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To speak of shields and their construction is one thing, to actually see themis another, since a beautifully crafted one is simply stupendous. From the collector's point of view it is regrettable that so many were buried with their owners, and thus deteriorated in the grave or on the burial platforms. Fred Harvey, who assembled one of the finest private collections of Plains and Southwest items ever known, obtained a heat-shrunken Comanche shield which deserves special mention.

    This Comanche shield has not one, but two covers. It is concave, and thus provides a dish or basket to hold its beautiful pendants and array of eagle feathers. It is eighteen inches in diameter, and the total length from the top of the shield to the end of the wool pendants is fifty-two inches. The shield itself is approximately one-half inch thick.


    The cap, or outer cover, has an inner circle of black bordered by white, the next area is deep blue, and the outer edge is lemon yellow. The radiating lines are alternately orange and black. A small group of feathers in the center of the cover is a combination of hawk and eagle wing feathers. One large eagle tail feather also hangs from the center and there are two smaller side feathers with breath feathers attached. The outer cap fits over the inside cover like a dust cover on a case. There are metal bells on it-which means it was used for ceremonial dances, and perhaps was not carried into enemy territory, where the noise of the bells would give the owner away.
    The inside cover has the greatest number of eagle tail feathers attached to its front at each side, and also two long dark-blue blanket cloth pendants. Its center dishes in to fit the concave shape of the shield itself, and everything hanging on it packs into this dish receptacle so neatly it excites the utmost appreciation. Undoubtedly, this cover was carried to war, pointed toward the enemy to dispel its medicine, and then removed as an actual battle was engaged.
    The shield itself was used for the fight. A war sling of buckskin is attached to the back, as is another sling of woven (Mexican origin) woolen material. This second band is four inches wide, and being more comfortable than the narrow buckskin sling was probably used to carry the shield to and from a raid. There are also two long pendant strips of buffalo skin, with hair, attached to the back
of the shield.

PAGES IN THIS ARTICLE Intro~ About Shields and Shield Making ] Pictures of Shields of Various Tribes ] To Make a Standard Shield ] To Make a Wooden Hoop Shield ] [ Description of a Comanche Shield ] How the Shield Was Carried ] Four Types of Shields ~ Conclusion ~ Footnotes ]

SHIELDS: Life Living Art ~ Original Snow Owl Article



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