Native American, southwestern United States, Pueblo Indians, ca. 19th century CE. A gorgeous and extremely rare war shield made from a circular section of thick buffalo hide. The slightly convex shield features a polychrome decorative program that is split into two halves. On the top is a blue sun with a yellow border set between two curved horns atop a red ground, and the bottom displays a pair of white stars flanking a crescent moon; both halves are separated with a thin white stripe. Several leather straps are strung through the peripheral perforations, and a lengthy red-and-pink textile handle strap is present on the verso. A fantastic example of fine Pueblo armor! Size: 19.125" Diameter (48.6 cm).
Shields like this example were typically used in combat or wartime situations because of the thickness the buffalo hide provided in protecting the wielder. Dancing shields were of a smaller form and made from thinner material so the performer could easily maneuver the shield, and buffalo hide enabled the warrior to protect themselves from incoming projectiles as well as clubs swung by an opponent.
Provenance: private Glorieta, New Mexico, USA collection; ex-private Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA collection
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Chipping and fading to original pigmentation, with small losses to tips of some leather straps, light water damage on base, age-commensurate desiccation and cracking on verso, and one lengthy fissure in center, otherwise intact and excellent. Light earthen deposits and great traces of original pigment throughout.