I've come across a few examples of these in museum collections continuing the tradition of painting exploits on hide - like this dress owned by the Sicangu Pretty Woman and passed down through her family for several generations:
Presumably these were meant to be worn by the wives or other female family members of the man whose exploits are delineated.
This is a dress with the drawings credited to Running Antelope of the Hunkpapa, dated around 1880:
This includes a dress made by a Mandan, White Bear Woman and illustrated by her husband Red White Buffalo
This view shows the deeds of Red White Buffalo; the other side shows the exploits of White Bear Woman's brother, Lean Bear.
Here's Silent Woman wearing one of the dresses in the post above for a photograph in Densmore's Teton Sioux Music (part of plate 54). The implication is that dresses like these were only worn by women whose relatives had been killed in battle. Silent Woman's younger brother had been killed by the Crow many years earlier (Densmore, p 367):
Further to what Kingsley was asking, I still don't know about any Short Bull attribution for the coat, but it is illustrated and discussed in Wissler's Decorative Art of the Sioux Indians, pp. 267-9. The drawing of it is much clearer than the photograph in some areas and you can see two crossed bows on the backs (representing an event where two men struck each other with bows; there ae two wound marks on the left sleeve to show where the wearer had been wounded; there are two hand prints on the front to show that the wearer had been stuck with the bare hands of an enemy (or possibly the other way around...?); the three X designs on the back indicate the wearer had saved the life of three friends in battle; four of the Crows bear marks to indicate the wearer had wounded (or killed?) them; the horse tracks show he stole 14 horses (or perhaps had been on 14 horse raids).
While reading the Ledger Drawings I came across your report "Figure drawings on muslin / cloth coats and dresses". I have read your comments carefully and would like to give my assessment of the pictures shown here to shed some light on the darkness of these extraordinary items of clothing.
Lately one can find a lot of such clothes in the network groups and not infrequently they are called ghost dance clothes. This is not the case, however, and this type of ornament was only permitted among the Lakota to respected women who were allowed to wear such a dress if a family member or relative was killed in battle. Since with the Lakota (also with other indigenous tribes) within the Oyate or the Tyospaye there were precise rules as to which persons had what kind of rights. I come to the conclusion that these clothes can only be awarded to one society. Not only among men, with their warrior communities, there were also associations among women to which certain meanings were assigned. If we now take a closer look at all available women's societies, one comes to the decision that only the women of the Kat'ela community come into question. Here is something about this society:
The Kat'ela okȟólakičhiye
The Kat'ela okȟólakičhiye ("The Fallen" / "The Slain") or Waháčhaŋka yuhá (The Shield Owners Society) as they were called, was an association of women whose husbands, sons and closest relatives were members of one of the great mens warrior societies and were among the bravest. Another name coined by J.O. Dorsey who named the federation as Taŋiga icu, but did not closer mention the origin of the name. At the beginning of the first reservation period around 1880/90 the name Waháčhaŋka yuhá (The Shield Owners) found its way, because the large number of warrior insignia and their possible uses lost more and more importance and one now predominantly used war shields with mystical images that their owners before the Firearms should protect the Americans. When the name Kat'ela was used in society is not (me) known and so it could be the old name.
The Kat'ela women were the only women authorized to touch their husbands' insignia and use them for their own purposes. No other woman was granted this privilege, and so they were also allowed to have social insignia such as ornate feather lances and the like. According to tradition, there was a woman named Paĥi ‘wiŋ (Yellow Hair) who was allowed to own the feather banner of the Federation of the Čaŋté T´iŋza (Strong Heart) because six of her uncles were the members of the Federation and were killed. Scalp honor bars (180-200 cm long) were present at the various events attended by the members. In addition to wearing insignia, these sticks were a visible sign of the success and fame that the men had acquired. According to Black Elk’s mother's statement to her informants, the society still had a large number of members in its day, but this decreased drastically in the decades that followed.
In society, as with men, there should have been a certain hierarchy. There are no written sources about the clear definition of a leadership body within the society, but the following hierarchy would result from the usual forms of structure:
1 pipe bearer
1 food passer
X any number of members
In the traditions of the scalp / victory / wounded dance of the Lakota, the Kat'ela women are given the leadership of this celebration and so the scalp dance belongs to the cultural good of society. The scalp dance also included a specially decorated tree to which scalps or human extremities (often chopped off hands and feet) of killed enemies were attached. It is known that drummers and singers were engaged in the dances for the musical needs. Initially there were four and later ten musicians with small hand drums who belonged to the society. Amos Bad Heart Bull depicted such a scalp dance in his Ledger Book Drawings.
Picture 1: Scalp dancing painted from Amos Bad Heart Bull.
