Animal hide, pigments, glass and metal beads, metal cones, silkexpand_more
The Robert J. Ulrich Works of Art Purchase Fundexpand_more 2017.4
This dress, stitched together from two brain-tanned deer hides, was made by a Kiowa woman artist for a particular individual, most likely a close relative. The maker of the dress maintained the forms of the deer within the garment—the finishing tabs on the skirt and arms are from the deer’s legs, investing the wearer with the swiftness and grace of the animals themselves. Hundreds of tin cones are stitched in rows in the middle of the skirt and along the bottom tabs. They acted like bells or chimes; when the wearer of this dress moved, she was accompanied by music. Finely cut fringe finishes the dress, each piece individually applied by the maker. Crimson medicine bundles are attached to the upper portion, providing protection and well-being to the wearer.
Similar Kiowa dresses of this quality and age are rare, and this exceptional example is the first piece of Kiowa clothing in Mia’s collection. From the Southern Plains, it complements Mia’s strong collection of Northern Plains garments, including the Lakota dentalium-shell dress (2011.32) and the Lakota beaded-yoke dress (74.64.5).