Content Analysis of the Photograph: Plains Indian Manikins--History
After identifying the artifact--the stereograph taken in 1873 in the
Smithsonian Castle by C. Seaver--we began our content analysis of the
image. The manikin itself headed our first queries. Manikins
used at the Smithsonian Institution at that time have been described
as made of wax and "so poorly modeled that they were soon discarded."
Although the Indian Chief appears to be the first manikin at the Smithsonian
representing Plains Indians, it should be noted that this was not the
first American Indian manikin produced. Charles W. Peale, a well
known portrait painter, had a collection of Indian materials that he
exhibited in Philadelphia in 1797 that included lay figures or "mammoth
Indian figures" in appropriate dress.
The Manikin's Identification on the Print
The C. Seaver stereograph of the manikin was identified only as "Indian
Chief" while the Jarvis stereograph of the manikin was identified as
"115. Red Cloud." That this
manikin can be positively identified as Red Cloud, or Mahpíya Lúta,
the famous Oglala Teton Sioux warrior-statesman, is demonstrated here
through ethnohistorical research. The identification was then
verified through comparisons of the photographs using computer analysis
of the images.
||Figure 7: Stereograph of the
manikin identified as "2613. Indian Chief. Red Cloud." This
image was not credited to a photographer but was published in
1876 as part of the Centennial Photographic Company's series on
the Centennial exhibits. Credit:
Courtesy of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.
for Larger Image
As shown in
yet another stereograph, a manikin identified as Red Cloud was displayed
at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, which opened May 10, 1876
(Figure 7). The manikin at the Centennial was one of dozens of
life-size manikins created by Smithsonian personnel to display Native
American clothing, weapons, and tools. The Red Cloud manikin was
wearing many of the same items of clothing as the Indian Chief manikin
of 1873. By 1876, stereographs of this manikin were being sold
by the Centennial Photographic Company clearly identified as "2613.
Indian Chief. Red Cloud." The Jarvis image probably was labeled "Red
Cloud" following the identification from the Centennial photograph because
of the similarity of the Indian figure and its clothing.
After carefully comparing
photographs of the two manikins--the one exhibited in 1873 at the
Smithsonian and the one exhibited in 1876 at the Centennial--we did
not believe at first that they were the same figure or head.
However, thanks to Jane Walsh, Smithsonian, and her computer scanning
recreations, we are now convinced that the two manikins in the photos
are the same and were modeled after a photo of Red Cloud made in May
8: Computer comparison of the 1876 manikin photo (left) and the
1873 manikin photo (right). Credit:
Scherer private collection.
for Larger Image
The Red Cloud Manikin's
differences between the physical features of the 1873 and 1876 manikins
in the photos (Figure 8) result from the fact that one was photographed
in daylight outside the Centennial building in Philadelphia while the
other was photographed inside the Smithsonian Castle. The angle
of the camera was also different. The camera position for the
1873 image was more elevated than that of the 1876 photo. Notice
that the position of the hand and the stance of the right leg are the
same. The areas of closest parallel are the chin, neck, and nose.
The wig also appears to be the same. The face of the 1876 figure
looks much darker, which was one of the reasons it was initially believed
to be a different manikin head. An article in The Evening Star (September 18, 1886) of Washington, D.C., made the following observation
to describe the making of manikins by the Smithsonian: "When the series
of Indian figures was prepared for the Centennial Exposition the heads
were all taken from one mask.... The gentleman who arranged them did
the best he could by painting the face differently, which gave them
some variety." Red Cloud's face may be darker on the 1876 manikin
because it, too, was painted.
In comparing the
clothing of the manikins (Figure 8), both wear the same shirt, leggings,
moccasins, and bear claw necklace. There are also differences:
the 1873 manikin wears a horn headdress with feather trailer and holds
a drum and drum beater or rattle, while the 1876 figure wears a warrior's
feather bonnet and holds a pipe tomahawk and a wooden club or rattle.
After this comparative
analysis of the physical features was completed, further research
in the Smithsonian Archives discovered that a sculptor named Sidney Moulthrop had been paid $50
for "modeling cast of head of Red Cloud, July 11, 1872." Had
we discovered this information earlier in the research some of the
comparative analysis of the manikin and the photograph of Red Cloud
would not have seemed so critical. However, it is always good
to confirm a hypothesis, and our methodology of comparing the manikins
may be useful to future researchers.
||Figure 9: Smithsonian Institution
Daybooks 1846-1884 (RU 100), Third Quarter 1872, p. 194. Credit:
Smithsonian Institution Archives.