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4.8 AMERICAN SCRIPTS, GLYPHS, PICTORGRAPHS & DRAWINGS

4.8.1. VALDIVIAN CULTURE

MS 2960 Ecuador, 3500-1500 BC

4.8.2. MAYA

See also MS 1280, Honduras, ca. 600-850
MS 2959 Costa Rica, 600-900
MS 693 Guatemala, ca. 900

4.8.3. AZTEC

MS 2958 Mexico, ca. 900
See also MS 1692, Mexico, ca. 1525-1550

4.8.4. INCA

MS 718 Peru, ca. 12th c.

4.8.5. ESKIMO

MS 2957 South Alaska, ca. 18th c.

4.8.6. PIANKASHAW

MS 2778 Indiana, U.S.A., 1775

4.8.7. SHAWNEE / IROQUOIS

MS 2922 Ohio/New York State, 19th c.

4.8.8. OJIBWA

MS 4535 Great Lakes, U.S.A., mid 19th c.

4.8.9. APACHE

MS 4604 Southern Plains, U.S.A., 19th c.

4.8.10. CHEYENNE

MS 2956/1 Kansas, 1878-1879
MS 4605 Oklahoma, 1891-1900
MS 3018/2 Montana, 1897-1898
See also MS 4457, Nebraska, 1865-1879

4.8.11. NAVAJO

See MS 4606 Arizona, U.S.A., ca. 1900

4. Palaeography

4.8 Amerindian Scripts, Glyphs, Pictographs & Drawings

4.8.1. Valdivian Culture

MS 2960
DIVINATORY MANUAL OR STAR CHART?  

MS in Valdivian on grey limestone, Ecuador, 3500-1500 BC, 1 tablet, 13x20x2 cm, central panel of 2 triangles and 1 parallelogram separated by double lines, filled with 8+5+4 drilled holes, surrounded by 4 rectangular panels within double lines filled with 6+7+7+8 drilled holes, slightly curved corners.

Context: From the Piguiga hoard. For similar examples see MS 2961 and Sotheby's New York 2.6.1999:26, and 22.11.1999:22, both dated to 2300-2000 BC. 2 more examples published by Alvaro Guillot-Munoz: Les Pierres gravées pré-valdivia. Bruxelles, May 1997, VAL 19-20, dated to 3800-2800 BC.

ms 2960

Provenance: 1. Private collection, USA (-2000); 2. Bruce Ferrini, Akron, Ohio.

Commentary: The Valdivian or pre-Valdivian stone plaques or star charts are the earliest evidence of "writing" from the Americas. The scholars disagree on their dates and meaning. The earliest dating is contemporary with the earliest writing of Sumer and Egypt. The latest dating is about contemporary with the earliest writing of Europe, Indus Valley and China. The Valdivian culture flourished along the central coast of Ecuador, beginning in the period 3000-2700 BC, persisting until about 1400 BC. Its pottery is one of the oldest in the Americas. Its resemblance to the Jomon vare of Japan has led some scholars to believe that it was introduced into Ecuador as a result of Trans-Pacific contacts.

 
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4.8.2. Maya

See also MS 1280, Maya vase, Honduras, ca. 600-850

MS 2959
ms 2959
UNIDENTIFIED MAYA GLYPHS, 1 AFFIX AND THE NUMBERS 7 AND 5

MS in Maya on green-blue jade, Costa Rica, 600-900, 1 celt, 10,5x2,6x0,6 cm, 1 column of 3 glyphs, hole for a string.

Provenance: 1. Private collection, USA (-2000); 2. Bruce Ferrini, Akron, Ohio.

Commentary: A celt is a ceremonial axe.

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MS 693
  1. BURIAL TEXT: "THIS BOWL CONTAINS CONSECRATED COPAL (OR BLOOD)"
  2. CHANT GLYPHS, REPEATED
ms 693

MS in Maya on clay, Northern Petén, Guatemala, ca. 900, 1 cylindrical vase, h. 33 cm, diam. 15 cm, inscribed with 3 horizontal bands and 3 angular columns of square Mayan late classic or postclassic hieroglyphs in a bold script in the "codex vase" style, resembling the script of Codex Madrid, 65 glyphs from 1,5x2 cm to 4x5 cm in brown paint on a cream surface, reddish-brown bands at rim and base.

Context: For an illustrated Mayan vase of ca. 600-850, see MS 1280

Provenance: 1. Site in North Peten, Guatemala (ca. 900-20th c.) 2. The Lands Beyond Ltd, New York (until 1990); 3. Bruce Ferrini, Akron, Ohio

Commentary: The largest codex vase ever found. If it is from the postclassic period, it is also the only example so far known and described, from that period.

