Osage Orange Arrow Lance

Osage Orange Arrow Lance


Region / Tribe: Prairie – Northern Plains / Pawnee (?)

Circa: Mid 19th century (earlier)

Material: Osage orange, red and black pigment

Dimension: L. 57 ½” x W.(of front “blade”) 1 ¾” x W.(of back carved swallow tail) 1 ¾”

Condition: Excellent, worn, deep patina, no restoration

Collection History: Acquired in Illinois

Reference: Chamberlain, Von Del. When the Stars Came Down to Earth: Cosmology of the Skidi Pawnee Indians of North America. 1982, Ballena Press. P. 50.

Comments: This arrow lance is carved and scraped from a substantial length of Osage Orange (bois d’arc). There are no metal knife or file marks. The long (16”) blade has pronounced sharp raised ridges on both sides. The blade and long shaft are pigmented in red, the carved “swallow-tail” is painted in black. Red and Black are color symbols of the powers of the Upper and Lower worlds and are applied to weapons and ceremonial objects. Similar painted images of stylized thunderbird and swallow tails appear on Prairie and Plains material. This lance, attributed to the Pawnee, may have been ritually used in as a pole or pointer. It would also serve as a formidable weapon.

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