Thursday, July 21, 2016

Fighting Cheyennes - libre

Salvete omnes,
today we will ride to the country of the Great Plains horse people, where winds will never stop blowing.
   in the past I pointed to the so called ledger drawings as the best source for the Plains Indians history, imagery and fine example of graphic storytelling done by the horse warriors themselves. My favorite Great Plains tribe, the Cheyennes,  had some very fine artists skilled in telling the stories of their exploits.

The Plains Indian Ledger Art website has digitalized 15 Cheyenne ledgers (11 Northern Cheyenne and 4 Southern Cheyenne) and one ledger of the Southern Cheyenne/Arapaho origin.

I would like to point your horse - :) - towards this still great book - ''The Fighting Cheyennes'' by George Bird Grinnell.
First published in 1915, after many years of work with the Cheyenne through George Bent (I would like to point you to his fine biography by his contemporary and fine Plains people historian George E. Hyde,  titled  'Life of George Bent: Written from his Letters' (1967)  or this one, that is not very trustworthy - David Fridtjof Halaas, and Andrew E. Masich,  'Halfbreed: The Remarkable True Story Of George Bent.')
Bellow find  three  reviews written and published in respectable research journals already in 1915-16,
this one by Ralph Linton: (The Mississippi Valley Historical Review, Vol. 3, No. 3 (Dec., 1916) ).  
No student of American history can fail to have been struck with the partisanship of the sources available for the study of the Indian wars of the United States. The Indian histories of the past century were usually written with feeling, and therefore interest, ran high ; while their authors, if they had not been actively engaged in fighting the subjects of their books, were usually densely ignorant of Indian life and psychology. In all cases they looked upon the Indians as enemies whose victories had to be accounted for in some way which would save the reputation of the whites, while their defeats must be correspondingly magnified. It is refreshing therefore, to encounter such a work as The fighting Cheyennes which, in setting forth the wars of that tribe, draws its material from both white and Indian sources, and which, while scarcely impartial, does not attempt to suppress any of the facts. The author numbers among his friends many army officers who took part in the later Cheyenne wars, while his long association with that tribe has enabled him to gather information at first hand from old men who participated in their stubborn resistance. The book is thus in large part compiled from the narratives of eye witnesses; while in the frequent cases where the white and Indian accounts disagree, or where the partisans of either side disagree among themselves, the conflicting narratives are given and
the reader is allowed to make his own choice. In conflicts of the former sort, the author 's decision is uniformly in favor of the Indians, for whom his book is avowedly a plea; but his partisanship does not detract from the value of the work, and is perhaps needed to counterbalance that of the earlier white authors. Indeed, it would be hard to read the details of the various massacres and outrages perpetrated by the white troops, as gleaned from their own official reports, without becoming a partisan and acquiescing to the decision of the committee of 1865 that, "In a large majority of cases, Indian wars are to be traced to the aggression of lawless white men." (Committee appointed by resolution of Congress, March 3, 1865. Report, of 1867.)

In the various Indian accounts of raids and battles, the book offers the specialist in the history of the Indians of the plains a wealth of material not hitherto available, while its correlation of the white accounts now extant would also prove useful ; but from an ethnological point of view it leaves much to be desired. There is no attempt to describe concretely the culture of the tribe, nor to explain its organization and religious concepts, factors which played a very important part in determining the actions of the group, as well as those of the individual. At the same time there are many references, to the various soldier societies for in- stance, which would be unintelligible to any one who had not some slight knowledge of the social organization of tribes of the plains. The book contains many concrete instances of the working of various beliefs and institutions, but these are unintelligible to the historian or layman, to whom they appear as strange customs without context or background ; at
the same time these accounts lack the accuracy and detail necessary to make them of value in comparitive* ethnological study. Viewed from this direction, the book appears as another of those hybrids, neither scientific or truly popular, upon which so much time and energy have been wasted. To the person whose interests are neither ethnological or historical, the book should appeal as an excellent account of frontier adventure, seen from a new angle. It contains plenty of brave deeds and hair-breadth escapes, the actuality of which makes them doubly interesting.''

