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Title: Picture-Writing of the American Indians

Author: Garrick Mallery

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Language: English

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Series title.

Smithsonian institution. Bureau of ethnology.

Tenth annual report | of the | Bureau of ethnology | to the | secretary of the Smithsonian institution | 1888-’89 | by | J. W. Powell | director | [Vignette] |

Washington | government printing office | 1893

8o. xxx, 742 pp. 54 pl.

Author title.

Powell (John Wesley).

Tenth annual report | of the | Bureau of ethnology | to the | secretary of the Smithsonian institution | 1888-’89 | by | J. W. Powell | director | [Vignette] |

Washington | government printing office | 1893

8o. xxx, 742 pp. 54 pl.

[Smithsonian institution. Bureau of ethnology.]

Title for subject entry.

Tenth annual report | of the | Bureau of ethnology | to the | secretary of the Smithsonian institution | 1888-’89 | by | J. W. Powell | director | [Vignette] |

Washington | government printing office | 1893

8o. xxx, 742 pp. 54 pl.

[Smithsonian institution. Bureau of ethnology.]












Letter of transmittal VII
Introduction IX
Publications X
Field work X
Mound explorations X
Work of Mr. Cyrus Thomas X
Work of Mr. Gerard Fowke XI
Work of Mr. J. D. Middleton XI
Work of Mr. H. L. Reynolds XI
Work of Mr. J. W. Emmert XII
General field studies XII
Work of Col. Garrick Mallery XII
Work of Mr. W. J. Hoffman XIII
Work of Mr. H. W. Henshaw XIV
Work of Mr. James Mooney XV
Work of Mr. Jeremiah Curtin XVI
Work of Mr. A. S. Gatschet XVII
Work of Mr. J. N. B. Hewitt XVII
Work of Mr. Victor Mindeleff XVII
Work of Mr. A. M. Stephen XVII
Office work XVIII
Work of Major J. W. Powell XVIII
Work of Mr. H. W. Henshaw XVIII
Work of Col. Garrick Mallery XVIII
Work of Mr. J. Owen Dorsey XVIII
Work of Mr. A. S. Gatschet XIX
Work of Mr. Jeremiah Curtin XIX
Work of Mr. James Mooney XIX
Work of Mr. J. N. B. Hewitt XX
Work of Mr. J. C. Pilling XX
Work of Mr. W. H. Holmes XXI
Work of Mr. Cyrus Thomas XXII
Work of Mr. H. L. Reynolds XXII
Work of Mr. Victor Mindeleff XXII
Work of Mr. Cosmos Mindeleff XXII
Work of Mr. J. K. Hillers XXIII
Work of Mr. Franz Boas XXIII
Work of Mr. Lucien M. Turner XXIV
Necrology XXIV
Mr. James Stevenson XXIV
Accompanying paper XXV
Picture-writing of the American Indians, by Garrick Mallery XXVI
Financial statement XXX




Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of Ethnology,

Washington, D. C., October 1, 1889.

Sir: I have the honor to submit my Tenth Annual Report as Director of the Bureau of Ethnology.

The first part of it presents an exposition of the operations of the Bureau during the fiscal year 1888-’89; the second part consists of a work on the Picture-writing of the American Indians, which has been in preparation for several years.

I desire to express my thanks for your earnest support and your valuable counsel relating to the work under my charge.

I am, with respect, your obedient servant,


Prof. S. P. Langley,
Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.




By J. W. Powell, Director.


Research among the North American Indians, in obedience to acts of Congress, was continued during the fiscal year 1888-’89.

The explanation presented in several former annual reports of the general plan upon which the work of the Bureau has been performed renders a detailed repetition superfluous. The lines of investigation which from time to time have appeared to be the most useful or the most pressing have been confided to persons trained in or known to be specially adapted to their pursuit. The results of their labors are presented in the three series of publications of the Bureau which are provided for by law. A brief statement of the work upon which each one of the special students was actively engaged during the fiscal year is furnished below; but it should be noted that this statement does not specify all the studies made or services rendered by them.

The assistance of explorers, writers, and students who are not and may not desire to be officially connected with the Bureau is again invited. Their contributions, whether in suggestions or extended communications, will always be gratefully acknowledged and will receive proper credit. They may be published as Congress will allow, either in the series of annual reports or in monographs or bulletins. Several valuable papers of this class have already been contributed and published.


The report now submitted consists of three principal divisions. The first relates to the publications made during the fiscal year; the second, to the work prosecuted in the field; the third, to the office work, which chiefly consists of the preparation for publication of the results of field work, with the corrections and additions obtained from exhaustive researches into the literature of the subjects discussed and by correspondence relative to them.


The publications actually issued and distributed during the year were as follows, all octavo:

Bibliography of the Iroquoian Languages, by James C. Pilling; pages i-vi + 1-208. Facsimile reproductions, at pages 44 and 56, of title pages of early publications relating to Indian languages, and, at page 72, of the Cherokee alphabet.

Textile Fabrics of Ancient Peru, by William H. Holmes; pages 1-17, Figs. 1-11.

The Problem of the Ohio Mounds, by Cyrus Thomas; pages 1-54, Figs. 1-8.


The field work of the year is divided into (1) mound explorations and (2) general field studies, the latter being directed chiefly to archeology, linguistics, and pictography.



The work of exploring the mounds of the eastern United States was, as in former years, under the superintendence of Mr. Cyrus Thomas. The efforts of the division were chiefly confined to the examination of material already collected and to the arrangement and preparation for publication of the data on hand. Field work received less attention, therefore, than in previous years, and was mainly directed to such investigations as were necessary to elucidate doubtful points and to the examination and surveys of important works which had not before received adequate attention.


The only assistants to Mr. Thomas whose engagements embraced the entire year were Mr. James D. Middleton and Mr. Henry L. Reynolds. Mr. Gerard Fowke, one of the assistants, ceased his connection with the Bureau at the end of the second month. Mr. John W. Emmert was engaged as a temporary assistant for a few months.


During the short time in which he remained with the division, Mr. Fowke was engaged in exploring certain mounds in the Sciota valley, Ohio, a field to which Messrs. Squier and Davis had devoted much attention. Its reexamination was for the purpose of investigating certain typical mounds which had not been thoroughly examined by those explorers.


Mr. Middleton was employed from July to the latter part of October in the exploration of mounds and other ancient works in Calhoun county, Illinois, a territory to which special interest attaches because it seems to be on the border line of different archeologic districts. From October until December he was engaged at Washington in preparing plats of Ohio earthworks. During the next month he made resurveys of some of the more important inclosures in Ohio, after which he resumed work in the office at Washington until the latter part of March, when he was sent to Tennessee to examine several mound groups and to determine, so far as possible, the exact locations of the old Cherokee “over-hill towns.” The result of the last-mentioned investigation was valuable, as it indicated that each of these “over-hill towns” was, with possibly one unimportant exception, in the locality of a mound group.


Near the close of October Mr. Reynolds, having already examined the inclosures of the northern, eastern, and western sections of the mound region, went to Ohio and West Virginia to study the different types found there, with reference to the[xii] chapters he was preparing on the various forms of ancient inclosures in the United States. While thus engaged he explored a large mound connected with one of the typical works in Paint creek valley, obtaining unexpected and important results. The construction of this tumulus was found to be quite different from most of those in the same section examined by Messrs. Squier and Davis.


Mr. Emmert devoted the few months in which he was employed to the successful exploration of mounds in eastern Tennessee. Some important discoveries were made and additional interesting facts were ascertained in regard to the mounds of that section.



Early in the month of July Col. Garrick Mallery proceeded to Maine, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to continue investigation into the pictographs of the Abnaki and Micmac Indians, which had been commenced in 1887. He first visited rocks in Maine, on the shore near Machiasport, and on Hog island, in Holmes bay, a part of Machias bay. In both localities pecked petroglyphs were found, accurate copies of which were taken. Some of them had not before been reported. They are probably of Abnaki origin, of either the Penobscot or the Passamaquoddy division, the rocks lying on the line of water communication between the territories of those divisions. From Maine he proceeded to Kejemkoojik lake, on the border of Queens and Annapolis counties, Nova Scotia, and resumed the work of drawing and tracing the large number of petroglyphs found during the previous summer. Perfect copies were obtained of so many of them as to be amply sufficient for study and comparison. These are incised petroglyphs, and were made by Micmacs. The country of the Malecites, on the St. Johns river, New Brunswick, was next visited. No petroglyphs were discovered, but a considerable amount of information was obtained[xiii] upon the old system of pictographs on birch bark and its use. Illustrative specimens were gathered, together with myths and legends, which assisted in the elucidation of some of the pictographs observed elsewhere.


