Thursday, July 16, 2020

(WIP) Neanderthals

Hi you all!
I would like to show you a little side project of mine: sculpting a tiny Neanderthal tribe.

That was something I wanted to do since a long time, since I read Marvin Harris' "Introduction to General Anthropologie" a few years back. My plan is to slowly sculpt some figures for as many Homo species as I can. Two years ago I started sculpting some Homo Ergaster (or african Homo Erectus) but I wasn't pleased with the result. This time I have discovered how pleasant is to work with Fimo and I'm trying to use it for this project.

Here are the first two figures:

A hunter:

A huntress (still WIP: I have to add clothing):


With clothing:

There is still more to come ;)

Monday, July 6, 2020

Painting the Crow

Hi you all!
Today I'd like to share with you a little painting guide I have made for painting Crow warriors.

A visual summary of the different colors used, drawn by yours truly ;) 

1. Clothing:

Clothing can be make of tanned hide or traded cloth. Trade cloth was used by the Crows fairly early on. Hide clothing wore by the Crow was often white-cream. Some old cloths were dyed reddish brown to hide stains.

1.1. Decoration
Some garments, like warshirts, leggings and moccassins, were decorated with quilled or beaded pannels. Quills were used early on and beads a bit later
  • Beads: the background was light blue or lavendel, with geometrical patterns of different colors on it. These were large and triangular. The most used designs were long and narrow triangles, diamants, hourglass.  
Typical Crow beaded designs
  • Quills: the color could be left natural, of be dyed yellow, orange, later red or blue

1.2. Loincloth
The loincloth could be made of tanned hide or trade cloth.
  • Trade cloth: these were most typically scarlet red or dark navy blue, sometimes with the white selvage line left at the end. Typical Crow was also wearing a loincloth made of cloth for matrasses, often white with dark vertical or horizontal lines. 
  • Hide: White-cream, like most Crow hide garments.
Crow warrior with hide loincloth and hide leggings with quilled panels

Crow warrior with cloth leggings and cloth loincloth

1.3. Leggings:
Leggings could be made of hide, with quilled or beaded pannels and very long fringes, or made of cloth, with flaps on the sides, instead of fringes.

Cloth leggings: scarlet red, dark navy blue, green with a contrasting panel (beaded or made of cloth ) at the bottom, sometimes with red edges or beaded. 
Dark brown horizontal stripes could be painted to denote war exploits.

A Cheyenne (right) counts coup on a Crow (left) with a winter "capote" and trade leggings and loincloth
Hide leggings: often creamy white, they could be also be dyed yellowish. Dark brown horizontal stripes could be added to denote war exploits.
the quilled (or sometimes beaded) pannels had the colors discussed on 1.1. 
Fringes were often very long and on the same color as the leggins. Sometimes leggings had scalps or horse hair (sometimes left natural or dyed yellow) insted of fringes

Warshirts were usually creamy white with a red or blue beaded panel (it could be also be made of cloth) on the chest and beaded panels along the arms and on the sides. 
Sometimes horizontal stripes (black, blue, green red) were painted to denote war exploits, like his owner having counted coup.

Warshirts had either scalps or white ermine tails (sometimes with black ends), and could also have fringes.

The beaded pannels had a light blue or lavendel blackground, with large and narrow triangular patterns on it: diamant, triangle, etc. (go to 1.1)

Warrior with Warshirt. Observe the beaded panel on the chest with scalps, the scalps on the sides of the beaded panels and the ermine tails hanging from the arms

1.5. Moccassins:
Moccassins were could be very decorated. Typical decoration could be red or green lines or bold geometrical designs agains a solid color. Appart from the typical triangular designs, the keyhole and the blackfoot U were also very popular:
Left: "blackfoot U" pattern. Right: "Keyhole" pattern 

1.6. Women's dress:

 Dresses could be made of tanned hide (creamy white or a bit yellowish) or trade cloth (red or blue) and were typically decorated with elk teeth. Hide dresses had fringes on the sides and the bottom and could be decorated with narrow beaded or quilled bands of the usual colours. A triangular patch on the chest had often a contrasting colour (hide or cloth).
Moccassins were worn with garthered and heavy beaded leggings.