James Mooney - The American Historical Review, Vol XXI, Oct 1915-July 1916
Of some twenty wild tribes formerly ranging the great Plains from Canada to the Mexican border, one of the most important, owing chiefly to their central position adjoining the overland trails, was that of the Cheyenne, or as they call themselves Dzitsistas, nearly equivalent to "kinsmen". Formerly of eastern Minnesota, they drifted across the Missouri; and for eighty years past have lived in two divisions, widely separated but keeping up a friendly intercourse, viz., the northern, ranging chiefly along the North Platte in company with the Sioux and Northern Arapaho, and now gathered upon a reservation in Montana, and the southern, much the larger division, ranging south from the Arkansas, in company with the Kiowa, Comanche, and Southern Arapaho, and now residing with them in western Oklahoma. The whole tribe at its best may have numbered 3500 souls or perhaps 800 warriors. The latest census gives 1420 for the northern and i860 for the southern division.

The author of this latest contribution to tribal history has a long and intimate acquaintance with the Northern Cheyenne, but his knowledge of the Southern and more important' division is comparatively limited, and the difference is at once apparent as soon as he leads his readers south of the Arkansas. The bias of the work is indicated in its title. From frequent listening to their own narratives of old-time warlike deeds the visitor may unconsciously imbibe their own idea of
their superior valor, but while the Cheyenne are truculent and hot-headed, and correspondingly hard to deal with, there is nothing in their history to show that they were better fighters than their neighbors. In 1837, matched against Indians, they were completely routed by the Kiowa, a smaller tribe, with the loss of every man of their best warrior company, 48 in all. In 1868, on Arikaree Fork in Colorado, Colonel Forsyth with 53 plainsmen, fighting on foot in the open, successfully held off some 500 picked and mounted warriors for eight days, inflicting considerable loss, until relieved. The Cheyenne speak of this engagement as a fairly even encounter. In the outbreak of 1874-1875 the Comanche took the initiative and were the last to surrender. In the Fort Kearney and Custer massacres the Sioux were the principals and the Indians outnumbered the soldiers fifteen to one.

The principal events in Cheyenne history for the last hundred years are sketched in interesting fashion, chiefly from Indian reminiscence, with occasional reference to other sources of information. All of these events are a part of the general history of the plains and have been repeatedly written up by Bourke, Mooney, Robinson, and others, as well as in published official reports. We get few new facts, but we get the Indian viewpoint and incidentally much valuable light upon Indian belief and custom. The story is simply told, with none of the exaggerated statement and impossible happenings common to Indian " bestsellers". Of all these, probably the Forsyth fight has been most sensationalized, although the plain fact of 50 men against 500 would seem to be sufficiently heroic. The Chivington massacre byColorado volunteers comes in again for deserved condemnation, and the Fort Robinson
tragedy closes the story of resistance to inevitable fate.

In many places, particularly in the chapters dealing with events in the south, there is a looseness and vagueness of statement inseparable from a work based largely on the recollections of illiterate informants, but which could easily have been corrected from official and other published sources. Thus the Lone Wolf of 1837 is confused with his grandson of the outbreak of 1874, and it is stated that he died "not long ago ", the actual date being 1879. It is stated that " a Comanche " brought the pipe, i. e., the invitation for a general rising, to the Cheyenne, the author being apparently not aware that this was Quana* Parker, half-breed chief of the Comanche, and the ablest and most famous character in the history of the confederated tribes. He commanded in person at Adobe Walls, where, as he stated to the reviewer, he led 700 warriors, but — with a smile — " no use Indians fight adobe ".
In his account of the disposition of the Cheyenne prisoners after the surrender the author says that " about 25 " were selected and sent to Florida, " where they were held five years ". The official statement is 33, and they were held exactly three years. Of the DullKnife flight from Fort Reno he says, " of the 300 Indians 60 or 70 were fighting men ". The official Record of Engagements says 335 Indians, including 89 men.

