the temple; perhaps an ill child is being taken to the temple for recovery, which beautifully traces the practice back to the midnineteenth century. It also shows several sattah with their strategic placement of one next to the main shrine and the other just before the steps leading to the top of the hill, where a vihar is located. A clear view of Swoyambhu on the hill behind it adds to the sense of location as well as the spatial connection between Newah Buddhist shrines around the holy Vishnumati river.

­The Kwachhe Dewal of Patan (RAS 22.021) The central temple of Kwachhe Dewal (see Plate 7.1) is unique in the sense that it is built below ground level, similar to some of the rock-cut temples of India that stand on a shallow cavity. One would think that the name derives from Kwah (low) and chhe (house) as it is pronounced today, but Slusser (1982) has translated it as a fortress or Kwaa, which also matches with Rajman’s scribe. A pair of lions welcome visitors at the front and either side, and lead to the steps that end at the entrances to the temple. It takes a lot of work to dig a land cavity, hence it generally has a purpose behind it such as the stepwells put there to collect rainwater. It is not known whether the lowering of Kwachhe Dewal below ground level is to adjust its height with any other surrounding structure or if it is simply a response to the existing geological feature of its foundation. Including the difference in ground level, very little has changed since the drawing, for example a pair of flags have been added on the pinnacle. At the far end, a few people are seen bringing stuff out from the building behind the Saraswati temple. A small group of people are seen cooking next to the temple while others are serving a big group of nineteen people having a feast, seated on the ground making a big circle. The artist excels in connecting the dining group with other teams through their acts and gestures. A lot of vessels and food items are seen unloaded from the two khamoo, suggesting the group has travelled to the temple, all ready to prepare the feast. In what looks more like a Digu puja associated with a certain clan, men are also seen enjoying hookah, with a possibility of them being thakali or leaders. In terms of fashion, everyone is heavily dressed but no use of ornaments is evident. While all men are sporting different types of caps, the women tie their hair, making puffs. Walking towards the temple, a couple flaunt layers of long robes in the foreground, which suggests they belong to a higher class. A few bulls are also resting next to a sattah. Several stone inscriptions are seen outside the smaller Saraswati temple to the right, which is now replaced by a bicycle stand.



Temple of Krishna at Patan in the valley of Nepal (RAS 22.027) The one thing that sets this work apart from the rest of the series is Rajman’s use of a thin watercolour for the structures around the popular Krishna temple. We see a little cobalt blue over the hills in the backdrop and mostly sienna brown on other buildings. People lying down in different positions, and mothers tending their children around the temple complex, present it as a community space. The fact that some are even seen covered in blankets could mean that travellers could stay overnight, and they found it safe enough to do so. The sketch of the Krishna temple is by far one of the best by Rajman, rendered to a level of detail that would match any contemporary architectural study. The observation of this work remains incomplete without comparing it with yet another 1845 uncredited watercolour artwork collected in the British Library (shelf no. Add.Or.5246), which is an exact replica. It is more likely that BL 5246 was created afterwards, as it has much fewer strokes of pencil, abstracting just the required volumes out of the main temple. Mainly an architectural study, it also gets rid of all human figures from the original RAS 22.027. An important structure to note in RAS 22.027 is the shorter roofless building in rubble, to the left of the Krishna temple. It appears to be the only building that has undergone massive destruction while all of the others around it are fully intact. The same structure is later shown in its full glory in BL 5246. Strikingly different to all other pagoda-shaped temples on-site, it is shown as a less decorative, white-coloured and dome-shaped building much like a simple Shivalaya. While both artworks are from the same viewing angle, as only one structure is shown in two different stages while everything else is intact, we can come to a few more conclusions. Although unsigned, BL 5246 is most likely to be Rajman’s work as well, and that he has imagined how the fully destroyed temple might have looked originally.

The Teta Thudo chaitya of Patan (RAS 22.022) Unlike a more elaborate Swoyambhu chaitya (RAS 22,005), Teta Thudo chaitya (see Plate 7.2) is a much simpler and primitive stupa with the dome base as the most dominant element. The fact that a huge tree has also grown on top of it shows its age and how the harmika section could have been destroyed. Unless the upper elements of the stupa were destroyed, it stands as a more symbolic and less ornate religious establishment. This physical feature is true for three other Thur viharas of Patan: the Impi Thur Dyo Vihara (22.018), Lagan Thur Dyo (22.023) and Pulchok Thur Dyo (22.006), as seen in Rajman’s sketches. However, in present-day Patan, all



four Thur Dyo Viharas have evolved in architecture above the dome base and minor elements have been added in the periphery. Needless to say, the serene hillscape and green woods in their backdrop are now replaced by a wall of concrete buildings. In the foreground, several heavily dressed women, again with puffed hair, are seen spinning and drying fibre for textiles. As a rare instance, one of those women is wearing an ornament in the form of tuki – a double stud piece of jewellery inserted in the helix of the ear, generally worn by elderly Newah women. Other women appear as young mothers with small children riding on their backs. This shows that women of all ages are involved in the preparation of fabric as a collective task. In the far distance, men are seen in pairs, doing more physically challenging and lifting jobs. Besides doko, a handwoven conical bamboo basket, they are also carrying khamoo. In the same drawing, two different kinds of khamoo can be noticed – one with a deeper basket called gaa khamoo and the other with a wide-open base, called chaa khamoo. A footnote by the artist – ‘Built in Treta yuga says tradition’ – suggests where Teta Thudo got its name from. Treta yuga is the second out of four generations or periods of time in Hinduism.

­The Gniato Polo temple of Devi at Bhatgaon (RAS 22.048) In a relatively well-rendered background, the artist adds some controlled outlining of trees and vegetation amidst a perfectly fitting townscape like a jigsaw of buildings with thatched and tiled roofs. With an equally interesting foreground showing people standing in the balcony, Rajman adds a beautiful depth to the frame, which is unimaginable for an artist whose schooling has no earlier record of realist artworks. Like for other temples, Rajman chooses the same isometric viewing angle for the famous Nyatapola temple (see Plate 7.3), literally meaning ‘five storey’ in Nepalbhasa. Hodgson picks the pronunciation of Bhatgaun, an older name for Bhaktapur, as ‘Bhatgaon’; the way he would have heard it in his early life in India. One of the only three five-storyed temples of Kathmandu Valley, the other two being Chaturmukhi Hanuman in Basantapur and Kumbheshwor in Patan, Nyatapola is the pride of the other major Newah town of Bhaktapur. Besides appreciating its aesthetics, one cannot help praising the statement that Nyatapola’s architecture clearly makes. The lower two-thirds of the temple has full emphasis on the stairs, thus, making it more inviting for the visitor, and setting the deity Siddhilaxmi, who is documented simply as Devi in the drawing, to a greater height from all others. This early eighteenthcentury temple was nearly 150 years old when Rajman made this sketch and there is no record of it being reworked since it was erected by King Bhupatindra Malla (1675–1722). Not only a very well-built structure, made



between 1701 and 1702, but also a well-documented one with records of every important event during its construction in a 264 folio thyasafu (Shrestha 2005), it has survived the last two biggest earthquakes in Nepal’s seismic history, the 1934 Nepal-Bihar and 2015 Gorkha earthquakes (Chaulagain, Gautam and Rodrigues 2017). When compared with the actual temple, Rajman seems to have oversimplified the stone sculptures of the two guards sitting at the base of the stairs – each carved to resemble Jaya Mal Pata, the strongest wrestler in Bhaktapur’s history. In a striking contrast to the accuracy with which the architecture is sketched, people on the foreground are not even half as clearly depicted. The dark shadows cast by the roofs suggest a bright and sunny day, yet everyone on the street is seen heavily dressed.

The Bhu Bhandel or Dhansar of Kathmandu (RAS 22.030) This magnificent artwork bears a note – ‘the edifice is called Kavendrapur in sanscrit & Dhansa Sata in Newari: The Deity Nitya nath or Nasa Deo’. Equally likely to have been popular as a sattah, the Dhansa (see Plate 7.4) is a seventeenth-century community structure built by King Pratap Malla (1624–1674) for the execution of various ritual dances, which were observed by everyone as a community. Pratap Malla was very fond of music and dance and acquired the title of Kabindra or the king of poets, which clarifies why his establishment is called Kabindrapur. He had already erected another shrine in his name, Pratapapur, next to Swoyambhu (as discussed above). In the drawing, Hodgson documents the building’s name as Dhansar, while other derivations such as Dhansa or Dhansa Degah (Dhansa temple) are also popular. In Nepalbhasa, the sounds la and ra are interchangeable, which means the term Dhansar is most probably derived from Dhanshala or the house of wealth. Later, this would be shortened at the end syllable as Dhansa; yet another frequent observation with spoken Nepalbhasa. Regarded as the dark age of Nepalese history, during the Rana regime (1846–1951), the anarchical government started using Kabindra Sattah as the revenue office or Dhansar. When the building was used for this new purpose, several local Newah shopkeepers were removed from around the building. They have been listed as Rudralal Rajkarnikar’s sweet shop, Goray and Sanumaya Maharjan’s fruit shop and Lochan Sahu’s sharaafi (money exchange) shop (Maharjan 1992). Their ancestors could even be some of those street vendors seen in Rajman’s drawing, as the local people generally have a history of family business. Vendors are seen using a weighing balance under the tent or waiting on a raised plinth next to Dhansa. As a busy market, Dhansa premises are shown as a commercial hub of the then Kathmandu. Dhansa, for instance, is also used by Guthis related to the Tamrakar community for the storage of wooden planks when performing



rituals related to the nearby Maru Sattah or Kasthamandap (RAS 22.049) (Joshi, Tamrakar and Magaiya 2021). In contrast to most of the other buildings that are either in tiered pagodastyle or a stupa, the Dhansa is a wider structure with the middle section extending further to the front of the building, thus adding grandeur to the overall architecture. A total of twenty-six decorated windows only on the front face, and across all levels, offers a composite design to the facade. Accessible to the public, the ground floor has no windows but traditional pillars holding up the roof, creating fourteen compartments functioning as tall entrances. Moreover, it has a fifteen-windowed first floor, threewindowed second floor and a pinnacle floor signifying the position for a single powerful entity. The overall impression it throws on the observer is that of a supervisory level on the first floor, the head of departments on the second floor and the supreme head of the institution on the top. This architectural statement that Dhansa makes is politically empowering for an authoritative establishment. Compared to the drawing of Nyatapola (RAS 22.048), where the emphasis on stairs makes it more inviting, the Dhansa has an imposing effect on its observer, with its extra width and frontal extension. Unlike the drawing of Swoyambhu (RAS 22.005), the artist has copied all the detailed motifs of the woodwork along the walls and windows of Dhansa. This growing tendency towards a more detailed rendering of the drawing, and the fact that Dhansar was a name introduced in the early Rana period, hints that this work is one of the latter ones by Rajman. Big double-triangle flags are seen on either side of Dhansa’s roof. More than a century later, in 1962, Nepal adopted this unique shape for its national flag.

Henry Ambrose Oldfield Although not as popular an artist as Rajman Singh, British surgeon Henry Ambrose Oldfield (1822–1871) visited Nepal at an important time when the political scene was about to see a turning point. He has not only written at length about his experiences in Nepal from 1850 to 1863 (Oldfield 1880b) but also captured several important monuments in his paintings from Kathmandu and the surrounding area. The Dhansar or Kavindra Sattah, the mirror latticed Bhaktapur palace building and the Pujarimath behind the Dattatraya temple are three of those structures that have been rebuilt but clearly do not match their original look as preserved in Rajman Singh’s drawings (Waterhouse 2004) from before the era of photography. However, Oldfield’s paintings have been analysed to aid restoration works in Kathmandu (Dixit 2008). Besides, a preliminary study of his works in relation to those of Rajman Singh has also been carried out more recently in the United Kingdom by Wooldridge (2014). The main basis of this comparison was the fact that



Oldfield himself has mentioned ‘from the sketch of Rajman Singh’ in his 1854 painting of Gosainkunda now preserved in the British Library (item no. 3331). It is further claimed that the painting is inspired from Rajman Singh’s painting in the collection of the Royal Geographical Society titled Trisuli river at its source in the lakes of Gosainkund. The study, however, does not consider other evidence from Oldfield (1880a) that the route from Nayakot to Gosainthan is compiled from description and the August 1854 notes by Rajmun Sing, Chiwallar. This is most probably Rajman Singh Chitrakar who was still active in Nepal, while Hodgson had already moved to India before returning to England by 1858.

Comparative study of Rajman and Oldfield’s works The following segment of this chapter lists out some observations made on the works of both Rajman Singh Chitrakar and Henry Ambrose Oldfield and attempts to make comparisons wherever possible. 1 Overpopulation and extreme urbanization are two major causes of

most of the major problems that the city of Kathmandu is facing today. Rajman Singh’s drawings present the 1840s Kathmandu as very sparsely populated. Between five to ten people are seen at any site compared to the crowd of hundreds seen today. Occasionally, his drawings also capture landscapes that reveal the stunning open fields in those sites of Kathmandu that are now covered by concrete jungles (RAS 22.007). When we compare those sites that are sketched by both Rajman and Oldfield, the growing population density is already more visible. For instance, when we compare Rajman’s 1844 work on Kavindra Sattal or Dhansa Satta with that of Oldfield in 1857, the marketplace in the courtyard is doubly crowded, while also replacing the use of temporary tents with pop-up shops with more permanent roof-like structures erected on four stands. The same can be said about their depiction of the Kasthamandap edifice, both of which speak volumes of the urgency for rebuilding this historically significant monument lost in the 2015 earthquake. 2 The heritage structures are not all intact in Rajman’s drawings. Pieces of destroyed monuments are occasionally visible (RAS 22.009, 22.010, 22.013). In Oldfield’s paintings, heritage structures are mostly seen in a dilapidated state, especially if they are not in the vicinity of royal courtyards. The decline is starkly visible within the gap of ten to fifteen years. Kathya Swoyambhu Vihar drawn by Rajman in 1844 is in its glorious state but is seen mostly destroyed








in Oldfield’s painting from 1854. Furthermore, what Oldfield’s paintings do register is the fact that British neoclassical architecture had already made its way to the traditional landscape of Kathmandu by 1856, as can be seen in the Kumari Jatra piece depicting Hanuman Dhoka with a white limestone painted facade containing tall green windows of mismatching design. Another of his pieces on Bhaktapur Durbar square dated 1858 show the restored western face with a whitewashed front containing five tall windows in red. Many of Rajman’s drawings are the sole evidence of the kind of costume that was generally worn by the inhabitants of Kathmandu around the 1840s (RAS 22.003, RAS 22.24). Likewise, Oldfield’s watercolour paintings provide added information of what colours were popular for men and women. Some of them also show the farming tools and other household items held by people while passing by or sitting next to the monuments being sketched (RAS 22.001, 22.004, 22.006, 22.022, 22.023, 22.028), thereby suggesting the kind of activities people were involved in, such as farming and weaving, and their normal lifestyle, for instance visiting a temple as families. One of his drawings (RAS 22.021) shows a temple’s courtyard being used for the feast of a group of around twenty men, women and children sitting in a round shape, giving a clear idea of a religious and community event, which must have been a frequent sight. When they are labelled, they also serve as the original names for those shrines and places, which have been changed over time after the invasion from the Gurkhas who descended from the hills. These original place names often have a meaning that is related to the place itself as it was. In some instances, the names are modified enough to make no sense, for example Cho Bahaa (convent on top of hill) into Chobhar (RAS 22.007), whereas a complete renaming of many religious sites has taken place, for instance Kwachhe Deval (RAS 22.021) into Balkumari temple, Khasa Chaitya (RAS 22.038) into Bouddha. The scribbles in Rajman’s drawings are in Devanagari script, which suggests a variation that would have existed then, and slightly different to what is popular now, for example there is no ख character, which is replaced by a ष, and the number ५ is written without a tail and so on. Other than the Newar inhabitants, Tibetan travellers are also frequently seen in Rajman’s drawings (RAS 22.010, 22.025, 22.037, 22.038). They can be identified by their wide boots, shirt with wide sleeves and typical moustache on wider facial structure, and they are sometimes even seen with a horse. This is not a quality we can note



from Oldfield’s paintings, which might be attributed to his being an outsider. However, Oldfield does make a distinct rendition of people in British army uniform as in the case of his Kavindra Sattal piece where three of them can be spotted clearly in red top, blue trousers, white bands crossed around their chest and dark headgear. Rajman has also drawn the settlement of other communities such as the Tamangs and Khas, whose houses depicting a completely different vernacular architecture were found in the outskirts of the valley, for example a Khas house (RAS 22.043, 22.044) near Bhim Dhunga, which is north-west from the core valley, and a Murmi house (RAS 22.046) in Gokarna that lies in the north-east of the valley. 8 Some of the sites common to the drawings of both Rajman Singh Chitrakar and Henry Ambrose Oldfield are (a) RudraVarna Mahavihar, Patan, (b) Krishna temple, Patan, (c) Nyatapola temple, Bhaktapur, (d) Durbar square, Bhaktapur, (e) Kavindra Sattal, Kathmandu, (f) Kasthamandap, Kathmandu, and (g) Kathya Swayambhu, Kathmandu.

Rajman’s legacy Whether the legacy of Rajman was carried out religiously over generations, or if his contemporaries found a purpose in making social life a subject of their artworks, is highly questionable. Soon after these drawings were made, Rajman himself joined Hodgson in his four-bedroom bungalow in Darjeeling with other artists (Waterhouse 2004). The general absence of his works in Nepal also means there was less reference to take for other Nepalese artists (Shrestha 2019). As a result, we again find a gap in Nepalese art history with social life as a subject, until the 1930s when two of the first Nepalese artists, Tej Bahadur Chitrakar and Chandra Man Singh Maskey, started formal art education in Durbar High School, Kathmandu. Both Chitrakar and Maskey went to the Government School of Art, Kolkata, in the 1920s, from where Lain Singh Bangdel also graduated in 1945. Bangdel went on to become the first professional Nepalese artist in London and Paris, finally bringing the modern art movement to Nepal in 1961. Despite being an isolated instance of the practice of realism in Nepalese art, Rajman’s concerted effort can be considered a welcome discontinuity from traditional practices. It was one of the first attempts to familiarize the local artists of Kathmandu with an additional dimension in creativity and expression. Under the effective supervision of expert ethnographers such as Hodgson, Rajman’s works successfully captured the unique culture and social life of Kathmandu Valley from the nineteenth century. The realist style of drawing that Hodgson brought with him to Nepal would be Rajman’s obvious choice. Hodgson revisited these drawings and continued with his



study after leaving Nepal. From Darjeeling, he started producing several articles from as early as 1847, which eventually contributed to oriental studies in a major way. The genuine academic nature of these drawings is also elevated by the fact that they were commissioned by Hodgson for his personal study, rather than being a part of a colonial movement. More than 150 years later, detailed inspection of Rajman’s drawings, and their comparison with later works by artists succeeding him, remains one of the few ways to understand the sociocultural life of Kathmandu Valley.

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Hunter, W. W. (1896), Life of Brian Houghton Hodgson, London: J. Murray. Hutt, M. and J. Whelpton (2011), ‘The Catalogue of the Hodgson Collection in the British Library’, European Bulletin of Himalayan Research, 39 (Autumn– Winter): 128–143. Joshi, H. and I. Joshi (2005), Raj Man Singh Chitrakar who Sketched Illustrations for Biran Hodgson, Kathmandu: The Nepal Studies. Joshi, R., A. Tamrakar and B. Magaiya (2021), ‘Community Based Participatory Approach in Cultural Heritage Reconstruction: A Case Study of Kasthamandap’, Progress in Disaster Science, 10 (April). https://doi. org/10.1016/j.pdisas.2021.100153. Kramrisch, S. (1964), The Art of Nepal, New York: The Asia Society. Locke, J. K. (1985), Buddhist Monasteries of Nepal – Survey of Bahas and Bahis of Kathmandu Valley, Kathmandu: Sahayogi Press. Oldfield, H. A. (1880a), Sketches from Nipal, Historical and Descriptive, with Anecdotes of the Court Life and Wild Sports of the Country in the Time of Maharaja Jung Bahadur, vol. 1, London: W. H. Allen & Co. Oldfield, H. A. (1880b), Sketches from Nipal, Historical and Descriptive, with Anecdotes of the Court Life and Wild Sports of the Country in the Time of Maharaja Jung Bahadur, vol. 2, London: W. H. Allen & Co. Pal, P. (1974), The Arts of Nepal II, Leiden: E. J. Brill. Rana, P. J. B. (1909), The Life of Maharaja Sir Jung Bahadur of Nepal, Allahabad: The Pioneer Press. Shakya, M. B. (2000), Sacred Art of Nepal: Nepalese Paubha Paintings, Kathmandu: Handicraft Association of Nepal. Shrestha, S. (2005), ‘Work Index of Nyatapola Temple’, Contributions to Nepalese Studies, 32 (2): 267–275. Shrestha, S. (2019), ‘Rajman Singh: A lost Nepal Found in London’, Fragments of Nepali History in the UK, London: Yantrakala. Slusser, M. S. (1982) ‘Nepal Mandala: A cultural study of the Kathmandu Valley’, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. Slusser, M., N. Gutschow, B. Basukala and D. N. Gellner (1997), The Nepalese Caitya: 1500 Years of Buddhist Votive Architecture in the Kathmandu Valley, London: Edition Axel Menges. Storey G. A. (1910), The Theory and Practice of Perspective, Oxford: Clarendon Press. Subedi, A. (2017), ‘Chitrakars at Triennale’, The Kathmandu Post, 2 April. Available online: (accessed 6 December 2021). Tamrakar, P. K. (1992), NepaaYaa Swongu Layekoo, Kathmandu: Nepalbhasa Council. Waterhouse, D. M. (ed.) (2004), The Origins of Himalayan Studies: Brian Houghton Hodgson in Nepal and Darjeeling 1820–1858, London: Royal Asiatic Society. Wooldridge, D. (2014), ‘Painting Nepal: Dr Henry Ambrose Oldfield and Raj Man Singh’, Britain-Nepal Society Journal, 38: 17–25.


