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Scalp Shirt
National Museum of the American Indian’

Scalp Shirt

Date: about 1875
Catalog #: NMAI 013309    Accession #: loan
Credit: National Museum of the American Indian

Dimensions / Weight

Dimensions: 33.5" H x 22" W

Physical Description

Animal skin shirt decorated with beads and strands of human hair.

Specific History

This shirt is from the J.J. Steffen Collection.

General History

A scalp shirt was worn by the bravest of fighting men. Thus, the making of such a shirt, trimmed with hair from enemy scalps, was both a holy and solemn occasion. Only a warrior who himself possessed a scalp shirt could make one for another warrior. The human hair scalp-locks attached to the shirt have great symbolism. Hair was considered an extension of a person's soul. For an Indian warrior to acquire hair from another was to add his power and strength to his own.


Country: United States
War: Indian Removal
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