Mr. W. J. Hoffman proceeded in July to visit the Red Lake and White Earth Indian reservations in Minnesota. At Red lake he obtained copies of birch bark records pertaining to the Midē'wiwin or Grand Medicine Society of the Ojibwa, an order of shamans professing the power to prophesy, to cure disease, and to confer success in the chase. The introductory portion of the ritual of this society pertains particularly to the Ojibwa cosmogony. At the same place he secured several birch bark records of hunting expeditions, battles with neighboring tribes of Indians, maps, and songs. He also investigated the former and present practice of tattooing, and the Ojibwa works of art in colors, beads, and quills.

At White Earth Reservation two distinct charts of the Grand Medicine Society were obtained, together with full explanations by two of the chief midé or shamans, one of whom was the only fourth-degree priest in either of the reservations. Although a considerable difference between these three charts is apparent, their principles and the general course of the initiation of the candidates are similar. The survival of archaic forms in the charts and ritual indicates a considerable antiquity. Some mnemonic songs were also obtained at this reservation. In addition to the ritual, secured directly from the priests, in the Ojibwa language, translations of the songs were also recorded, with musical notation. On leaving the above reservations, Mr. Hoffman proceeded to Pipestone, Minnesota, to copy the petroglyphs upon the cliffs of that historic quarry.

He then returned to St. Paul, Minnesota, to search the records of the library of the Minnesota Historical Society for copies of pictographs reported to have been made near La Pointe, Wisconsin. Little information was obtained, although it is known that such pictographs, now nearly obliterated,[xiv] existed upon conspicuous cliffs and rocks near Lake Superior, at and in the vicinity of Bayfield and Ashland.

Mr. Hoffman afterward made an examination of the “pictured cave,” eight miles northeast of La Crosse, Wisconsin, to obtain copies of the characters appearing there. These are rapidly being destroyed by the disintegration of the rock. The colors employed in delineating the various figures were dark red and black. The figures represent human beings, deer, and other forms not now distinguishable.


Mr. H. W. Henshaw spent the months of August, September, and October on the Pacific coast, engaged in the collection of vocabularies of several Indian languages, with a view to their study and classification. The Umatilla Reservation in Oregon was first visited with the object of obtaining a comprehensive vocabulary of the Cayuse. Though there are about four hundred of these Indians on the reservation, probably not more than six speak the Cayuse tongue. The Cayuse have extensively intermarried with the Umatilla, and now speak the language of the latter, or that of the Nez Percé. An excellent Cayuse vocabulary was obtained, and at the same time the opportunity was embraced to secure vocabularies of the Umatilla and the Nez Percé languages. His next objective point was the neighborhood of the San Rafael Mission, Marin county, California, the hope being entertained that some of the Indians formerly gathered at the mission would be found there. He learned that there were no Indians at or near San Rafael, but subsequently found a few on the shores of Tomales bay, to the north. A good vocabulary was collected from one of these, which, as was expected, was subsequently found to be related to the Moquelumnan family of the interior, to the southeast of San Francisco bay. Later the missions of Santa Cruz and Monterey were visited. At these points there still remain a few old Indians who retain a certain command of their own language, though Spanish forms their ordinary means of intercourse. The vocabularies obtained are sufficient to prove, beyond any reasonable doubt, that there are two[xv] linguistic families instead of one, as had been formerly supposed, in the country above referred to. A still more important discovery was made by Mr. Henshaw at Monterey, where an old woman was found who succeeded in calling to mind more than one hundred words and short phrases of the Esselen language, formerly spoken near Monterey, but less than forty words of which had been previously known. Near the town of Cayucas, to the south, an aged and blind Indian was visited who was able to add somewhat to the stock of Esselen words obtained at Monterey, and to give valuable information concerning the original home of that tribe. As a result of the study of this material Mr. Henshaw determines the Esselen to be a distinct linguistic family, a conclusion first drawn by Mr. Curtin from a study of the vocabularies collected by Galiano and Lamanon in the eighteenth century. The territory occupied by the tribe and linguistic family lies coastwise, south of Monterey bay, as far as the Santa Lucia mountains.


On July 5 Mr. James Mooney started on a second trip to the territory of the Cherokee in North Carolina, returning after an absence of about four months. During this time he made considerable additions to the linguistic material already obtained by him, and was able to demonstrate the former existence of a fourth, and perhaps even of a fifth, well-marked Cherokee dialect in addition to the upper, lower, and middle dialects already known. The invention of a Cherokee syllabary which was adapted to the sounds of the upper dialect has tended to make that dialect universal. A number of myths were collected, together with a large amount of miscellaneous material relating to the Cherokee tribe, and the great tribal game of ball play, with its attendant ceremonies of dancing, conjuring, scratching the bodies of the players, and going to water, was witnessed. A camera was utilized to secure characteristic pictures of the players. Special attention was given to the subject of Indian medicine, theoretic, ceremonial, and therapeutic. The most noted doctors of the tribe were employed as informants, and nearly five hundred specimens of medicinal[xvi] and food plants were collected and their Indian names and uses ascertained. The general result of this investigation shows that the medical and botanical knowledge of the Indians has been greatly overrated. A study was made of Cherokee personal names, about five hundred of which were translated, being all the names of Indian origin now remaining in that region. The most important results of Mr. Mooney’s investigations were the discovery of a large number of manuscripts containing the sacred formulas of the tribe, written in Cherokee characters by the shamans for their own secret use, and jealously guarded from the knowledge of all but the initiated. The existence of such manuscripts had been ascertained during a visit in 1887, and several of them had been procured. This discovery of genuine aboriginal material, written in an Indian language by shamans for their own use, is believed to be unique in the history of aboriginal investigation, and was only made possible through the invention of the Cherokee syllabary by Sequoia in 1821. Every effort was made by Mr. Mooney to obtain all the existing manuscripts, with the result of securing all of that material which was in the possession of the tribe. The whole number of formulas obtained is about six hundred. They consist of prayers and sacred songs, explanations of ceremonies, directions for medical treatment, and underlying theories. They relate to medicine, love, war, hunting, fishing, self-protection, witchcraft, agriculture, the ball play, and other similar subjects, thus forming a complete exposition of an aboriginal religion as set forth by its priests in their own language.


Early in October Mr. Jeremiah Curtin left Washington for the Pacific coast. During the remainder of the year he was occupied in Shasta and Humboldt counties, California, in collecting vocabularies and data connected with the Indian system of medicine. This work was continued in different parts of Humboldt and Siskiyou counties until June 30, 1889. Large collections of linguistic and other data were gathered and myths were secured which show that the whole system of[xvii] medicine of these Indians and the ministration of remedies originated in and are limited to sorcery practices.


The field work of Mr. Albert S. Gatschet during the year was short. It had been ascertained that Mrs. Alice M. Oliver, now in Lynn, Massachusetts, formerly lived on Trespalacios bay, Texas, near the homes of the Karánkawa, and Mr. Gatschet visited Lynn with a view of securing as complete a vocabulary as possible of their extinct language. Mrs. Oliver was able to recall about one hundred and sixty terms of the language, together with some phrases and sentences. She also furnished many valuable details regarding the ethnography of the tribe. Ten days were spent in this work.


Mr. J. N. B. Hewitt was occupied in field work from August 1 to November 8, as follows: From the first of August to September 20 he was on the Tuscarora reserve, in Niagara county, New York, in which locality fifty-five legends and myths were collected. A Penobscot vocabulary was also obtained here, together with other linguistic material. From September 20 to November 8 Mr. Hewitt visited the Grand River reserve, Canada, where a large amount of text was obtained, together with notes and other linguistic material.


Mr. Victor Mindeleff left Washington on October 23 for St. John’s, Arizona, where he examined the Hubbell collection of ancient pottery and secured a series of photographs and colored drawings of the more important specimens. Thence he went to Zuñi and obtained drawings of interior details of dwellings and other data necessary for the completion of his studies of the architecture of this pueblo. He returned to Washington December 7.


Mr. A. M. Stephen continued work among the Tusayan pueblos under the direction of Mr. Victor Mindeleff. He added[xviii] much to the knowledge of the traditionary history of Tusayan, and made an extensive study of the house lore and records of house-building ceremonials. He also reported a full nomenclature of Tusayan architectural terms as applied to the various details of terraced-house construction, with etymologies. He secured from the Navajo much useful information of the ceremonial connected with the construction of their conical lodges or “hogans,” supplementing the more purely architectural records of their construction previously collected by Mr. Mindeleff. As opportunity occurred he gathered typical collections of baskets and other textile fabrics illustrative of the successive stages of their manufacture, including specimens of raw materials and detailed descriptions of the dyes used. These collections are intended to include also the principal patterns in use at the present time, with the Indian explanations of their significance.


