University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Mandan War Shirt [Object of the Day #34]

By: Alyssa Kaminski

War Shirt
War Shirt

This early 19th century war shirt was made by the Mandan people of North Dakota. The shirt is made up of a variety of animals including deer, porcupine, horse and human. The bulk of the shirt comes from buckskin that is then decorated with leather fringe, beading, porcupine quills, horse and human hair. While this shirt was designed for battle, the Mandan people’s true troubles came in the form of smallpox. The disease hit their village and managed to wipe out 90% of the population.

To read more about the Mandan people, read Expedition magazine article¬†A Unique Northern Plains Ceramic Vessel in the Museum’s Lewis and Clark Collection¬†by Mark D. Mitchell

Penn Museum Object #38251A

See this and other objects like it on Penn Museum’s Online Collection Database

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