 
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4.8.3. Aztec

MS 2958 MS 2958

UNIDENTIFIED AZTEC GLYPHS

MS in Aztec on shell, Mexico, ca. 900, 1 pendant, 5,5x8,7x0,6 cm, 1 line with 2 glyphs, 2 holes for a string.

Provenance: 1. Private collection, USA (-2000); 2. Bruce Ferrini, Akron, Ohio

See also MS 1692, Bible: Acts, Mexico, ca. 1525-1550

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4.8.4. Inca

MS 718  
ACCOUNT OR STOCKTAKING ms 718

Quipu in Incan, Coastal Peru, ca. 12th c. or earlier, 14 brown+14 white+26 brown woollen cords, (ca. 2-2,5 mm thick), covering 40x16 cm, suspended in a woollen cord 85 cm long, 4 mm thick, all cords have 2 large knots at different positions, surmounted by up to 3 small knots in upper part.

Provenance: 1. Harmer Rooke Galleries, New York, Auction XXXVIII, 8.11.1990:471; 2. Bruce Ferrini, Akron, Ohio.

Commentary: Quipus were the only form of Incan "writing". They were used as a method for stocktaking, recording a transaction, or for accounting. A few more copies have survived, all in historical museums.

Until 2005 the earliest find of quipus was dated to 650 AD. During the excavations in 2006 of Peru’s oldest city, Cara, archaeologists at the San Marco University in Lima found quipus that can be dated to ca. 3000 BC. So far Sumer and Egypt have been regarded as the earliest locations for the emergence of writing, ca. 3200 BC. With this find, Western South America has also to be considered (see also MS 2961), together with Europe (see MS 5237/2) and MS 5238 .

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4.8.5. Eskimo

MS 2957  
ESKIMO GLYPHS WITH HUNTING, FISHING AND WHALING ILLUSTRATIONS

MS in Sugpiak on reindeer bone, South Alaska, ca. 18th c., 1 bow drill, 26,0x0,9x0,6 cm, 4 lines of Eskimo glyphs and illustrations of herds of totally 45 caribou reindeer, 29 Eskimos hunting with bow and arrow, fishing with a large net and from longboats, spearing a whale from a longboat, and fish on drying rack.

Provenance: 1. Private collection, USA (-2000); 2. Bruce Ferrini, Akron, Ohio. Commentary: The extremely detailed illustrations have many similarities to the much older petroglyphs.

MS 2957
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4.8.6. Piankashaw

MS 2778  
PIANKASHAW INDIAN DEED, CEDING A LARGE TRACT OF LAND ON EITHER SIDE OF THE WABASH RIVER, SOUTHERN ILLINOIS AND INDIANA, TO THE WABASH LAND COMPANY, IN EXCHANGE FOR A LARGE AMOUNT OF GOODS, INCLUDING 400 BLANKETS, 250 SHIRTS, 35 DOZEN LARGE BUCK-HORN-HANDLED KNIVES, 400 POUNDS OF TOBACCO, 120 PIECES OF RIBBON, A TON OF LEAD ETC. SIGNED BY 12 FRENCH TRADERS AND 12 PIANKASHAW CHIEFS WITH THEIR TOTEMS, INCLUDING CRANE-FLY, LITTLE BEAVER, AND BELL AND TOBACCO. AUTHORIZATION ENDORSEMENT ON REVERSE BY THE COMMANDANT OF POST ST. VINCENT ms 2778

MS in English on vellum, Vincennes, Indiana, U.S.A., 18 October 1775, 1 f., 76x69 cm, 58 long lines of notarial cursive script, 12 Piankashaw Indian totems (name glyphs) with 11 red lacquer seals.

Provenance: 1. Charles Hamilton (-1961); 2. The Frank T. Siebert Library, Maine (1961-1998); 3. Sotheby's New York 21.5.1999:286.

Commentary: An unusually early Indian deed for land this far westward.

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4.8.7. Shawnee / Iroquois

MS 2922 MS 2922
IROQUOIS OR SHAWNEE MIDE ROLL WITH PICTOGRAPHS AND NAME GLYPHS OF HORNED FIGURES, A BEAR, AN UNDERWATER MANITOU, SQUARE AND ROUND CAMPS WITH DOTS INSIDE, DOTTED ARCHES, A TREE, AND MORE

MS in Iroquois or Shawnee on birchbark, Ohio/New York State, 19th c., 1 partial roll, 5x16 cm, single column, (5x16 cm), 2+2 lines, 9+14 pictographs and name glyphs. Context: An Objibwa mide roll, see MS 4535.

Provenance: . Private collection, Ohio (-1985); 2. Bruce Ferrini, Akron, Ohio.

Commentary: The Mide roll can be said to represent the transmission of totems or social structures with name glyphs.