Major J. W. Powell, the Director, devoted much time during the year to the preparation of the paper to accompany a map of the linguistic families of America north of Mexico, the scope of which has been alluded to in previous reports. This report and map appear in the Seventh Annual Report of the Bureau.

Mr. Henshaw was chiefly occupied with the administrative duties of the office, which have been placed in his charge by the Director, and with the completion of the linguistic map.

Col. Mallery, after his return from the field work elsewhere mentioned, was engaged in the elaboration of the new information obtained and in further continued study of and correspondence relating to sign language and pictography. In this work he was assisted by Mr. Hoffman, particularly in the sketches made by the latter during previous field seasons, and in preparing a large number of the illustrations for the paper on Picture-writing of the American Indians which appears in the present volume.

Mr. J. Owen Dorsey did no field work during the year, but devoted much of the time to original investigations. Samuel[xix] Fremont, an Omaha Indian, came to Washington in October, 1888, and until February, 1889, assisted Mr. Dorsey in the revision of the entries for the Ȼegiha-English Dictionary. Similar assistance was rendered by Little Standing Buffalo, a Ponka Indian from the Indian Territory, in April and May, 1889. Mr. Dorsey also completed the entries for the Ȼegiha-English Dictionary, and a list of Ponka, Omaha, and Winnebago personal names. He translated from the Teton dialect of the Dakota all the material of the Bushotter collection in the Bureau of Ethnology, and prepared therefrom a paper on Teton folklore. He also prepared a brief paper on the camping circles of Siouan tribes, and in addition furnished an article on the modes of predication in the Athapascan dialects of Oregon and in several dialects of the Siouan family. He also edited the manuscript of the Dakota grammar, texts, and ethnography, written by the late Rev. Dr. S. R. Riggs, which has been published as Volume VII, Contributions to North American Ethnology. In May, 1889, he began an extensive paper on Indian personal names, based on material obtained by himself in the field, to contain names of the following tribes, viz: Omaha and Ponka, Kansa, Osage, Kwapa, Iowa, Oto and Missouri, and Winnebago.

Mr. Albert S. Gatschet’s office work was almost entirely restricted to the composition and completion of his Ethnographic Sketch, Grammar, and Dictionary of the Klamath Language of Oregon, with the necessary appendices. These works have been published as Parts 1 and 2, Vol. II, of Contributions to North American Ethnology.

Mr. Jeremiah Curtin during the year arranged and copied myths of various Indian families, and also transcribed Wasco, Sahaptin, and Yanan vocabularies previously collected.

Mr. James Mooney, on his return from the Cherokee reservation in 1888, began at once to translate a number of the prayers and sacred songs obtained from the shamans during his visit. The result of this work has appeared in a paper in the Seventh Annual Report of the Bureau entitled “Sacred formulas of the Cherokees.” Considerable time was devoted also to the elaboration of the botanic and linguistic notes obtained in the field. In[xx] the spring of 1889 he began the collection of material for a monograph on the aborigines of the Middle Atlantic slope, with special reference to the Powhatan tribes of Virginia. As a preliminary, about one thousand circulars, requesting information in regard to local names, antiquities, and surviving Indians, were distributed throughout Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, and northeastern Carolina. Sufficient information was obtained in responses to afford an excellent basis for future work in this direction.

Mr. John N. B. Hewitt, from July 1 to August 1, was engaged in arranging alphabetically the recorded words of the Tuscarora-English dictionary mentioned in former reports, and in the study of adjective word forms to determine the variety and kind of the Tuscarora moods and tenses. After his return from the field Mr. Hewitt classified and tabulated all the forms of the personal pronouns employed in the Tuscarora language. Studies were also prosecuted to develop the predicative function in the Tuscarora speech. All the terms of consanguinity and affinity as now used among the Tuscarora were recorded and tabulated. Literal translations of many myths collected in the field were made, and free translations added to four of them. In all appropriate instances linguistic notes were added relating to etymology, phonesis, and verbal change.

Mr. James C. Pilling gave much time to bibliographies of North American languages. The bibliography of the Iroquoian languages was completed early in the fiscal year, and the edition was issued in February. In the meantime a bibliography of the Muskhogean languages was compiled, the manuscript of which was sent to the Public Printer in January, 1889, though the edition was not delivered during the fiscal year. Early in March, 1889, Mr. Pilling went to Philadelphia to inspect the manuscripts belonging to the American Philosophical Society, the authorities of which gave him every facility, and much new material was secured. In June he visited the Astor, Lenox, and Historical Society libraries in New York; the libraries of the Boston Athenæum, Massachusetts Historical Society, American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, and the Boston Public Library, in Boston;[xxi] that of Harvard University, in Cambridge; of the American Antiquarian Society, in Worcester; and the private library of Dr. J. Hammond Trumbull, in Hartford. In Canada he visited the library of Laval University, and the private library of Mr. P. Gagnon, in Quebec, of St. Mary’s College and Jacques Cartier School in Montreal, and various missions along the St. Lawrence river, to inspect the manuscripts left by the early missionaries. The result was the accumulation of much new material for insertion in the Algonquian bibliography.

Mr. William H. Holmes continued to edit the illustrations for the publications of the Bureau, and besides was engaged actively in his studies of aboriginal archeology. He completed papers upon the pottery of the Potomac valley, and upon the objects of shell collected by the Bureau during the last eight years, and he has others in preparation. As curator of Bureau collections he makes the following statement of accessions for the year: From Mr. Thomas and his immediate assistants, working in the mound region of the Mississippi valley and contiguous portions of the Atlantic slope, the Bureau has received one hundred and forty-six specimens, including articles of clay, stone, shell, and bone. Mr. Victor Mindeleff obtained sixteen specimens of pottery from the Pueblo country. Other collections by members of the Bureau and the U. S. Geological Survey are as follows: Shell beads and pendants (modern) from San Buenaventura, California, by Mr. Henshaw; fragments of pottery and other articles from the vicinity of the Cheroki agency, North Carolina, by Mr. Mooney; a large grooved hammer from the bluff at Three Forks, Montana, by Mr. A. C. Peale; a large series of rude stone implements from the District of Columbia, by Mr. De Lancey W. Gill. Donations have been received as follows: An important series of earthen vases from a mound on Perdido bay, Alabama, given by F. H. Parsons; ancient pueblo vases from southwestern Colorado, by William M. Davidson; a series of spurious earthen vessels, manufactured by unknown persons in eastern Iowa, from C. C. Jones, of Augusta, Georgia; fragments of pottery, etc., from Romney, West Virginia, given by G. H. Johnson; fragments of a steatite pot from Ledyard,[xxii] Connecticut, by G. L. Fancher; an interesting series of stone tools, earthen vessels, etc., from a mound on Lake Apopka, Florida, by Thomas Featherstonhaugh; fragments of gilded earthenware and photographs of antiquities from Mexico, by F. Plancarte; fragments of gold ornaments from Costa Rica, by Anastasio Alfaro. Important specimens have been received as follows: Articles of clay from a mound on Perdido bay, Alabama, loaned by Mrs. A. T. Mosman; articles of clay from the last mentioned locality, by A. B. Simons; pottery from the Potomac valley, by W. Hallett Phillips, by S. V. Proudfit, and by H. L. Reynolds; articles of gold and gold-copper alloy from Costa Rica, by Anastasio Alfaro, Secretary of the National Museum at San Jose.

Mr. Thomas was chiefly occupied during the year in the preparation of the second and third volumes of his reports upon the mounds. He also prepared a bulletin on the Circular, Square, and Octagonal Earthworks of Ohio, with a view of giving a summary of the recent survey by the mound division of the principal works of the above character in southern Ohio. A second bulletin was completed, entitled “The Problem of the Ohio Mounds,” in which he presented evidence to show that the ancient works of the state are due to Indians of several different tribes, and that some, at least, of the typical works were built by the ancestors of the modern Cherokees.

Mr. Reynolds after his return from the field was engaged in the preparation of a general map of the United States, showing the area of the mounds and the relative frequency of their occurrence. He also assisted Mr. Thomas in the preparation of the monograph upon the inclosures.

Mr. Victor Mindeleff, assisted by Mr. Cosmos Mindeleff, was engaged in preparing for publication a “Study of Pueblo Architecture” as illustrated in the provinces of Tusayan and Cibola, material for which he had been collecting for a number of years. This report has appeared in the Eighth Annual Report of the Bureau.