The Cheyenne warrior Little Wolfe also painted such a scalp dance in his Ledger Book drawings, which was probably held on the Little Big Horn immediately after the victory over Major Reno.
Picture 2: Drawing of Little Wolf, Cheyenne leader, for scalp dancing on the Little Big Horn.
In terms of women's clothing fashion, they are no different from the other women of the tribe. However, it always looked durning completely different the festive events. Originally the clothes were made of tanned leather that was dyed or painted entirely with earth colors. With the color design, there could be a wide variety of combinations. The informant Luther Standing Bear said the following about the colors:
“The costumes for the society were half red and half blue and were originally worn by the dancers”.
At Amos Bad Heart Bull you can also see other colors in his pictures, for example completely yellow or blue and other color combinations with yellow. In addition, the leather skin was decorated with glass beads, quillwork or figurative representations. In the early reservation period (around 1885-1900) there the leather clothes became less and linen was used in addition to red and blue commercial fabrics. Dentalium / cowrie shells or imitation elk teeth were used as decoration. The linen clothes were undyed and decorated with battle scenes. This was a short explanation on my part about this women's association and with this information the women's clothes shown above can be classified a little better.
Picture 4: Women with a relative's war regalia.
Woman dance with war insignia.
Now to the fantastic dress in picture 8 (with the inscription gettyimage) it is the same dress that was worn by Silent Woman (Ini’laoŋ ’wiŋ, Hunkpapa) in your 2nd text. The picture shows the rear view shown. The dress comes from the collection of Mrs. Louise McLaughlin, from tribe of the Mdewakanton (James McLaughlin was her husband and the Indian Agent at the Standing Rock Reservation) and was photographed by Densmore with her permission. I am of the opinion that the dress was not owned by Silent Woman, but was only used for the photo. Ini'lao'wiŋ (Silent Woman) also suffered a loss when her younger brother was killed in battle by a crow warrior. If the dress didn't belong to Silent Woman, it might have been used deliberately for this reason, as almost all fight scenes depict people from the Crow Tribe.
The stories on the garment show bold depictions of courageous deeds, the exact content of which is believed to have been lost over the centuries. The top part of the dress is interesting, where two black hands are painted on the sleeves. They are likely a symbol of the husband, son, or relative's victories in a battle. It is not clear whether the tribal warriors are one and the same person or whether they are different men. It is also unclear whether it is a combat event or whether there were different events. The two pipe symbols (čhaŋnúŋpa) can be a sign that the wearer of the dress was the pipe owner of this society and could indicate that she belongs to the association of Kat'ela women.
On the upper part of the right sleeve you can see five heads of warriors of crows lined up in a line. This could be the number of enemies killed, similar to WWI and WWII pilots who depicted their kills of enemy aircraft on the outside of the aircraft fuselage. At the bottom of the right sleeve you can also see five horseshoe symbols in different colors, which perhaps should indicate the number of stolen horses.
Another impressive representation is a Lakota warrior on horseback, who hits his enemy, the one crow warrior, with his feather stick in order to achieve a coup. The Lakota warrior is a Miwatani sash bearer or a so-called bonnet man and could have been the husband or a relative of the owner of the dress. The feather stick shown can be a stick that every on which the bonnet man can peg himself to the ground with his sash.
Behind the Miwatani you can see two other figures, one of them is a man who is walking and wearing a weasel-split-horn cap. On the basis of his leggings with the oblique line pattern, this could be a Blackfeet that the warrior standing in front of him stabs with a knife after he previously injured him with his rifle. The shape of the heads and the hair of the two subsequent warriors, which are shown below the Miwatani and look very similar to him, are also striking. There are others more warlike scenes in which you can see some details like a curved feather lance, which may indicate a blotohunka (war leader). In order to give free rein to your impressions regarding the figurative representations, I will finish my discussion of this object.
In pictures 14-16 one can also recognize Pawnee warriors who were also enemies of the Lakota.
As for the illustration with the painted hat, I could imagine that Sitting Bull from the tribe of the Oglala painted it, who also created many Ledger Drawings.
This dress beloned to Silent Woman; her brother was Bobtail Bear, who had been killled by the Crow, and the drawings depict him taking part in various raids. You can his name glyph in the pictures above.
Thanks! That's brilliant, Carlo. If this follows the pattern detailed above and in Gerhard's excellent post, these images will show (at least largely) the same warrior, a dead relative of the dress' owner - the man in what appears to be an army jacket in all the vignettes, though sometimes with a Miwatani bonnet and sash. I notice the Smithsonian has North Dakota as its place of probable origin. Not sure I still think they're by Jaw, however - the horses' necks in relation to the rider look longer than they do in most of the Jaw drawings I know.