Like a porcupine: Holy wounds in Spanish America Peter Mason

Hybridity and its discontents When Hernán Cortés wrote the fourth of his letters from Mexico in 1524 asking for Franciscan and Dominican missionaries to carry out the task of converting the Indigenous peoples of New Spain, there were already fifteen Franciscans in the field: three from Flanders and another twelve from Spain. Within a couple of years, they founded several convents, including the convent of San Miguel in Huejotzingo, near the city of Puebla, which contains a fresco of the twelve Spanish Franciscans kneeling grouped with six on either side of a cross and identified by name (Figure 8.1). Though the foundation of the first convents as places of worship and instruction dates from the 1520s, these were temporary wooden constructions that were later demolished to erect stone buildings on top of their foundations. In Huejotzingo, for example, the first stage can be dated to 1524–1529, while the complex with its chapel, lower and upper patios, dormitories, garden and hospital was not completed until fifty years later (Córdova Tello 2014). Besides rapidly learning the native languages, the Franciscans invested heavily in the use of visual aids to communicate with the local population. ‘Conversion hieroglyphics’ was the term that the Franciscan Fray Juan Bautista applied to his use of prints and drawings to teach the Indigenous peoples of Mexico to abhor sin and to desire the sovereign good attainable only in heaven (Morán Turina and Portús Pérez 1997: 264). Among the



FIGURE 8.1  The coming of the twelve Spanish Franciscans, cloister of the convent of San Miguel in Huejotzingo, Puebla, black-and-white mural, sixteenth century. Photograph by the author. best-known examples of this pedagogical technique are the so-called Testerian catechisms devised by the Franciscans Peter of Ghent and later in the century by Diego Valadés. But besides these devices that mirrored the pictographic traditions employed in local writing systems, the Franciscans entrusted both the building of the convent structures and their decoration to trained local painter-writers (tlacuiloque). In spite of what some researchers have claimed, it would be wrong to suppose that there were only two or three groups of tlacuiloque working for the missions in New Spain between 1530 and 1580. The Florentine Codex alone, the collective result of informants and painters working for Bernardino de Sahagún in the 1560s and 1570s, shows that there were numerous groups of artists active in the region, which implies both the possibility of a broad spectrum of styles and contact between the different groups of painter-writers working on various Spanish commissions. A comparison with an Italian example that had a foundational value for the Franciscan order throughout the world may be instructive. In the case of the decoration of the nave of the Upper Church of the Basilica of San Francesco in Assisi, begun towards the end of the thirteenth century, it has been argued that: with few exceptions, the painters who worked on the Upper Church would not have been friars, nor would they have possessed any theological education. Moreover, the multiple discontinuities between



workshops, which probably changed with every season of work, argue for a substantial contribution from the friars themselves to realize such a complex but ultimately coherent programme. (Cooper and Robson 2013: 50) Attempts have been made to identify some of the individual artists engaged in carrying out that programme in Assisi, but in the convents of New Spain it is impossible to identify those who actually decorated the convent walls with frescos. In fact, the practice of attribution that plays such a large part in Western art history is hardly applicable to these local Indigenous artists. The first signed portrait in South America is generally held to be the triple portrait of Francisco de Arobe and his sons, Pedro and Domingo, signed by the ‘yndio pintor’ Andrés Sánchez Gallque in 1599 and now held in the Museo de América in Madrid (Gutiérrez Usillos 2012; Webster 2017: 124–146). Archives may provide details of commissions given to local painters, sculptors or architects, though in earthquake-ridden regions such as the Andes the archival record can be very fragmentary indeed. As Webster notes on the situation in colonial Quito: Overall, the number of extant paintings that can be documented for European, Creole, and Andean artists in the sixteenth century is so small that their impact on the history of art in Quito is difficult to assess in any qualitative fashion. (Webster 2017: 92) The author, who has diligently searched the Ecuadorian archives, adds a further complication when she notes that the agents and actors behind the art and architecture of the region remain to a large extent invisible not only in the texts of the period but also in the buildings themselves (Webster 2012: 38–43). In this respect they remain true to the traditions of the Inka, for whom the lack of decoration – with identifiable iconographical motifs – on their architectural masonry was not a defect, but was intended to draw attention to the perfectly joined surfaces of the uncoursed, polygonal arrangement of stones (Dean 2010: 80–81). It might be supposed that, if the local artists were drawn from the Indigenous population, their work would betray the influence of their native upbringing and environment. Analysis of the Panofskian kind has tended to break artworks down into component parts, to analyse their distinct provenance and to consider the use of these elements in the final composition. In studies of art in Latin America, this has led to the prevalence of a problematic of hybridity, assigning the various components to native and non-native sources and assessing their comparative weight in the composite whole. However, the application of the traditional methods of art history to this field is a relatively recent enterprise (Weismann 1975: 22–23) and can be a hazardous affair, as the ‘affaire Gerson’ shows. For



many years the decorative cycle in the ceiling of the chapel in the former Franciscan convent of Tecamachalco, Puebla, which the inscriptions date to 1562, was attributed to an artist from Northern Europe. This choice was based on stylistic grounds because of the close adherence of the artist’s design to a heterogeneous selection of prints by Hans Holbein the Younger and other German artists who worked in different decades. It was not until 1964 that the artist identified as Juan Gerson was shown by a local chronicle written in Nahuatl, the Anales de Tecamachalco, to be an Indigenous artist (Niedermeier 2002). In fact, more than one artist may have been involved; the search for an individual identity has more to do with the preoccupation with the ‘talented individual’ promoted by Giorgio Vasari in his Lives of the Artists (1568) than with the practice of Indigenous artists in Spanish America. Moreover, at least by the first generation after the conquest of Mexico, if not earlier, the very idea of a clear-cut distinction between European and native becomes very hard to sustain. Take the case of Diego Valadés, whose pictographic teaching aid was mentioned above. According to the reconstruction by Boris Jeanne (2011), he was probably born in Tlaxcala in 1533 as the illegitimate son of the conquistador and encomendero of Tenampulco called Diego Valadés and an anonymous india. He entered the Franciscan mission community at the early age of eight years to serve as an interpreter, and later attended the Colegio de San José de los Naturales in Mexico City directed by Peter of Ghent. After ordination he began to preach to and hear the confessions of the Indigenous population. Besides his native Nahuatl, he learnt Tarascan and Otomí and went on to publish a work on rhetoric, Rhetorica Christiana, in Latin. He travelled to Spain and to Rome. If we refuse to be fixated on his mixed blood, there is very little in that whole career that could not be applied to a European Franciscan with a similar education. The Franciscan missionaries were noted for their ability to pick up native languages easily and for their communicative skills, the very capacities that the biography of Valadés reveals. There seems little to be gained by labelling him as a hybrid. Not surprisingly, therefore, objections to the notion of hybridity – and to its congener, syncretism – have been raised. In his critique of syncretism, Manuel Gutiérrez Estévez (2014) has drawn attention to the aggregative or associational character of Indigenous American cultures. Rather than seeking a unified synthesis free of contradiction, they operate in a field that leaves room for the coexistence of disparate elements, impervious to the discriminatory practices of cultural colonialism (Bhabha 1994: 111). In more down-to-earth terms, Carolyn Dean and Dana Leibsohn (2004) have noted how the combining of articles of heterogeneous origin within a household might be quite unremarkable for those who lived there; such ‘hybridity’ went unrecognized – it was a part of their everyday lived experience. For example, the remarkable Mayan murals from the late seventeenth or early eighteenth century discovered in a private house in Chajul, Ixil region, Guatemala,



show a figure, possibly a dancer, wearing European trousers and shoes, but also a feathered cloak, decorated with what may be a pre-Columbian U-shaped iconographic symbol. This and other figures in the murals in this domestic setting include elements such as carved vessels (jícaras) still used in popular Indigenous dances today (Źrałka et al. 2020). Were these felt to be ‘hybrid’ images by the participants and observers? It is noteworthy that what the researchers initially took to be ‘symbolic representations of incense burners’ turned out to be representations of a flower vase belonging to the grandmother of the present owner of the house. Thus, in what follows, we shall consider three sets of images in which the identity of the subject portrayed is beyond question, but the (problematic) identity and ethnicity of the artists and their intentions do not enter into the picture. Instead, the emphasis will be on the performative qualities of these images, on what they might have meant to the different sets of people who observed them, and the capacity of images to evoke re-enactments of events that are thereby difficult to encompass within the limits of a chronological timeline (Didi-Huberman 1998, 2000).

The martyrdom of Saint Sebastian Like the convent of San Miguel in Huejotzingo, the Franciscan convent of San Gabriel in neighbouring San Pedro Cholula was founded towards the end of the 1520s but work on building, followed by decoration, did not begin before the middle of the century. Here too, the native tlacuiloque were expected to follow models of the iconography of the edifying scenes to be represented, though local stylistic and other elements may be expected to have crept in, especially where there was no single iconographical model to follow. Unsurprisingly, the convent of San Gabriel is not free of references to local fauna and flora. In the portería, where the mural decorations were covered by a white layer for centuries until work began on uncovering them in 1999 (Ashwell 2003), one side of the portal leading into the first patio of the convent was decorated with a jaguar with the head of a deer superimposed on it; its counterpart on the opposite side was a dappled jaguar (Figure 8.2). Familiarity with their local environment, based on precise observation, enabled local artists to insert plausible elements from those surroundings into a Christian theme (Olmedo Muñoz 2009). Moreover, the presence of such familiar elements might be supposed to promote a feeling of empathy on the part of native viewers when they contemplated the religious scenes put before them and to offer a space for the Indigenous within an overtly European narrative framework. One of the best examples of this is the botanical paradise painted on the walls and ceiling of the lower cloister of the Augustinian convent of San Salvador in Malinalco. It has proved possible to identify more than thirty species of plants (Mason and Pardo-Tomás 2020



FIGURE 8.2  Dappled jaguar, portería of the convent of San Gabriel, San Pedro Cholula, sixteenth century. Photograph by the author. and 2021), while the twisted grass (malinalli) from which the place derives its name, and whose red sap could nourish the gods like blood, is wrapped around a painted medallion on the stairwell ceiling (Peterson 1993: 95–96). Scenes of Noah’s ark particularly lent themselves to the substitution of local fauna for less familiar European ones, such as the South American peccary in Tecamachalco, or the turkey and the armadillo in an eighteenth-century painting of the animals entering the ark by an unidentified Quito artist, now in the Thoma Collection (Stratton-Pruitt 2007: 110–111). To return to the convent of San Gabriel, a skeletal personification of death wielding a bow and arrow was painted above the doorway of the portería (Figure 8.3). Bows and arrows were familiar enough to the local artists as well, for they were the weapons used by the fierce nomadic northern neighbours, the Chichimeca, whose incursions further south were a frequent occurrence.1 In the convent, the personification of death armed with this deadly weapon prepares the way into the patio, where another scene of death is encountered: the scene of the martyrdom of Saint Sebastian painted on one of the walls. The saint was often invoked, sometimes together with Saint Roche, to ward off or to terminate a pestilence, witness the success of the procession through Rome with his relics in the year 680 (Marshall 2015). It was not



FIGURE 8.3  Death as archer, portería of the convent of San Gabriel, San Pedro Cholula, sixteenth century. Photograph by the author. until the fourteenth century that images associated with this prophylactic function became common in the wake of the Black Death (Parshall and Schoch 2005: 125).2 There was considerable latitude in the European iconography of the martyrdom of Saint Sebastian, but it was rare to find more than the twelve arrows fired into the haloed saint represented in a version by Andrea Mantegna from around 1470 now in Vienna (Agosti and Thiébaut 2008: 206–207); one of them has pierced his neck and emerges from his forehead, while blood runs down in streams from most of the wounds. Among the examples of the martyrdom of Saint Sebastian with a larger number of arrows are the altarpiece with more than thirty arrows by Giovanni del Biondo from around 1374 in the cathedral of Florence (Marshall 2002), a fresco by Benozzo Gozzoli from 1466 in which some thirty arrows can be seen, and a panel painting by Alonso de Sedano from 1485.3 Very different in composition is the version depicted on the wall of the convent of San Gabriel in Cholula (Plate 8.1). Above a rinceau frieze that is frequently found in sixteenth-century Mexican mural painting (Granziera 2017), the haloed saint is tied with his hands behind his back to a tree whose leafy branches sprout above his head. The saint’s gaze is turned towards an archer on his left. The archer and his counterpart on the saint’s right



have already fired no less than twenty arrows into his body and have not finished yet. Blood drips from every single wound. The archers are armed with conventional bows and arrows and wear short tunics gathered at the waist, one of them with a scalloped fringe along the hem. To find the source for such a representation we have to go back to tenthcentury Rome, to a fresco in the small medieval church of Saint Sebastian on the Palatine Hill (Marchiori 2007: 192–193; 2009). The fresco is no longer extant; we only know it from a seventeenth-century sketch by Antonio Eclissi, an artist who worked for Cardinal Francesco Barberini, in a Latin codex in the Vatican Archive (Cod. Vat. Lat. 9071: folio 142). Among the scenes of the martyrdom and burial of Saint Sebastian – ‘Martyrdom and burial of St Sebastian in the Church on the Palatine. On the gospel [i.e. left-hand] side’ – this is the earliest known representation of his sagittation.4 The fresco in the Palatine church of Saint Sebastian shows four archers – twice as many as in San Gabriel – two on each side of the saint, but it is in other respects a perfect match for the compositional pattern of the Mexican fresco. It shows the haloed saint with his hands tied behind his back to a pole, planted in a rudimentary rocky, hilly landscape, presumably meant to suggest the Palatine Hill. One of the archers wears a cloth cap on his head, the other three are bare-headed. They are all dressed in knee-length or ankle-length hose and have already fired at least close on forty arrows into the saint’s erect, frontally posed body (De Jongh 1963). Such a profligate use of arrows is rare in depictions of the saint’s martyrdom, although a fifth-century life of the saint (later published in Acta Sanctorum 1643, see Migne 1879: 1111–1149) notes that so many arrows were fired into him that he looked like a hedgehog (hericlus). The image recurs in a text on ‘the errors and abuses of history painters’ written by the little-known cleric Giovanni Andrea Gilio of Fabriano. Significantly, it was published in 1564, only a year after the conclusion of the Council of Trent, as one of two dialogues dedicated to Cardinal Alessandro Farnese. Cast in the form of a discussion of painting by a number of friends gathered outdoors in an idyllic setting, it gives voice to their different opinions on the distinction between what is true, invented and fabulous in painting. The purpose is to arrive at rules on the application of these three categories, whether in pure or in mixed form, in accordance with time, place and person. The work that comes in for the most criticism is Michelangelo’s Last Judgment in the Capella Sistina; while the artist’s dexterity and versatility provoke only admiration, it is the unorthodox elements in his iconography that arouse criticism. When Gilio turns to images of martyrs, he asserts that their bodies and expressions should show the extent of their torment. It is at this point that he introduces Saint Sebastian, urging that he should be represented ‘full of arrows like a porcupine (estrice)’ (Gilio 1564: 87v–88r). Our author returns to the topic later, this time to berate Michelangelo again, for showing Sebastian carrying his arrows on the day of the Last Judgment, for on that day all earthly torments will be over and there will be thus no need for him to carry the insignia of his martyrdom with him (106r).



Perhaps Gilio had in mind Gozzoli’s composition in San Gimignano, which was probably dictated by one of the friars there. The programme of the scene of the martyrdom of Saint Sebastian in the convent of San Gabriel in New Spain will presumably have been given to the local artists by one of the friars of the convent too. How the image arrived in Mexico from Rome is unknown, as the numerous European series of religious prints that were widely used as source material in Spanish America date from the second half of the sixteenth century or later. At present one can only hazard a guess that one of the many pilgrims to Rome acquired one of the manuscripts or prints that are known to have spread martyrological images outside Rome (Marchiori 2007: 207), and that by this means it was transmitted through a member of the Franciscan Order to the convent in Cholula. The circulation of images between Europe and Latin America – a traffic that for logistical reasons regularly passed through the Canary Islands – has become the object of growing interest in recent years (Mason 2018; Thurner and Pimentel 2021).5 Apart from the question of how the image of Saint Sebastian full of arrows like a porcupine travelled from Rome to Mexico,6 we must also consider how the representation is likely to have been consumed and what impression it would have made on the Indigenous population and others who were able to see it. Reception history has placed too much emphasis on how images were received; we need more research on how that ‘reception’ modified the content and message of the image in question. The Historia Tolteca-Chichimeca, a fifty-folio work produced on European paper between 1547 and 1560 and now in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, can be brought in here because it describes the entry of the Chichimeca into Cholula, in the region where the convent of San Gabriel is located (folio 26v and 27r). On the very next folio (folio 28r), a full-page image shows four archers with feathers in their hair and wearing knee-length garments of some kind, aiming their arrows at a human target who is naked apart from his loincloth. He is suspended above them, tied by his arms and legs in the form of a Saint Andrew’s cross to a timber frame. He has already been pierced by two arrows, and blood pours from his body. He is one of the two victims of a ritual execution (tlacacaliztli) by the victors after a battle, like the execution of the warrior Lord 6 House at the end of the pre-Hispanic Codex Zouche-Nuttall; the two tear glyphs indicate his suffering, while his open eye indicates that he is not yet dead (Anders, Jansen and Pérez Jiménez 1992: 243) (Plate 8.2). From further north, an anthropomorphic male figure carved in marble excavated in the Xalla complex in Teotihuacan has been interpreted as a representation of the figure of a prisoner, bound to a stake, who would have been ritually executed in the same way (Cabrera Cortés 2010: 190 and 199). A pre-Hispanic stone carving showing the same form of execution was even incorporated in the atrial cross of the church of Topiltepec (Escalante Gonzalbo 2002: 76–77). So, the somewhat obscure iconography of the martyrdom of Saint Sebastian as a porcupine proves to



have a particular resonance for those natives of Cholula who would have been able to see the fresco in the convent patio. While the architecture of convents in New Spain envisaged a large enclosed outer courtyard or atrium devoted to the instruction of the Indigenous masses, access to the cloisters of the monastic buildings was usually confined to the friars themselves and to their Indigenous assistants, some of whom have left their mark there in the form of graffiti (Russo 2013). They would have seen the same image repeatedly every time they passed and may have spent hours in silent devotion before it.7 Whether representational or not, such images have a performative quality; they are designed to act on the viewer who contemplates and meditates on them, operating through the resonances that they evoke. Hence in spite of the lack of any identifiable, distinctly Indigenous elements in the convent fresco in San Gabriel, it occupies, or rather carves out for itself, a definite place within the Indigenous imaginary. The shift in emphasis proposed here is from what went into the production of the image to what it does, to its performativity: how it invites those who gaze upon it to size it up against the observable reality they know, how it encourages them to supplement what they see with their own imagination and to reflect on their knowledge of themselves and of others.

The scourging of Christ Besides examples in Mexico, the circulation of printed images in Spanish America rapidly spread to the Andean regions too. For example, at the end of the sixteenth century Fray Diego de Ocaña distributed images of the Virgin of Guadalupe down the Pacific Coast from Panama to Chile to promote the monastery dedicated to her in Extremadura, Spain (Ocaña 2010). Such sets provided the iconographic framework, like a musical score, leaving scope for varying degrees of local (Indigenous and other) interpretation depending on particular circumstances. An engraving by Johan Sadeler I (1550–1600) (Figure  8.4) may be the model for an anonymous painting, probably from the seventeenth century, which hangs in the Museo de Arte Religioso de la Concepción in Riobamba, Ecuador (Plate 8.3).8 The artist has removed the background figures shown in the print to focus on two torturers inflicting a brutal scourging on Christ, who is crouched on all fours on the floor, while behind him stands the pillar to which he had been tied. Two instruments – a cat-o’-nine-tails and a device with four spiked metal balls – lie on the floor, while the torturers wield a birch or martinet and a flail with four metal hooks. One hook has become embedded in the crouching figure of Christ’s right side, along with the tip of one of the branches of the birch. Christ’s back is a stream of blood, the flow from his wounds bathes the floor red, and the torturers’ shirts are blood-stained. The engraving, though brutal, does little to prepare the viewer for such a gory scene. Neither does the well-known version of the flagellation by



FIGURE 8.4  Johan Sadeler I, Flagellation, print, second half of the sixteenth century. Creative Commons. Sebastiano dal Piombo, in which Christ is tied with his hands behind his back to a column, but the four torturers circled around him have not yet left a single mark on his body.9 In some versions Christ is tied to a column that rises above him; in others the column is waist-high, like the one preserved in the chapel of San Zeno in the Basilica of Santa Prassede in Rome, rendering this a more suitable format for three-dimensional versions of the subject. The torturers vary in number and are often given grotesque, if not bestial facial expressions. Apart from its goriness, the Riobamba painting departs from these models in two important respects: Christ is no longer tied the column, though his hands are still bound, and he is crouched on the floor on his elbows and knees. Whether or not the artist was an indio, both the profuse bloodletting (discussed below) and the crouching posture would have had particular resonances for Indigenous viewers. The latter is a gesture of humiliation, as seen in many of the Moche ceramic vessels, or in a Mexican slit drum in the British Museum representing a captive enemy warrior whose humiliation



would be re-enacted every time the drummer beat upon his back (McEwan and López Luján 2009: 201). It has been suggested that some scenes of the Flagellation of Christ were intended to evoke the flagellum of the Turkish threat to Christianity before the Battle of Lepanto. In the Riobamba painting, however, the physiognomy and dress of the torturers are clearly European. To an Indigenous observer, they could only be an allusion to the conquistadores and the brutal treatment of the Indigenous peoples at the hands of the Spanish. The same is true of the three bearded torturers in an eighteenth-century painting by an unidentified Cuzco artist in the Monasterio de las Conceptas in Cuenca (Figure 8.5). This time the European source is a print from the same century by the Moravian painter and engraver Gottfried Bernhard Göz and the Klauber workshop in Augsburg, in which the figure of Christ, bleeding from the back, is being released from the pedestal and laid facing upwards on the floor so that the scourging can continue on the front of

FIGURE 8.5  Anonymous, Flagellation, oil on canvas, 136.5 × 105.5 centimetres, eighteenth century. Monasterio de las Conceptas, Cuenca, Ecuador. Photograph by the author.



his body. The painter has made a number of changes,10 which produce a stronger focus on the pathos of the central scene. The instruments and broken twigs are a grim reminder that the torturers have not finished their work yet. Prints continued to influence religious paintings directly or indirectly in Spanish America down to the twentieth century.11 A mid-seventeenthcentury print by Cornelis Galle II (Plate 8.4)12 lies behind a work by the Dominican friar Enrique Mideros (1892–1946). This prolific painter of religious themes was active in various cities of Ecuador from the 1920s onwards. In the 1930s he was assigned to Baños, situated to the north-east of Riobamba, where he embarked on the decoration of the interior of the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Agua Santa (formerly Nuestra Señora de los Baños) with paintings of the miracles performed by the Virgin, including one of the procession that in 1773 was led to the site where a spring of healing water had been blocked by a volcanic eruption. As in many such miracles (Mason 2017a), the Virgin is linked with the miraculous (re)appearance of a spring of reinvigorating water. Besides this series, Fray Mideros also painted a vast canvas, Jesus victim of human cruelty and of ingratitude for the Eucharist (1941; 2.3 × 3.8 metres), in which the crouching posture of Christ that we have seen in other scenes of the flagellation is repeated (Figure 8.6). While the print shows Christ after the flagellation is over and without any sign of the torturers, in Mideros’s canvas the kneeling figure is bound by the wrists to a blood-stained pedestal, while his two torturers, dressed as Roman soldiers, vigorously apply a birch and a metal-studded scourge to his back. Blood pours down his body to the floor, which is littered with blood-stained twigs from the rods. The scene in the print that

FIGURE 8.6  Cornelis Galle II, O Tristissimum Spectaculum, print, midseventeenth century. Creative Commons.



is intended to evoke compassion has been replaced by one that provokes anger at the fury of the torturers.13

