Ledger Art of Plains Indians
June 13, 2008 12:10 PM   Subscribe

Plains Indian Ledger Art is a website devoted to the art that Plains Indians developed in the latter half of the 19th Century when they got access to paper and modern painting tools. The gallery has 14 different ledgers, including the famous ledger by Black Hawk. The ledgers depict all kinds of scenes, amusing, violent, mythical, mundane and lots of other facets of life for the Plains Indians. There is also a short history of ledger art but for a bit more information read Drawing on Tribal History by Inga Kiderra.
posted by Kattullus (12 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Possibly a double.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:19 PM on June 13, 2008

The only problem is that they keep asking for their ledgers back...

posted by tadellin at 12:43 PM on June 13, 2008

We have a pretty neat ledger here at University of Montana by Walter Bone Shirt, a Lakota artist. Apparently, it was found hiding in the collections during our last archives move. We're doing another one now...I wonder if we'll find anything as groovy.
posted by ikahime at 12:46 PM on June 13, 2008

Double or no, great post. I'm sorry to have missed your, Brandon (and will go back to poke around there, too).

Thanks for this (both of you!). Fascinating.
posted by rtha at 12:47 PM on June 13, 2008

Your post, that is. Obviously.
posted by rtha at 12:50 PM on June 13, 2008

I love the facial expressions in this one. They look so pissed and resentful, except for the guy on the end, who is all "YEAH I have a backwards hand, so what, it makes me laugh just thinking about it."
posted by Powerful Religious Baby at 1:53 PM on June 13, 2008

Neat post! I collected a bunch of this stuff for my blog last year.
posted by LarryC at 4:22 PM on June 13, 2008

Well, I hadn't seen it before

And I'm really grateful that you posted this Katullus, so I could

Beautiful stuff
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:05 PM on June 13, 2008

posted by StickyCarpet at 8:16 AM on June 14, 2008

It's interesting that, even with such rudimentary drawing skills, there's such an astounding level of detail, particularly in the clothing.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:10 AM on June 14, 2008

Sorry about that Brandon Blatcher. I googled "plains indian ledger art" site:metafilter.com which didn't turn up your fine post. I'm glad that everyone's enjoyed this post though. I don't know what alchemical calculations of the mods kept this post alive...
posted by Kattullus at 9:27 AM on June 14, 2008

At first glance, the drawings have a sort of childish quality - but as I went through them, there is a remarkable consistency and attention to detail that I attribute to their authenticity. This is how the artist saw the images, and he drew them like that, and very consistently. It's masterful work, betrayed by the materials, but no less than something like Lasceaux.

What strikes me is the attention to detail on the legs of the horses, and the proportion of the undersides of the horses appears to be very realistic. I am left wondering if the small heads of the horses have to do with the artists perception or a cultural perception. The health of a horses legs and hooves are it's life and livelihood - very important. The head, not so much, perhaps.

I had read in history books that the plains Indians were the greatest light cavalry that ever existed. I can believe that. The thought struck me that if aliens were to come to Earth and demand examples of our best, we would have to reach into history and give them the plains Indians and their horses. Then I began to wonder if this was the zenith for the Indians, for centuries they awaited their equine messiahs, to be united in spirit and purpose, who arrived with the peoples that would destroy them.

Of course that may all be noble savage BS, fueled by Tequila Sunrises on Saturday morning. No less valid, no more.

I guess I could have said all that in a three word post: pretty damn cool.
posted by Xoebe at 10:14 AM on June 14, 2008

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