Mr. Cosmos Mindeleff with the force of the modeling room at the beginning of the fiscal year completed the exhibit of the Bureau for the Cincinnati Exposition, and during the early[xxiii] part of the year he was at Cincinnati in charge of that exhibit. Owing to restricted space it was limited to the Pueblo culture group, but this was illustrated as fully as the time would permit. The exhibit covered about 1,200 feet of floor space, as well as a large amount of wall space, and consisted of models of pueblo and cliff ruins, models of inhabited pueblos, ancient and modern pottery, examples of weaving, basketry, etc.; a representative series of implements of war, the chase, agriculture, and the household; manikins illustrating costumes, and a series of large photographs illustrative of aboriginal architecture of the pueblo region, and of many phases of pueblo life. Upon Mr. Mindeleff’s return from Cincinnati he resumed assistance to Mr. Victor Mindeleff upon the report on pueblo architecture, and by the close of the fiscal year the two chapters which had been assigned to him were completed. They consist of a review of the literature on the pueblo region and a summary of the traditions of the Tusayan group from material collected by Mr. A. M. Stephen. Work was also continued on the duplicate series of models, and twelve were advanced to various stages of completion. Some time was devoted to repairing original models which had been exhibited at Cincinnati and other exhibitions, and also to experiments in casting in paper, in order in find a suitable paper for use in large models. The experiments were successful.

Mr. J. K. Hillers has continued the collection of photographs of prominent Indians in both full-face and profile, by which method all the facial characteristics are exhibited to the best advantage. In nearly every instance a record has been preserved of the sitter’s status in the tribe, his age, biographic notes of interest, and in cases of mixed bloods, the degree of intermixture of blood. The total number of photographs obtained during the year is 27, distributed among the following tribes, viz: Sac and Fox, 5; Dakota, 6; Omaha, 6, and mixed bloods (Creeks), 10.

Mr. Franz Boas was employed from February to April in preparing for convenient use a series of vocabularies of the several Salish divisions, previously collected by him in British Columbia.


Mr. Lucien M. Turner was for two years stationed at the Hudson Bay Company’s post, Fort Chimo, near the northern end of the peninsula of Labrador, as a civilian observer in the employ of the Signal Service, U. S. Army. He was appointed to that position at the request of the late Prof. Baird, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, in order that his skill might be made available in a complete investigation of the ethnology and natural history of the region. Mr. Turner left Washington in June, 1882, and returned in the autumn of 1884. During the last year he was engaged in the preparation of a report which will appear in one of the forthcoming annual reports of the Bureau.



The officers of the Bureau of Ethnology and all persons interested in researches concerning the North American Indians were this year called to lament the death of Mr. James Stevenson, who had made regular and valuable contributions to the publications and collections of the Bureau.

Mr. Stevenson was born in Maysville, Kentucky, on the 24th of December, 1840. When but a boy of 16 he became associated with Prof. F. V. Hayden, and accompanied him upon expeditions into the regions of the upper Missouri and Yellowstone rivers. Although the main objects of these expeditions were geological, his tastes led him chiefly to the observation of the customs and dialects of the Indians, and the facilities for such study afforded him by the winters spent among the Blackfoot and Dakota Indians excited and confirmed the anthropologic zeal which absorbed the greater part of his life.

After military service during the civil war he resumed, in 1866, the studies which had been interrupted by it, and accompanied Prof. Hayden to the Bad Lands of Dakota. From this expedition and the action of the Congress of the United States in 1866-’67, sprang the Hayden survey, and during its existence Mr. Stevenson was its executive officer. In one of the explorations from 1868 to 1878, which are too many to be here enumerated, he climbed the Great Teton, and was the[xxv] first white man known to have reached the ancient Indian altar on its summit.

In 1879 the Hayden survey was discontinued, the Bureau of Ethnology was organized, and the U. S. Geological Survey was established. Mr. Stevenson, in addition to his duties as the executive officer of the new survey, was detailed for research in connection with the Bureau of Ethnology. In the subsequent years he devoted the winters—from the incoming of the field parties to their outgoing in the spring—chiefly to business of the survey; his summers to his favorite researches. He explored the cliff and cave dwellings of Arizona and New Mexico; he unearthed in the Canyon de Chelly two perfect skeletons of its prehistoric inhabitants; he investigated the religious mythology of the Zuñi, and secured a complete collection of fetich-gods, never before allowed out of their possession; he studied the history and religions of the Navajo and the Tusayan, and made an invaluable collection of pottery, costumes, and ceremonial objects, which are now prominent in the U. S. National Museum. But in the high mesas which were the field of his explorations in 1885 he was attacked by the “mountain fever” in its worst form. It was his first serious illness, and his regular and temperate life saved him for the time. But a visit to the same region in 1887 brought on a second attack of this peculiar and distressing disease. He came home prostrated, with symptoms of serious heart failure.

He died at the Gilsey House, in New York city, on the 25th of July, 1888, and was buried in the cemetery of Rock Creek church, near Washington.


For the first time in the series of the Annual Reports of this Bureau a single paper is submitted to exhibit the character of the investigations undertaken and the facts collected by its officers, with the results of their studies upon such collections. But while the paper is single in form and in title, it includes, in its illustrations and the text relating to them, nearly all topics into which anthropology can properly be divided, and therefore shows more diversity than would often be contained[xxvi] in a volume composed of separate papers by several authors. Its subject-matter being essentially pictorial, it required a large number of illustrations, twelve hundred and ninety-five figures being furnished in the text, besides fifty-four full-page plates, which, with their explanation and discussion, expanded the volume to such size as to exclude other papers.


The papers accompanying the Fourth Annual Report of this Bureau, which was for the fiscal year 1882-’83, included one under the title “Pictographs of the North American Indians, a Preliminary Paper, by Garrick Mallery.” Although that work was of considerable length and the result of much research and study, it was in fact as well as in title preliminary. The substance and general character of the information obtained at that time on the subject was published not only for the benefit of students already interested in it, but also to excite interest in that branch of study among active explorers in the field and, indeed, among all persons engaged in anthropologic researches. For the convenience of such workers as were invited in general terms to become collaborators, suggestions were offered for the examination, description, and study of the objects connected with this branch of investigation which might be noticed or discovered by them. The result of this preliminary publication has shown the wisdom of the plan adopted. Since the distribution of the Fourth Annual Report pictography in its various branches has become, far more than ever before, a prominent feature in the publications of learned societies, in the separate works of anthropologists, and in the notes of scientific explorers. The present paper includes, with proper credit to the authors quoted or cited, many contributions to this branch of study which obviously have been induced by the preliminary paper before mentioned.

The interest thus excited has continued to be manifested by the publication of new information of importance, in diverse shapes and in many languages, some of which has been received too late for proper attention in this paper.


Col. Mallery’s studies in pictography commenced in the field. He was stationed with his military command at Fort Rice, on the upper Missouri river, in the autumn of 1876, and obtained a copy of the remarkable pictograph which he then called “A Calendar of the Dakota Nation,” and published under that title, with interpretation and explanation, in Vol. III, No. 1, of the series of bulletins of the U. S. Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories, issued April 9, 1877. This work attracted attention, and at the request of the Secretary of the Interior he was ordered by the Secretary of War, on June 13, 1877, to report for duty, in connection with the ethnology of the North American Indians, to the present Director of this Bureau, then in charge of the Geographical and Geological Survey of the Rocky Mountain Region. Upon the organization of the Bureau of Ethnology, in 1879, Col. Mallery was appointed ethnologist, and has continued in that duty without intermission, supplementing field explorations by study of all accessible anthropologic literature and by extensive correspondence. His attention has been steadily directed to pictography and to sign-language, which branches of study are so closely connected that neither can be successfully pursued to the exclusion of the other, but his researches have by no means been confined to those related subjects.

