July's Featured Piece: Buffalo Robe with Sunburst Design

During the summer solstice, just before the sun climbs above the horizon, the buffalo constellation is visible among the stars…so it seems only fitting that Lynn, our Native Gallery director would choose a buffalo robe decorated with a sunburst design as her favorite gallery piece for the month of July.

Some things of note about this buffalo robe:

  • The artist is Chris Ravenshead of Custer, SD; he is non-Native.
  • The robe has a wonderful aged, old style look and is typical of the Lakota style robes of the 1800s.
  • It has been hand scraped and braintanned - the actual scrape marks and stake holes made during these processes are visible.
  • The back side of the robe has a minimal amount of hair, which also gives it an aged, antique feel.
  • The central Sunburst design (also called a Warbonnet design) features porcupine quillwork in rich violets, reds, and golds.
  • The quilled design is enhanced with a layer of red earth from the Black Hills (this has been rubbed into the robe).
  • The robe is displayed in traditional style - the front and back legs have been folded in towards the front and the dew claws are visible.
  • The face of the animal is intact - the ears and forehead are decorated with quillwork and the nostrils are visible (it is very rare to see the animal's face on a robe today).
  • The legs have been drawn in and sewn onto the body to create a more "squared off" or standard shape which was typically done to make it easier to work with.