Bloodletting for a purpose Towards the end of the sixteenth century, the Franciscan friar in New Spain Gerónimo de Mendieta commented that it had once been a common custom to hold flagellations in the church all year long, ‘and there were often whippings in the courtyard almost all night long. As the friars who were in prayer after matins could hear the Indians whipping themselves out there, they praised God at seeing their progress’ (1870: 427; my emphasis). The words in italics can be read as a persuasive definition, expressing the wishes or hopes of the friars, although they will certainly have feared that, under the outward guise of flagellation, the indios were lapsing into their old pagan ways, like the ‘bad Christians’ of Yanhuitlán investigated by the inquisitors in mid-century for continuing to perform sacrifices despite the presence of a church there (Hamann 2020). When Diego de Ocaña crossed into Argentina from the south of Chile, he complained that all that the indios did there in terms of ritual – confession, flagellation, processions and images – was pure mimicry and nothing more ‘because they are like monkeys that do what they see’ (Ocaña 2010: 195). This disturbing resemblance to familiar rituals practised with a different intention, or even none at all, is what Homi Bhabha referred to as ‘the ruse of recognition, its mimicry, its mockery’ (Bhabha 1994: 115). Though the term ‘self-sacrifice’ has been applied to the practice of bloodletting that played such a prominent part in those pre-Christian practices, care should be taken in applying the word ‘sacrifice’ indiscriminately. There is the danger of importing Christian conceptions into a pre-Christian world in which similar practices did not necessarily carry the same meaning. For example, some of the Mexican anthropomorphic or zoomorphic so-called ‘sacrificial knives’ have been shown to be ceremonial objects too weak to be of any practical use (Domenici, forthcoming). There is eloquent testimony to the practice of bloodletting in the reliefs on the Maya lintels from Yaxchilan now in the British Museum. They show Lady Xoc drawing a thorn-lined cord through her tongue and Lord Bird Jaguar holding a long perforator to pierce his penis (McEwan 1994: 44–47). Similarly, a folio from the Codex Magliabechiano (folio 79r), painted on European paper at some time before 1566, shows two indios piercing their tongue or ear lobes with some perforating instrument (Gruzinski 1992: 89). Such practices were a shared feature of all Mesoamerican cultures from the preclassic to the post-classic periods and were variously performed by persons of an elevated status, as in the Mayan case mentioned above, or by the population as a whole (Aguirre Molina 2004). They were not designed to chastise the body, but to bring



about communication between the human and the divine. This idea persisted among the Indigenous communities addressed by the monastic orders in Mexico. As Mónica Domínguez Torres has eloquently written (2013: 100): Colonial flagellation presented indigenous communities with an opportunity to achieve a ritual union by taking up Christ’s arms – that is, by covering their bodies, as St Francis did,14 with Christ’s bleeding wounds. In the indigenous mind the new public rituals of Christian flagellation effected a transition between the old and the new rule. Bloodletting became an effective and accepted form of communicating with Christ, the sun. The penitent indigenous convert in front of the atrial cross could identify himself as a Christian knight of the sun, a metamorphosed figure of the warrior of ancient times. ­ he nails, crown of thorns and spear that all pierced Christ’s body T produced what were known as the Five Sacred Wounds, but the previous flagellation had caused blood to flow from many more. This proliferation of bleeding wounds is a characteristic of many sculptures of the crucified Christ produced in Spanish America, in which those of the Audiencia de Quito excelled (Plate 8.5). It has been noted that the splayed flow of blood from Christ’s wounds on atrial crosses like the one in Tepeyac would have recalled the Mesoamerican ollin glyph that marked an auspicious day in the Mexican calendar (Domínguez Torres 2013: 63–64). So here too, there was food for thought for the Indigenous spectator. If for the Indigenous cultures such bloodletting was bound up with the efficacy of the performance of a rite, performativity was not absent from Christian contemplation of Christ’s wounds either. As Domenico Cavalca put it in the chapter on ‘How Christ on the cross is like a book’ in his fourteenth-century treatise Lo Specchio di Croce (1857: 154): This skin so naked and scraped was not tied, but affixed between two beams of the cross, and was completely covered in black letters: because it was all black and blue from the blows and buffets, as the Scripture says, and had lost all its beauty. The miniatures and large letters in red are also there: they are the wounds, all dripping blood principally from the head, the hands, the feet and the side; which are red with blood, and are very large, as stated above. This is why Christ is like a book in which is written in abbreviated form the entire Scripture. Writing after the Council of Trent, Gilio likewise dwelt on the need to show the broken body of Christ if it was to be considered a ‘true’ likeness. He explicitly criticized the unblemished body of Christ that Sebastiano dal Piombo had painted in the scene of the flagellation in San Pietro in Montorio, arguing instead that ‘the painter would show the strength of his art in depicting him afflicted, bleeding, covered in spittle, torn, twisted, unsightly,



livid and so disfigured that he no longer resembled a man’. This injunction extended from the flagellation down to Christ’s death: ‘In the flagellation, presentation to the people, crucifixion, deposition from the Cross and burial, he should be shown bleeding, unsightly, disfigured, afflicted, consumed and dead’ (Gilio 1564: 87r). These were images that were meant to produce an effect, to perform. There was disagreement on the precise number of wounds inflicted: Saint Gertrude of Helfta meditated on 5,466 of them, while others estimated their number at 6,666. Like the words written in a book, these images served as stimuli for repeated meditation, and the emphasis on the precise numbers may have helped to prevent the mind from wandering from this purpose. These debates on numbers were not confined to members of the religious orders. In the first decades of the seventeenth century, Fernando Enrique Afán de Ribera, III Duke of Alcalá, was one of a group of scholars, antiquarians and artists in Seville who debated the number of nails used to fix Christ to the cross: were they three or four?15 As Felipe Pereda has amply demonstrated (2018: 33–93), the two issues of the nails and the inscription were inextricably related, for the sacramental status of sacred representations depended on their fidelity, both in Spain and in Spanish America. To serve the faith, they had to be faithful. Thus it seems as though the dogmas on the use of images laid down after the Council of Trent, with their encouragement of realistic representations of the horrors of the Passion, helped to bring the European tradition closer to the Mesoamerican world view in which flagellation and other forms of bloodletting played such an important part. It was a form of mutual attraction or osmosis. Perhaps a better metaphor would be that of entrainment, in which the period and phase of two independent oscillatory systems gradually become aligned with one another.

Performative images Because of the specific social, ethnic and political configuration of Spanish America in the early modern period, and because of the specific aesthetic assumptions and practices that characterized artistic production in that context as outlined at the beginning of this contribution, searching for the voice of the Indigenous in many of the artworks produced in this postconquest situation, on which the European presence had already brought about a sea change, presents quite a challenge. The scenes presented in postcolonial codices like the Florentine or the Magliabechiano appear in works that were produced some forty years after the conquest of Mexico had introduced the Spanish colonial system and the missions had been busy stamping out those very practices. Even when a native voice is demonstrably present, as for example in the 1552 herbal known as the Codex CruzBadianus,16 there is still no guarantee that it has been or will be properly



understood (Mason 2015: 16–17). With the thickening of the historical record, researchers on later centuries generally fare better. But perhaps this is not the most important issue. For besides the Indigenous voice, there are the Indigenous eyes and minds. They could see and reflect on the works that they played a part in making. They could do things with them. Many of the sculptures, particularly those associated with the Passion, were and are not only displayed in churches but also carried among the populace during processions. One has only to visit Seville during Holy Week to see how the highly elaborate life-sized sculptures or figural groups have a dramatic function, re-enacting the biblical events time after time. Those images that had movable limbs rendered them even more suitable for such dramatic tableaux, as the same Christ figure could be used both in a crucifixion and in a deposition. The situation in Spanish America is no different. When today a population consisting almost entirely of indios packs the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Agua Santa in Baños for a mass, they see the paintings by Father Mideros, they light candles in the adjacent shrine accommodating the statue of the Virgin and they are sprinkled with holy water (agua santa), which reminds them of the miraculous reappearance of the spring in 1773 (Figure  8.7). This is a striking example, to paraphrase the title of a classic work on the philosophy of language (Austin 1962), of how to do things with images.

FIGURE 8.7  Shrine of Nuestra Señora de Agua Santa, Baños, Ecuador. Photograph by the author.



One of the ways in which images are able to act in this way is by their layering of past with present. The procession through Rome with the relics of Saint Sebastian to seek his protection from the plague of 680 has already been mentioned. Eight-hundred years later, around the time of the plague of 1476, the artist of a fresco in the Church of San Pietro in Vincoli represented that procession to invoke its efficacy in a similar time of tribulation. In 1631, when the Italian Peninsula had been stricken by another outbreak of the plague two years earlier, the French artist Nicolas Poussin resident in Rome recalled scenes from that fresco when he painted his The Plague at Ashdod (Mason 2020: 84–89). The calendar year, the Mesoamerican cycle of the five suns, the periodic recurrence of pestilences: these were all phenomena that called for images that could be expected to perform. In his study of icons, translated into English as Likeness and Presence: A History of the Image before the Era of Art, Hans Belting draws a sharp distinction between the power of images in pre-Reformation Europe and their subsequent conversion into aesthetic objects (‘art’) (1994: 14–16). Such a unilinear development is a priori unlikely, and Felipe Pereda has drawn attention to its inapplicability to the post-Tridentine Spanish world, including Spanish America, where, despite divergences between the Holy Office in Spain and the position represented by Cardinal Gabriele Paleotti in Italy, the cultic function of the image still remained linked with its devotional and, consequently, aesthetic value (2007: 39; 2018: 74–78). Indeed, such was its power that it could even operate metonymically at a distance (Maniura 2009; Nygren 2019). The cult of the Virgin of Copacabana is illuminating in this respect. In 1593 an Indigenous Andean artist, Francisco Tito Yupanqui, made a sculpture of the Virgin and Child in Copacabana that rapidly acquired fame for its ability to work miracles. Carved copies and two-dimensional images of the work spread through Peru and further afield, reaching Italy in 1655. There was a fundamental difference between them: while the Andean sculpture was manifestly in the round, and printed images of it made the same point by showing it in an architectural framework, the Italian images rigorously eliminated any reference to its third dimension and reproduced it in the form of a flat icon, presumably to eliminate any suggestion of idolatry in view of its original Indigenous setting. But whether in its sculpted form or in the reduced version of a two-dimensional painting or print, it lost none of its performativity, and the painted version in the church of San Carlo in Turin was still being venerated until at least the nineteenth century (Lloyd 2017). In this respect, the difference between the Spanish (American) and the Italian reception of the Virgin of Copacabana faded away. In a recent study, Gemma Celigueta has analysed the arrival of two statues of the Virgin de Montserrat that were a gift from Catalonia to the town of San Juan Sacatepéquez after the devastating earthquake that shook Guatemala in 1976. The first was so warmly welcomed and incorporated within local cultic practices (guachivales) that when the authorities requested



that it be transferred to the new church of San Juan after its completion eight years later, the statue remained in what had now become its home in the house of the Indigenous mayor of the town, and a second one had to be installed in the church. Within the eight-year interval, the original statue had become a powerful family image that received its due of flowers, candles and incense. ‘Saints, as had happened with idols in prehispanic times, were passed on from father to son as sacred objects that afforded protection to the homes and families’, she writes, continuing ‘In this sense, the saints are objects of power that should be treated with care’ (Celigueta 2021: 279). In a similar vein, striking parallels have been demonstrated between preColumbian Tlaxcalan altar-ofrenda paintings and present-day Tlaxcalan rituals involving altars and offerings; and in both public celebrations such as Todos Santos and private household cults that appeal to the souls of the dead at other times of the year (Pohl 1998). In their various ways, the images considered here all have in common the fact that they are powerful images, in the same way that a sculpture like Giacometti’s The Chariot (1950) evokes the uncanny power of an archaic hieratic statue of a goddess, going back less to Etruscan than to Egyptian, Sumerian and Cycladic art (Sylvester 1995: 149; Mason 2013). Like that image too, they are anachronistic, refractory to any attempt to fit them within some all-encompassing temporal framework. Aesthetics, cult, devotion, anthropology, art – they all come together here.

Acknowledgements With thanks for their assistance in various ways to Florike Egmond, Harriet O’Neill, Margarita Ana Vázquez Manassero, Davide Domenici, Maarten Jansen and the editors.

Notes 1 They appear, for instance, at the top of the 1579 map (Relación geográfica) representing Meztitlán in the present state of Hidalgo (Olmedo Muñoz 2009: 40). The Augustinian friar Agustín Farfán, who practised as a physician in Mexico City and Oaxaca, showed his familiarity with their weapons when he discussed whether or not their flint-tipped arrows should be extracted from the wounds in a surgical treatise published in Mexico in the same year (Cortés Guadarrama 2020: 149 n. 399). 2 The female owner of a Book of Hours exported from Bruges to England around 1410 appears to have added a hand-printed, hand-coloured and much handled image of Saint Sebastian onto a blank vellum at the opening of the book to protect its owner from the plague (Rudy 2011: 6–10). Similarly, when in 1592 the governor of Tenerife declared that in the parts of the Canary



4 5

6 7

8 9



islands that he had seen, ‘shrines of St Sebastian are placed at the entrances to the cities, towns and settlements’, they had the same apotropaic function (Pérez Morera and Rodríguez Morales 2008: 235). Saint Sebastian is the patron saint of Palma de Mallorca, in whose cathedral the panel is located. The fresco by Gozzoli in the Collegiata of San Gimignano shows the saint standing on a pedestal with his hands bound behind his back. His assailants are a group of archers on either side of him who are clad in a variety of different costumes, including a short tunic gathered at the waist with a scalloped hem. In the centre of the frame above the saint’s head, Saint Gemignanus, the patron saint of San Gimignano, holds a model of the town, which the saint protects from the pestilential arrows of the plague, while in the frame below him a crucifixion scene evokes the parallel behind the saint’s and Christ’s suffering (Ahl 1996: 146–147). The damaged figures of two archers are all that survives of the thirteenthcentury fresco in the so-called Oratorium of Honorius III in San Sebastiano fuori le mura, Rome (Romano 2012: 98–103). For instance, an alabaster sculpture of Saint Sebastian now in the Museo Diocesano de Arte Sacro en Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, depicts the saint tied to a tree, with ten holes in his body that would originally have held metallic arrows. The piece is now considered to have been manufactured in the Italian Peninsula and taken to Spanish America, but already transported back from there to Gran Canaria before 1579, when it is mentioned in an inventory of the chapel of Saint Sebastian in Telde (Arte Hispanoamericano en las Canarias Orientales 2000: 156–160; La Huella y la Senda 2004: 225–226). While the hedgehog is not endemic to the Americas, porcupines are, and their quills were widely used in native American decoration; for historical examples in European collections see Feest (1992). Georges Didi-Huberman (1995) has demonstrated how even the red spots in the faux marble panels painted below a Sacred Conversation by Fra Angelico could become the object of meditation as they evoked a range of images of suffering, from the stigmata of Saint Francis to the wounds of Christ. The city founded by the Spaniards in 1534 was completely destroyed by a landslide in 1797, when the population moved to the present location in the shadow of the Chimborazo, the highest volcano in the country. Painted as part of a cycle in the revolutionary new technique of oils on stone in the Borgherini chapel of San Pietro in Montorio, Rome, between 1516 and 1524 (Sebastiano del Piombo 1485–1547 2008: 172–177). Sebastiano, or a member of his workshop, returned to the subject in 1537 in a close-up of the Christ figure (in the Collegiata di San Esuperanzio in Cingoli), virtually stripping away the narrative setting and thereby turning the image into a devotional icon that would invite reflection and above all empathy (Bernardini and Bussagli 2011: 183 and 283). Characteristically, around the same time a painter who knew and studied Sebastiano del Piombo’s work, the Valencian Joan de Joanes, also painted a close-up of Christ tied to the column, but this time with parallel stripes, some of them still dripping fresh blood, on his arms, legs and torso (Sebastiano del Piombo 1485–1547 2008: 362–363). The painter has removed the background figure holding a torch, the angel floating above and the seated figure of Pilate, and has added an image of


11 12 13




ART, OBSERVATION, AND AN ANTHROPOLOGY OF ILLUSTRATION the Virgin kneeling in prayer in the background and an array of various instruments of torture scattered on the floor in the foreground. There is a nineteenth-century example in some of the Stations of the Cross painted by Amerindian neophytes in Mission San Fernando, Southern California, probably in the 1820s (Neuerburg 1997). The influence of the print O Tristissimum Spectaculum is attested by paintings now in Cuzco (Ecuador), Antioquia (Colombia) and Puebla (Mexico). That the painting is also a reference to contemporary events is clear from another painting from the same year, Interpretation of the world’s condition in 1941, in which an angel wearing a tunic inscribed ‘paz’ holds a scroll bearing the words ‘perdon señor perdon’ before God the Father, who is striking the war-stricken continent of Europe with lightning. One of the clearest visual expressions of the affinity between the wounds of Christ and the stigmata of Saint Francis is a crucifixion painted on a crossshaped wooden panel from the Church of San Francesco in Trevi, some 30 kilometres from Assisi, datable to some thirty years after the completion of the Saint Francis cycle in the Upper Church there. The blood that flows from the wounds of the crucified Christ flows into the stigmata of a diminutive Saint Francis below, shown in the act of kissing Christ’s feet. The stream of their intermingled blood continues below the saint into the skull of Adam, which was traditionally located below the cross on Golgotha (Capolavori del Trecento 2018: 220–223). The duke, like the painter and theoretician Francisco Pacheco, saw a sign of greater antiquity in those representations in which four were used, as in most of the crucifixions painted by Zurbarán in the same years. Gilio had made the same point earlier (1564: 94v) though he gave as the reason that earlier artists were too clumsy to be able to represent the pose of one leg crossed over the other that three nails required. The duke also wrote a treatise on the actual wording of the inscription on the cross, Del titulo de la cruz de Christo, Señor nuestro, which was published in 1619 (Brown and Kagan 1987; Mason 2017b). This herbal was written in Nahuatl by the native convert Martín de la Cruz in Tlatelolco and translated into Latin by another student at the college called Juan Badiano.

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Art and the limits of representation: Portraits and portrayals of Midwestern Indigenous peoples in the early United States republic Stephanie Pratt

This chapter examines four nineteenth-century images made of North American Indigenous people, grouped together to suggest a form of revised art history. Together they offer a pertinent case study of how the collecting of information about Indigenous North American peoples at this historical juncture was becoming systematized and codified. Indeed, their various representational methods illuminate how closely the societal and political views held about Indigenous peoples in North America were imbricated within the visual means used by outsiders to portray them. In this vein, I wish to undertake a type of mapping exercise between so-called ‘Indian’ policies in governmental spheres and how those same policies might appear when culturally mediated in the visual spaces of framed portrait paintings and hand-drawn pictures. Each of these four images is situated in specific historical circumstances, but, in at least one aspect, they share a common aim: the intention to obtain (from a Eurocentric art perspective) accurate and direct information about the visual appearances of Indigenous North Americans. In one of my examples the American artist, George Catlin, shows himself in the act of



painting a Mandan/Numakaki1 chief in the latter’s homelands. This ‘selfportrait’ illustration demonstrating Catlin’s ‘accuracy’ makes emphatic what I am proposing to discuss here. Two of the images under review were officially commissioned; the others, derived from self-directed study or fortunate encounters with Indigenous delegations in Washington, DC, the history of which affords a rich context for all the examples under scrutiny here (Viola [1981] 1995). I have used the word ‘portrayal’ in the title of my chapter because it captures the essence of the structuring mechanisms of visual representation and because it applied to cultural differences during the first decades of the US Republic, which will be the main themes of discussion. To portray something suggests a stepping back from that person or situation to be able to describe it or even to ‘represent’ it. In doing so, the maker of the portrait has already moved towards an abstraction of the real and brought their own understanding to bear on that person or situation (Brilliant 1991: 14). I will be analysing the four representations of North American Indigenous sitters with these concerns in mind. In chronological order, the four images are: 1 Osage Warrior by Charles B. J. Févret de Saint-Mémin (1806–1807)

(Plate 9.1); 2 Pawnee Council by Samuel Seymour (1819–1820) (Plate 9.2); 3 Young Omahaw, War Eagle, Little Missouri, and Pawnees by Charles Bird King (c. 1821) (Plate 9.3); and 4 ‘The Author painting a Chief at the base of the Rocky Mountains’ by George Catlin from Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and Conditions of the North American Indians. Written during eight years’ travel amongst the wildest tribes of Indians in North America, 1832-39. With four hundred illustrations carefully engraved from his original paintings and coloured after nature . . . (frontispiece) (London: The author, 1841) (Plate 9.4). Three of the images are types of portraiture and one is a scenic drawing of a group conference held between Pawnee/Chatiks si chatiks2 leaders and US military expeditionary forces led by Major Stephen H. Long in 1819 and 1820. In every case, these visual representations were made to record the physical traits, regalia and other body adornments of the sitters, and in some cases to gain more contextual information about their specific Native American cultures. One comparative image will be brought to bear upon the main arguments put forward here – the self-portrait drawing by Mató-Tópe (Plate 9.5), the Mandan Chieftain, known to posterity partly through his contact with the American artist George Catlin and the Swiss artist Karl Bodmer in 1832 and 1833–1834, respectively, and their images of him. His self-portrait may be regarded as speaking back to the colonizing



forces, finding agency and demonstrating an Indigenous person’s means of expression as a counter to the visual representation that sat outside his cultural norms. In deploying the self-portrait of Mató-Tópe, I do not wish to insert my own voicing, as I am fully aware of the problems of ‘speaking for’ or across others, which has been implicit in the imbalances of power brought on by colonial and oppressive conditions experienced by Indigenous peoples the world over. My approach to such a problematic is to assume that an original and authentic Indigenous presence and agency is actualized within the transcultural ‘contact zone’ of a portrait image, and that this can be acknowledged and in part recuperated (M. L. Pratt 1991; S. Pratt 1998 and 2005; Shannon 1996). As Elizabeth Hutchinson has argued, ‘Indigenous negotiated self-representation’ is related to acts of ‘sovereignty’ and ‘political self-determination’ (2013: 317), which I as a Dakota scholar have always sought to underscore in my own work. Plates 9.1 to 9.4 can be viewed together as part of a larger programme of collecting visual and other information about the Indigenous peoples of North America between the 1800s and the 1830s, which would feed into the more general projects of building the US national museum collections. Such collecting activities and the display of material items in personal cabinets and in other early forms of the museum have been critically assessed as aspects of a dominant colonial gaze (Hall 1997). All four images were created by US-based artists, some of whom were promoting the pre-eminence of their work as records and as aesthetic achievements. Thus, these images sit on the boundary between American ethnography and art history fulfilling a different function in each discipline. They can also be framed within the wider context of US governmental concerns with the peoples whom the nation had come to refer to as ‘Indians’ and what that government wished to institute as ‘Indian policy’ in these early years. Thus, in amassing images and information about diverse Indigenous peoples and creating visual accounts of certain individual members of tribal communities, there are paradoxical intentions involved. These selected examples reveal attitudes that sought to both particularize and generalize about ‘Indians’ and what these complex and diverse cultures would mean for the nation.

