Accepted Paper:

A painter’s approach of defining meaning and relevance of Native American Facepaints  
Silvia Bancroft-Hunt

Paper short abstract:

The painter’s approach is of fundamental importance here since similar conclusions could not be elicited through verbal enquiries, as expressed with the Blackfoot comment ‘Facepaint is not to explain in words,,if you can’t see it,,too bad’, which set the parameter for my investigations since.

Paper long abstract:

Personal Facepaints of chiefs, prominent warriors and medicine men caught my specific attention. Initial visual analysis was concerned with Pawnee Facepaints (Caddoan speaking peoples) in comparison with those of neighbouring Siouan speaking tribal groups, followed by extensive further investigations of Facepaints belonging to peoples of other language groups i.e. Athapascan, Algonquian and Uto-Aztecan (Tanoan and Shoshone). Conclusions derived through visual analysis revealed that personal Facepaint concepts, the same as the order of ritual and relevant sacred ceremonial paints, a base concept that can extracted from their origin stories, as a whole, constituting a realistic concept of time-present in relation to time-origin, indicating to be anchored in genetic origin. It was possible to identify 5 different structural base concepts peculiar to and consistent within each of the language groups referred to above. Comparative evidence of present day Facepaints collected during field trips between 1977 and late 1990’s, revealed that the structural base concepts are persistent, defying language replacement.

The more complex part of these investigations were represented by the great variety of tribal colour systems which made the search for colour universals essential.

With conclusive research results in mind It is my intention to talk about differences in meaning and relevance of personal Facepaints composed of abstract geometric elements in contrast to pictographic narratives painted on chest/shoulders/arms, War-shirts, buffalo robes or a Warrior Society tipi, and a further contrast to the Paints for Battle received in a vision/dream, similar to Painted/Animal/Medicine tipis, painted with recognisable animal form elements.

Panel P052
Artefacts and visual systems in Oceania and America