The plan and scope of the present work may be very briefly stated as follows:

After some introductory definitions and explanations general remarks are submitted upon the grand division of petroglyphs or pictures upon rocks as distinct from other exhibitions of pictography. This division is less susceptible of interpretation than others, but it claims special interest and attention because the locality of production is fixed, and also because the antiquity of workmanship may often be determined with more certainty than can that of pictures on less enduring and readily transportable objects. Descriptions, with illustrations, are presented of petroglyphs in North America, including those in several provinces of Canada, in many of the states and territories of the United States, in Mexico, and in the West Indies. A large number from Central and South America[xxviii] also appear, followed by examples from Australia, Oceanica, Europe, Africa, and Asia, inserted chiefly for comparison with the picture-writings in America, to which the work is specially devoted, and therefore styled extra-limital petroglyphs. The curious forms called cup sculptures are next discussed, followed by a chapter on pictographs considered generally, which condenses the results of much thought. The substances, apart from rocks, on which picture-writing is found are next considered, and afterwards the instruments and materials by which they are made. The subjects of pictography and the practices which elucidate it are classified under several headings, viz: Mnemonic, subdivided into (1) Knotted cords and objects tied, (2) Notched or marked sticks, (3) Wampum, (4) Order of songs, (5) Traditions, (6) Treaties, (7) Appointment, (8) Numeration, (9) Accounting; Chronology, in which the charts at first called calendars, but now, in correct translation of the Indian terms, styled winter-counts, are discussed and illustrated with the care required by their remarkable characteristics; Notices, which chapter embraces (1) Notice of visit, departure, and direction, (2) Direction by drawing topographic features, (3) Notice of condition, (4) Warning and guidance; Communications, including (1) Declaration of war, (2) Profession of peace and friendship, (3) Challenge, (4) Social and religious missives, (5) Claim or demand; Totems, titles, and names, divided into (1) Pictorial tribal designations, (2) Gentile and clan designation, (3) Significance of tattoo marks, which topic is discussed at length, with ample illustration, and (4) Designations of individuals, subdivided into insignia or tokens of authority, signs of individual achievements, property marks, and personal names. Some of the facts presented are to be correlated with the antique forms of heraldry and others with proper names in modern civilization.

The topic Religion, considered in the popular significance of that term, is divided into (1) Symbols of the supernatural, (2) Myths and mythic animals, (3) Shamanism, (4) Charms and amulets, (5) Religious ceremonies, and (6) Mortuary practices. Customs are divided into (1) Cult associations, (2) Daily life and habits, (3) Games. The chapter entitled Historic[xxix] presents (1) Record of expeditions, (2) Record of battle, which includes a highly interesting Indian pictured account of the battle of the Little Big Horn, commonly called the “Custer massacre,” (3) Record of migration, (4) Record of notable events. The Biographic chapter gives too many minutiæ for particularization here, but is divided into (1) Continuous record of events in life and (2) Particular exploits or events. Ideography permeates and infuses all the matter under the other headings, but is discussed distinctively and with evidential illustrations in the sections of (1) abstract ideas expressed objectively, and (2) symbols and emblems. In the latter section the author suggests that the proper mode of interpretation of pictographs whose origin and significance are unknown is that they are to be primarily supposed to be objective representations, but may be, and often are, ideographic, and in a limited number of cases may have become symbolic, but that the strong presumption without extrinsic evidence is against the occult or esoteric symbolism often attributed to the markings under discussion. The significance of colors is connected with ideography and examples are given of the colors used in many parts of the world for mere decoration, in ceremonies, for death and mourning, for war and peace, and to designate social status. The depiction of gesture and posture signs is next discussed, showing the intimate relation between a thought as expressed without words by signs, and a thought expressed without words by pictures corresponding to those signs.

Conventionalizing is divided into conventional devices, which were the precursors of writing, and the syllabaries and alphabets evolved. The pictographic origin of all the current alphabets of the world, often before discussed, receives further explanation.

While comparison by the reader between all the illustrations and the facts recorded and the suggestions submitted about them is essential to the utility of the work, the author gives, as representing his own mode of study, found to be advantageous in use, a chapter on Special Comparison, divided into (1) Typical style, (2) Homomorphs and symmorphs,[xxx] (3) Composite forms, (4) Artistic skill and methods. This chapter is followed by one with which it is closely connected, styled Means of Interpretation, divided into (1) Marked characters of known significance, (2) Distinctive costumes, weapons, and ornaments, (3) Ambiguous characters with known meanings, the latter being chiefly a collection of separate figures which would not be readily recognized without labels, but which are understood through reliable authority. Finally, under the rather noncommittal title of Controverted Pictographs, the subjects of fraud and error are discussed with striking examples and useful cautions.

From this brief paraphrase of the table of contents, it is obvious that nearly all branches of anthropology are touched upon. It is also to be remarked that the work is unique because it presents the several anthropologic topics recorded by the Indians themselves according to their unbiased conceptions, and in their own mode of writing. From this point of view the anonymous and generally unknown pictographers may be considered to be the primary authors of the treatise and Col. Mallery a discoverer, compiler, and editor. But such depreciative limitation of his functions would ignore the originality of treatment pervading the work and the systematic classification and skillful analysis shown in it which enhance its value and interest.


Classification of expenditures made from the appropriation for North American ethnology for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1889.

Amount of appropriation 1888-’89$40,000.00
Traveling expenses3,243.45
Transportation of property128.05
Field supplies47.00
Laboratory material95.60
Photographic material44.20
Books for library202.39
Stationery and drawing material59.36
Illustrations for report114.00
Office furniture92.50
Office supplies and repairs218.75
Bonded railroad accounts forwarded to Treasury for settlement61.19
Balance on hand to meet outstanding liabilities5,627.14











Chapter I. Petroglyphs31
Chapter II. Petroglyphs in North America37
Section 1. Petroglyphs in Canada37
Nova Scotia37
British Columbia44
Section 2. Petroglyphs in the United States45
Owens Valley56
New Mexico96
New York98
North Carolina99
Rhode Island113
South Dakota114
West Virginia124
[6]Section 3. Petroglyphs in Mexico131
Section 4. Petroglyphs in the West Indies136
Puerto Rico136
The Bahama islands137
Chapter III. Petroglyphs in Central and South America141
Section 1. Petroglyphs in Central America141
Section 2. Petroglyphs in South America142
United States of Colombia143
Argentine Republic157
Chapter IV. Extra-limital petroglyphs161
Section 1. Petroglyphs in Australia161
Section 2. Petroglyphs in Oceanica165
New Zealand165
Kei islands167
Easter island169
Section 3. Petroglyphs in Europe171
Great Britain and Ireland171
Section 4. Petroglyphs in Africa178
South Africa180
Canary islands183
Section 5. Petroglyphs in Asia185
Chapter V. Cup sculptures189
Chapter VI. Pictographs generally201
Chapter VII. Substances on which pictographs are made205
Section 1. The human body205
Section 2. Natural objects other than the human body205
Feathers and quills207
Earth and sand210
Section 3. Artificial objects215
Fictile fabrics215
Textile fabrics215
Chapter VIII. Instruments and materials by which pictographs are made218
Section 1. Instruments for carving218
Section 2. Instruments for drawing219
Section 3. Coloring matter and its application219
Chapter IX. Mnemonic223
Section 1. Knotted cords and objects tied223
Section 2. Notched or marked sticks227
Section 3. Wampum228
Section 4. Order of songs231
Section 5. Traditions250
The origin of the Indians255
Section 6. Treaties256
Section 7. Appointment257
Section 8. Numeration258
Section 9. Accounting259
Chapter X. Chronology265
Section 1. Time265
Section 2. Winter counts266
Lone-Dog’s winter count273
Battiste Good’s winter count287
Chapter XI. Notices329
Section 1. Notice of visit, departure and direction329
Section 2. Direction by drawing topographic features341
Section 3. Notice of condition347
Section 4. Warning and guidance353
Chapter XII. Communications358
Section 1. Declaration of war358
Section 2. Profession of peace and friendship359
Section 3. Challenge362
Section 4. Social and religious missives362
Australian message sticks369
West African aroko371
Section 5. Claim or demand374
Chapter XIII. Totems, titles, and names376
Section 1. Pictorial tribal designations377
Eastern Algonquian378
Siouan and other designations379
Absaroka, or Crow380
Arikara, or Ree381
Dakota, or Sioux383
Hidatsa, Gros Ventre or Minitari384
Mandan and Arikara385
Section 2. Gentile and clan designations388
Section 3. Significance of tattoo391
Tattoo in North America392
On the Pacific coast396
Tattoo in South America407
Extra-limital tattoo407
Summary of studies on tattooing418
Section 4. Designations of individuals419
Insignia, or tokens of authority419
Signs of individual achievements433
Property marks441
Personal names442
Chapter XIV. Religion461
Section 1. Symbols of the supernatural462
Section 2. Myths and mythic animals468
Thunder birds483
Section 3. Shamanism490
Section 4. Charms and amulets501
Section 5. Religious ceremonies505
Section 6. Mortuary practices517
Chapter XV. Customs528
Section 1. Cult societies528
Section 2. Daily life and habits530
Section 3. Games547
Chapter XVI. History551
Section 1. Record of expedition552
Section 2. Record of battle554
Battle of the Little Bighorn563
Section 3. Record of migration566
Section 4. Record of notable events567
Chapter XVII. Biography571
Section 1. Continuous record of events in life571
Section 2. Particular exploits or events575
Chapter XVIII. Ideography583
Section 1. Abstract ideas expressed pictorially584
After; age—old and young; bad; before; big; center; deaf; direction; disease; fast; fear; freshet; good; high; lean; little; lone; many, much; obscure; opposition; possession; prisoner; short; sight; slow; tall; trade; union; whirlwind; winter, cold, snow585-606
Section 2. Signs, symbols, and emblems607
Section 3. Significance of colors618
Decorative use of color619
Ideocrasy of colors622
Color in ceremonies623
[9]Color relative to death and mourning629
Colors for war and peace631
Color designating social status633
Section 4. Gesture and posture signs depicted637
Chapter XIX. Conventionalizing649
Section 1. Conventional devices650
Peace; war; chief; council; plenty of food; famine; starvation; horses; horse stealing; kill and death; shot; coming rain650-662
Hittite emblems662
Section 2. Syllabaries and alphabets664
The Micmac “hieroglyphics”666
Pictographs in alphabets674
Chapter XX. Special comparison676
Section 1. Typical style676
Section 2. Homomorphs and symmorphs692
Sky; sun and light; moon; day; night; cloud; rain; lightning; human form; human head and face; hand; feet and tracks; broken leg; voice and speech; dwellings; eclipse of the sun; meteors; the cross694-733
Section 3. Composite forms735
Section 4. Artistic skill and methods738
Chapter XXI. Means of interpretation745
Section 1. Marked characters of known significance745
Section 2. Distinctive costumes, weapons, and ornaments749
Section 3. Ambiguous characters with ascertained meaning755
Chapter XXII. Controverted pictographs759
Section 1. The Grave creek stone761
Section 2. The Dighton rock762
Section 3. Imitations and forced interpretations764
Chapter XXIII. General conclusions768
List of works and authors cited777