The Jeffersonian period in North America and the need for incorporation The first three works span the period of Jeffersonian influence (roughly 1800–1830), which was largely committed to the ideology of ‘incorporating’ the Indigenous peoples of North America, assimilating their cultures more fully into US society (Sheehan 1973). The move to incorporate did radically change to a policy of removal after 1830 but for a short window of time it



seemed removal was not the preferred option and that another and perhaps more Europeanized colonial project was still in play (Truettner 2010). In 1803, the United States gained access and oversight of 2,150,000 square kilometres (830,000 square miles) of Indigenous-held lands west of the Mississippi River when President Thomas Jefferson made the ‘Louisiana Purchase’ from Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.3 In so doing, Jefferson drew large conceptual and administrative lines around lands and peoples who previously had not been associated in such a way. This act of colonial acquisition brought together a diversity of differing ethnicities and cultures, including the Osage/Ni-U-Ko¢n-Ska,4 Pawnee, Missouri/Niúachi, Oto/Otoe,5 Dakota6 and Mandan, to name a few, whose lives and fortunes would come to be administered by an Indian department ultimately overseen by the Secretary of War, a position occupied by Henry Dearborn from 1801 to 1809, John C. Calhoun from 1817 to 1825, and Lewis Cass from 1831 to 1836 (taking in each of the time frames of the images being discussed here). The Indian department of the US government inherited from older colonial arrangements the forms of trading with Indigenous peoples that had come to be known as the factory  system with ‘factors’ who oversaw local arrangements, distributed goods and held monies. It was adapted from private corporate colonial bodies such as the Hudson’s Bay Company whose oversight and reach amongst North American Indigenous peoples was extensive (Ray 1998). From 1800 to at least 1816, the factory system of trade and negotiations with Indigenous peoples held sway across most of the Northwest and Midwestern territories as well as east of the Mississippi River (Rockwell 2010: 74). Its regulation was always difficult and the then Superintendent of Indian Trade, Thomas L. McKenney, who held office from 1816 to 1824, attempted to maintain as much of the older system’s working methods as was possible from his office in Washington, DC. However, in 1822, the factory system of Indigenous/white exchange was dissolved, and a more federally regulated department came into operation with the setting up of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) in 1824, of which McKenney was first Director (Viola 1974). This shift of control tore away older structures and practices within Indian–white relations in North America, which had their roots in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century norms such as gift-giving, frontier diplomacy and ‘middle ground’ politics (White 1991; Ray 1998: 67–68). One of Jefferson’s legacies, undertaken on the back of the Louisiana Purchase, was the Lewis and Clark expedition (the US Corps of Discovery) accomplished between 1803 and 1806. Towards the end of the Lewis and Clark expedition, at least three different delegations of Indigenous men and some women (from the Osage, Iowa/Báxoje,7 Pawnee, Dakota, Sac/Thakiwaki8 and Mandan nations in particular) were invited by Jefferson to come to the capital and some would have their portraits taken for posterity, including those who sat for the French-émigré artist Charles B. Févret de Saint-Mémin (Jackson 1978). The taking of portraits of visiting



distinguished Indigenous leaders was not a new phenomenon in North America, but for the US Republic’s diplomacy with Indigenous peoples west of the Mississippi this was a relatively recent policy and might be said to be part of the Jeffersonian policy of incorporation.

Saint-Mémin’s portraits using the physionotrace The portrait of an Osage warrior by Saint-Mémin, was accomplished between 1806 and 18079 (Foley and Rice 1979) (Plate 9.1). Ellen G. Miles’s study of Saint-Mémin’s portraiture during this period discusses his Osage and other portraits of Indigenous delegates to Washington and the difficulties in determining the identities of his sitters. Only in the portrait of Payouska (Pawhuska, c. 1752–1832) Chief of the Grand Osage (1804) (Figure 9.1) and one other portrait can a secure identification be given to the sitter (Miles 1988: 11–14). Saint-Mémin’s use of the physionotrace (or in the US ‘physiognotrace’), a drawing device that mechanically produces the profile features of a sitter for the artist attempting to create silhouettes or portrait heads in profile, is important here and crucial to a wider contextual reading of the Osage warrior image and how its inscriptions helped to incorporate Indigenous images into the US national picture. The physionotrace was a device used for accuracy and precise delineation of observed features of a human face

FIGURE 9.1  Charles Balthazar Julien Févret de Saint-Mémin, Payouska (Pawhuska, c. 1752– 1832), Chief of the Great Osage, 1804. Charcoal with stumping, Conté crayon, black pastel, and black-and-white chalk over graphite on pink prepared paper, nailed over canvas to a wooden strainer. 58 × 43.5 centimetres. Purchase, Elizabeth DeMilt Fund, New York Historical Society, 1860.92. Photography © New York Historical Society.



and profile. However, as has been argued by art historians, drawing devices do not obviate training and are mostly successful instruments in the hands of knowledgeable and talented artists (Andrus [1977] 2018). Witnessed here in the carefully rounded and naturalistically rendered heads and faces of both Payouska (Figure 9.1) and An Unidentified Osage Warrior Wearing a Bird Headdress of 1807 (Figure 9.2), drawn in charcoal, conté crayon and pastel over graphite, Saint-Mémin was entirely capable of making believable and recognizable faces using his own drawing skills. What the use of the physionotrace seems to add to the renditions of these Osage leaders is the notion of a perfected portrayal not subject to any artistic whim or idealizing bias. Pawhuska looks lifelike because his physical presence had to be involved in the taking of his outline profile. But however lifelike, Pawhuska’s portrait and that of an Osage warrior wearing a bird headdress are both visual statements rather than embodiments of themselves. Their abilities to speak out of these portraits and to become Osage in front of us are circumscribed by the strict lines of the drawings and by their profile positions. Why did Pawhuska choose to wear a military coat with epaulettes to have his portrait made if this was indeed his own choice? Also, why choose to wear his hair loose and long, which also may have indicated he was wearing a wig (Miles 1988: 14). Are these to be read as acts of personal agency and, if so, how far is it possible to determine this from what we see in these images? What strikes one forcefully in examining these highly finished and intimately drawn portraits (for the watercolour version of Figure  9.2 see

FIGURE 9.2  Charles Balthazar Julien Févret de Saint-Mémin, Unidentified Osage Warrior Wearing a Bird Headdress, 1807. Charcoal with stumping, Conté crayon, black pastel, and blackand-white chalk on pink prepared paper, nailed over canvas to a wooden strainer. 58.5 × 43.2 centimetres. Purchase, Elizabeth DeMilt Fund, New York Historical Society, 1860.91. Photography © New York Historical Society.



Plate 9.1) is the absolute assurance of the line of the face and profile being portrayed. In the drawings’ insistence on correctness and accuracy of visual representation and their presenting of a striking mimesis in each case, the positivity of such seems to run counter to the wider social-historical situation of the young US Republic, particularly in its political and other relations with Indigenous peoples in the areas just being incorporated. That is, insistence of hard outline and graphic assurance when representing Native peoples stands in place of governmental unfamiliarity and ignorance at least where these Midwestern and Plains peoples are concerned.

The Stephen H. Long expedition and Charles Bird King’s images of the Pawnee The next two images under consideration are Samuel Seymour’s Pawnee Council drawing (1819 or 1820) (Plate 9.2); and a multiple figure portrait in oils of a Pawnee delegation to Washington, DC, titled Young Omahaw, War Eagle, Little Missouri, and Pawnees painted by Charles Bird King (1821) (Plate 9.3). I will discuss these two in concert as they both result from contacts made between Pawnee and other Midwestern Indigenous communities and US government representatives during what was the second major expeditionary push into trans-Mississippian areas in the Stephen H. Long expedition of 1819 to 1820. Thirteen years after Lewis and Clark’s return, a US Army expedition led by Colonel Henry Atkinson set out from Pittsburgh for the Midwestern regions travelling along the Ohio and Missouri Rivers in search of the Yellowstone River. While its specific purpose was to find the sources of the Platte, Arkansas and Red rivers, its sponsor, John C. Calhoun of the US War Department, hoped to assert American sovereignty in areas where it had not yet been effectively exercised and to ‘wield power’ over Indigenous groups in a show of military strength that would help establish four permanent American frontier forts. Major Stephen Harriman Long of the US Topographical Engineers headed the scientific part of the expedition,10 which included Samuel Seymour, appointed as designated artist. Alongside his works are the pencil studies and natural history paintings of Titian Ramsay Peale, acting as assistant naturalist for the expedition, who hailed from the distinguished family of Philadelphian artists, headed by Charles Willson Peale. In essence, this museum-orientated team would have been considered by many to represent the most enquiring minds and able information gatherers who could be assembled (Evans 1997). Colonel Atkinson’s US troops, acting in concert with the Long Expedition’s investigators in 1819–1820, were a further reinforcement to Lewis and Clark’s undertakings, asserting US national interests within those same geographical boundaries and amongst the same Indigenous cultures,



which the Louisiana Purchase had acquired for the US only recently. Thus, the expedition was a strong restatement of earlier Jeffersonian plans for incorporation, albeit that it took place under President James Monroe’s administration. Part of Major Long’s remit was to contact several Indigenous groups, to make diplomatic gestures towards them, and to bring back as much detailed and accurate information about them and this part of the newly expanded United States territories as they were able (James 1823: 1:2). In 1823, the combined journals of some of the expedition members were published in London and Philadelphia as Account of an Expedition from Pittsburgh to the Rocky Mountains performed in the Years 1819, 1820, written by Edwin James, the expedition’s geologist and botanist. Although viewed historically as something of a failed opportunity, perhaps the greatest contribution of the Long Expedition was its intentionally detailed and seemingly precise ethnographic descriptions of meetings and encounters with historically significant Indigenous peoples. Some of the same individuals who made treaties on the prairies also made long journeys back east in the 1820s to sign treaties with US government officials and to have their portraits painted by well-known artists such as Charles Bird King, James Neagle and others (Cosentino 1977; Viola [1981] 1995). Samuel Seymour’s visual records for the Long Expedition, particularly his Pawnee Council (1819–1820), and Charles Bird King’s portrait of Young Omahaw, War Eagle, Little Missouri, and Pawnees (1821) can be compared with Saint-Mémin’s representations of Osage delegates to demonstrate how all shared an emphasis on factual accounting but also how the later Long Expedition images and Pawnee delegation portraits present further visual and social-historical incorporations into the body politic, notwithstanding the historical fact of Indigenous comprehension of and resistance to such ‘incorporations’. The image Pawnee Council drawn by Samuel Seymour (Plate 9.2) was made to record negotiations taking place in October 1819 with three major bands of the Pawnee at Council Bluffs near present-day Omaha, Nebraska, and was one of several other directly observed drawings that he made while on expedition that were turned into illustrations to Edwin James’s Account (1823) (Figure 9.3). Seymour shows us a rather distant view of the proceedings looking through the framing trees and from behind the Pawnee delegates. In about the exact centre of the image is a Pawnee figure with one arm raised in a declamatory stance. The gesture of his raised arm recalls the earlier figure in an engraving by Benjamin West that illustrates the expedition account of Colonel Henry Bouquet to the Delaware/Lenape and Shawnee/Shaawanwaki11 towns along the Muskingum River made in 1764, and published by William Smith, a Philadelphian, in 1766. Reference to the older imagery of the



FIGURE 9.3  Alexander Lawson, after Samuel, Seymour, Oto Council, 1822–1823, engraved illustration to Edwin James, Account of an Expedition from Pittsburgh to the Rocky Mountains, performed in the years, 1819 and 1820 . . . (Philadelphia: H. C. Carey and I. Lea, 1822–1823). Yale Collection of Western Americana, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

Lenape orator in West’s illustration also works to incorporate these more unfamiliar peoples and their cultural norms into a recognizable format (Figure 9.4). Facing this central figure are the Long Expedition’s senior officers, including the Indian agent and interpreter Major Benjamin O’Fallon,12 who was responsible for trade with the Pawnees, Otos, Missouris and Omahas/U-Mo’n-Ho’n.13 He had been sent by the expedition’s sponsor, Calhoun, who instructed O’Fallon to build good relations with these Native American groups to facilitate the expedition’s main aim of ‘securing control of the upper Missouri for the United States’ in opposition to that asserted by Britain or Spain whose influences were still manifest in the north and south-west. As with Saint-Mémin’s figures, so here, the context of the image can be positioned usefully in historical terms. Just as Pawhuska and the Osage warrior are imaged as new or potential allies, wearing their emblems of fidelity in the Presidential peace medal or silver trade arm bands, whose allegiance would present commercial and territorial advantages, so the Pawnees seated in a peaceful council meeting represent a bulwark against other Indigenous aggression on the frontier.14 Seymour’s image emphasizes the tractable nature of the Pawnee, at rest and unarmed as they listen to the negotiations under



FIGURE 9.4  Charles Grignon, after Benjamin West, The Indians giving a talk to Colonel Bouquet in a conference at a council fire . . . 1766, engraving, from Rev William Smith, An historical account of the expedition against the Ohio Indians, in the year MDCCLXIV. Under the command of Henry Bouquet . . . (London: reprinted for T. Jefferys, 1766), 203. © The Trustees of the British Museum. the watchful eye of a solitary soldier. Created sometime in 1819 or 1820, in the closing period of what was the older factory system of Indian–white trading relations, the picture of a successful negotiation with its claims to have gained alliances with Pawnee and other leaders, could not have come at a more propitious moment. Yet, unlike Saint-Mémin’s drawings and watercolour with their concentration on distinctive individuated Indigenous sitters shown as spatially close to the viewer, Seymour is not concerned to separate out the Pawnee leaders from the mass of the group. From Edwin James’s narrative we know some of the names of those Pawnee who attended the council, and we might infer that the figure with the raised arm is ‘Tarrarecawaho’, the chief of the Grand Pawnees. He may even be shown in the act of declaring his allegiance to the US government as described in James’s account 15 (James 1823 in Thwaites 1905: 147).



One might, quite reasonably, point out that the representatives of the United States are also presented generically and that this lack of individuation may have something to do with the fact that Seymour seems to have been more of a landscape painter than a portraitist. Yet the expedition’s instructions to him quite clearly required him to ‘make portraits’, Mr. Seymour, as painter for the expedition, will furnish sketches of landscapes, whenever we meet with any distinguished for their beauty and grandeur. He will also paint miniature likenesses, or portraits, if required, of distinguished Indians, and exhibit groups of savages engaged in celebrating their festivals, or sitting in council, and in general illustrate any subject, that may be deemed appropriate in his art. (James 1823: 43) He followed this instruction for miniature portraits on two occasions during his travels. The first of these was on this expedition, where he recorded three generic figures (perhaps because he was not informed of their personal names):  ‘Kaskaia’ (kaahkaahkia16), ‘Shienne Chief’ (Cheyenne/Tsitsistas17) and ‘Arappaho’ (Inun-ina)18 (Figure 9.5).

FIGURE 9.5  Samuel Seymour, Kaskaia, Shienne Chief, Arrappaho, 1819–1820, watercolour, approx. 22 × 28 centimetres. WA MSS 419; Yale Collection of Western Americana, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.



Seymour’s reluctance to make scrupulous records of individuals is especially noteworthy given the fact that the Superintendent of Indian Trade, McKenney, had already initiated his own ‘Indian’ archive and gallery making use of his position to build up an extensive collection of artefacts, publications and ‘curiosities’ beginning in 1817 (Viola 1968: 5). Whether using his contacts in the factories or trading depots or taking advantage of Native delegations visiting Washington, McKenney was concerned to record and amass as much data as possible about Indigenous peoples and their cultures from his position as superintendent and later as head of the BIA. McKenney was especially proud of, and took pains to develop, his painted portrait gallery of important visiting Indigenous leaders coming from diverse regions of the continent, his rationale being that he felt the Indigenous North American visitors to Washington were very appreciative of seeing other leaders’ faces displayed there, some of which they could recognize, and that this fact above all made the gallery useful to the government and the public (Viola [1981] 1995: 176). In total, McKenney spent $3,500 of government monies commissioning local artist Charles Bird King to make portraits in Washington from 1821 to 1830 because he believed that he must ‘preserve the likenesses . . . of this most extraordinary race of people . . . about to become extinct and that a faithful resemblance of the most remarkable among them would be full of interest in after times’ (Viola 1974; Cosentino 1977). Although the Pawnee leader in Seymour’s illustration, ‘Tarrarecawaho’, declined to visit Washington, a Pawnee delegation did visit the capital in the winter of 1821/22, as part of a larger group comprising Pawnee, Kansa/ Kaw, Missouri, Oto and Omaha. King was commissioned by McKenney to make at least ten portraits of this delegation including the Pawnee leaders Sharitarish, Petalechaco and Petalesharo/Pitelesharo. However, an eleventh composite portrait by King of Young Omahaw, War Eagle, Little Missouri, and Pawnees (1821) (Plate 9.3) was the most impressive of them all as it managed to give a more thorough rendition of Indigenous North American and Pawnee physiognomies and head and facial ornamentation then had been previously attempted by European trained artists. King’s portrait perhaps answers those concerns about obtaining ‘miniature likenesses’, which Seymour’s artistic oeuvre could not manage. It comes at perhaps the high point of intended incorporation of the Plains and Midwestern Indigenous peoples and their cultures into a comprehensive visual and informational record. Its composition reveals (via the heads of five depicted sitters posed facing away from each other in varying angles within the picture’s space) a nearly 180-degree rotation of a Native man’s head and face. Certain of the individual characteristics and facial features shown here seem to be of the same sitter; and resemblances amongst the five heads have caused some scholars to identify both Petalechaco and Petalesharo of the Pawnees as being the sources for the Native men’s physiognomies represented here (Cosentino 1977: 63). Indeed, what King seems to have



attempted in this work is the capturing of both an Indigenous individual personality and the realities of their diversity of cultures and practices, represented as the differentiation of each of his sitter’s separate poses. Nevertheless, their features and personal adornment have been largely amalgamated into a type using a very restricted range of details of physical traits and forms, often repeating or modulating between similar items of regalia and head and facial ornamentation in several figures. This balance between particularization and idealization was the goal of many portrait painters of the time and would be how a strategy of incorporation would make diverse and individual Indigenous nations into ‘Indians’ and then Americans. McKenney’s collection of Indigenous portraits, in its evolution from pantheon to Indian gallery, rested on assumptions that it was possible to read from Native individual portraits a larger sense of what ‘Indianness’ was and meant (Hutchinson 2013). Somehow an ‘incorporated’ set of Indigenous Midwestern American portraits displayed in a gallery would add up to a universal picture or provide an entire understanding about such peoples, their customs, lifeways and supposed levels of civilization.

Catlin’s self-portrait at the Mandan villages and Mató-Tópe’s response Turning to the final images to be discussed here, the illustration of George Catlin in the act of painting the portrait of Mató-Tópe at the chief’s Mandan village (Plate 9.4) and its comparative, the self-portrait by Mató-Tópe (Plate 9.5), both accomplished in the 1830s, we see how a new policy towards Indigenous North American peoples (their removal from Eastern areas of the continent) could change the way portraits of Indigenous Western and Plains peoples would be accomplished and what they could now signify (Truettner 2010). The Indian Removal Act of 1830 pushed through Congress by President Andrew Jackson reflected the changed atmosphere and ideological concerns of the next generation of US governmental leaders and the intelligentsia, which had now largely accepted the erroneous belief that Indigenous peoples were facing extinction (Dippie 1982). The finality of such a position created new concerns and emphases, one of which was taken up fully by the Pennsylvanian-born artist George Catlin. Principally a self-taught artist, Catlin wrote extensively and self-published many books during his long career (Eisler 2013). His overall life’s focus was the rescuing of the appearances and cultural practices of North American Indigenous peoples, which he took upon himself to record and collect before, as he viewed it, their original and true cultures would pass into history either from assimilation or annihilation through attrition and substance abuse. He eventually formed his own ‘Indian’ gallery of over six hundred painted works and hundreds of items of material culture, which he had collected



on his travels to the Upper Missouri in the early 1830s, and which he then took on tour to the Eastern United States and on to the British Isles and continental Europe during the 1840s (Pratt and Troccoli 2013). Scholars of Catlin’s and Edwin James accounts note the differences between a writer in the 1820s (James) and one who had fully taken on the facts of Indian Removal (Catlin), especially in their strategies of narration, collaboration and self-interest (Hausdoerffer 2009; Lyndgaard Winter 2010). In Catlin’s case, his professed conservational attitudes seemed more expedient in the face of what he often referred to as the ‘doomed’ races of mankind. In terms of a revised history of the artistic representation of Indigenous Midwestern and Upper Plains peoples during this short period of US Indian policies, we find, in Catlin’s illustration of himself as a portrait artist to the Mandan and others, a visual manifesto of his own inspiration, in the act of creating ‘accurate’ paintings of his sitters, that, in the end, resulted in the flattening of Indigenous complexities and meanings into his overall vision (Plate 9.4). There is no doubt that in creating his ‘Indian’ gallery of visual examples from over thirty differing groups of peoples and their cultures, Catlin had created his own masterwork from the experiences, connections, conflicts and collaborations that he had with a large range of differing agents, intermediaries, cultural brokers and Indigenous community leaders. Perhaps the closest comparison here to Catlin’s project would be that of the Superintendent of Indian Trade and later Director of the BIA, Thomas L. McKenney whose publication along with James Hall, the History of the Indian Tribes of North America (1836–1844), effectively memorializes a presumed vanishing culture. The comparison can, however, only go so far. As much as McKenney felt his gallery was an invention of his own devising, his work was much more circumscribed by US policy and governmental approval. He too would place himself at the centre of negotiation and exchange when Indigenous groups visited Washington, but that was because it was part of his governmental remit to do so. McKenney worked in concert with his superiors, John C. Calhoun, his Indian agents such as Benjamin O’Fallon and with Presidential drivers, which sought to incorporate the Indigenous peoples into a comprehensive national vision. With Charles Bird King as its gallery artist, McKenney’s Indian gallery intentionally tried to present a painted set of individualized Indigenous sitters that could build up to a whole picture of ‘Indianness’ which would rest comfortably alongside other portraits and other histories in US national terms. Once the Removal Act had passed, circumstances and motivations inevitably altered. Catlin would make the cause of the supposed dying Indigenous North American cultures his own and could truly empathize later when his own wife and baby son died while they were abroad in France (Eisler 2013: 329–335). The fact that he placed himself often at the centre of his narrative, as one would do in a novel, and took pains to discuss the differences between supposedly uncontacted peoples and those whose lives



had been marred in his eyes by contact with the non-Indigenous societies in the east of the country demonstrates that he is in effect, not a collaborator as was James, nor was he making diplomatic statements of intent such as found in Saint-Mémin’s work or in Charles Bird King’s or Samuel Seymour’s. Instead, his work is a statement of the singularity of his practice as an artist and historian, unifying the widely diverse peoples, cultures and customs that he wishes to record for posterity, and bringing them all within his visual and discursive understandings. When we view an illustration such as The Author painting a Chief at the base of the Rocky Mountains (1841) (Plate 9.4) that intends to re-enact for viewers the moment in which Catlin at his easel is capturing the true likeness of Mató-Tópe, we find the artist centre-stage, almost conducting the intercultural situation and portraying the chief and his surrounding peoples as passive receivers of his artistic actions, which many might not have witnessed before and which, according at least to Catlin himself, were sometimes looked upon with suspicion and fear (Catlin [1841] 1844: 2:189–190). He also shows in this illustration an example of Mandan visual culture in roughly describing the pictographic symbols as observed on the tipi lodges of the peoples during their summer camps. His visual note-taking in this instance is not precise and comes across as comparatively dismissive of their achievements. What are we meant to adduce from his rendition of his ‘art’ in contrast to the works of those he is painting? His artistic and other judgements are unmistakable. He has inserted himself into the intercultural spaces of contact as interlocutor and expert and in many cases, in his writings and especially in the illustration on which I have focused, he is the key to unlocking the Indigenous meanings and content held in his pictures and in his Indian gallery. Fortunately, we can compare Catlin’s portrait of Mató-Tópe with that sitter’s own understanding. Mató-Tópe’s self-portrait drawing was made sometime during the visit of another outsider expeditionary artistic team to the Mandan villages, this time led by aristocratic patron, naturalist and ethnologist, Prince Maximilian of Wied-Neuwied, along with Swiss painter Karl Bodmer, in 1832–1834. Maximilian published the illustrated findings of his travels as Reise in das Innere Nord-Amerikas (1840) (Plate 9.5). Famously, an incident occurred during the winter months of 1833–1834 while the expedition members took shelter at Fort Union on the Upper Missouri River and while the Mandan were ensconced in their winter accommodations. This cessation of expeditionary activities offered a short time when portrait taking and cultural exchanges could take place. It is recounted in Maximilian Wied-Neuwied’s book that Bodmer created an interest amongst his Indigenous sitters while in the processes of his making of portrait images (in European terms) on the flat surface of a canvas or sheet of paper. They had witnessed it before when George Catlin was visiting their villages only a year before, and now, in the case of one of their very distinguished sitters, Mató-Tópe, Bodmer and the expedition’s leader



were asked for drawing implements by this chieftain whose name translates roughly to ‘Four Bears’. Mató-Tópe wanted to demonstrate to the European visitors his skills in making images, particularly his abilities to rehearse and recreate his battlefield accomplishments on a surface. Traditionally, he would have done so on buffalo hide or other tanned animal skin as in the designs on tipi lodges shown in Catlin’s image. Now, in altered circumstances, he wished to employ the materials that the visitors used so often to make their works: drawing instruments, watercolours, pencils and paper19 (Wied et al. 1906). We see in Mató-Tópe’s rendition of himself an assured awareness and mastery of his materials, be they somewhat unfamiliar, demonstrated ably along with a noticeably direct gaze from his face and head from out of the picture’s spaces, an image that he asserted to be of his own identifying features. In his case, they are not to be found in his detailed anatomical or physiognomic facial forms but instead are composed by his chiefly achievements in life. These features will be embodied in the regalia and painted designs shown on him and particularly in the battlefield lances, which he has shown thrust into the ground nearby. His battlefield accomplishments, which he was able to recount both orally and with the visual instruments with which he was provided to make his ‘portrait’, are the distinguishing factors that made him a chieftain or leader, and which made him who he was in his culture’s terms. In claiming his own means of making imagery, especially using the tools of the stranger or outsider, he is also adding the ‘power’ of those outsiders into his own repertoire. In this way, he is making a statement about the primacy of his culture and his peoples’ cultural values that can claim power from others to make it their own (Carocci 2017). Again, as in the images discussed previously, we can detect how a revised history of art might be read out of Mató-Tópe’s drawings in their attention to the means of production and critical use of composition and spatial arrangements of forms. His works can and do speak to an altered historical and ideological situation. The Mandan visual artist here develops the shallow spatial fields used in older pictographic forms of expression, which, in Catlin’s version of them, merely suggested flat lines and marks on the tipi’s surface. Mató-Tópe was not going to remain passive in the face of such assaults on his artistic cultures, and instead he turned his head to face the viewer, while still retaining a more deeply traditional usage in making his head and face a round circular form with the painted marks of warfare around his eyes. He effectively talks back to Catlin and others who would profess to understand his culture and his art from a deeply personal and spiritual position; and makes his own case about what constitutes his ‘accurate’ portrait or portrayal. Here is an example where one can attempt to recapture lost or hidden Indigenous voices and perspectives within a history of the portraiture made of Indigenous North Americans at this historical juncture. Further work can and must be done to try to recover by whatever



means available the not yet identified and still unheard perspectives of the many other Indigenous North American peoples who sat for their portraits during this important historical era.