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4.8.8. Ojibwa

MS 4535 ms 4469
OJIBWA MIDE ROLL WITH PICTOGRAPHS AND NAME GLYPHS OF BEARS, BIRDS, HORNED FIGURES AND UNDERWATER MANITOU

MS in Ojibwa on birch bark, Western Great Lakes, U.S.A., mid 19th c., 1 roll flattened out, 11x43 cm, single column, (8x30-34 cm), 2+2 lines, 20+17 pictographs and name glyphs.

Context: An Shawnee/Iroquois mide roll, see MS 2922.

Provenance: 1. Bruce Ferrini, Akron, Ohio. .

Commentary: The Mide roll can be said to represent the transmission of totems or social structures with name glyphs.

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4.8.9. Apache

MS 4604  
APACHE PICTOGRAPHS AND SYMBOLS, POSSIBLY ANTHROPOMORPHIC OR COSMOLOGICAL, OR RELATING TO GAAN OR MOUNTAIN SPIRITS
MS in Apache language on skin, Southern Plains, U.S.A., 19th c., 1 shield, diam. 50 cm, decorated with a central celestial medallion with a crescent moon above and a pine tree below flanked by two cross-hatched bars with zigzag elements emanating from top, circular motifs with zigzags within, below, all in blue, red, yellow and black, with 2 yellow foot-formed tabs attached to the top.

Provenance: 1. Christie's East, New York, 20.6.2001:167.

Commentary: In addition to the function as armour, the shield and its cover, combined with the painted symbols and attachments, exuded protective power for the bearer, resulted from dreams experienced by the warrior. Some of the Apache shields are reported to relate to Gaan, or Mountain Spirits, - those generally benevolent beings largely associated with health and wellbeing.

MS 4604

 

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4.8.10. Cheyenne

MS 2956/1
CHEYENNE CHIEF HAGETTA'S LEDGER DRAWING BOOK  

MS in Cheyenne and English on paper, Dodge City, Kansas, 1878-1879, 39 ff. (complete), 13x9 cm, single column, (12x8 cm), 13 lines in English cursive script by L.M. Hyatt, 80 drawings of hunting buffaloes, birds and other animals, fighting and wows with bows and guns, ceremonies, domestic scenes before the tee-pee, peace negotiations, horse-riding, etc., in black, red and blue by Cheyenne chief Hagetta.

Binding: Dodge City, Kansas, ca. 1878, paper covers, stitched.

Context: Other Indian ledger drawing books are MSS 2956/2, 3018/1-2, 4457 and 4605.

Provenance: 1. Cheyenne chief Hagetta, Dodge City, Kansas (1878-1879); 2. L.M. Hyatt, Dodge City, Kansas (1879-); 3. Bruce Ferrini, Akron, Ohio.

Commentary: Note by L.M. Hyatt on the front page: "April 4/79. Dodge City Prison. This book purchased from Hagetta (Wild Hog) the Cheyenne chief who is now confined to the trial for the murder of whites in Kansas in 1878. This Chief with six warriors being the remnant of the party captured. These drawings are by him while in prison".

ms 2956

In the last 3 decades of the 19th c. Indians of the Apache, Cheyenne, Sioux, Kiowa and other tribes of the Great Plains, often deprived of traditional artistic and ceremonial venues because of their confinement to reservations, turned to drawings in small books and discarded ledgers as a way to make sense of the profound cultural stress to which they were subjected. The indigenous style evolved into a new form of Indian art, characterised by meticulously detailed depictions of clothing and paraphernalia. The Indian art is today highly recognised, represented in most major art museums in USA, to such a degree that most good ledgers have been broken up into single leaves for exhibition and collecting, making the present intact good quality ledger a rare survival. 

ms 2956
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MS 4605
THE BULLMAN LEDGER
  1. BIBLE: MATTHEW 6: 9 - 13, THE LORD'S PRAYER
  2. DRAWING CYCLE OF TRAVELS, IMPRISONMENT AT FORT MARION, MILITARY HOSPITAL, GUARD DUTY IN MILITARY POLICE, EXCHANGE OF A DEAD GOLDEN EAGLE BETWEEN 2 MEN, GRASS DANCE, DREAMING, SELLING GRAIN, SMALL POX OUTBREAK, MARRIAGE PROPOSAL, FLUTIST PLAYING, VISIONARY EXPERIENCES, PEYOTE MEETING, CONJUNCTION OF THE SUN, MOON AND A STAR, A RECOUNTING BY 4 MEN IN A COLLECTIVE VISION; THE NAMES OF: BULLMAN, LITTLE BRAID, SQUINT EYES, TOUCH THE MOON, CUT FACE, BULL BEAR, SWORD CORN SHELLER, TWO BULLS, WOLF'S HEAD, WOLF'S FACE, CURLY HAIR, LOOKS BACKWARD, ONE HORN, SITTING BULL, WHITE SHIELD, BEARS CAP, CUT BREAST, WHITE BIRD, STAR HORSE, AND MORE

MS in Cheyenne on paper, Fort Marion, Oklahoma, 1891-1900, 60 ff. (-80), 31x19 cm, single column, (22x15 cm), 21 lines in Cheyenne cursive script (text 1), 35 name glyphs, 37 fine fullpage pen drawings by Bullman.

