Images from Hanblecheyapi put onto a Traditional Plains Shirt

"Face of Creator Shirt"

 

The images below are of a deer skin leather shirt I have made.  After the Pipe Fast / Vision Quest / Hanblecheyapi I had  incredible images  in my head that were a response to the prayer request I made before the Fast.  I had prayed to see the face of Creator, and it is my belief that this prayer was answered in a marvellous way.  On my return I found myself wanting to express those images in some graphic form.  While the images in my mind were of a spiritual nature, I was being challenged to give it artistic expression.  I guess that  has been the challenge of the artist throughout history.  Attempting to put the images onto a canvas or board and framing it or even hanging it on a wall did not seem like the right thing to do. I came to understand that the Plains Peoples would have expressed such images on their homes, on sacred objects, and most especially, for men, on their war shirt.

[From "Animals of the Soul, Sacred Animals of the Oglala Sioux"  by Joseph Epes Brown : Men's shirts were made from deer hide, a sign of how the animal was respected.  The skin of the legs was left intact; indeed, almost none of the hide was cut.  Such garments constitute a sacred and liturgical art, and to wear such a shirt was to incorporate into oneself the qualities or powers latent to this particular animal. 

The fringes on the garments speak of the sacred powers which radiate out from a sacred source, in this case the deer and also the human being."]

  My research led me to a better understanding of the role of these war / warrior shirts and how they were constructed during different periods.  I chose to try to make a shirt using pre 1850's style.  That required me to learn some techniques.  The images below show the various stages of construction and image placement.  Each photo is a thumbnail and can be clicked to see a larger view.

Note: All images on this page are of a single shirt that show different stages of its creation.

 

Traditional shirt, Stage 1 undecorated, Front View

All seams and joints are sewn with artificial sinew. Neck piece is attached with double running stitch, the rest with cross-hatched double seam.  Front and back piece edges have not yet been fringed, nor the bottoms of the sleeves.  This will be done after the images have been added

Traditional shirt, Stage 1 undecorated, Back View

Front Yoke area detail

 

Back Yoke area detail

 

Traditional Shirt, arms lowered, Stage 1 undecorated, Back view

 

Traditional shirt, arms lowered, Stage 1 undecorated, Front view

Shirt with green yoke and shoulder stain Front of shirt

Shirt with green yoke and shoulder stain Back of shirt

Shirt with green yoke and shoulder stain Left Back & Sleeve of shirt

To the right, the completed shirt showing the two front and two arm beaded bands.  The arm bands have been pulled forward to be seen.  When the shirt is worn they hang down the arm.  Along with the two that hang over the back, these 6 bands took me  a full month of beading and accounted for approximately 94,000 seed beads.

 

These two images show the finished shirt front and back.  The left image (front of shirt) shows the "night visions" and the shirt to the right shows the "day visions".

 

These two photos show the front and back of the shirt with the beaded bands tossed over the shoulder to fully show the images on the shirt face.

Left image: although in need of some repair work, this detail from the shirt front shows one of the "night visions" and the right image shows the root connections between the trees at the Pipe Fast site.  Mitakuye Oyasin.
The left image shows the shirt back detail.  The "waluta" was positioned directly in front of the enclosed sacred space in which I remained for the fast time.  The  detail of the right image represents another of the "night visions".

 

The bison skull detail is of the skull that was with me on the Pipe Fast and is a central part of my prayer environment.  The right image  is part of the first  "vision"  that I had during the Inipi at the beginning of the hanblecheyapi experience.

If the viewer wishes to inquire about the significance of the shirt or its images beyond what has been illustrated here, please make a direct inquiry to  the shirt maker, Gerald by sending an email to this address:  .  I have not provided a clickable link to thwart the spam industry that harvests such addresses from web sites.  Thank you for taking the time to  do it this way.

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