Notes­ 1 Meaning ‘many men, people’ in their Siouan language. At their first mention, I have used the Indigenous peoples’ names for themselves in their own languages. On their further mentions, I will revert to the historically received names for each people and their cultures. 2 Meaning ‘Men of Men’ in their Caddoan language. 3 The Louisiana Purchase was argued to be unconstitutional but, in a decision by the US Supreme Court, known as the Treaty Clause of 1823, American Insurance Co. v. Canter, Chief Justice John Marshall ruled that: ‘The Constitution confers absolutely on the government of the Union, the powers of making war, and of making treaties; consequently, that government possesses the power of acquiring territory, either by conquest or by treaty’ (NCC Staff 2021). 4 Meaning ‘Children of the Middle Waters’ in their language. 5 The ancestors of the Otoe-Missouria Indians were of the Chiwere (Siouan) linguistic family. The Oto merged with the dwindling Missouri group in 1798. See Editors of the Encyclopedia Britannica 2019. 6 Meaning ‘friend, friendly or allies’ in their language. 7 From their Chiwere Siouan language, meaning ‘grey snow’. 8 Meaning ‘people coming forth from the water’ in their Mesquakie language. 9 This image of an Osage warrior was one of a set of smaller watercolours commissioned by Sir Augustus John Foster, a British diplomat staying in Washington from 1804 to 1807. See Foley and Rice 1979: 6. 10 Long’s team contacted some of the same peoples who had been visited by Lewis and Clark, the Kaw/or Kansa, Oto, Iowa, Missouri, Osage and others. 11 ‘Lenape’ and ‘Shaawanwaki’ mean ‘the people and the Southern people, respectively. 12 Coincidently, O’Fallon hailed from the Clark family of Kentucky, his maternal uncles being George Rogers Clark, who led militia in Little Turtle’s war (1785–1795), and William Clark of Lewis and Clark fame, who fought in the Battle of Fallen Timbers (1794). 13 Meaning ‘upstream’ peoples. 14 Anglo-American conflicts with Indigenous peoples did not end with the Peace of Paris of 1783, which had ceded British frontier forts in the Great Lakes region to US control. Instead, the Canadian/United States frontier was unsettled, beginning a series of wars between the United States and a wide range of confederated and singular Indigenous North American peoples. In the North: Little Turtle’s War, 1790–1794 (a confederacy of Delaware, Shawnee, Miami, Wyandot, and Ottawa finally defeated at the Battle of Fallen Timbers); Tecumseh’s Rebellion, 1809–1811; the Kickapoo resistance of 1819–1824; and the Black Hawk War of 1832. In the south: the Creek Resistance of 1813–1814 and the Seminole Wars of 1818–1819 and 1835–1842.



15 A translated speech made by ‘Tarrarecawaho’, a Chaui chief to Major Benjamin O’Fallon, reads: ‘When he (William Clark) tells you that he is a chief, he speaks truly; when he says that his soldiers appear like the grass in the spring, in place of those who die, he speaks truly; you, my nation, are like the fly in strength, just so easily can this mighty nation crush you between their fingers’ (Thwaites 1905: 147). 16 ‘kaahkaahkia’ in myiaamia/Peoria dialect means ‘katydid’. They were members of the Illiniwek confederacy. 17 ‘Tsitsistas’, which translates to ‘those who are like this’. 18 ‘Hinono’eino or Inun-ina’, meaning ‘our people’ or ‘people of our own kind’. 19 Mató-Tópe’s drawings from the 1830s are now housed in the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Nebraska. My thanks to the curators and registrar at the Joslyn Art Museum for the use of this image in my chapter.

References Andrus, L. F. ([1977] 2018), Measure and Design in American Painting, 1760– 1860, Abingdon: Taylor & Francis. Brilliant, R. (1991), Portraiture, London: Reaktion Books. Carocci, M. (2017), ‘Facing New Flows: Subjectivity and the Colonial Encounter in Plains Indian Art’, World Art, 7 (1): 65–105. Catlin, G. ([1841] 1844), Letters and Notes on the Customs, Manners and Condition of the North American Indians, Dover reprint, 2 vols, London: by the author. Cosentino, A. J. (1977), The Paintings of Charles Bird King (1785–1862), Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press. Dippie, B. W. (1982), The Vanishing American: White Attitudes and U.S. Indian Policy, Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica (2019), ‘Oto’, Encyclopaedia Britannica, 4 July. Available online: (accessed 7 December 2021). Eisler, B. (2013), The Red Man’s Bones: George Catlin, Artist and Showman, New York: W. W. Norton & Company. Evans, H. E. (1997), The Natural History of the Long Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, 1819–1820, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Foley, W. E. and C. D. Rice (1979), ‘Visiting the President: An Exercise in Jeffersonian Indian Diplomacy’, The American West, 16 (6) (November/ December): 6. Hall, S. (1997), Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices, London: SAGE. Hausdoerffer, J. (2009), Catlin’s Lament: Indians, Manifest Destiny, and the Ethics of Nature, Lawrence: University of Kansas Press. Hutchinson, E. (2013), ‘From Pantheon to Indian Gallery: Art and Sovereignty on the Early Nineteenth-Century Cultural Frontier’, Journal of American Studies, Special Collection: Art Across Frontiers, 47 (2) (May): 313–337. Jackson, D. (1978), Letters of the Lewis and Clark Expedition with Related Documents, 1783–1854, 2nd edn, Urbana: University of Illinois Press.



James, E. (1823), Account of An Expedition from Pittsburgh to the Rocky Mountains, Performed in the Years, 1819, 1820, London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme and Brown. Lyndgaard, K. (2010), ‘Landscapes of Removal and Resistance: Edwin James’s Nineteenth-Century Cross-Cultural Collaborations’, Great Plains Quarterly, 30 (1): 37–52. Miles, E. G. (1988), ‘St Mémin’s Portraits of American Indians, 1804–1807’, American Art Journal, 20 (4): 2–33. ­NCC Staff (2021), ‘The Louisiana Purchase: Jefferson’s Constitutional Gamble’, Constitution Daily, 20 October. Available online: https://constitutioncenter. org/blog/the-louisiana-purchase-jeffersons-constitutional-gamble (accessed 7 December 2021). Pratt, M. L. (1991), ‘Arts of the Contact Zone’, Profession, (1991): 33–40. Pratt, S. (1998), ‘Reynolds’ “King of the Cherokees” and Other Mistaken Identities in the Portraiture of Native American Delegations, 1710–1762’, Oxford Art Journal, 21 (2): 133–150. Pratt, S. (2005), American Indians in British Art, 1700–1840, Norman: Oklahoma University Press. Pratt, S. and J. C. Troccoli (2013), George Catlin: American Indian Portraits, London: National Portrait Gallery. Ray, A. J. (1998), Indians in the Fur Trade: Their Role as Trappers, Hunters, and Middlemen in the Lands Southwest of Hudson Bay, 1660–1870: with a New Introduction, Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Rockwell, S. J. (2010), Indian Affairs and the Administrative State in the Nineteenth Century, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Shannon, T. (1996), ‘Dressing for Success on the Mohawk Frontier: Hendrick, William Johnson, and the Indian Fashion’, The William and Mary Quarterly, 53 (1): 13–42. Sheehan, B. W. (1973), Seeds of Extinction: Jeffersonian Philanthropy and the American Indian, New York: Norton. Thwaites, R. G. (ed.) (1905), ‘James’s Account of S. H. Long’s Expedition 1819– 1820’, in Early Western Travels, 1748–1846, vol. 15, 147, Cleveland, OH: Arthur H. Clark Company. Truettner, W. H. (2010), Painting Indians and Building Empires in North America, 1710–1840, Berkeley: University of California Press. Viola, H. J. (1968), ‘Washington’s First Museum: The Indian Office Collection of Thomas L. McKenney’, Smithsonian Journal of History, (3) (Fall): 1–8. Viola, H. J. (1974), Thomas L. McKenney: Architect of America’s Early Indian Policy, 1816–1830, Chicago: Sage Books. Viola, H. J. ([1981] 1995), Diplomats in Buckskins: A History of Indian Delegations in Washington City, Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press. White, R. (1991), The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650–1815, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Wied, M., H. E. Lloyd, K. Bodmer and R. G. Thwaites (1906), Maximilian, Prince of Wied’s, Travels in the Interior of North America, 1832–1834. Cleveland, OH: The Arthur H. Clark Company. Available online: item/06019696/ (accessed 7 December 2021).


Interpreting art and ethnography in George Catlin’s Selection of Indian Pipes Annika K. Johnson

A selection of pipes In the mid-nineteenth century, the artist-ethnographer George Catlin (1796–1873) asserted the aesthetic merits of contemporary Native North American tobacco pipe carving in a lavish portfolio titled A Selection of Indian Pipes in Catlin’s North American Indian Collection. Catlin created the unpublished manuscript sometime in the early to mid 1850s (Ewers 1979: 14), and it is now located in the British Museum. Of the twenty-three large plate illustrations painted with oil on cardboard, many feature neatly arrayed renderings of dozens of stone tobacco pipe bowls and wooden tobacco pipe stems carved by Indigenous peoples living in North America (Figure 10.1). Descriptive plate captions accompany each image. In this monographic analysis of tobacco pipes, Catlin identified what was the most common sculptural format created across North America. It was also the first such manuscript to isolate one format of Native art making and to comparatively examine examples of it in a survey that spanned a vast geographic territory and many cultural groups. Catlin pictured pipes made by Indigenous peoples living in the Great Lakes to the Pacific Northwest regions of North America, and predominantly featured pipes from the Great Plains region.1



FIGURE 10.1  George Catlin (1796–1872), Plate 7 from A Selection of Indian Pipes in Catlin’s North American Indian Collection, c. 1852, manuscript, oil on cardboard, British Museum, Am2006,Ptg.26. © The Trustees of the British Museum. Catlin intended to not just illustrate but also interpret these carved works for his viewership. To contextualize the illustrations of tobacco pipes, he included several plates depicting the long wooden pipe stems that were attached to stone pipe bowls. Elaborately regaled with plaited porcupine quills, eagle feathers and paint, these pipe stems also exemplified creative expression in Catlin’s manuscript. A few illustrations of the various stages of pipe manufacture are integrated throughout the portfolio, including scenes of pipestone quarrying, manual carving technologies and smoking rituals. Together, these images position Catlin’s portfolio within the tradition of ethnographic illustration. In the plates that featured tobacco pipes, Catlin modelled the human and animal effigy pipes into sensuous, more familiar Western sculptural subjects, demonstrating the clear pleasure he took in re-tracing the chiselled stony edges of effigy pipes in the fluid medium of oil paint. The reddish-orange hue of a red pipestone glows throughout the manuscript plates as a material favoured by Native carvers on the Plains who quarried the stone in Dakota tribal territories in present-day Minnesota. In his ethnographic survey, Catlin configured pipestone as a beautiful and supple sculptural medium.



For Native pipe carvers from many tribes, this red pipestone carries cultural significance. Smoking a pipestone pipe activates the stone and it facilitates communion with the Great Spirit during prayer. The material characteristics that Catlin aestheticized also manifest pipestone’s origin as the flesh and blood of the ancestors within Dakota oral tradition. As recounted to Catlin, the Great Spirit drowned warring nations in a great flood and their bodies hardened into the stone (Catlin 1842). This is just one of the many oral histories about the significance of pipestone and tobacco pipes that Catlin documented, alongside his collections of numerous pipes, during his travels into the North American interior in the 1830s that shaped his understanding of the cultural significance of pipe carving. I have written elsewhere about Catlin’s famed 1836 journey to the pipestone quarry stewarded by Dakota people, and the threat that this posed to Dakota lands and traditions (Johnson 2020). The present analysis forwards us nearly twenty years in Catlin’s career after his travels. It was also after the American and European tours of his Indian gallery in the 1840s, a popular exhibition featuring hundreds of portraits of tribal leaders alongside artefacts gathered, as well as Indigenous performers that together spectacularized his research (Pratt 2013). In Selection of Indian Pipes, Catlin summarized an entire career of engaging with tobacco pipes from many Native nations, and across various visual media and in physical form. This study analyses how Catlin interpreted decades of research, and contextualizes the manuscript within the history of nineteenth-century ethnographic image-making to examine how Catlin situated the tobacco pipe as body, artefact and art. John Ewers, an anthropologist of Great Plains Indigenous communities, first brought Catlin’s manuscript to light with the annotated publication of Catlin’s manuscript, which this study cites when quoting Catlin (Ewers 1979). Ewers also remains the foremost scholar of Plains pipe carving and, like Catlin, studied tobacco pipe sculpture of the nineteenth century (Ewers 1986). This analysis builds on Ewers’s research and responds to the intervening decades of scholarship on the dynamics of cultural encounter explored through the lenses of agency and materiality, postcolonial critique and museum studies. Catlin’s manuscript is an early contribution to Native American art history, yet it does not adhere to one uniform set of ideas. The following sections explore how it resonated within the entwined developments of the disciplines of anthropology and art history that mutually shaped discourses around visual knowledge, while bearing in mind that these disciplines developed from the perspective of the colonizers. A concluding discussion on an installation by contemporary Canadian Algonquin artist Nadia Myre titled Code Switching and Other Work (2018) provides an opportunity to reflect on the relationships between people, artefacts and materials that are enmeshed in, but elided by, ethnographic images of the nineteenth century.



Tobacco pipes in settler time and space The manuscript’s introductory plate depicting ancient tobacco pipes sets up a temporal and spatial framework for understanding the contemporary pipe sculpture that much of the publication featured (Figure 10.2). In the opening plate’s accompanying descriptive text, Catlin wrote: ‘The Barrow pipes of Ama, which are exceedingly rude, show that smoking among the North Amn Indians has been a very ancient custom; and the pipes of their recent sculpture seen in the following drawings, show distinctly their progress in manufacture’ (Ewers 1979: 22). Catlin visualizes this argument by sequencing ancient and contemporary tobacco pipes to establish a chronology of the art form’s development. ‘Barrow’ pipes, those excavated from burial mounds, are arranged across four columns that progress chronologically like newspaper text meant to be read from top to bottom, moving through each column from left to right. Beginning in the upper left corner, the tubular pipe forms increase in carved detail. In the second column, Catlin portrays the addition of a round chamber to hold tobacco and surmises the introduction of reed stems that conjoin with the pipes. The tobacco chamber progressively enlarges and bends upright, eventually

FIGURE 10.2  George Catlin (1796–1872), Plate 1 from A Selection of Indian Pipes in Catlin’s North American Indian Collection, c. 1852, manuscript, oil on cardboard, British Museum Am2006,Ptg.20. © The Trustees of the British Museum.



becoming an essential component of the pipe form. The final column depicts fully articulated elbow-style pipe forms that flourished in Catlin’s era. This highly structured image stresses the technological art of pipe manufacture. Beneath each painted pipe illustration Catlin included faintly drawn cutaway images that reveal the pipes’ interior structures. This expository form of visualizing an object’s facture had its roots in anatomical imagery and in Denis Diderot’s Encyclopédie: ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts, et des métiers (1751–1772), the paragon of Western Enlightenment visual thinking. The Encyclopédie’s lavish multi-authored volumes illustrate numerous industrial arts on pages that employ multiple visual strategies to convey specific kinds of knowledge (Pannabecker 1998). Most common were vignettes of workshops or factories wherein people engage in acts of making such as printing, glassmaking or mining, stacked on top of itemized descriptive renderings of the tools and their component parts utilized in these processes. Catlin’s manuscript follows this protoanthropological format; in between his schematic illustrations of tobacco pipes, he interspersed full-page vignettes that depict men quarrying and handdrilling pipestone that, like the Encyclopédie’s plates, encourage viewers to retrace the handmade production of the tobacco pipe by switching views between static objects and narrative processes. Catlin’s formalist, unilinear schema in the first portfolio plate manifests the theories of social evolution that had been bubbling in mid-nineteenthcentury American scientific thought. In Ancient Society, American anthropologist Lewis Henry Morgan fully articulated this view in which man achieves ‘growth of intelligence through inventions and discoveries’, the title of book’s first part, that define three stages of human existence from savagery to barbarism, culminating in civilization (Morgan 1877). Morgan measured progress by assessing the state of language and of what he called technologies, such as pottery and blacksmithing. Catlin’s progression of pipes visually paralleled Morgan’s scale, positioning tobacco pipe carving as a measure of intellectual and societal development, conveyed in this formulation through the size of a tobacco pipe, the shape and number of its components, and the intricacy of its manufacture. Racial bias indisputably shaped this view of humanity in which EuroAmericans rationalized imperial pursuits by claiming to be on the superior end of the scale. This is perhaps most explicit in the pseudoscience of craniology. Samuel Morton’s 1839 publication Crania Americana: Or, a Comparative View of the Skulls of Various Aboriginal Nations surveyed and compared measurements of skulls of North and South American Indigenous peoples, and from his macabre collection of skulls, printed them to their actual size to infer broad – and wildly inaccurate – information about the cultures, histories and movements of peoples. This formula of assemblage, comparison and survey was the predominant visual logic that organized the study of natural history in the nineteenth century, and into which (whether he subscribed to Morton’s theories or not) Catlin inserted his tobacco pipes.



Within this visual milieu, pipes function as metonyms for Indigenous bodies, especially when considering that such image production depended upon the literal exhumation of bodies and burial goods, including pipes, from graves across the country. An earlier and even lesser-known version of Catlin’s manuscript located in the Arents Tobacco Collection in the New York Public Library (NYPL manuscript) reveals Catlin’s experimentations with the layout of the manuscript’s plates (Figure 10.3). The large pages served as prototypes for the British Museum manuscript and feature sketches of pipes that Catlin clipped, rearranged and affixed into position. This process indexes and illuminates Catlin’s agency to view and interpret Indigenous material and impute a Eurocentric bias towards progress onto Indigenous forms of making that were fundamentally about relationality. Documentation, arrangement and fixity were critical aesthetic strategies of ethnographic image-making that parallel the desires and strategies of Western empires to control colonial subjects. Selection was another significant part of this process, as the entire publication features carefully selected data. John Ewers suggests that Catlin was unaware of the archaeologist Ephraim George Squier’s 1848 publication Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley that included an illustration of

FIGURE 10.3  Plate 16 from Drawings of Indian Ceremonial Pipes, 1840s, manuscript, graphite and ink on various papers, New York Public Library, Arents Collection, 97–79. Photograph by the Author.



