Karl Bodmer (Swiss, 1809–1893),
Piegan Blackfeet Man
watercolor on paper, 2 3/8 x 10 in.; 31.43 x 25.4 cm
Gift of Enron Art Foundation, 1986.49.290
Plains warriors frequently painted their shirts or robes with symbols of their war exploits. The figures on the elk hide worn by this man suggest that he was very successful in battles and horse raids: blood flows freely from the wounds of many adversaries, and dozens of horseshoes represent animals stolen. These important accomplishments were a principal standard of success for Plains men, and a major prerequisite for achieving leadership in the community. Only those who earned these honors had the right to display them. Bodmer met this individual on the Missouri River frontier in 1833.