Hunkpapa Lakota artist
Man’s Shirt, about 1870
Leather, pigments, glass beads, wool
42 × 53 × 1 in. (106.7 × 134.6 × 2.5 cm.)
Museum purchase 1937.68.136
A Garment of Honor
Horizontal stripes and handprints decorate this man’s shirt, symbolizing heroic deeds performed by the owner. The handprints may signify that the wearer had slain his enemy or had been injured himself. Stripes sometimes recorded the number of battles in which a warrior fought. They may also count coups, or instances when a man struck or touched an enemy in battle, a courageous feat that brought honor to the warrior and humiliation to his foe. This shirt is part of an elaborate ensemble that also includes the leggings, moccasins, pipe bag, and quirt displayed nearby.