Pl. I-XI.Petroglyphs in Owens Valley, California56-76
XII.Petroglyph in Maine82
XIII.Petroglyphs in Nebraska92
XIV.The Stone of the Giants. Mexico134
XV.Powhatan’s mantle210
XVI.Peruvian quipu and birch-bark drawings226
XVII.Order of songs. Ojibwa232
XVIII.Mnemonic songs. Ojibwa236
XIX.Mnemonic songs. Ojibwa244
XX.Lone-Dog’s winter count266
XXI.Battiste Good’s cycles. A. D. 901-1000290
XXII.Battiste Good’s cycles. A. D. 1141-1280292
XXIII.Battiste Good’s cycles. A. D. 1421-1700294
XXIV.Haida double thunder-bird400
XXV.Haida dog-fish402
XXVI.Oglala chiefs420
XXVII.Oglala subchiefs422
XXVIII.Mexican military insignia432
XXIX.Mexican military insignia434
XXX.Hidatsa dancers bearing exploit marks440
XXXI.Petroglyph in rock shelter, West Virginia476
XXXII.Wasko and mythic raven, Haida480
XXXIII.Mantle of invisibility504
XXXIV.Mexican treatment of new-born children542
XXXV.Education of Mexican children. Three to six years544
XXXVI.Education of Mexican children. Seven to ten years546
XXXVII.Education of Mexican children. Eleven to fourteen years548
XXXVIII.Adoption of profession and marriage. Mexican550
XXXIX.Map of Little Bighorn battlefield564
XL.Battle of Little Bighorn. Indian camp566
XLI.Battle of Little Bighorn. Soldiers charging Indian camp568
XLII.Battle of Little Bighorn. Sioux charging soldiers570
XLIII.Battle of Little Bighorn. Sioux fighting Custer’s battalion572
XLIV.Battle of Little Bighorn. The dead Sioux574
XLV.Battle of Little Bighorn. The dead Sioux576
XLVI.Battle of Little Bighorn. Custer’s dead cavalry578
XLVII.Battle of Little Bighorn. Indians leaving battle-ground580
XLVIII.Battle of Little Bighorn. Indians leaving battle-ground582
XLIX.Mexican symbols614
L.Tablets at Ancon, Peru706
[12]LI.Thruston tablet, Tennessee734
LII.Pictures on Dōtaku, Japan736
LIII.German knights and Apache warriors740
LIV.Dighton rock762
Fig. 1-2.Palimpsests on Fairy rocks, Nova Scotia40-41
3.Petroglyph on Vancouver island44
4.Petroglyphs in Alaska47
5-8.Petroglyphs in Arizona48-50
9.Petroglyph in Shinumo canyon, Arizona51
10.Petroglyph in Mound canyon, Arizona52
11.Petroglyphs near Visalia, California53
12-16.Petroglyphs at Tule river, California54-57
17.View of Chalk grade petroglyphs, Owens valley, California59
18.Petroglyphs in Death valley, California60
19.Rattlesnake rock, Mojave desert, California61
20.Petroglyph near San Marcos pass, California62
21-22.Petroglyphs near San Marcos pass, California62-63
23-28.Petroglyphs in Najowe valley, California63-67
29-30.Petroglyphs near Santa Barbara, California67-68
31.Petroglyphs in Azuza canyon, California69
32-33.Petroglyphs in Santa Barbara county, California70-71
34-35.Petroglyphs on the Rio Mancos, Colorado73
36-37.Petroglyphs on the Rio San Juan74-75
38.Petroglyphs in Georgia76
39.Petroglyphs in Idaho, Shoshonean77
40-41.The Piasa Petroglyph78-79
42.Petroglyph on the Illinois river79
43.Petroglyph near Alton, Illinois80
44.Petroglyphs in Kansas81
45.Bald Friar rock, Maryland84
46.Slab from Bald Friar rock85
47.Top of Bald Friar rock85
48.Characters from Bald Friar rock86
49.Dighton rock, Massachusetts86
50.Petroglyphs at Pipestone, Minnesota88
51.Petroglyphs in Brown’s valley, Minnesota89
52-53.Characters from Nebraska petroglyphs91-92
54.Petroglyphs on Carson river, Nevada92
55.Petroglyphs at Reveillé, Nevada94
56.Petroglyphs at Dead mountain, Nevada95
57.Inscription rock, New Mexico96
58-59.Petroglyphs at Ojo de Benado, New Mexico97-98
60.Petroglyph at Esopus, New York98
61.Paint rock, North Carolina100
62.Petroglyphs on Paint rock, North Carolina100
63.Newark Track rock, Ohio101
64.Independence stone, Ohio102
65.Barnesville Track rock, Ohio103
66.Characters from Barnesville Track rock103
67.Barnesville Track rock, No. 2104
68.Petroglyphs, Wellsville, Ohio104
69.Petroglyphs in Lake county, Oregon106
70.Big Indian rock, Pennsylvania107
71.Little Indian rock, Pennsylvania108
72.Petroglyph at McCalls ferry, Pennsylvania108
[13]73.Petroglyph near Washington, Pennsylvania109
74.Petroglyphs on “Indian God Rock,” Pennsylvania110
75.Petroglyph at Millsboro, Pennsylvania111
76.Petroglyphs near Layton, Pennsylvania112
77-78.Glyphs in Fayette county, Pennsylvania112-113
79.Petroglyphs in Roberts county, South Dakota114
80.Petroglyphs near El Paso, Texas116
81.Petroglyphs near Manti, Utah118
82-85.Petroglyphs on Colorado river, Utah118-120
86.Petroglyphs at Pipe Spring, Utah120
87-88.Petroglyphs on Colorado river, Utah120
89.Petroglyphs in Shinumo canyon, Utah121
90.Petroglyphs in Tazewell county, Virginia121
91.Petroglyphs in Browns cave, Wisconsin126
92.Petroglyphs at Trempealeau, Wisconsin127
93-95.Petroglyphs in Wind river valley, Wyoming128-129
96-97.Petroglyphs near Sage creek, Wyoming130
98.Petroglyphs in Mexico132
99.The emperor Ahuitzotzin134
100-102.Petroglyphs in the Bahamas138-139
103.Petroglyph in Guadeloupe140
104.Petroglyphs in Nicaragua141
105.Petroglyphs in Colombia144
106.Shallow carvings in Guiana145
107.Sculptured rock in Venezuela147
108.Rock near Caïcara, Venezuela148
109.Petroglyphs of Chicagua rapids, Venezuela149
110.Petroglyphs on the Cachoeira do Ribeirão, Brazil151
111.The rock Itamaraca, Brazil151
112.Petroglyphs on the Rio Negro, Brazil152
113.Petroglyphs at Caldierão do Inferno, Brazil152
114.Petroglyphs at the falls of Girão, Brazil153
115.Petroglyphs at Pederneira, Brazil153
116.Petroglyphs at Araras rapids, Brazil154
117.Petroglyphs at Ribeirão, Brazil154
118.Character at Madeira rapid, Brazil155
119.Petroglyphs at Pao Grande, Brazil155
120.Petroglyph in Ceará, Brazil156
121-122.Petroglyphs in Morcego, Brazil156
123.Petroglyphs in Inhamun, Brazil157
124.Petroglyphs Pedra Lavrada, Brazil158
125.Inscribed rock at Bajo de Canota, Argentine Republic158
126.Petroglyphs near Araquipa, Peru159
127.Petroglyph in Huaytara, Peru159
128.Sculptured boulder in Chile160
129.Petroglyph in Cajon de los Cipreses, Chile160
130.Petroglyph on Finke river, Australia162
131.Petroglyph in Depuch island, Australia163
132.Petroglyph at Bantry bay, Australia164
133.Petroglyph in New Zealand166
134.Petroglyphs in Kei islands168
135.Petroglyphs in Easter island169
136.Tablet from Easter island170
137-138.Petroglyph in Bohuslän, Sweden174-175
[14]139.Petroglyph in Épone, France176
140.Petroglyphs at Tyout, Algeria179
141.Petroglyphs at Moghar, Algeria180
142.Petroglyph in Léribé, South Africa182
143.Petroglyphs in Basutoland, South Africa183
144-145.Petroglyphs in the Canary islands183-184
145a.Petroglyph in Yezo, Japan185
146.Petroglyphs at Chandeshwar, India187
147.Types of cup sculptures190
148.Variants of cup sculptures191
149.Cup sculptures at Auchnabreach, Scotland192
