M’on Sh’on

Special Edition Print on Canvas

40″ x 60″ | $1120

 Famous for their beautiful garments adorned with ribbon applique, the Osage Indians stand as one of the important nomadic Native American tribes of the Great Plains.  Originally thought to have lived in the Ohio River area, the Osage wandered on to the Great Lakes, then to Missouri, Kansas, and finally to Arkansas and Oklahoma.  

     French influence can be seen in several aspects of the tribe.  Their very name, Osage, seems to be a French corruption of the actual name for themselves- “Wazhazhe”.  Many of their crafts also bare the French mark including their abilities with ribbon applique.  Theirs is the southernmost extent of this type of decoration, and their skill and technique continues to the present.  Frequent designs are the hourglass, the double-fork design, and rows of hand images. 

     The hand symbol is one of the oldest in North America.  Such motifs have been found incised on rocks, cut from mica, drawn and tattooed on bodies and faces, painted on clothing and favorite horses, and here they are sewn in silk on the Osage “friendship blanket”.   

     Hand motifs have symbolized spiritual power.  They are an action symbol meaning “to do” or a symbol of presence saying “I am here”, as well as a coup mark signifying a slain enemy, or a wound gotten in battle, or success in hand-to-hand combat. 

     The Osage friendship blanket embodies much of this spiritual meaning.  Such blankets were highly valued and were given as gifts as a symbol of friendship or were presented at special occasions as a high honor.   

     The name “M’on Sh’on” which is Osage for “Mother Earth” or “Sacred One,” was given to this painting to express the spiritual ties that bind these ancient nomadic tribesmen to their beloved Great Plains.