Crow Warrior Woman with a fringed elk teeth dress


2. Accesories

2.1. Belts:
Belts could be all beaded or painted  in a solid color with geometric designs. They also could be made of leather and sometimes be tacked with brass (what, in fact, was a typical Blackfoot feature)

Warrior with brass-tacked belt and a bearclaw necklace

2.2. Necklaces

Necklaces could be made of beads. Very typical were the so called "pony beads", usually blue and bigger

Loop necklace: It was very typical for the Crow and some northern or Plateau peoples like the Nez Perce or the Blackfoot. They were made of white hairpipes, sometimes with a red, blue or metalic bead at the center of each loop. The discs on the sides were made of bone.

Warrior with a loop necklace

Bearclaw necklace: these were made of brown otter skin and bearclaws

2.3. Bracelets and earrings:
Typical Crow bracelets could be made of corrugated brass,  bands of brass, iron or tin. They also could be bands of quilled (or beaded) hide.
Earrings were very often a metal concha (disc-shaped)

3. Hair and hair decoration

A typical feature of Crow warriors was the extreme lenght of their hair (and the care they took for it). Sometimes hair extensions were added to achieve these lenghts (human hair and sometimes buffalo hair or horsehair).

Crow (on the left) battling a Cheyenne. Source:

The most popular Crow's hairstyle became the pompadour: the hair on the front was combed upside and stifftened with grease. Sometimes this part was painted white 

On the back, the hair (or a switch) was frequently worn in thick vertical cords with attached red or white gum balls (sometimes also made of pinkish colored clay) at regular intervals. The switch was attached to the hair with a stripe of leather, painted or beaded.

On the temples the so called "crow bows" were often worn. These diamond shaped decoration had a center made of brass, the rest being beaded or made of dentalium. They were usually white, sometimes with light blue decorations. Hanging from these "crow bows", warrior often wore pendants made of white hairpipes with some beads inbetween. Feathers were also attached to crow bows.

Warrior with a switch. Note the gum balls

Warrior with pompadour, crow bows and hairpipes

4. Shields
Crow were great shield makers who often traded their shields with other tribes. 

Shield designs were a personal choice, but Crow shields usually depicted one bird or other animal and/or rows of zigzag. When a cloth pendant was added, it usually was red or blue

Some shield designs: thunderbird, bird, bear paws and bear with sun

Here you can see a beautiful example: Chief's Rotten Belly shield

5. War Paint
War paint was mostly applied on the face and it was usually red, sometimes with yellow eyelids.

Here you can find some examples:
Crow on the right.

Vertical lines could be painted on chest and arms to denote war exploits. According to some sources, diagonal lines on the legs denoted also war exploits.

Here are some Crows drawn by the Sans Arc Lakota Black Hawk: Horse-shoe designs are supposed to show skill in battle

6. Tatoos
Men and women could be tattoed. Women "often had a circle tattoed on the forehead, a dot on the middle of the nose, and/or a line from the lips to the chin" (Koch, 1977, 34)

 7. Warrior societies

The members of the different warrior societies could stand out the rest of their people via some regalia items, specific war paint, etc. 

  • Lumpwoods: they wore pink war paint
  • Foxes: they painted half ot the head red and half yellow and painted the body black and yellow.

Fox or Lumpwood staff bearer

  •  Big Dogs: They wore owl feathers and scalps on their leggings. Those who had frequently struck the enemy daubed yellow paint on leggings and shirt and painted red lines on legs and arms. The belt bearers of this society painted their body with mud and wore a belt made of the skin of a bear, with the claws attached.

Big Dog belt wearer

  • Muddy Hands: Some officers wore one or two sashes made of red, blue, black or green flannel.

Muddy Hands sash wearer

  • Crazy Dogs wishing to Die: the sashes were the same as the Muddy Hands'. They could wear a warbonnet.

 Painted examples:

Some examples of what has been showed here, drawn by me ;) 


-Thomas E. Mails: The Mystic Warrios of the Plains
-Thomas E. Mails: Dog Soldier Societies of the Plains
-Josephine Paterek: Encyclopedia of American Indian Costume
-Ronald P. Koch: Dress Clothing of the Plains Indians
-Robert H. Lowie: Crow Military Societies
-Andrew McGinnis: Counting Coup and cutting horses
-Michael Bad Hand: Plains Indians Regalia and Customs
-Michael Johnson: Encyclopedia of Native Tribes of North America