a pipe bearing a naturalistically rendered face that did not appear in Catlin’s manuscript (Ewers 1979: 21). However, omission can be just as powerful as representation. The portrait pipe would have disrupted Catlin’s neatly arranged formalist argument about pipe carving’s history. Catlin also visualized a continuity between the present-day pipes in the lower right-hand corner to those of ancient times, which was somewhat at odds with the period’s attitudes towards tribes and their histories. President Andrew Jackson, author of the Indian Removal Policy, sought to sever claims to ancestral connections that Indigenous people drew to Mississippian cultures of the preceding millennium in an effort to diminish tribal claims to long-held lands. By drawing a continuum between the past and present, Catlin differs from the era’s establishment of ‘prehistory’: the idea that time began in the so-called New World when Europeans arrived (Round 2018). In this plate, Catlin also proposed a theory of Native peoples’ migrations across the continent that conclude with the present day. According to his commentary, the pipes in the first column were carved from stalactites chipped away from caves in the Eastern United States. Those in the second column were found further inland in the Ohio River Valley, through which Catlin describes more sophisticated processes of quarrying and carving limestone. The top two pipes in the final column were gathered even further west from mounds located near St. Louis. This westward progression concludes with two pipes carved from red pipestone quarried just west of the Mississippi River. In this spatio-temporal map, Native carvers emerged from the proverbial cave and out onto the open prairies, the so-called frontier of American westward expansion. Catlin’s first plate also staked his claim to the study of Native American culture by visually narrating his journey from the East Coast into the American West. Catlin states that he discovered the first barrow pipe on his father’s property in Pennsylvania. He received the St. Louis pipes shown in the middle column from General William Clark, the famed American explorer who introduced Catlin to the network of traders and military officials that crucially helped the artist navigate Indian Country during his journey up the Missouri River. The final two pipes symbolized the zenith of Catlin’s fieldwork: his journey to the famed pipestone quarry in 1836. At the time that Catlin developed his pipe manuscript, he was reviewing a lifetime’s worth of ethnographic data gathered from tribal informants during his journeys up the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers and attempting to engage broader scientific debates about the origins of Indigenous Americans. The manuscript’s opening plate manifests ideas forwarded towards the end of his life in his book The Lifted and Subsided Rocks of America with their Influences on the Oceanic, Atmospheric, and Land Currents, and the Distribution of Races (1870). Catlin provocatively combined geological data with Indigenous oral histories to propose theories of Native American migrations on the continent, what today we could call ethno-geology. He remarked that over one hundred tribes related to him a ‘theory of man’s



creation’ in which a handful of people survived a great flood, writing ‘what an unanswerable proof that the American Indian is an antediluvian [meaning before the biblical flood] race!’ (Catlin 1870: 182–183). The text acknowledged his Indigenous sources (by tribe, not by individual, as was the case with the pipe manuscript) and validated Indigenous knowledge as a source of understanding the cataclysmic events that shaped the continent’s geology. It was Catlin’s final effort to establish his credibility as a natural historian, however, geologists rejected his theories. Though Catlin’s opening plate is not, on its face, a map, the geographic overlay of migration histories pulls from another strand of nineteenthcentury natural history: philology. Swiss-American ethnologist Albert Gallatin’s colour-coded map of Indigenous languages first published in Synopsis of the Indian Tribes within the United States (1836) inaugurated a visual method of summarizing and configuring massive amounts of field data, including vocabularies procured from Indian agents and missionaries to ascertain the origins and movements of Native populations.2 Gallatin published the map alongside essays explaining the origin and development of Indigenous languages that, rooted in Enlightenment beliefs, sought to prove that language reflected the human capacity to reason. So-called primitive languages, he and other philologists believed, could bring scientists closer to a universal ur-language and the origin of humanity and reason (Bieder 1986). Catlin would have been familiar with this map, which was later reprinted in James Prichard’s The Natural History of Man (1843) along with colour lithograph reproductions of ten of Catlin’s portraits of Indigenous individuals utilized to illustrate ethnographic ‘types’, and he drew on its visual logic in his mapping of pipe manufacture that corresponded with human migrations. The format of the summary had only recently emerged; as with the large compendium projects of Gallatin, Diderot, Morton and Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, Catlin gathered his materials from a wide network of field researchers, armchair anthropologists and federal officials to assemble a larger view of tobacco pipe carving and history. The only other scientific illustration of tobacco pipes from Catlin’s time was commissioned by his competitor: the Indian Agent-turned-ethnologist Henry Rowe Schoolcraft (Dippie 1990), whose publication History and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States (1851–1857) includes a chart of Dakota tobacco pipes (illustrated by Seth Eastman) published when Catlin was working on his manuscript (Johnson 2020). In this Congressfunded report, Schoolcraft compiled and reconfigured massive sets of field data in comparative categories of languages and belief systems, as well as archaeology, arts and pictographic writing to judge the evolutionary status of Native peoples. Eastman’s illustration of pipes was shaped by his training as a military artist. His publication Treatise on Topographical Drawing (1837) laid out a symbolic language for mapping new territories and identifying industrial resources sought on Indigenous lands. This experience of abstracting and rearranging the landscape and natural resources into



patterns and symbols influenced his approach to diagramming tobacco pipes as artistic, anthropological and commercial resources. Like Eastman, though with much more artistic liberty, Catlin utilized modes of representation – linear, hierarchical and assimilative – that reflect what Mark Rifkin calls ‘settler time’ (Rifkin 2017). After the first manuscript plate that laid out the historical foundations of pipe carving, Catlin focused on ‘modern’ (meaning contemporary) tobacco pipes. Even though this brought Indigenous peoples out of the category of ‘pre-history’ and into the contemporaneous present, Rifkin questions the value of including Indigenous peoples in non-Native conceptions of time and modernity: ‘The price for Indigenous people of such forms of temporal recognition is being enfolded into frames not of their making that can normalize non-Native presence, privilege, and power’ (Rifkin 2017: 13). Visualizing settler time was connected to very real federal policies that violently altered the lives of Indigenous peoples; during the years when Catlin collected and illustrated pipes, the US government forcibly removed thousands of Indigenous people from their homelands. Catlin’s grids of tobacco pipes visually compare to early Indian reservation allotment maps, powerful visual evidence of the forced dissolution of communal lands into single-family plots that attempted to reorganize Indigenous families within Western patriarchal space (Tallbear 2016). Art historian William Truettner calls this reorganization in real and virtual space ‘Plains geometry’, a concept that he analyses by comparing images of Mandan villages to those of reservations that reflect the assimilationist ideology of the reservation era (Truettner 2003). To build on these observations, Catlin’s gridded arrangement of tobacco pipes mirrors this settler entitlement to time and place and defies the cosmological structure of pipe-smoking rituals in which pipes are passed around a circle.3 As described by Samuel Mniyo, a Wahpeton Dakota knowledge-keeper, Dakota life is cosmologically arranged in seven concentric rings beginning with the hearth and expanding to Wakan Tanka (God) and Wa (knowledge) (Mniyo and Goodvoice 2020: 87). For many Plains peoples, the circle organizes living and ceremonial structures and positions one within the universe.

Tobacco pipes and colonial aesthetics From the second manuscript plate on, Catlin deviated from the evolutionist thinking of his scientific milieu by rendering tobacco pipes and pipe stems as art objects. According to John Ewers: ‘At a time when most other Americans looked upon Indian artifacts as mere curiosities or worthless creations of uncouth savages, Catlin configured them as works of art worthy of preservation and serious study’ (1979: 7). This section fills out the context for Catlin’s interpretation of pipes as artworks, revealing the entwined nature of art historical and anthropological forms of visual knowledge in



the period. Catlin’s modern pipe plates still adhere to a gridded structure that fits tobacco pipes within settler constructs of space and time, and to this we will add settler aesthetics. Catlin suggested that the modern pipe plates do not have a classificatory structure (Ewers 1979: 25). However, he dedicated specific plates to tribal groupings, including those of Mandan clay pipes and Haida argillite pipes. The remaining majority are grouped by the broader Plains region, in which pipes and pipe stems carved by Blackfoot, Cree, Pawnee, Anishinaabe, Kaw, Cheyenne, Dakota and Lakota individuals, among many, comingle, as do different stone mediums. Within these plates a variety of human, animal and hybrid creatures appear delicately carved onto the shanks and bowls of tobacco pipes. Ravens, dogs, naked women, bears, chiefs and many fantastical creatures are not organized along iconographic lines. As a whole, the manuscript is dedicated to the anthropological artefact ‘type’, yet the modern plates have the effect of emphasizing the individuality of each pipe carving. They are configured as objets d’art contemporaneous with Catlin’s artistic production. Further, Catlin employed aesthetic terminology such as ‘artist’, ‘art’ and ‘design’, as well as aesthetic judgements throughout the manuscript. Native pipe carvers employed a rich cast of animated animal and human figures that playfully engage with the pipe’s functional components, crawling over and resting on pipe bowls and pipe shanks. Catlin rendered the modern pipes into more familiar Western sculptural forms with his characteristic flourish. For instance, in plate eight of the manuscript, a pipe created by a Pawnee individual features a male figure languidly reclining on a pipe shank with the lifelike ease of a Renaissance sculpture, what Catlin called ‘a beautiful design’ (Ewers 1979: 34). On another Pawnee pipe, children encircle a tobacco bowl, their chubby bodies reminiscent of rococo putti. Several pipe bowls resemble ancient Greek vessels that swell at the shoulder beneath a narrowed neck and flared lip. These visual analogies to European classical arts were perhaps intended to ‘elevate’ the pipes’ status for a European viewership to sculptural objects worthy of study. Catlin also conflated his artistic expression with those of the pipe carvers. He lavished the tobacco pipes with thin silvery designs that represented lead inlay, an early nineteenth-century innovation in pipe carving materials and design that reused metals introduced to Native communities through the European fur trade.4 Given the fragility of red and black pipestones, it was exceptionally difficult to carve channels into which to pour lead while maintaining the structural integrity of the pipe. Lead inlayed designs varied from geometric patterns or rings that accentuated the curvature of pipe bowls to complete renderings of beavers, bears, eagles and moons. Catlin embellished and reinterpreted lead inlay designs with an orientalist flourish, echoing the history of exoticism in the decorative arts. The pipe manuscript fits squarely within the history of Americans’ and Europeans’ increased importation of Asian and Middle Eastern art and subsequent appropriation



and distortion of design motifs and their cultural significances within luxury ceramics, wallpapers and tapestries. Representations of Native American cultural practices most closely aligned with orientalist tropes that stereotyped Middle Eastern cultures (Edwards 2000). European orientalist painters exoticized pipe-smoking traditions from the Middle East, and depictions of people lounging and smoking water- and opium pipes was a favoured trope.5 Catlin’s renderings of male smokers carved onto pipe bowl shanks, such as a figure illustrated in his plate eight, was enmeshed in this imagery. These conflations of cultural practices were flagrant expressions of white superiority and empire. Catlin’s analogies between pipe subject matter and Western art historical subjects staked a claim to a uniquely North American antiquity during a time when American archaeologists, anthropologists, collectors and artists anxiously searched for and debated America’s national cultural heritage. Catlin sought to pioneer America’s ‘Grand Tour’ of the peoples and natural wonders of the so-called West, what he considered to be ‘the best study or school of the arts in the world’ (Catlin 1842: 1:2). The ethnographic visual surveys of the continental interior, including those of Catlin, Alfred Jacob Miller and Karl Bodmer, shared many features with the Grand Tours of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe: a luxury afforded by privileged men, these extensive journeys were intended to enlighten the traveller who encountered first-hand the monuments and artistry of the past. The desire for comprehensiveness within these expeditions also shaped the collecting habits of the nineteenth century, and Catlin’s approach to composing his plates of tobacco pipes was informed by his experience gathering pipes in the field and arranging them for broad audiences in his Indian gallery displays. Catlin’s manuscript was commissioned by William Bragge (1823–1884), an English civil engineer and collector who amassed some 13,000 tobacco pipes from all over the world (over 1,600 of them are located in the British Museum) and published the first bibliography on tobacco, titled Bibliotheca Nicotiana (1880). It is plausible that while in Europe, nearly bankrupt and having sold off his Indian gallery to pay his debts, Catlin sold some of his tobacco pipes gathered during his North American travels to Bragge.6 British designer Owen Jones drew from numerous European collections of non-European objects to produce his lavish portfolio The Grammar of Ornament published in 1856, which resonates with Catlin’s manuscript. The illustrated plates and accompanying text surveyed Egyptian, Celtic, Persian and many other artistic traditions from around the world. As did Catlin with barrow pipes, Jones’s opening chapter titled ‘Ornament of Savage Tribes’ sought an Indigenous ur-form from which so-called civilized design emerged: ‘From the universal testimony of travellers it would appear, that there is scarcely a people, in however early a stage of civilisation, with whom the desire for ornament is not a strong instinct. The desire is absent in none, and it grows and increases with all in the ratio of their progress



in civilisation’ (Jones 1856: 13). He continues, ‘what we seek in every work of Art, whether it be humble or pretentious, is the evidence of mind’ (14). The belief that certain formal design properties can index a peoples’ mental capacity paralleled and drew from racialized pseudosciences such as craniology. This form of visual knowledge production was intrinsically tied to violence against colonized peoples; Owens’s first illustration renders the tattooed face of a Maori woman copied from an actual women’s head displayed, according to its caption, at a museum. Through this comparison we might say that Catlin attempted to create a formalist grammar of pipe carving. Grammar, as both the rules of language as well as the book that promulgates its standards, resonates with the practice of typological ethnographic illustrations such as Catlin’s that functioned to explicate, rationalize and organize knowledge. Philology was an emerging sub-, yet central, field of anthropology, and language became a measure of progress alongside formal qualities of technologies and visual arts that together established a visual practice of synthesizing and organizing visual data. Catlin’s renderings are far more fantastical than the extant pipes in his collection.7 Pencil and ink sketches in the NYPL manuscript are characteristic of his jaunty illustrational drawing style that speaks more to his artistic habits and imagination than to the actual imagery carved by Indigenous artists. We could criticize Catlin’s loose interpretations of pipe carving designs for their whimsical inaccuracies. However, if we remove standards of authenticity, we can see how Catlin recast tobacco pipes as sculptural rather than utilitarian objects. Years before the twentieth-century anthropologist Franz Boas sequenced Indigenous artefacts and proposed the importance of creative play in their manufacture, Catlin saw pipes as vibrant works of art. Summarized by Aldona Jonaitis, for Boas, ‘artistic enjoyment is, therefore, based essentially upon the reaction of our minds to form’ (Jonaitis 1995: 300). Yet Catlin’s failure to document or acknowledge the names of Indigenous pipe carvers or informants, as with many collectors and ethnographic artists, denies the carvers’ artistic agency, an aspect of most Native art history that easily allows for the imputation of cultural generalizations and typologies (Blackhawk and Wilner 2018). In his manuscript text, Catlin adamantly claimed that he rendered tobacco pipes from life: ‘It will be borne in mind that the pipe bowls in all these designs are copied the exact size of the originals, the outlines having been taken in every instance, with a correct camera’ (Ewers 1979: 34).8 This claim echoes that of John James Audubon whose successful portfolio Birds of America was printed during the years of Catlin’s North American travels. Audubon wrote, ‘not only is every object [bird], as a whole, of the natural size, but also every portion of each object. The compass aided me in its delineation’ (quoted in Roberts 2014: 81). Print historian Jennifer Roberts observed that to privilege actual size, Audubon had to contort the birds to



fit the dimensions of the paper, which ‘become[s] less a window or lens than a container’ (86). In the same vein, Catlin split a rendering of a wooden tobacco pipe stem on plate fourteen into three sections to convey this truth to size, writing in the accompanying description, ‘my mode of obtaining the outline was by laying the pipe on the back of one of my canvass and tracing it around with a pencil: It was precisely my own height when the bowl of it was standing on the ground’ (Ewers 1979: 48). Shaky graphite outlines of tobacco pipes in the NYPL portfolio pages suggest that Catlin indeed placed pipes directly on the paper to trace their shape. This direct physical contact with artefacts indexed and therefore (at least, for Catlin’s purposes) verified his eyewitness experience in the field. This assertion of authenticity, common in ethnographic illustration especially through textual claims to proximity to subject matter, operated as a form of collecting. Just as Audubon’s prints are containers for dead birds, so too, are Catlin’s pages analogous to the collector’s cabinet or the museum’s storage drawer.

Reassembling relations We cannot expect Catlin to meet twenty-first-century standards of ethnographic practice that will continue to change through reckoning with the forces of colonization still in motion. Rather, this final section seeks to contextualize Catlin’s pipe plate images within the complex web of relationships between people, materials and ideas that scientific visualizations obscured, and to do so through a brief examination of artistic and material exchanges, past and present. The trans-mediation of tobacco pipes into two-dimensional pictures decontextualized the Indigenous framework within which tobacco pipes were created and shared. The blank background against which Catlin arranged the pipes into neat rows, a standard strategy of European and American natural history illustrations, intended to make the page legible within Western textual and visual strategies of knowing. Isolating and removing the pipes from any sort of narrative of encounter or Indigenized space reduced pipes to their objecthood, regardless of aesthetic status, obscuring their vibrancy that engendered reciprocity. Catlin described numerous pipe ceremonies that he encountered during his field research in his popular publication Letters and Notes (1842), though the plate descriptions in his pipe manuscript offered few contextualizing descriptions of pipe ceremonies or the social transactions with Indigenous peoples that generated his pipe collections, which he largely accrued through encounters with white officials and field agents. For instance, he modelled several pipes from the collections of William Clark and the Lewis and Clark expedition’s interpreter Toussaint Charbonneau. The manuscript notes a few instances in which he obtained a pipe from a Native American chief or



specific figure that he names. With an air of frustration Catlin wrote that ‘the great similarity in the mode of making the stems in the various tribes, and the constant exchange amongst them, render it difficult to distinguish them from each other’ (Ewers 1979: 40). This grievance with the cultural protocol of gifting and exchanging tobacco pipes and their stems made it difficult to associate a pipe with a particular person or tribe, and therefore to affix it within a cultural category; a Pawnee pipe could have gone through many hands before arriving in Catlin’s collection. Pipe-smoking commemorates important events, solemnizes political agreements, and ensures the spiritual and physical well-being of the people. These acts of kinship refuse the aims of ethnographic visualization to create typological groupings, often along ethnic lines. This Indigenous elision of anthropological categorization appears throughout the history of pipe production and exchange, beginning with the creation of the pipe tomahawk. These intercultural objects combine European-manufactured metal axe blades with the tobacco pipe bowl that Europeans encountered in the Americas. In the words of Scott Stevens ‘as material objects go, not many can compete with the tomahawk in American literature and the visuals arts as a metonymy for such an overdetermined concept as “Indian Savagery”’ (2018: 481). ‘The peace pipe’, as tobacco pipes or calumets were often called, carried a similar metonymic power, and when fused together the tomahawk and pipe bowl carried a complex dualistic charge. Indigenous recipients of pipe tomahawks often posed holding them in European and American portraits that promulgated the image of the ‘noble savage’, that is, one whose political authority is recognized as a means to further colonialist aims. By the nineteenth century, pipe carvers on the Plains replicated the metal pipe tomahawk form using pipestone, transforming the pipe yet again by returning it to its primary stone medium that had flourished since before European contact.9 Conversely, pipe makers used lead not only for inlay designs but also as the entire medium of the pipe shank and bowl, moulding the long-standing stone L-shape pipe of the sort represented by Catlin in this imported medium.10 This continual interplay between form and medium characterized tobacco pipe carving and exchange. European consumption of tobacco, a plant or plant blend cultivated and used ceremonially in the Americas for millennia, quickly grew alongside that of sugar, tea and other products extracted from American colonies, which led to the commodification of the tobacco pipe. The American Fur Company and explorers, including Catlin, attempted to intervene in the centuries-old Indigenous trade in red pipestone on the Plains (Johnson 2020). To accommodate the demand for tobacco pipes and to prevent further intrusion into the ceremonial life of the pipe, Native carvers from Haida Gwaii (Sheehan 1981) as well as on the Plains produced pipes explicitly for non-ceremonial consumption, identified by uncarved smoking channels and



modifications to the design that allowed pipes to stand upright for display. Europeans also manufactured disposable tobacco pipes made of white clay that blended the pipe bowl and stem into one sinuous form, which could be purchased pre-stuffed with tobacco (Walker 1970). Some Indigenous pipe makers responded to this by carving the Europeanized pipe form using red pipestone quarried in present-day Minnesota, and black argillite quarried in Haida Gwaii.11 Perhaps these pipes were created to appeal to the market generated by cultural outsiders, yet they also maintain a claim to Indigenous pipe carving traditions that have always adapted through exchanges of materials and ideas. Since the first introduction of European trade goods on the continent, Native makers subverted the ethos of mass production, incorporating industrialized materials such as calico, glass beads and metal buttons into handcrafted regalia. In 2017, contemporary Canadian Algonquin artist Nadia Myre (b.1974) created the installation titled Code Switching and Other Work, which adds to our understanding of this history of tobacco pipes and their exchanges, appropriations and creative subversions (Figure  10.4). The installation is made up of thousands of fragments of the European mass-manufactured white clay tobacco pipes discarded by English sailors and excavated by Myre along the River Thames (Boyle and Carden 2018). Myre photographed these pipes and pipe fragments and rewove thousands of recovered shards

FIGURE 10.4  Nadia Myre, installation view, Code Switching and Other Work, 2017. Photograph by Ross Fraser McLean. © 2021 Nadia Myre / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / Copyright Visual Arts-COVA-DAAV.



into massive sculptures that represent enlarged Indigenous forms of making. Code switching is a linguistic term that references how a person shifts between and interweaves languages or dialects. Not only is this a matter of survival or an act of translation but also this traversal of languages engenders an independent form of verbal and identity expression. To code switch inherently challenges the hard rules of language that have, in fact, always changed. Myre’s use of the term provides a new way of understanding what have been called ‘hybrid’, ‘creole’ or other cross-cultural forms of making, and also provides a poignant reflection on the anthropological infatuation with fixity in language, identity and the arts. Myre’s processes of excavating, documenting, displaying and repurposing the pipe artefacts retraces the paths of nineteenth-century anthropologists who excavated tobacco pipes from graves, extracted them from communities and transformed them into typological artefacts through ethnographic illustration and museum display. Myre turns this process inside out, treating the European-manufactured pipes as ethnographic specimens. Her photographs of the pipes and fragments resonate with Catlin’s manuscript images: featuring a single white pipe or collection of fragments set against a black background, Myre alludes to and inverts historical ethnographic imagery in which stark white backgrounds are meant to be ‘neutral’ fields for display, and in which pipes serve as metonyms for bodies (Figure 10.5). Her otherworldly images place the processes of colonial representation, extraction and mass production – strategies of empire – on display.

FIGURE 10.5  Nadia Myre, Code Switching and Other Work, 2017 © 2021 Nadia Myre / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / Copyright Visual Arts-COVA-DAAV.



Myre rewove hundreds of large pipe fragments into large baskets and wampum belts, long multi-tiered strips of woven shells that operated as nation-to-nation treaties. Interestingly, wampum, a bead carved of purple and white shells, was another Indigenous trade item and expression of intertribal solidarity that Europeans attempted to eliminate. In Letters and Notes, Catlin writes that European fur traders flooded the market with thousands of imitation shell beads (probably porcelain) in attempts to ruin Indigenous-run networks of exchange (Catlin 1842: 250–251). Myre’s wampum made of European-manufactured clay pipes subverts this colonial strategy. Her sculptures transform the pipe shards to reflect Indigenous forms of reciprocity that extend beyond the material, castigating colonial capitalism’s failure to uphold treaty agreements with Indigenous communities. Piles of the fragile ivory-coloured pipes in the exhibition are reminiscent of human remains, reminding the viewer that the surreptitious appropriation of Indigenous-made cultural items operated within a world view that dehumanized Indigenous people and systematically attempted to extinguish Indigenous life. Her reclamation of European-manufactured pipes for Indigenous forms of art and relationship-making lays bare the appropriation and commodification of Indigenous traditions of smoking pipes and cultivating tobacco and engages in the process of cultural exchange that have reverberated throughout the centuries. Code Switching is a reparative gesture that at once reweaves the histories of empire as told through objects while exposing its inner workings.

Notes 1

2 3 4 5 6

Because the tobacco pipes referenced in Catlin’s manuscript come from many different tribes, and because his tribal attributions of the pipes are suspect, I have omitted specific Indigenous language terminology for pipes and relevant terms. See A. Gallatin, Map of the Indian tribes of North America, 1836, Library of Congress Geography and Map Division, Washington, DC, G3301.E1 1800. G3, (accessed 8 December 2021). For an example of this within Catlin’s oeuvre, see his painting Sioux Dog Feast, 1832–1837, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr., 1985.66.494. Catlin credits this practice to Anishinaabe carvers, though Eastern Dakota carvers also were and continue to be known for lead inlay. See, for instance, Eugène Delacroix’s The Women of Algiers (1834) in the Louvre, Paris. According to an article written by a man named ‘Este’ in The Birmingham Post, ‘Whenever a traveller returns, like Catlin . . . he is cross-examined [by Bragge] at once on pipes, and all he can or will spare are secured, to be added to the vast collection.’ Reprinted from in W. Bragge (1880: 2).



7 Extant pipes in Catlin’s collections can be found at the Penn Museum, Philadelphia, PA, and the National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC. 8 Catlin references the camera lucida, an optical device patented by the scientist Sir William Hyde Wolloston in 1806 that was used as a drawing and copying aid for artists and scientists. 9 Examples of red pipestone pipe tomahawk can be found in collections across the United States. 10 One example of a lead pipe moulded into the typical of a Dakota-style pipe with three bands along the bowl and end of the pipe exists at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, no. 67A00050. 11 For a Dakota and Haida examples at the British Museum, see no. Am,Dc.46 and no. Am,De.39.

