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Department of Anthropology

Red Cloud's manikin

The term manikin or mannequin refers to four types of human imagery:

  1. An early dress form or tailor's dummy, which dates back to Ancient Egyptian's times; such forms were found in King Tutankhamen's tomb
  2. The fashion doll
  3. A lay figure or artist's model
  4. A wax portraiture, sculpture, or effigy (the Plains Indian Chief manikin under discussion falls into this category)
Red Cloud manikin
Red Cloud's manikin.
See larger image of Red Cloud's manikin.

Manikins viewed individually provide specific information about the ideal racial type of a period and, in this case, insight into how Plains Indians, in particular Sioux men, were perceived during this time. It is questionable whether, by using a face mask for a manikin or sculpting it from a photo of a real individual, museum exhibitors intended to represent an individual or simply a racial type. The fact that the clothing, ornaments, and handicrafts used on the manikin were never owned by the named individual or were even of the same tribal group leads one to believe that no real personal association was attempted.While accuracy in depicting a cultural type was no doubt desired, it would appear that popular appeal was more important than representing a particular individual.

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