Friday, May 11, 2012

Sequoyah Pipe Bowl

This pipe bowl, dating back to the mid 19th century, is delicately carved with man's head wearing a turban,

Courtesy of Cowan's Auctions

a squirrel, with hatched tail, is situated behind figure and faces smoker, length 3 in. 

Courtesy of Cowan's Auctions

The head is similar to Charles Bird King's portrait of Sequoyah, Cherokee Leader (ca 1830).

SEQUOYAH (1770?-1843)
by Henry Inman (1801 1846), after Charles Bird King

National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

"This portrait depicts Sequoyah wearing a peace medal and holding a tablet with the Cherokee alphabet. It is a copy of the painting made by Charles Bird King in 1828, when Sequoyah was in Washington, D.C., to negotiate a treaty. The original portrait of Sequoyah, painted by Charles Bird King, was destroyed by the fire that swept through the Smithsonian Castle building in January 1865.

King's portrait was created for Thomas McKenney, commissioner of Indian affairs, who sought to record the culture and prominent figures of the Native American tribes. 

More than one hundred of the portraits that he commissioned were reproduced in McKenney and co-editor James Hall's three-volume History of the Indian Tribes of North America, with Biographical Sketches and Anecdotes of the Principal Chiefs (Philadelphia, 1838-1844). Henry Inman's copies were part of the process of making lithographs for this publication."

Caption on image: Entered according act of Congress in the year 1833 by E.C. Biddle in the Clerks Office of the District Court of the Eastern District of Pa.Indian gallery in the Department of war, vol. 1, pp. 63-70. University of Washington Libraries. Manuscripts, Special Collections, University Archives Division.

Sequoyah, the son of a Cherokee chief's daughter and a fur trader from Virginia, was a warrior and hunter and, some say, a silversmith. For twelve years he worked to devise a method of writing for the Cherokee language. 

His syllabary of eighty-five symbols, representing vowel and consonant sounds, 

Printed guides such as this, found in the papers of a New England missionary, were used by missionaries and others in contact with the Cherokees. From the Blandina Diedrich Collection.
 was approved by the Cherokee chiefs in 1821, and the simple utilitarian system made possible a rapid spread of literacy throughout the Cherokee nation. 

Medicine men set down ceremonies for healing, divination, war, and traditional ball games;

Cherokee Medicine Man, A'yun'ini, also known as Swimmer (1835-1899). A'yun'ini was a prominent and highly regarded Eastern Cherokee shaman and story-teller
missionaries translated hymns and the New Testament into the native language;

New Testament printed in the Cherokee syllabary. New York: American Bible Society, 1860. Language: Cherokee (Tsalagi).

Horace A. Wentz manuscript, The Lords Prayer in Cherokee; January 1854. From the Blandina Diedrich Collection.
and in 1828 the Cherokee Phoenix, a weekly bilingual newspaper, began publication at New Echota, Georgia.

Cherokee Phoenix Newspaper front page May 21, 1828 (ᏣᎳᎩ ᏧᎴᎯᏌᏅᎯ)

An alphabet still in use today...

Traffic sign in Cherokee syllabary, Tahlequah, Oklahoma, shot 11 November 2007.

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