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Morton, S. (1839), Crania Americana: Or a Comparative View of the Skulls of the Various Aboriginal Nations of North and South America, Philadelphia, PA: J. Dobson. Mniyo, S. and R. Goodvoice (2020), The Red Road and Other Narrative of the Dakota Sioux, ed. D. M. Beveridge, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Pannabecker, J. R. (1998), ‘Representing Mechanical Arts in Diderot’s “Encyclopédie”’, Technology and Culture, 38 (1): 33–73. Pratt, S. (2013), ‘Objects, Performance and Ethnographic Spectacle’, Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, 15 (2): 272–285. ­Rifkin, M. (2017), Beyond Settler Time: Temporal Sovereignty and Indigenous SelfDetermination, Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Roberts, J. (2014), Transporting Visions: The Movement of Images in Early America, Berkeley: University of California Press. Round, P. H. (2018), ‘Mississippian Contexts for Early American Studies’, Early American Literature, 53 (2): 445–473. Schoolcraft, H. R. (1851–1857), Historical and Statistical Information Respecting the History, Condition, and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States, Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott, Grambo, & Co. Sheehan, C. (1981), Pipes that Won’t Smoke, Coal that Won’t Burn: Haida Sculpture in Argillite, Calgary, AB: Glenbow Museum. Stevens, S. (2018), ‘Tomahawk: Materiality and Depictions of the Haudenosaunee’, Early American Literature, 53 (2): 475–511. Tallbear, K. (2016), ‘Making Love and Relations beyond Settler Sexuality and Nature’, Plenary talk, Landbody: Indigeneity’s Radical Commitments, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, 6 May 2016. Truettner, W. (2003). ‘Plains Geometry: Surveying the Path from Savagery to Civilization’, Winterthur Portfolio, 38 (4): 199–220. Walker, I. C. (1970), ‘Nineteenth-Century Clay Tobacco Pipes in Canada’, Ontario Archaeology, (16): 19–35.


AAA see American Anthropological Association abstractism and emotion 28 Account of an Expedition from Pittsburgh to the Rocky Mountains, performed in the years, 1819 and 1820 . . . (James) 184–185 accuracy 9, 52, 78, 80, 81, 92, 145, 178, 181, 183 Catlin’s (George) 178 considerations of 82 ethnographic 5, 77, 78, 81 of images 3, 78, 79, 80 levels/degrees, uses of 77, 78 and observation 1, 8, 13, 78 role of 12 scientific 7 Acta Sanctorum (1643) 159 ‘aero-painters’ 66–67 ’aesu beads from Lau 44 agriculture 65, 148 tobacco consumption 209–210 agua santa (holy water) 168 Ahab and Starbuck print (Stella) 118–119 Ajimas (guardian mothers) 141–142 Akin, D. 42, 52 Alaskan prints 121–127 altar-ofrenda 170 American Anthropological Association (AAA) 23–24 American armed forces and ethnographic photography 50 American Museum of Natural History 42–43 Anales de Tecamachalco 154–155 ancestral tradition kastom/Malaita Island 40–41, 50 see also tradition

Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley (Squier) 201–202 Ancient Society (Morgan) 200 Andean sculpture 169 Le anguane del Cismon/The fairies of Mount Cismon (Šebesta) 67 animation cinema 59, 61 anthropology and Art History 2, 4, 7, 8, 11, 14, 23, 24, 76, 170, 198 history of 3, 8 and image use 2, 3, 4, 10, 11, 27 and interpretation 25, 26, 27 methods in 8, 23, 26, 39, 77 ­and objectivity 11, 12 and philology 207 and photography 8 and reflexivity 34 and science 83 and visual culture 6 as positivistic discipline 25 anti-colonial Maasin Rul movement 50–51 Appadurai, A. 27, 30 aprons and dress assembly 68 Arapaho Indigenous people of North America 95–96, 109–110 Arents Tobacco Collection in the New York Public Library 201 art of anthropology 25–28, 81 ‘art-tools’ 24–25 martyrdom in Spanish art 152–176 as research 23–38 The Art of Modernity (Tiné) 28, 29–33, 34–35 Artists Guild, Northwest Coast Indian 119–120 arts 62, 211



canonical 114 classical 205 decorative 205 ethnic/tribal7 39 Indigenous 130 Industrial 200 Nepali 137 Northwest Coast 116 scene (Vancouver) 116 schools of 206 visual 24, 25, 27, 207, 209 Arts of the Raven 118 ASLEF (linguistic-ethnographic atlas) 65–66 Athlii Gwaii land claims 125 Atkinson, H. 183–184 atlas 65–66 attire see clothing Audubon, J. J. 207–208 Augustinian convent of San Salvador 156–157 Australian Christian peace organizations 50–51 Austro-Hungarian empire 58–59 ‘authenticity’ 117–120 ‘The Author painting a Chief at the base of the Rocky Mountains’ (Catlin) 178, 191 authorial voice/art as anthropology 27 authorization of images 78–80 auto-ethnography 12 auto-ethnography 117–120 Autumn Moon print (Point) 121 avant-garde 66–67 bahaa (courtyards) 139–140, 141–142 ­Balfour, H. 61–62 Bamum communities ceremonies of 87–88 European symbols 84–86 festivals 87–88 Fumban capital 84, 89 Germans and colonialism 84–87, 90–93 history and customs of 75–94 muslim dress 90–91, 92–93 war 85–87 bands and straps, non-Western body ornaments 44–47

Barberini, F. 159 Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Agua Santa, Baños, Ecuador 168 Basilica of San Francesco in Assisi 153–154 Bautista, J. 152–153 Báxoje 180–181 BC Indian Designs Limited 116 beads for body ornaments 44–47 The Bears’ Famous Invasion of Sicily (Buzzati) 67 Belting, H. 10, 169 belts from Malaita Island 44 Ben Wate of Sa’a 53 Bernardino de Sahagún 153 Bhaktapur (town) 29–33 The Bhu Bhandel of Dhansar of Kathmandu (Rajman Singh) 145–146 Bibliotheca Nicotiana (Bragge) 206 bibs and dress assembly 68 biographical continuities and ethnographic photography 50–51 Birds of America (Audubon) 207–208 Bishop Museum 47 bloodletting 165–167 Boas, F. 207 Bodmer, K. 178–179, 191–192, 206 Body Ornaments 44–47, 52 Bonaparte, N. see ‘Louisiana Purchase’ border controls and passport photographs 78–79 bore lima patterns for Kwara’ae plaited bands and straps 45 Borzaga, G. 67 Bouquet, H. 184–185 Bragge, W. 206 breaking of hemp or flax 65–66 Briani, G. 59–60 Brillion, E. 128–129 British Columbia, Indigenous populations 121–127, 128–129 British Museum 41–43 body ornaments 44–49 ethnographic photographs 47–48, 50–51

INDEX ethnographic picture books 52–54 humiliation/martyrdom 162–163, 165–166 ­broken orchid (mou’adi) design for Kwaio body ornaments 45 Brown, P. 135 Buddhist architecture 135–151 Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show 102 Burt, B. 41–42, 44, 45, 46 Buzzati, D. 67 by Father Mideros 168 Calhoun, J. C. 180, 183, 185, 190 calumets (peace pipes) 209 Cameroon Grassfields and pictorialization as resource 75–94 Canadian Native Prints in Vancouver 117 canali chiusi (closed channels) 61–63 Capella Sistina and Michelangelo’s Last Judgment 159 Capilano Fishing Grounds (Joseph) 122, 123–124 captions and explanations 50–51, 62–63, 69–70 Carlisle Indian School 95–113 Carocci, M. 39 carrying hay 65–66 carvings 116, 117 case studies from The Art of Modernity 29–33 Cass, L. 180 Cathedral at Florence 158 Catlin, G. 177–179, 189–193, 196–214 Cavalca, D. 166 Celigueta, G. 169–170 Centennial Museum Gift Shop, Vancouver 125 chaa kharpan/khamoo (carrying baskets) 144 Charbonneau, T. 208–209 The Chariot (Giacometti) 170 Chatiks si chatiks 178 cheesemaking 65–66 Cheyenne Indigenous people of North America 95–96, 108–110 Cheyenne/Tsitsistas Indigenous people of North America 187


chibaa pairings with sattah restrooms 139 ‘chiefs’ (community leaders) 40–41, 178–179, 181–182, 186–193 children’s narrative 60 chiaroscuro technique 29–32 Choate, J. N. 96, 97, 98–101, 102 studio 102–103 Cholula convent and martyrdom 157–158, 160–161 Christianity hegemony and body ornaments 47 and Jesus Christ 161–167 peace organizations 50–51 schools and communities 50 Church on the Palatine 159 Church of San Carlo 169 Church of San Pietro 169 ­Church of Topiltepec 160–161 cincture (susuru) beads of Malaita Island 44 cinematic puppetry 60 La cintura incantata/The Enchanted Belt (Šebesta) 67 circonscription (Gaston Ripert) 87 ‘civilizing’ programmes for Native American children 95–113 Clark, W. 180–181, 183–184, 202, 208–209 ‘class struggle’ and the ‘folk revival’ movement of the 1960s 58 ‘closed channels’ (Šebesta) 61–63 clothing/costume 67–68, 69, 148, 155–156 bands and straps, non-Western body ornaments 44–47 Native American ritual 105–110 Clutesi, G. 116 coastal ecosystems 122–124 Cockburn, R. 124–125 Code Switching and Other Work (Myre) 198, 210–212 Codex Cruz-Badianus 167–168 Codex Florentine 153 codex, Latin 159 Codex Magliabechiano 165–166 Codissago di Castellavazzo (Da Rif) 69, 69–70



Colegio de San José de los Naturales, Mexico City 155 colonial aesthetics and tobacco pipes 204–208 colonial religious and cultural hegemony 47 colonialism anti-colonial Maasin Rul movement 50–51 Carlisle Indian School 95–113 flagellation and martyrdom 165–167 Germans and Bamum communities 84–87, 90–93 Midwestern Indigenous peoples and their portraits 177–195 Selection of Indian Pipes 196–214 ‘colonization of consciousness’ (Lentis) 105–106 colour-coded maps of Indigenous languages of North America 203 Comanche, Indigenous people of North America 95–96 community leaders 40–41, 178–179, 181–182, 186–193 convent of San Gabriel 156, 157–158, 160–161 convent of San Salvador 156–157 ‘conversion hieroglyphics’ 152–153 Cooper, D. 153–154 copper cauldrons 63 Cortés, H. 152 cosmologies, comprehension of 83–84 costume 67–68, 69, 148 “Costumes” from the Trentino Folklife Museum 68, 69 Council Bluffs meeting of Pawnee tribes 178, 183, 184–185 Council of Trent 166–167 Crania Americana: Or, a Comparative View of Skulls of Various Aboriginal Nations (Morton) 200 Cranmer, N. & D. 116 ­‘Creole’ culture 211 crisis of representation/art of anthropology 25–26

‘Crooked Lances’ (Elk Native American society) 108–109 crown of thorns 166 The Crown of Title (David) 126–127 Cruz-Badianus (Codex) 167–168 cultural norms of the Bamum 75–94 Cumberland County Fair Indian School exhibit (1882) 110 Cumberland County Historical Society 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 106 Custer (General) 97 customs of the Bamum 75–94 Solomon Islands 40–41, 50 see also rituals; tradition cycle of life and Haida heritage 125 ‘The Czech Year’ (Špalíček) 61 Da Rif, F. 69–70 Dakota Indigenous people of North America 97–98, 180, 198, 204 dal Piombo, S. 161–162, 166–167 David, J. 119–120, 126–127 Davidson, R. 115, 124–125 De Castro, V. 81 de Ocaña, D 161, 165 de Saint-Mémin, C. B. J. 178, 180–183 Dean, C. 155–156 Dearborn, H. 180 Degarrod, L. N. 28 Depero, F. 66, 67 Descola, P. 82, 83–84 Devanagari script 148 Dick, B. 116 Diderot, D. 200 digital technologies 49, 50–51, 53–54 Distant view of the City of Patan in the valley of Nepal (Rajman Singh) 140 Le dita di fuoco/the fingers of fire (Šebesta) 67 Ditidaht First Nations and logging 128–129 Dogfish and Spirit (Tait) 120 double moulboard plough 65 Dougan, M. 106–108 Downs, H. R. 140

INDEX Drawing 27, 29, 36 n.2, 47, 52, 63, 96, 105, 107, 108, 135, 136, 138, 140, 141, 142, 144, 145, 146, 149, 178, 183 as anthropological method 2, 6, 11 architectural 88 classical 138 devices for 181, 182, 213 n.8 draughtsmanship 65 as experiment 24 as illustrational style 207 of the King of Bamum 75 ­of landscape 83 love of 105 Plains Indian 106, 110 Plains pictographic 106 self-portrait 178, 191 skills 182 as solace 105 as spatial representation 89 in the study of costumes 67 as theory 36 n.2 tools implements of 192, 213 n.8 Treatise on Topographical Drawing (1837) 203 traditional 110, 137 in travel writing 3 ‘drawing as method’ 21–71 legacy of Giuseppe Šebesta/ ethnographic museography 56–71 pictorial ethnographies of the Solomon Islands 39–55 questions of expression/art as research 23–38 Drawings of Indian Ceremonial Pipes 201 dress see clothing Earnest White Thunder (Native American) 105 earthquakes 144–145, 154 Eastman, S. 203–204 Eclissi, A. 159 Edenshaw, C. 116 Edge-Partington family 44, 47–48 Edwards, E. 99, 101


elementary inventiveness, gesturing and dexterity 60 Elk Native American warrior society 108–109 Ellis, B. 118 emic notions of love/modernity 29–30, 33 emotion via abstractism 28 ‘The Emperor and Empress’ (Anon.) 91 Encyclopédie: ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts, et des métiers (Diderot) 200 Engler, F. 108, 109 engravings 118–119, 138–139, 161–162, 194–195 epistemology, fracture between art and anthropology 24, 25 Errington, S. 39–40 Estévez, M. G. 155 ethnographic data and the origins of Indigenous North Americans 202–203 ethnographic drawings of the Solomon Islands 41–47 ethnographic museography 56–71 ethnographic photography American armed forces 50 of the Solomon Islands 47–51 traumatic events 50–51 ­ethnographic picture books 52–54 ethnographies (pictorial) of the Solomon Islands 39–55 ethnography and art history 179 and images 12 and photograph elicitation 6 ethnography as art 1–20 Eulisse, E. 59–61 Euro-American representation of Native Americans 95–113 Eurocentrism in the Solomon Islands 39–40 European fur trade 205–206, 212 European symbols and Bamum communities 84–86 Everson, A. 128–129 Every Year the Salmon Comes Back (Davidson) 124



Ewers, J. 198 executions 160–161 see also martyrdom exotic resources of pictorialization 85–86 expatriates of Britain 47–49 extraversion 85–86 extreme urbanization 147 fa’aabua (restitution) 53–54 Facebook 49, 53–54 ‘Family at a restaurant’ (Tiné) 31 ‘Family on a motorbike and field notes on the topic of a ritual of commemoration for a dead father (shraddha ritual)’ (Tiné) 31, 32 farming tools 148 feminism, chiroscuro technique 29–32 festivals of the Bamum 87–88 Févret, de Saint-Mémin, C. B. J. 178, 180–183 figurative components in visual arts 25 First World War 86–87 Firth, R. 39–40 Fisher, M. M. J. 25 Fishing print (Point) 121 fishing rights 122–124 Five Sacred Wounds 166, 167 Flagellation (Anon.) 163–164 flagellation and martyrdom 161–167 Flagellation (Sadeler I) 161, 162 Florence cathedral 158 Florentine Codex 153 flounce and dress assembly 68 Flusser, V. 49 ‘folk revival’ movement of the 1960s 58 Folklife Museum 56–57, 68, 69 folklore 60 and animation 61 and illustration 8, 11 folklore and folktales 59–60, 61 ­fo’o’aba belts from Malaita Island 44 Fort Marion, Florida 95–96, 105–106 Foucault, M. 29 Foucher, A. 138 Franciscan Orders 152–154, 155, 160 Francisco de Arobe and sons 154

Friuli region in north-east Italy 65–66 Fry, A. 119 Fumban (capital of Bamum) 84, 89 fur trade 205–206, 212 futurists 66–67 gaa kharpan/khamoo (carrying baskets) 144 Gallatin, A. 203 Galle II, C. 164 galleries 114–131 Gallque, A. S. 154 galu money beads from Malaita Island 44 Geertz, C. 25–26 genocide via re-education 96, 97 see also Indigenous people of North America Germans and Bamum communities 84–87, 90–93 Gerson, J. 154–155 Gertrude of Helfta 167 Ghost Dance, Pine Ridge 103 Gilio of Fabriano, G. A. 159, 160, 166–167 Giovanni del Biondo 158 The Gniato Polo temple of Devi at Bhatgaon (Rajman Singh) 144–145 Göhring, M. 85, 86 Gombrich, E. 77–78 Goodyear, F. 105 Gorkha earthquake of Nepal 144–145 Göz, G. B. 163–164 Gozzoli, B. 160 Grammar (Catlin) 207–208 The Grammar of Ornament (Jones) 206–207 The great chaitya of Swayambhu in Nepal with part of its vihar (Rajman Singh) 138–139 Great Plains Indigenous communities 198 great-cincture (gwa’susuru) beads of Malaita Island 44 Greene, C. 109 Greimasian notion of plastic 25, 28 Grignon, C. 186

INDEX grinding 62–63 guachivales (local cultic practices) 169–170 Guadalcanal communities 50–51 Gwaii Haanas National Park 125 gwaroa’adi’adi designs for Kwaio body ornaments 45 gwa’susuru beads of Malaita Island 44 Haida argillite pipes 205 ­Haida Gwaii Native American carvers 209–210 Haida heritage 125 Hall, J. 190 hallucination/illusion 77–78 ‘Hand in hand’ 34–35 hay sledge 65–66 headdress 107 headkerchief and dress assembly 68 hegemony and body ornaments 47 Heinrich (Prince) 85–86 heritage structures 147–148 Hill and chaitya of Swayambhu Nath in the valley of Nepal (Rajman Singh) 139 Historia Tolteca-Chichimeca 160 historical construction of Western concepts 39–40 history and customs of the Bamum 75–94 History of the Indian Tribes of North America (McKenney & Hall) 190 History and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States (Schoolcraft) 203 Hodgson, B. H. 135–137, 140, 141–142 Holbein the Younger, H. 154–155 Holy Office in Spain 169 holy water 168 Homberger, E. 102 Honiara capital on Guadalcanal (Solomon Islands) 50 Hoover, A. 126–127 household items 148 humiliation and martyrdom of Jesus Christ 161–167 Hunt, G. 116


Hunt, T. 118 Hutchinson, E. 179 Huu-ay-aht First Nations and logging 128–129 ‘hybrid’/‘Creole’ culture 211 hybridity 155–156 iconography of martyrdom 156–181 identity, ‘writerly identity’ 25 Idle No More! (Everson) 128 illusion 77–78 image content and lives, analysis and content 8–9 images as ethnographic illustration 3–8 imperial portraits 84–86, 90–93 in and out of field/art as anthropology 26–27 Indian Removal Act of 1830 189, 190–191 Indian Removal Policy 202 ‘Indianness’/“Indian Savagery” 110, 189, 190 The Indians giving a talk to Colonel Bouquet in a conference at a council fare . . . (Grignon) 186 Indigenous ethnic communities of Kathmandu 135–151 Indigenous languages of North America 203 Indigenous people of Latin America and martyrdom 165–166, 168–169 Indigenous people of North America ­communities and sovereignty 95–113 pipe selection 196–214 portraits and portrayals 177–195 re-education camps 95–113 salvage ethnography 42–43 see also individual groups . . . Indigenous visual knowledge 73–131 Cameroon Grassfields and pictorialization as resource 75–94 Native children and sovereignty 95–113 Northwest Coast prints 114–131 indios and martyrdom 165–166, 168–169



Indrayani, Temple of 141–142 inherited values as ‘laws’ 40–41 intermidi (intermediates) 63 internet 49, 50–51, 53–54 interpretation/viewpoint 80 Inun-ina 187 Islam 92–93 Jaberg, K. 64 Jackson, A. 189, 202 James, E. 184–185, 187, 190 Janze, P. 118–119 Jaya Mal Pata (wrestler) 144–145 Jeanne, B. 155 Jefferson, T. 179–181, 183–184 ‘Louisiana Purchase’ 180–181, 183–184 Jesus Christ 161–167 Jesus victim of human cruelty and of ingratitude for the Eucharist (Mideros) 164–165 jewellery 117 jícaras (carved vessels) 155–156 Jojola, T. 99 Jones, O. 206–207 Joseph, F. 122–124 Jud, J. 64 kaahkaahkia 187 Kable, P. 108, 109 Kaskaia, Shienne Chief, Arrappaho (Seymour) 187 kastom (local values and practices) 40–41, 50 Kaura, M. 52 Kew, J. 121 Kezich, G. 61–62, 68–69 kharpan/khamoo (carrying baskets) 140, 142, 144 Ki-Ke-In 117 King, C. B. 178, 183–189 ‘King Njoya with favoured wife’ (ReinWuhrmann) 75–76 ‘King Njoya in Muslim dress’ (Njoya) 90–91 Kingdom of Bamum 75–94 Kingdom of Nso 85–86 Kiowa, Indigenous people of North America 96–97

Klauber workshop, Augsburg 163–164 ­ rishna, Temple of 143 K The Kwachhe Dewal of Patan (Rajman Singh) 142 Kwaio Cultural Centre programme 45 Kwa’ioloa, M. 41–42, 43 Kwakwaka’wakw artists 116, 120 Kwara’ae language 40–41 “ladder” of illusionistic representation (Gombrich & Snyder) 77–78 Lakota, Indigenous people of North America 97, 99, 103–104 lama couples 141 Land Protectors (Everson & Brillion) 128–129 languages of North America 203 Last Judgment (Michelangelo) 159 Latin codex 159 Lattimer, L. 125 ‘Left behind’ (Tiné) 31, 32 Leibsohn, D. 155–156 Lenape 184–185 Lentis, M. 105–106 Letters and Notes (Catlin) 208–209, 212 levering for metal strands 69, 70 Lewis and Clark expedition 180–181, 183–184, 208–209 The Lifted and Subsided Rocks of America with their Influences on the Oceanic, Atmospheric, and Land Currents, and the Distribution of Races (Catlin) 202–203 Likeness and Presence: A History of the Image before the Era of Art (Belting) 169 Lives of the Artists (Vasari) 154–155 Livingston, J. 118 local values and practices of the Solomon Islands 40–41, 50 Locke, J. K. 140 logging 128–129 Long, S. H. 177, 183–189 ‘Louisiana Purchase’ 180–181, 183–184 love, emic notions of/modernity 29–30, 33

INDEX ‘Love grows with time’ (Tiné) 33 Luise (Queen) 85–86 Luther Standing Bear (Óta Kté) 103–104, 105–106 Luti Ajima (deity) 141–142 Maasin Rul movement 50–51 McKenney, T. L. 180, 188, 190 Magdalene 31 Magliabechiano (Codex) 165–166 Mahendra (King) 135–136 Malaita Island (Solomon Islands) 39–55 Mandan Indigenous people of North America 177–179, 180 clay pipes 205 villages of 189–193 Mantegna, A. 158 maps of Indigenous languages of North America 203 Maranda, P. 42 Marcus, G. E. 25 ­Marion (Fort) 95–96, 105–106 market and ‘authenticity’/autoethnography 117–120 Marseille: Musée d’Arts Africains, Océaniens, Amérindiens 91 Martin, M. 116 martyrdom Cholula convent and 157–158, 160–161 flagellation and Jesus Christ 161–167 iconography of 156–181 indios and 165–166, 168–169 performative images and 167–170 prints 161–165 rituals 165–166, 169–170 and Spanish art 152–176 Virgin iconography and 161, 164, 168, 169–170 Mary Edge-Partington collection of belts 44 material culture ethnography 60 ‘material experience’ 63–64 Mató-Tópe (Mandan chief) 178–179, 189–193 Maximilian of Wied-Neuwied (Prince) 191–192


