Ledger Art Talking Points
Teacher Workshop, 11.12.11
Teacher WorkshopLedger Art Talking PointsDraft-Mandy Foster 1 11/11/2011
Plains Pictorial Drawings
In Native languages there is usually no word for “art” although designs and decorationson clothing, utilitarian,,and personal objects may be classified as such today.Beautification of objects served many purposes, one being a form of personalexpression; Plains pictorial drawings are an example of this.
Pictorial drawings done by various cultures of the Great Plains date back centuries andcan be found painted on stone, bone, and hides. They can be categorized in three ways:
Drawings which tell stories of personal experiences such as huntingand military exploits, courtships, ceremonial, and social events
Drawings which specifically recount events of historicalimportance, often these are used as mnemonic devices or calendar systems
Drawings of personal spiritual experiences such as those encounteredduring vision quests or in dreams
Typically, in Plains societies, pictorial drawings were done only by men
Natural earth pigments such as iron ore, red and yellow ochre, and zinc wereused to paint with among other minerals and plants
The colors red, yellow, black and white are commonly used among Plainspeople and many consider these colors sacred and have spiritual meaning
Bone, stone, and wood implements were used to apply the paints to the surfaceof the hide, stone or bone. The vertebrae bones near the hump of the bisonmake a good paint brush because they are porous and soak up paint.
Pictorial drawings are not a uniform system of writing; each person recorded eventsdifferently and symbols could have different meanings among culture groups
Figures are drawn abstractly, not to scale, and are two-dimensional
Human figures are often drawn in a frontal or side view with little detail to theform
Greater detail on personal regalia and weaponry often identify theperson or tribe they are from; for example, the way a person’s hair isdrawn may signify tribal identify.
Feet turned to one side indicate movement in that direction
Action elements include animal footprints, bullet lines, etc.
In some cases, there is little concern for spatial elements and events may be scatteredacross a hide
In others, such as calendar syst
ms, pictures are placed in specificarrangements to convey relationships of time