The most notable instance of this defect is in the account of the great Medicine Lodgetreaty of 1867, by which the southern tribes were assigned their final reservations. Speaking of the slowness of the Cheyenne, he adds, " apparently the Cheyennes did come in and sign, though definite information as to this is lacking ". The Cheyenne, as one of the principal tribes concerned, certainly did come in and affix their signatures, and their coming, as described to the present reviewer by Senator Henderson, one of the commission, and Major Stouch, in charge of the escort of Seventh Infantry (not Seventh Cavalry) troops, was the dramatic event of the gathering. They came on full charge, several hundred naked painted warriors, yelling and firing their guns as they rode, every man with a belt of cartridges around his waist and a smaller bunch fastened at his wrist. " I confess ", said the senator, " I thought we were in peril ".
As a compendium of Indian reminiscence from the Indian stand-point, obtained directly from the actors concerned, the work has a peculiar interest, and it is of value for the sidelight it throws upon tribal belief and custom. As history it is lacking in exactness.'

Clark Wissler -  available in pdf format at American Anthropologist 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Inspiration from Delacroix

Salvete omnes,
 just an inspiration for today -

two XIX century painting by Eugene Delacroix .
Both show the North African Moors saddling their spirited Barb (?) horses.
So I am and looking at some of his equine paintings and  I wonder about his Moorish horsemen and their tack.
Nota bene a beautiful Moorish saddle from Ottoman Turkey at the Livrustkammern. An example of XIX century saddle. Modern but traditional saddles from Maghreb.


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Saddle from Livrustkammaren

some time ago one of my Facebook  friends from Ukraine posted an image of a saddle that is in fact in possession of the Swedish museum of Livrustkammeren.
This saddle is quite unusual in many aspects.

It is described as dating back to the beginnings of 1600s, but it was owned by Swedish king Karl X Gustav, who lived between 1622 to 1660 AD. Perhaps it was one of the captured saddles, the war booty, in Poland during the infamous pillage of the Respublica during the war called aptly the Deluge.

It is a bit unusual in the sense of its appearance (perhaps doing an x-ray would solve most of the construction question) -
that is the saddle's general outlook, embroidery, and saddle horn seem indicate the Polish winged hussar saddle type, but then there  are the long rolls ( thighs support ) & the seat itself seems rather highly stuffed when compared with the some of Polish saddles in the collection.

The saddle below, however, is the most unusual (almost looks like a late XV- early XVI century converted to a more fashionable XVII century use) and also is thought to have come from Poland, but is dated to AD 1605.

So perhaps the Karl X Gustav saddle represents a hybrid saddle, a fusion of Western, Polish and Turkish & Tatar influences? 

There is another curious saddle and this later one, also interesting saddle from the times of Karl XI.
Some XVII century cinches from the museum's collection


Monday, July 18, 2016

Millennium Polish Cavalry Monument

the Polish military celebration of the 1050 anniversary of the Polish state is fast approaching - August 15, 2016. There will be marches and parades, including a mounted parade in front of the Poland's President in Warsaw.

In the capital of Polish Republic there is this busy intersection called the Rondo Jazdy Polskiej ('Polish Cavalry Roundabout'), and to the side of this roundabout just where Mokotów Field park beings there stands the 'Pomnik Tysiąclecia Jazdy Polskiej' ( 'Millennium Polish Cavalry Monument' ).
The monument arose due to the popular demand, it was founded by the money collected from the donations, and it was designed by Mieczysław Naruszewicz, sculptor and industrial designer, and so it stnad today in its unfortunately it is not the best example of how to display a monumental sculpture of this caliber - basically the monument is facing the park and not the traffic (viewers) at this quite busy Warsaw intersection. Some say the cavalry is charging south, towards our Czech brothers.