Mayan murals 155–156 Mbansié societies 85, 87–88 Mbuembue (King) 84–85 medicines 85–86 Mein Bamumvolk im Grasland von Kamerun (Rein-Wuhrmann) 75–76 Melanesia and the Solomon Islands 50–51 Melanesian Mission in Britain 44 metaphor and Haida heritage 125 martyrdom and Spanish art 152–176 of the wife as the mirror of the husband 29–30, 33 metaphors of Spanish art 152–176 meta-reflection 24 authorial voice/art as anthropology 27 plastic representation 28 metonymy 169, 200–201, 209, 211 Mexican slit drums 162–163 Michelangelo 159 middle classes of Bhaktapur 30 Mideros, E. 164–165 Midwestern Indigenous people 177–195 Miller, A. J. 206 miner and farmer immigrants 58–59 Ministry of Education, Solomon Islands 52–53 Mintz, B. 118 of the miracles of the Virgin 164 mission photographs of Christian schools and communities 50 missionary work history and customs of the Bamum 75–94 Spanish art 152 see also religion Mississippi River 202–203 ­Mississippi Valley 201–202 Missouri, Indigenous people of North America 184–185 Missouri River 202–203 MNATP (Musée National des Arts et Traditions Populaires) 61–62 Mniyo, S. 204 Moche ceramic vessels 162–163 Mòcheni immigrants and exile 58–59



modern naturalism 82–83 Modernism, Giuseppe Šebesta 67, 68–69 modernity 28, 29–33, 34–35 money beads 44 Monroe, J. 183–184 moral marriage/spouse 34–35 Morgan, J. 116 Morgan, L. H. 200 Morton, S. 200 Moruka of Ga’ena¯fou 45 Mott, A. 61–62 mou’adi design for Kwaio body ornaments 45 moulboard plough 65 mowing 62–63 murals 58, 67, 155–156, 158–159 Mayan 155–156 sgraffitto 58, 67 Musée National des Arts et Traditions Populaires (MNATP) 61–62 musei della civiltà contadina (museums of peasant civilization) 56–57 Museo de Arte Religioso de la Concepción in Riobamba 161–163 Museo degli Usi e Costumi della Gente Trentina 56–57, 68, 69 museography and Giuseppe Šebesta 56–71 Muslim dress and King Njoya of the Bamum 90–91, 92–93 Mutngu societies 85 Myre, N. 198, 210–212 nails of the crucifixion 166 The National History of Man (Prichard) 203 Native Americans see Indigenous people of North America Native culture and Northwest Coast prints 114–131 Natural Spawning Grounds (Joseph) 122, 123 naturalism 7, 12, 65 conception of 82 European 92 modern 83 Navajo, Indigenous people of North America 99

Neagle, J. 184 Neel, E. 116 Nel bosco verde/In the Green Wood (Borzaga) 67 Nepal case studies from The Art of Modernity 28–33 Nepal and the making of moral selves 28, 29–33, 34–35 Nepal-Bihar earthquake 144–145 Nepalese art of the nineteenth century 135–151 ­New Design Gallery 116 New World see colonialism New York Public Library (NYPL) 201, 207–208 Newah communities 138–139, 141–142, 144, 145 Newar town of Bhaktapur 29–33 Nguon ceremony 87–88 Ngüri societies 85, 87–88 Ni-U-Ko¢n-Ska 180 nineteenth-century Kathmandu 135–136 Niúachi 180 Njapndunke (Queen) 85, 86 Njoya, I. (King) 75–76, 84, 85–89, 90–93 ‘King Njoya with favoured wife’ 75–76 ‘King Njoya in Muslim dress’ 90–91 and muslim dress 90–91, 92–93 ‘The palace of the Bamum Kings’ 88–89 non finito (unfinished) technique 29–30 North America Northwest Coast prints 114–131 see also Indigenous people of North America North Dakota prints 128–129 Northern Cheyenne indigenous people of North America 97 Northwest Coast prints 114–131 Nshare dynasty of the Bamum 87–88 Nuet Kuete (syncretic religion) 86–87, 92 Numakaki 177–178 Nuu-chah-nulth artists 116, 117–118, 126–127

INDEX objection and photography 78–81 O’Fallon, B. 184–185, 190 Oldfield, H. A. 146–149 Omaha, Indigenous people of North America 184–185 online platforms 49, 53–54 ontologies, comprehension of 83–84 Open Pacific Graphics 118 oppression see colonialism orchid-patterns (gwaroa’adi’adi) for Kwaio body ornaments 45 ‘Ornament of Savage Tribes’ (Jones) 206–207 Osage, Indigenous people of North America 107–108, 178, 180, 181–183, 184 Osage Warrior (de Saint-Mémin) 178, 181–183 Óta Kté (Lakota Native American) 103–104, 105–106 Oto indigenous people of North America 180, 184–185 Our Forest of Kwara’ae (Kwa’ioloa & Burt) 41–42 overpopulation 147 Pacheedaht First Nations and logging 128–129 Pacific Editions 118 Pacific Island Society 47–49 pagan religions 165 painting 24, 27, 34, 39, 49, 63, 116, 117, 147, 148 n.2, 159, 172 n.13, 178, 191, 212 n.3 act of 189 aesthetics of 49 ­anonymous 161 eighteenth-century 157, 163 as method 29 mural 158 panel 158 paubha 137, 138, 141 Riobamba 162, 163 traditional 138 two-dimensional 169 paintings 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 35, 39, 47, 77, 110, 146, 154, 172 n.12, 190 altar-ofrenda 170 by Father Mideros 168


of the miracles of the Virgin 164 natural history 183 old master 80 Oldfield’s 147, 148, 149 paubha 138 portrait 177 religious 164 Renaissance 31 ‘The palace of the Bamum Kings’ (Njoya) 88–89 Paleotti, G. (Cardinal) 169 parenting 29–30 passport photographs 78–79 Patan (City) 139–140, 142, 143–144 pauhha paintings 138–139 Paul, T. 117 Pawhuska (Osage Chief) 181, 182, 185–186 Pawnee Council (Seymour) 178, 183, 184–185 Pawnee, Indigenous people of North America 178, 180, 183–189 Payouska, Chief of the Great Osage (Févret de Saint-Mémin) 181–182 PDF (‘portable document format’) 52 peace organizations 50–51 Peale, T. R. & C. W. 183 ‘peasant civilisation’ (musei della civiltà contadina) 56–57 Pebble Mine in Southwestern Alaska 126–127 Pellegrini, G. B. 65–66 Pereda, F. 167, 169 performative images and martyrdom 167–170 Petalechaco (Pawnee Chief) 188–189 Petalesharo/Pitelesharo (Pawnee Chief) 188–189 Peter of Ghent 152–153, 155 philology 203 photography 47–51 Cameroon Grassfields and pictorialization as resource 75–94 Christian schools and communities 50 ethnographic picture books 52–54 and objection 78–81



passports 78–79 ­Solomon Islands 47–51 traumatic events 50–51 physionotrace and portraits 181–183 pictorial ethnographies of the Solomon Islands 39–55 Pictorial History 52–54 The Pictorial History book 47–49 pictorialization as resource 75–94 picture books 52–54 I pittori delle Dolomiti/The Painters of the Dolomites (Šebesta) 67 Pitt-Rivers Museum 61–62 The Plague at Ashdod (Poussin) 169 ‘Plains geometry’ concepts 204 Plains Indigenous peoples of North America 105, 106, 109–110, 188 Plains region and Native American pipes 205 plaited bands and straps 45 plant species 156–157 tobacco consumption 209–210 plastic representation/art of anthropology 25, 28 Plenty Kill (Lakota Native American) 103–104 ploughing 65 Point, S. 115, 121–122 political economies of art 133–214 martyrdom and Spanish art 152–176 Midwestern Indigenous people and their portraits 177–195 nineteenth-century Kathmandu 135–151 Selection of Indian Pipes 196–214 Polynesian artefacts 47 portería 156, 157, 158 portrait 177 portraits 85–86, 87–88, 99, 100, 106–107, 177–195 self-portraits 91, 177–179 post-fieldwork productions 26–27 potential resources 84 Potlatch Arts 118 Poussin, N. 169 Pratt, M. L. 102 Pratt, R. H. 95–98, 105–106

Pratt, S. 1, 35, 39 Prichard, J. 203 prints martyrdom 161–165 Northwest Coast 114–131 with texts 116 pseudoscience of craniology 200 Pueblo Native Americans 99 ‘Pulchok’ (site of the bridge) 140 puppetry 60, 61 Quasi una fiaba (‘Almost a folktale’) 59–60 ‘Queen Mother Njapndunke and her entourage’ (Göhring) 85, 86 ­questions of expression/art as research 23–38 racial bias 200 see also colonialism Raheja, M. H. 101–102 RAS (Royal Asiatic Society) 136–137 Raven-Finned Killer Whale 119–120 realism and Nepalese art 135–136 reaping 62–63 recourse to “information” 77–80 regalia see clothing Reid, B. 125, 126 Rein-Wuhrmann, A. 75–76 Reise in das Innere Nord-Amerikas 191–192 religion hegemony and body ornaments 47 martyrdom and Spanish art 152–176 missionary work/history and customs of the Bamum 75–94 religious 164 representations Euro-American representations of Native Americans 95–113 Eurocentrism in the Solomon Islands 39–40 martyrdom in Spanish art 152–176 research-led projects 23–38 residential schools 23–38, 50 see also Carlisle Indian School resources and pictorialization 75–94

INDEX La Ricerca Folklorica (1986) 68 Rickard, V. 118, 122–124 Rifkin, M. 204 Riobamba painting of Jesus Christ 161–163 Ripert, G. 87 rituals martyrdom and Spanish art 165–166, 169–170 Native American headdress 105–110 Northwest Coast prints 31, 32 tlacacaliztli/executions 160–161 rivers 61–62, 141–142, 146–147, 183, 202–203 Rivière, G. H. 61–62 Roberts, J. 207–208 Robson, J. 153–154 Rowe, H. 203 Royal Asiatic Society (RAS) 136–137 Royal Geographical Society 146–147 Royal Tapestry of the Bamum 89 The Rudra Varna or Woku Vihar of the city of Patan in the valley of Nepal (Rajman Singh) 139–140 ‘ruling logic of elimination’ 99 Sadeler I, J. 161, 162 Saint Gertrude of Helfta 167 Saint Sebastian 156–161, 169 salmon 121, 122–123 ­Salmon Cycle (Joseph) 122–123 salvage ethnography, Native American 42–43 San Carlo (Church) 169 San Gabriel (convent) 156, 157–158, 160–161 San Juan Sacatepéquez 169–170 San Michele all’Adige 69–70 San Pedro, Cholula convent and martyrdom 157–158, 160–161 San Pietro (Church) 169 San Salvador (convent) 156–157 Santarcangelo di Romagna 69 Santarcangelo di Romagna (Šebesta) 69–70 Satan, colonial religious and cultural hegemony 47


sattah (restrooms) 139, 141, 142 Savery, R. 82–83 Scheuermeier, P. 64 Schoolcraft, H. R. 203–204 schools ethnographic photography 50 see also Carlisle Indian School Scott, J. C. 95–96, 107–108 sculpture 24, 39, 49, 63, 118, 125, 169, 170, 171 n.5, 198, 199, 205 sculptures 85, 145, 166, 168, 211, 212 Šebesta, G. (Bèpo) 56–71 Modernism 67, 68–69 museography and 56–71 Second World War 50 Secretary of War of the United States 180 seismic history of Nepal 144–145 A Selection of Indian Pipes in Catlin’s North American Indian Collection 196–214 ‘self-sacrifice’ 165–166 Sellan, G. 58–59 ‘settler time’ 204 settler-colonial ‘ruling logic of elimination’ 99 settlers see colonialism Seymour, S. 178, 183, 184–188 sgraffitto murals 58, 67 Shaawanwaki 184–185 shawls and dress assembly 68 ‘shell-disk rattle’ (body ornament) 46 Shotridge, L. 116 shraddha rituals 31, 32 Shrine of Nuestra Señora de Agua Santa, Baños, Ecuador 168 Simon Fraser University 125, 126 Singh, R. 136–149 comparison with Oldfield 147–149 legacy 149–150 notable works 138–147 single moulboard plough 65 Sioux Indigenous people of North America 98, 99, 109–110 Skidegate Band Council 125, 126 ­skirts in dress assembly 68 sledges 65–66 Slusser, M. N. 142



Smith, P. C. 102 Smith, W. 184–185 Snyder, J. 77–78, 79 Society for Visual Anthropology 23–24 Solomon Islands ethnographic drawings of 41–47 Eurocentrism 39–40 Honiara capital 50 local values and practices 40–41, 50 Melanesia and 50–51 Ministry of Education 52–53 pictorial ethnographies of 39–55 Sommers, A. 108–109 sovereignty and Native communities 95–113 Špalíček (film, 1974) 61 Spanish art and martyrdom 152–176 spear that pierced Jesus’ body 166 Lo Specchio di Croce (Cavalca) 166 Speck, H. 116 Spindle-Whirl Design (David) 119–120 Spivak, G. 106 split-horn headdress 107 Squier, E. G. 201–202 Stamish Winter Ground (Joseph) 122 Stebhens, I. 50–51 Stella, F. 118–119 sthrines and places 148 stone carvings 160–161 stone pipe bowls with wooden stem 196–214 ‘story of the image’ 118–127 “Sudiare il costume. Le fonti iconografiche e archivistiche” (Šebesta) 68 Summers, D. 88–89 sustainability and fishing 122–124 syncretism 155–156 Synopsis of the Indian Tribes within the United States (Gallatin) 203 Tait, N. 119–120 ‘Tarrarecawaho’ (Grand Pawnee chief) 186, 188 Tavolara, E. 67 Te Rangi Hiroa 47 Temple of Indrayani on the banks of Vishnumati in Kathmandu (Rajman Singh) 141–142

Temple of Krishna at Patan in the valley of Nepal (Rajman Singh) 143 Testerian catechisms 152–153 The Teta Thudo chaitya of Patan (Rajman Singh) 143–144 Tete, S. (of Guadalcanal) 45 Thakiwaki 180–181 ­Thom, I. 121–122 Thompson, A. 117 ‘Three Carnivores’ (Tursmoney) 136 Three Haida Whales for South Morseby lithograph 125, 126 threshing 62–63 The Thudo chaitya at Pulchok in valley of Nepal (near Patan) (Rajman Singh) 141 Thunderbird Dancer (Paul) 117 Thur Dyo Viharas 143–144 thyasafu (folded book/lama couples) 141 Tibetan travellers 148–149 tlacacaliztli (ritual executions) 160–161 tlacuiloque (painter-writers) 152–153 Tlaxcalan rituals 169–170 tobacco consumption of 209–210 pipes 196–214 Tod, J. 52–53 tokila designs for Kwaio body ornaments 45 tomahawks 209 Topiltepec (Church) 160–161 Torlino, T. 99, 100, 101 Torres, M. D. 165–166 tradition history and customs of the Bamum 75–94 kastom/Malaita Island 40–41, 50 see also rituals traditional dress assembly 68 traumatic events, ethnographic photography 50–51 Treatise on Topographical Drawing (Schoolcraft) 203–204 Trent Council 159, 166–167 Trentino Folklife Museum 56–57, 68, 69

INDEX Trentino-Alto Adige Region 56–57 Trentino-Alto Adige, region of Italy 56–57 Trento, Autonomous Province of 56–59 O Tristissimum Spectaculum (Galle II) 164 Trisuli river at its source in the lakes of Gosainkund (Royal Geographical Society) 146–147 Trnka, J. 61 Truettner, W. 204 Tsitsistas 187 U-Mo’n-Ho’n 185 unfinished technique 29–30 Unidentifed Osage Warrior Wearing a Bird Headdress (Févret de Saint-Mémin) 181–183 United States see Indigenous people of North America Upper Plains Indigenous peoples of North America 190 urbanization 147 utopian ideals and re-education camps 106 Valadés, D. 152–153, 155 Vancouver Art Gallery 116 Vancouver art market 114–131 ­“The Vanishing American” (Jojola) 99 Vanishing Salmon print (Point) 121 Vasari, G. 154–155 Vatican Archive 159 Veauver, L. 87 ‘Venceslao Moldavia’ (pseudonym of Giuseppe Šebesta) 59 La via dei mulini (Šebesta) 62–63 La via del rame (Šebesta) 69, 70 Vickers, R. H. 115 viewpoint 80 vihar/bahaa (courtyards) 139–140, 141–142 Virgin iconography and martyrdom 161, 164, 168, 169–170


Vishnumati river 141–142 visual anthropology 5–6, 6, 8, 11, 23–24 visual arts 24, 25, 27, 207, 209 visual sovereignty and Native communities 95–113 visual systems of meaning and Native Americans 105–110 Vizenor, G. 99, 101, 103, 104–105, 107–108 Vollbehr, E. 85 Volunatry Service Overseas 52–53 Wadhams, L. 116 ‘Walt Disney of the East’ (Trnka) 61 war and Bamum communities 85–87 visual systems of meaning and Native Americans 105–110 World Wars 50, 86–87 weavings 47, 116 Webster, S. V. 154 West, B. 184–185 Western concepts, historical construction 39–40 wife as the mirror of the husband 29–30, 33 Wilhelm II (Emperor) 85–86, 90–91 winnowing 62–63 Woku bahaa (courtyards) 139–140 Wolfe, P. 99 Woodridge, D. 146–147 ‘world of lived experience’ 29 World Wars 50, 86–87 ‘writerly identity’ 25–26 Xalla complex in Teotihuacan 160–161 Yanhuitlán paganism 165 Yellowstone River 183 Yeyap, M. 87–88 Young Omahaw, War Eagle, Little Missouri, and Pawnees (King) 178, 183, 184, 188 Yupanqui, F. T. 169




PLATE 1.1  Paola Tiné, ‘Mother and children’, oil and pencils on paper. 2020.

PLATE 1.2  Paola Tiné, ‘Hand in hand’, oil on paper. 2019.

PLATE 1.3  Paola Tiné, ‘Maya by candlelight with yomari plate’, oil on canvas and words added digitally. 2020.

PLATE 1.4  Paola Tiné, ‘The mirror of the husband’, charcoal and oil on paper. 2021.

PLATE 3.1  G. Šebesta, cover design for Giovanna Borzaga, Nel bosco verde (Trento: Saturnia, 1966).

PLATE 3.2  G. Šebesta, set photograph for ‘La cintura incantata’ in Le dita di fuoco (Rovereto: Manfrini, 1962).

PLATE 3.3  Museo degli Usi e Costumi della Gente Trentina / Trentino Folklife Museum, the Copper Foundry, set by G. Šebesta (ca. 1972).

PLATE 3.4  G. Šebesta, drawing from Il costume di Scanno, Fondazione Tanturri, Scanno-Roma, 1993.

PLATE 4.1  Ibrahim Njoya, ‘King Njoya’, ink and graphite on paper, 1927–1930, 35 × 29 centimetres. Private collection.

PLATE 5.1  Joshua Given (Kiowa), ‘Still life of fruit’, December 19, 1883. Courtesy of Cumberland County Historical Society. FMPI -1-3-7-0001.

PLATE 5.2  Mackay Dougan (Osage), ‘Osage warrior wearing ceremonial regalia in ritual preparations for a buffalo hunt’, crayon and ink drawing, c. 1882–1885. Courtesy of Cumberland County Historical Society. FMPI-1-3-32-0001.

PLATE 5.3  Abe Somers (Cheyenne), ‘Cheyenne warrior counting coup on American soldier’, pencil and crayon drawing, c. 1882–1885. Courtesy of Cumberland County Historical Society. FMPI 1-3-38.

PLATE 5.4  Frank Engler (Cheyenne), ‘Mounted Cheyenne warrior approaching mounted U.S. cavalry officer’, pencil and crayon drawing, c. 1882–1885. Courtesy of Cumberland County Historical Society. FMPI1-3-32-1.

PLATE 5.5  Percy Kable (Cheyenne), ‘Standing Cheyenne warrior and U.S. cavalry officer shaking hands’, pencil and crayon drawing, c. 1882–1885. Courtesy of Cumberland County Historical Society. FMPI 1-3-3.

PLATE 6.1  Tim Paul, Thunderbird Dancer, 1978. Screen print edition, 100. 53 × 43 centimetres. Courtesy of the Legacy Galleries, University of Victoria, Canada Council for the Arts Acquisition Grant, purchased from the Collection of Vincent Rickard, U990.14.601.

PLATE 6.2 Susan Point, Autumn Moon, 2008. Screen print edition, 80. 67.3-centimetre diameter. Photographed by Janet Dwyer. Courtesy of the artist and the Salish Weave Collection.

PLATE 6.3  Andy Everson, Idle No More!, 2016. Digital edition and screen print edition of 75. 56 × 63.5 centimetres. Courtesy of the artist.

PLATE 7.1  The Kwachhe Dewal of Patan. RAS 22.021.

PLATE 7.2  The Teta Thudo chaitya of Patan. RAS 22.022.

PLATE 7.3  The Bhu Bhandel or Dhansar of Kathmandu. RAS 22.030.

PLATE 7.4  The Gniato Polo temple of Devi at Bhatgaon. RAS 22.048.

PLATE 8.1  Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian, mural, convent of San Gabriel, San Pedro Cholula, sixteenth century. Photograph by the author.

PLATE 8.2  Ritual execution, Codex Zouche-Nuttall, British Museum. © The Trustees of The British Museum.

PLATE 8.3  Anonymous, Flagellation, oil on canvas. Museo de Arte Religioso de la Concepción, Riobamba, Ecuador, seventeenth century. Photograph by the author.

PLATE 8.4  Fray Enrique Mideros, Jesus victim of human cruelty and of ingratitude for the Eucharist, oil on canvas, 2.3 × 3.8 metres. Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Agua Santa, Baños, Ecuador, 1941. Photograph by the author.

PLATE 8.5  Crucified Christ, polychrome wooden sculpture, Quito, eighteenth century. Museo Histórico Dominico, Santiago de Chile. Photograph by the author.

PLATE 9.1  Charles Balthazar Julien Févret de Saint-Mémin, Osage Warrior, 1806– 1807, watercolor and graphite on woven paper, 1954.0019.003, Museum purchase, 1954.0025, Gift of Charles F. Montgomery. Courtesy of Winterthur Museum.

PLATE 9.2  Samuel Seymour, Pawnee Council, 1819–1820, watercolour, approx. 22 × 28 centimetres. WA MSS 419. Yale Collection of Western Americana, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

PLATE 9.3  Charles Bird King, Young Omahaw, War Eagle, Little Missouri, and Pawnees, 1821, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Miss Helen Barlow, 1985.66.384,222.

PLATE 9.4  George Catlin, ‘The Author painting a Chief at the base of the Rocky Mountains’ from Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs and Conditions of the North American Indians (London: by the author, 1841), frontispiece. Courtesy of the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives, Washington, DC.

PLATE 9.5 Attributed to Mató-Tópe (c. 1775–1837), Self-portrait; holding feather-covered shield, with a pair of ceremonial lances thrust into the ground, n.d., watercolour on paper, Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, Nebraska, Gift of the Enron Art Foundation, 1986.49.318.