THE WEDDING BLANKET
This couple, from the Cheyenne Nation, have just been wed, and are being presented as husband and wife to their tribe.
A common nuptial tradition found among Native Americans is to place a ‘wedding blanket’ around an honored couple. This ceremony varies greatly from tribe to tribe. It was either the officiator of the ceremony (chief / shaman) or the wedded couple’s family that placed the blanket on the husband and wife. It was taboo for a wedding blanket to touch the ground before or during the ceremony, that is why I placed a buffalo hide underneath them to stand upon. It was the bride who carried the feather fan. At the feet of the couple is a wooden bowl with a sage bundle. Sage was used for smudging (smudging is when ‘with purposeful intent to cleanse and purify’ it was lit on fire and the resulting smoke was wafted up and around a person(s)).
In studying Native Americans, I learned how quickly most adopted the usefulness of items they encountered from others tribes and cultures, and how far trade goods traveled. This sculpture shows the couple wrapped in a Navajo blanket but with Cheyenne symbols of oneness, love and prosperity painted on the back. The groom is wearing a shirt, vest and neckerchief of European style. The bride has on a traditional fringed buckskin dress with a concho belt (note: the conchos were often made from hammered silver dollars).