For the ideological reasons, built during the Communist Jaruzelski Junta reign,  the monument does not include any figure of the winged hussar, or a knight or any reference to the noble traditions of the Polish cavalry. Instead it consist of two figures - a mythical mounted druzhina warrior and a Communist cavalry horseman.

The plates on the column list some of the battles Polish cavalry participated in, from Ad972 to AD1945, but the list does not linclude the last charge by the Polish cavalrymen, this one being an action in 1947, when the 'WOP Konna Grupa Manewrowa' (Mounted Maneuver Group') charged the UPA sotnia at the foot of the Chryszczata Mountain in the Bieszczady Mountains.

The Wołyń (Volhynia ) Genocide - traditionally commemorated by the Poles around the world on July 11 or the Bloody Sunday - was remembered last week, I am eagerly expecting the very first feature film, Wołyń,  by Wojtek Smarzowski hopefully coming out this Fall to the theater near you.
Perhaps should tell you a story - when I lived in Brooklyn, my landlady, then an elderly woman but full of life and 'joke,' was a Pole from Volhynia who luckily survived the genocide, but losing her parents and a sibling and many other relatives during these horror times. First, her father had been killed by the Germans and their Ukrainian helpers (she was not sure who did it, he had been first interrogated and tortured by the German police but was allegedly released to go home to have been found murdered when his way),  then a year later in 1943 being a little girl she saw her very mother and her little brother murdered by the Ukrainian neighbors. Her brother and she hid in the attic of their home, where another Ukrainian neighbor found them there but mercifully allowed them to run away to their family (auntie) in the distant village (she was 8 and her brother  was not yet 10 years old).
Their home and the farm buildings and their lands were taken by the Ukrainian state and neighbors, so they, being refugees from their village and Poland being occupied by the Soviet Army and Volhynia lost to the Soviets, were never compensated for their property (eventually the brother and she  found home and started their own new families in the US).
[all photos are from Wikimedia Commons)

Friday, July 15, 2016

Titian's Ecce Homo and 2 horses & bridles

let us move deeper into the European history today, and thus I would like to invite you for a little excursion into the world of the Italian master Titian or Tiziano Vecellio...
Should I add that I absolutely admire and enjoy Titian's works (eg 1, 2,3, 4, 5... ), especially his religious and mythological works, his nudes and portraits. Perhaps I should - :)
I own one large album of his works by Sir Claude Philips, but then Wikimedia Commons users and Google Art project allow us, by providing high resolution photos, to get so close to many of the paintings that we can almost touch the brushwork , or so it seems.

So, while looking a this large painting by Titian - Ecce Homo - (the painting is quite dark in the area of horses, perhaps due to the aging process and various restoration/protection efforts) I noticed several interesting aspects of the contemporary riding equipment, costumes and finally quite naturalistic horse portraits.

First horse and rider - going left to right - is a Saracen (Ottoman Turk in costume and appearance) thus his horse also might be Turkish - nota bene it is a palomino. The bridle appears to be influenced by the Turkish design, but the curb-bit has some long 'S' shaped shanks.

a closeup on the bridle - the low noseband is very interesting.

but then this net-like covering with tassels is similar to the French XVI century equestrian tack, often designed by the Italian artists. Perhaps it was copied from the Ottomans?

German/Italian/Spanish? - note the long, narrow head, small ears, and a bold face

a closeup - large, expressive eyes and neighing mouth (another very animated horse in this Titian's painting)

 actually the horse is not dissimilar to the horse face in the famous Breda painting by Diego Velazquez - perhaps an Iberian horse then?

this horse and the Velazquez horse have stockings - coincidence, or preference for colorful horse markings...

a breastplate and short-shanked curb-bit

Riders appear in contemporary outfits - one a Saracen (Ottoman Turk) and the other a 'Roman' (Italian or German nobleman)

the soldier in a foreground wears an interesting short crimson velvet? coat with long kontusz-like sleeves (going back to the Median/Persian riding coat kantuš), while the figure behind him has a long expensive chain-of-mail coat on the second figure. Both are wearing swords, with two different kinds of suspension.