150.Cup sculptures at Ballymenach, Scotland193
151.Cup sculptures in Chiriqui194
152-153.Cup sculptures in Venezuela195
154-155.Cup sculptures in Brazil195-196
156.Cup sculptures in India197
157.Comanche drawing on shoulder blade206
158.Quill pictograph208
159.Pictograph on gourd208
160.Pictographs on wood, Washington214
161.Haida basketry hat216
162.Tshimshian blanket217
163.Wampum strings228
164.Penn wampum belt230
165.Song for medicine hunting247
166.Song for beaver hunting249
167.Osage chart251
168.Midē' record252
169.Midē' records253
171.Midē' practicing incantation254
172.Jĕssakkī'd curing a woman254
173.The origin of the Indians256
174.Record of treaty257
175-177.Shop account259-261
178-180.Book account262
181.Notched sticks263
182.Device denoting the succession of time. Dakota265
183-196.Lone-Dog’s Winter Count273-276
197.Whooping-cough. The-Flame’s Winter Count, 1813-’14276
198.Whooping-cough. The-Swan’s Winter Count, 1813-’14276
199-255.Lone-Dog’s Winter Count276-286
256.Battiste Good’s Revelation289
257-436.Battiste Good’s Winter Count293-328
437.Petroglyphs at Oakley Springs, Arizona329
438.Hunting notices331
439.Alaskan notice of hunt332
440.Alaskan notice of departure332
441.Alaskan notice of hunt333
442-444.Alaskan notice of direction333-334
445.Abnaki notice of direction335
446.Amalecite notice of trip336
447-448.Ojibwa notice of direction337-338
449.Penobscot notice of direction338
[15]450.Passamaquoddy notice of direction339
451.Micmac notice of direction341
452.Lean-Wolf’s map. Hidatsa342
453.Chart of battlefield343
454.Topographic features344
455.Greenland map345
456-458.Passamaquoddy wikhegan348-350
459.Alaskan notice of distress351
460.Alaskan notice of departure and refuge351
461.Alaskan notice of departure to relieve distress351
462.Ammunition wanted. Alaskan352
463.Assistance wanted in the hunt. Alaskan352
464-465.Starving hunters. Alaskan352-353
466.No thoroughfare354
467.Rock paintings in Azuza canyon, California354
468.Site of paintings in Azuza canyon, California355
469.Sketches from Azuza canyon355
470.West African message361
471.Ojibwa love letter363
472.Cheyenne letter364
473.Ojibwa invitations365
474.Ojibwa invitation sticks366
475.Summons to Midé ceremony367
476.Passamaquoddy wikhegan367
477.Australian message sticks370
478-479.West African aroko371
480-481.Jebu complaint375
482.Samoyed requisition375
483.Eastern Algonquian tribal designations379
484-487.Absaroka tribal designations380-381
488.Arapaho tribal designation381
489-490.Arikara tribal designations381
491.Assiniboin tribal designation381
492-493.Brulé tribal designations382
494-497.Cheyenne tribal designations382-383
498.Dakota tribal designation383
499.Hidatsa tribal designation384
500-501.Kaiowa tribal designations384
502.Mandan tribal designation385
503.Mandan and Arikara tribal designations385
504-506.Omaha tribal designations385
507-509.Pawnee tribal designations386
510-512.Ponka tribal designations386-387
513.Tamga of Kirghise tribes387
514.Dakota gentile designations389
515.Kwakiutl carvings390
516.Virginia tattoo designs393
517.Haida tattooing. Sculpin and dragon-fly397
518.Haida tattooing. Thunder-bird398
519.Haida tattooing. Thunder-bird and tshimos399
520.Haida tattooing. Bear399
521.Haida tattooing. Mountain goat400
522.Haida tattooing. Double thunder-bird401
523.Haida tattooing. Double raven401
[16]524.Haida tattooing. Dog-fish400
525-526.Tattooed Haidas402-403
527.Two forms of skulpin. Haida404
528.Frog. Haida405
529.Cod. Haida405
530.Squid. Haida405
531.Wolf. Haida405
532.Australian grave and carved trees408
533.New Zealand tattooed head and chin mark409
534.Tattoo design on bone. New Zealand409
535.Tattooed woman. New Zealand410
536.Tattoo on Papuan chief411
537.Tattooed Papuan woman412
538.Badaga tattoo marks413
539.Chukchi tattoo marks414
546.Four horn calumet424
547.Two-Strike as partisan424
548.Lean-Wolf as partisan425
549.Micmac headdress in pictograph425
550.Micmac chieftainess in pictograph426
551.Insignia traced on rocks, Nova Scotia427
552.Chilkat ceremonial shirt428
553.Chilkat ceremonial cloak429
554.Chilkat ceremonial blanket430
555.Chilkat ceremonial coat430
556.Bella Coola Indians431
557.Guatemala priest431
558.Mark of exploit. Dakota433
559.Killed with fist. Dakota433
560.Killed an enemy. Dakota434
561.Cut throat and scalped. Dakota434
562.Cut enemy’s throat. Dakota434
563.Third to strike. Dakota434
564.Fourth to strike. Dakota434
565.Fifth to strike. Dakota434
566.Many wounds. Dakota434
567-568.Marks of exploits. Hidatsa437
569.Successful defense. Hidatsa438
570.Two successful defenses. Hidatsa438
571.Captured a horse. Hidatsa438
572.Exploit marks. Hidatsa438
573.Record of exploits439
574.Record of exploits439
575.Exploit marks as worn439
576.Scalp taken440
577.Scalp and gun taken440
578.Boat paddle. Arikara442
579.African property mark442
[17]580.Owner’s marks. Slesvick442
581.Signature of Running Antelope. Dakota445
582.Solinger sword makers’ marks445
583-613.Personal names. Objective447-453
614-621.Personal names. Metaphoric453-454
622-634.Personal names. Animal455-458
635-637.Personal names. Vegetable458
639.Mexican names460
640-651.Symbols of the supernatural462-466
652.Dream. Ojibwa466
653.Religious symbols467
654.Myth of Pokinsquss469
655.Myth of Atosis470
656.Myth of the Weasel girls471
657.The giant bird Kaloo472
658.Kiwach, the strong blower473
659.Story of Glooscap474
660.Ojibwa shamanistic symbols474
661.Baho-li-kong-ya. Arizona476
662.Mythic serpents. Innuit476
663.Haida wind-spirit477
664.Orca. Haida477
665.Bear mother. Haida478
666.Thunder-bird grasping whale479
667.Haokah. Dakota giant480
668.Ojibwa mánidō480
669.Menomoni white bear mánidō481
670.Mythic wild cats. Ojibwa482
671.Winnebago magic animal482
672.Mythic buffalo482
673-674.Thunder-birds. Dakota483
675.Wingless thunder-bird. Dakota483
676-677.Thunder-birds. Dakota484
678.Thunder-bird. Haida485
679.Thunder-bird. Twana485
680.Medicine-bird. Dakota486
681.Five-Thunders. Dakota486
682.Thunder-pipe. Dakota486
683.Micmac thunder-bird487
684.Venezuelan thunder-bird487
685.Ojibwa thunder-birds487
686.Moki rain-bird488
688.Peruvian fabulous animals488
689.Australian mythic personages489
690.Ojibwa Midē' wigwam493
691.Lodge of a Midē'493
692.Lodge of a Jĕssakkī'd493
693-697.Making medicine. Dakota494
698.Magic killing495
700-701.Muzzin-ne-neence. Ojibwa495-496
702.Ojibwa divination. Ojibwa497
[18]703.Shaman exorcising demon. Alaska497
704.Supplication for success. Alaska499
705.Skokomish tamahous498
706.Mdewakantawan fetich500
707.Medicine bag, as worn501
708.Medicine bag, hung up502
709-711.Magic arrows503
