Seminole Man's Big Shirt

Seminole Man's Big Shirt


Region / Tribe: Florida / Seminole

Circa: Early 20th Century

Material: Machine stitched with cotton cloth, cotton print and thread, porcelain and shell buttons

Dimension: Length 43”, Width 65” (cuff to cuff), Waist 35”

Condition: Excellent. Shows use wear, very minor soiling on front along button panels


Feder, Norman, American Indian Art, Denver Art Museum, 1982, color plate 59. See attachment.

Downes, Dorothy, Art of the Florida Seminole and Miccosukee Indians, University of Florida Press, Gainesville, Florida,1995.

Reeves V, I.S.K., The Seminole: Art of the Seminole: 1820-1950, The Maitland Art Center, Maitland, Florida, 2009.

Comments: This is an exceptional Man’s Big Shirt with bold dark blue elements, contrasting bands of color and two patchwork patterns.. The predominance of simple bands of color and one patchwork pattern of alternating blocks in rectangular form that follows through from the body of the shirt to the arms suggests an early dating. The second pattern (triangles) along the button front has been noted in another example of a big shirt from the early1920’s (see Reeves, p. 38, plate 57). The vibrant contrasting colors and bold strong patchwork design of this shirt speak to the skill of its creator.

It is noteworthy that there is a stripped cotton print in softly contrasting white, green and orange, found vertically and horizontally over the shoulders and between the shoulder and upper arms and along the top back. All of these panels are puckered. Puckering also occurs in the brown cloth at the cuff and waist panels.

Also of note is the small blue cloth patch in the bottom middle of the yellow skirt. This may have the intention of reinforcing the bottom of the front opening. This may as well be a design characteristic of this artist’s work.

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