- Indians found many things in nature from which they could make paint.
They used fine clays containing different oxides of iron. These they
mixed with bear grease or buffalo tallow. The hard, yellow substance
in the gall bladder of the buffalo was prized as a medicine paint.
The Sioux used bullberries, a plant like sumac. Flowers, barks, and
other vegetable matter also provided paints and colorings.
Usually the Indian applied the paint with
his fingers. But sometimes he made brushes from sticks which were
chewed or beaten on the ends. Plains Indians employed a spongy bone
from the knee joint of the buffalo which held paint as the modern fountain
pen does ink.
the Indian painted himself to be admired
or to strike fear in his enemy. Sometimes he painted as a disguise
and other times merely to protect his skin from insects and the wind and
the sun. he also painted for dances and other ceremonies.
Without a doubt Indians were first called
Red men because of their use of red paints in decorating their faces and
bodies. Red was a sacred color with all Indians and usually stood
for strength and success. For this reason red was the favorite color
for painting the face and body for dance and warpath, and for painting
the war pony, lance, and other articles of war and ceremony.
While it might appear that the Indian's
colors and designs were often put on merely to satisfy his own whims, the
fact was he commonly followed a definite pattern and each design and color
had a meaning. however, when an Indian found a certain color had
proved lucky, or had been "good medicine," he might continue its use regardless
of any meaning that others might give it.
The meaning of certain colors varied among
tribes. War paint among the Plains Indians, for instance, might be
an excessive use of any color. White stood for mourning, black for
joy, and red for happiness and beauty. The Cheyenne used rings, strips
of different colors when going to war, and on returning they used only
black to indicate their joy at arriving back safely. The Cherokee,
on the other hand, used red for success, blue for defeat or trouble; black
meant death, and white, peace and happiness.
Women beautified themselves with paint.
it was used to decorate lodges, totem poles, parfleche bags, robes, and
for ceremonial pictures. Red paint might be daubed on stones, trees,
or other objects to which the Indian wanted to show respect. Ponies
were painted for war, and in historical paintings men were shown with blood
within this Site
][ Blanket ][ Buffalo
][ Costume ][ Hair
][ Horse ]
][ Picture Writing ][ Red
Man ][ Red Sticks ]
Painting ][ Tattooing ][ Tepee
][ Totem Poles ][ Women