Cowan’s to present Native American Art sale this April

Art Daily
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Tsimshian Carved Soul Catcher carved of bone; open-mouthed wolves are separated by a central human figure; remnants of red pigment; pierced through for attachment. Overall length 8.25 in. x diameter 2 in. Early 19th century. Estimate: $40,000 - $60,000.
Tsimshian Carved Soul Catcher carved of bone; open-mouthed wolves are separated by a central human figure; remnants of red pigment; pierced through for attachment. Overall length 8.25 in. x diameter 2 in. Early 19th century. Estimate: $40,000 – $60,000.

CINCINNATI, OH.- On April 16, Cowan’s, a Hindman company, will present its Native American Art auction. The sale will offer a wide selection of Native art and artifacts spanning prehistory through the 19th century. Selected highlights include a porphyry popeye birdstone, an extraordinary Cheyenne River tobacco bag, an early Sioux buffalo hide blanket strip, a Blackfeet dress, a classic Zuni manta from an estate in Sinking Spring, Ohio, and a Tsimshian carved soul catcher. Collections in the auction include the final installment of Dick Jemison’s Colorful Collection of Pueblo Rattles, the U.S. Children’s Center of Historical Education and Advocacy, and selections from Steven Curtis’ private collection.

Standout works in the sale include a Cheyenne River tobacco bag attributed to Edith Claymore (lot 109; estimate: $40,000-60,000) made of sinew-sewn, softly tanned deer hide and decorated with fine beadwork in colors of red white-heart, light and dark blue, pea green, greasy yellow, and white. The bag features imagery of a buck on one side and a grazing doe on the opposite, and the main beaded panel depicts warriors on horseback. This bag is very likely by the same artist as one held in the collections of the State Historical Society of North Dakota (SHSND 11727). A Tsimshian carved soul catcher (lot 268; estimate: $40,000-60,000) is another excellent work that is carved of bone and features open-mouthed wolves separated by a central human figure. Soul catchers were worn by Shamans, who used them to recover souls that had left a patient’s body and were thus causing illness.

An early Sioux beaded buffalo hide blanket strip made of sinew-sewn softly-tanned buffalo hide is expected to highlight the beadwork category. It features a range of colorful beads and is designed with four medallions with twisted hide thongs in the centers, and further decorated with rows of crosses (lot 71; estimate: $30,000-40,000). Another standout in the category is a Blackfeet beaded hide dress (lot 72; estimate: $25,000-35,000), collected by U.S. Special Agent Johnson N. High, which features yoke beaded using colors of white, black, and pony trade blue. After serving in the Civil War, High was appointed as a U.S. Special Agent for the Bannock and Shoshone Indians on the Fort Hall Reservation in Idaho Territory in 1870. Around the same time, he adopted a Paiute child named Lena Rivers High. Lena died of pneumonia at Blackfoot, Idaho in 1885. Eventually High retired from service and moved back east.

Other highlights include an Eastern Woodlands pipe tomahawk with a decorated blade (lot 19; estimate: $25,000-35,000) and an Otoe ball club carved of ash or chestnut (lot 21; estimate: $25,000-35,000). A classic Zuni period embroidered manta, from an Estate in Sinking Spring, Ohio, is another noteworthy lot (lot 179; estimate: $20,000-30,000). Other notable objects include a Tlingit carved effigy rattle (lot 270; estimate: $25,000-35,000); a Cheyenne child’s beaded buffalo hide cradle (lot 75; estimate: $15,000-25,000); and a Zuni polychrome pottery frog jar (lot 162; estimate: $10,000-15,000).

Bidding for April 16 auction will begin at 10:00 am ET. Bidders will be able to participate via absentee bid, by phone, or live online on Cowan’s website.

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James Ardis
James Ardis
Senior Writer and Editor

James Ardis is a writer, editor, and content strategist focused on the auction industry. His company, James Ardis Writing, has partnered with auction houses, galleries, and many clients outside the art world.

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