 Nota bene in this painting this costume was used as well, except over the armor

staff weapons - a halberd and a partisan, also a flag
Finally, I could not tell if these two horses are shod..

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Zhao Mengfu's horses


again thanks to the users of the Wikimedia Commons, we are given  a rare glimpse into the world of Chinese painting some 700 years ago.

First, I am going to add that I do have a favorite dynasty of the Chinese awfully long imperial history - that would be Tang China and her multiethnic empire (at least until the An Lushan rebellion).
Yuan Dynasty is a Chingizid Borjigin Mongol dynasty that had conquered then much partitioned China, unified the country into one imperial state but eventually, after about a 100 years, was forced out of the 'Han' China by the nationalistic Han revolt which in turn  gave raise to the Ming Dynasty etc (I am sure you can read all about this on the Web).
Chinese arts did not stop flowing under the Borjigin Celestial Emperors - eg article on the subject here.  A sample of figurative art under the Mongol rule.
Yuan Dynasty, Yang Guifei Mounting a Horse, by Qian Xuan (1235-1307).

So, this artist Zhao Mengfu came from the highest circles of the Mandarin clans, from the imperial (Song Dynasty) clan of Zhao. He was a prolific artist and awfully skillful calligrapher.

for now we will just enjoy the paintings themselves, but in the fure I may exlpore some interesting info appearing in these works of art.


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Some horses from Charles V de Lorraine Buda triumph

several days ago while showing the painting by maestro Gyula I wrote a little bit about the battle of Buda AD 1686 and its victorious general prince Charles V of Lorraine. I attached a photo of a painting, now at the Nancy Museum in France, showing prince Charles' Buda triumph.
Prince Charles on spirited Turkish? pinto
Well, I looked closer at the painting and there are some interesting horse-related matters that I would like to share with you.
First, let me share with you a painting showing the Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I, the sovereign of prince Charles, armored, Roman Caesar-like on a fine dappled horse with some rather fine horsetack.

secondly, it is said that Charles was a disciple of Raimondo Montecuccoli, Hapsburg field marshal (victor at Saint Gotthard of 1664) and writer (here his quotes including the famous È la lancia la regina dell’ armi a cavallo ) - hence I found this very fine portrait of this man of arms and letters.

Finally, the horses from the Charles' triumphal procession
the center is occupied by a chariot with a team of four horses - all buckskin in color, in a typical fashion used throughout the Polish Kingdom, perhaps also in the Hapsburg and Turkish Hungary, and Danubian Ottoman principalities, where pairs or larger teams as shown here were used, typically carriage horses of  this color. The driver is shown in a Hungarian or generally speaking East-Central European hat, but his coat has unusually large cuffs, typical of the Western European dress.

this group shows cavalrymen carrying captured Turkish standards and war paraphernalia and other insignia like the turban on a lance and horse tails standard. The rider in from rides a gray horse, perhaps a sign of high rank and is wearing a typical 'uniform-like' attire of the period. Note his large long boots, long coat, breastplate,  and tricorne  hat -
Here, in spite of low quality of this photo, we perhaps can decipher some detail - so I think we have the prince's own horse, held in the most ancient manner by a retainer also on horseback. Noble steed's tail is tied, denoting a warhorse of some standing? Horse appears to be of unusual color, perhaps an appaloosa?

More military commanders, some in cuirasses (eventually the heavy line cavalry using breastplates would be called cuirassiers during the next century and later). The mounted horse in the front is in full collection, well rounded, with a splendid hindquarters and untied tail.
The infantrymen next to the prince's chariot are dressed in a typical fashion of the Hungarian Kingdom hajduks, perhaps they formed a bodyguard to the prince? Behind the chariot we can see some bound Ottoman prisoners...