Binding: Oklahoma, U.S.A., ca. 1890, half shirting gilt, sewn on 4 cords, illustrations of Lincoln and Grant on a floral pattern inside cover.

Context: Other Indian ledger drawing books are MSS 2956/1-2, 3018/1-2 and 4457.

Provenance: 1. Bullman, Fort Marion, Oklahoma (1891-); 2. Ramona Morris, Oklahoma?; 3. Douglas Allard Auction (??); 4. Bruce Ferrini, Akron, Ohio.

ms 4605

Commentary: The most peculiar page in the book seems to depict the recounting by 4 men of a collective vision. The vision in a quartered circle shows a man on a bench in the upper quadrant, being addressed by a blanketed figure who may represent Thunder, as power lines are radiating out from a zigzag sky. Similar zigzags in the upper left quadrant have a different connotation with 4 figures in prison and a conventionalised counting device of 5 lines, repeated 5 times. The diagonal slash to denote 5 is a White man's way of counting. The lower left quadrant depict a man chained to the wall, but surrounded on both sides by lightning symbols. The lower right quadrant is distinguished by the Roman numerals 1 - 5 in semi-circles, plus 4 rifles, 3 horse heads, and 4 human heads, seemingly the booty of 5 successful raids. In the last 3 decades of the 19th c. Indians of the Apache, Cheyenne, Sioux, Kiowa and other tribes of the Great Plains, often deprived of traditional artistic and ceremonial venues because of their confinement to reservations, turned to drawings in small books and discarded ledgers as a way to make sense of the profound cultural stress to which they were subjected. The indigenous style evolved into a new form of Indian art, characterised by meticulously detailed depictions of clothing and paraphernalia. The Indian art is today highly recognised, represented in most major art museums in USA, to such a degree that most good ledgers have been broken up into single leaves for exhibition and collecting, making the present intact high quality ledger a rare survival.

 
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MS 3018/2
CHEYENNE INDIAN LITTLE WHIRLWIND'S LEDGER DRAWING BOOK

MS in Cheyenne on paper, Miles City, Montana, 1897-1898, 15 ff. interleaved with onionskin protections (complete), 23x30 cm, Little Whirlwind's autograph name glyph, 31 fullpage drawings in full colours by Little Whirlwind of tipis, hunting of wild boar, black panther and deer, horseriding, peace talks and courting.

Binding: U.S.A., ca. 1897, stapled cardboards with shirting spine, green upper cover, in blue print: The Hogarth Art Drawing Tablet, for sketching, map drawing or home practice.

Context: Other Indian ledger drawing books are MSS 2956/1-2, 4457 and 4605. Spotted Hawk's ledger is MS 3018/1.

ms 3018/2

Provenance:1. Cheyenne Indian Little Whirlwind of Tongue River Reservation, Miles City jail, Montana (1897-1898); 2. Judge Charles H. Loud, Miles City, Montana (1898-) and his descendants; 3. Bruce Ferrini, Akron, Ohio.

Commentary: Little Whirlwind, his brother Spotted Hawk and David Stanley (Badger) were arrested following the killing of the sheepherder John Hoover near the Tongue River Reservation ca. 1 May 1897. The 2 brothers were innocent, but following the trials and convictions, Judge Loud sentenced Spotted Hawk to death by hanging, and Little Whirlwind to life imprisonment. In a September 21 editorial, The City and State, a Philadelphia journal, declared Little Whirlwind to be an Indian Dreyfus, comparing him to the French innocent officer convicted to treason in 1894. As in the Dreyfus affair, the convictions of the 2 Indians involved suppressed and false evidence and racism, cf. Emile Zola's article "J'accuse -", and Orlan J. Svingen: The Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation 1877-1900, Colorado 1993, chapter 8: The Case of Spotted Hawk and Little Whirlwind. An American Indian Dreyfus Affair, pp.113-129. Following a successful appeal, and a deathbed confession by David Stanley, the brothers were released and went back to the reservation. While they were in the Miles City jail, Judge Loud apparently gave each of them a Hoggart tablet to draw in. Little Whirlwind made the present 31 drawings, and Spotted Hawk 29.

See also MS 4457, Little Shield's ledger, Nebraska, 1865-1879

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4.8.11. Navajo

See MS 4606, Shaman pictographic ritual book, Arizona, ca. 1900back to top

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