712.Hunter’s charm. Australia504
713.Moki masks traced on rocks. Arizona506
714.Shaman’s lodge. Alaska507
717.Medicine lodge. Micmac510
718.Juggler lodge. Micmac511
719.Moki ceremonial511
720.Peruvian ceremony513
721-723.Tartar and Mongol drums515-517
724.Votive offering. Alaska519
725-726.Grave posts. Alaska520
727.Village and burial ground. Alaska520
728.Menomoni grave post521
729.Incised lines on Menomoni grave post522
730.Grave boxes and posts523
731.Commemoration of dead. Dakota523
732.Ossuary ceremonial. Dakota523
733.Kalosh grave boxes524
734.New Zealand grave effigy525
735.New Zealand grave post526
736.Nicobarese mortuary tablet526
737.The policeman529
738.Ottawa pipestem530
739-740.Shooting fish. Micmac531
741.Lancing fish. Micmac531
742.Whale hunting. Innuit531
743.Hunting in canoe. Ojibwa532
744.Record of hunting. Ojibwa532
745.Fruit gatherers. Hidatsa533
746.Hunting antelope. Hidatsa533
747.Hunting buffalo. Hidatsa534
748.Counting coups. Dakota534
749-750.Counting coup. Dakota535
751-752.Scalp displayed. Dakota535-536
753.Scalped head. Dakota536
754.Scalp taken. Dakota536
755-757.Antelope hunting. Dakota536-537
758.Wife’s punishment. Dakota537
759.Decorated horse. Dakota537
760.Suicide. Dakota537
761.Eagle hunting. Arikara537
762.Eagle hunting. Ojibwa538
763.Gathering pomme blanche538
764.Moving tipi538
765.Claiming sanctuary538
766-769.Raising war party. Dakota540
[19]770.Walrus hunting. Alaska541
771.Records carved on ivory. Alaska541
772-773.Haka game. Dakota547
774.Haida gambling sticks548
775.Pebbles from Mas d’Azil549
776-781.Records of expeditions. Dakota553-554
782-783.Records of battles556
784.Battle of 1797. Ojibwa557
785.Battle of Hard river. Winnebago559
786.Battle between Ojibwa and Sioux559
787.Megaque’s last battle560
788-795.Records of battles. Dakota561-563
796.Record of Ojibwa migration566
797.Origin of Brulé. Dakota567
799-802.First coming of traders568
803.Boy scalped568
804.Boy scalped alive569
805.Horses killed569
806-808.Annuities received569
809.Mexican blankets bought569
810.Wagon captured570
811.Clerk killed570
812.Flagstaff cut down570
813.Horses taken570
814.Killed two Arikara571
815.Shot and scalped an Arikara572
816.Killed ten men and three women572
817.Killed two chiefs573
818.Killed one Arikara573
819.Killed two Arikara hunters574
820.Killed five Arikara574
821.Peruvian biography575
822.Hunting record. Iroquois575
823.Martial exploits. Iroquois576
824.Cross-Bear’s death576
825.A dangerous trading trip577
826.Shoshoni raid for horses578
827.Life risked for water578
828.Runs by the enemy579
829.Runs around579
830.Goes through the camp579
831.Cut through579
832.Killed in tipi579
833.Killed in tipi579
834.Took the warpath579
835.White-Bull killed580
836.Brave-Bear killed580
837.Brave-man killed580
838.Crazy Horse killed580
839.Killed for whipping wife580
840.Killed for whipping wife580
841-842.Close shooting581
843.Lean-Wolf’s exploits. Hidatsa581
[20]844.Record of hunt. Alaska581
845.Charge after585
846.Killed after585
853.Bad. Ojibwa586
862.Deaf Woman587
868.Whooping cough588
870.Measles or smallpox589
871.Ate buffalo and died589
872.Died of “whistle”589
875.Smallpox. Mexican589
876.Died of cramps589
877-878.Died in childbirth590
879.Sickness. Ojibwa590
880.Sickness. Chinese590
888-890.River freshet591-592
918.Many shells596
919.Many deer596
920.Much snow596
921.Great, much596
929.River fight598
932.Prisoner. Dakota598
933.Takes enemy598
934.Iroquois triumph599
935.Prisoners. Dakota599
[21]936.Prisoners. Iroquois600
937.Prisoners. Mexico600
938.Short bull600
945.Slow bear601
958.Same tribe603
959.Husband and wife604
960.Same tribe604
961.Same tribe604
967-975.Winter, cold, snow605-606
976.Peruvian garrison607
977.Comet. Mexican613
978.Robbery. Mexican613
979.Guatemalan symbols614
980.Chibcha symbols616
981.Syrian symbols616
982.Piaroa color stamps621
983.Rock painting. Tule river, California638
984-998.Gesture signs in pictographs639-641
999.Water symbols642
1000.Gesture sign for drink642
1001.Water. Egyptian642
1002.Gesture for rain643
1003.Water signs. Moki643
1004.Symbols for child and man644
1005.Gestures for birth644
1008.Signal of discovery645
1009.Pictured gestures. Maya646
1010.Pictured gestures. Guatemala647
1024.War chief. Passamaquoddy652
1030-1037.Plenty of food654-655
1052-1060.Horse stealing657-658
1061-1069.Kill and death658-660
1070.Killed. Dakota660
1071.Life and death. Ojibwa660
1072.Dead. Iroquois660
1073.Dead man. Arikara660
1079.Coming rain662
1080.Hittite emblems of known sound663
1081.Hittite emblems of uncertain sound664
[22]1082.Title page of Kauder’s Micmac Catechism668
1083.Lord’s Prayer in Micmac “hieroglyphics”669
1084-1085.Religious story. Sicasica672
1086.Mo-so MS. Desgodins673
1087.Pictographs in alphabets675
1088.Algonquian petroglyph, Hamilton farm, West Virginia677
1089.Algonquian petroglyphs, Safe Harbor, Pennsylvania677
1090.Algonquian petroglyphs, Cunningham’s Island, Lake Erie679
1091.Algonquian petroglyphs, Wyoming680
1092.Shoshonean petroglyphs, Idaho680
1093.Shoshonean petroglyphs, Utah681
1094.Shoshonean rock painting, Utah681
1095-1096.Arizona petroglyphs682-683
1097-1098.Petroglyphs in Lower California683
1099.Haida totem post684
1100.New Zealand house posts685
1101.New Zealand tiki686
1102-1103.Nicaraguan petroglyphs686
1104.Deep carvings in Guiana687
1105-1106.Venezuelan petroglyphs688
1107.Brazilian petroglyphs689
1108.Spanish and Brazilian petroglyphs690
1109-1111.Brazilian petroglyphs690-691
1112.Brazilian pictograph691
1113-1114.Brazilian petroglyphs692
1118.Sun. Oakley Springs694
1119.Sun. Gesture sign695
1120.Devices for sun695
1121.Sun and light695
1123.Light and sun696
1124.Sun. Kwakiutl696
1125.Sun mask. Kwakiutl696
1127.Gesture for moon696
1130.Day. Ojibwa697
1131.Morning. Arizona698
1133.Days. Apache698
1134.Clear, stormy. Ojibwa699
1140.Night. Ojibwa699
1141.Sign for night700
1142.Night. Egyptian700
1143.Night. Mexican700
1144.Cloud shield700
1145.Clouds. Moki700
1146.Cloud. Ojibwa700
1147.Rain. Ojibwa701
[23]1148.Rain. Pueblo701
1149.Rain. Moki701
1150.Rain. Chinese701
1151-1153.Lightning. Moki701-702
1154.Lightning. Pueblo702
1155-1158.Human form703
1159.Human form. Alaska704
1160.Bird man. Siberia704
1161.American. Ojibwa704
1162.Man. Yakut704
1163.Human forms. Moki704
1164.Human form. Navajo705
1165.Man and woman. Moki705
1166.Human form. Colombia705
1167.Human form. Peru707
1168.Human face. Brazil708
1169-1170.Human faces. Brazil708
1171.Double-faced head. Brazil708
1172.Funeral urn. Marajo709
1173.Marajo vase709
1174.Marajo vases710
1175.Human heads711
1176.Hand. Ojibwa711
1177.Joined hands. Moki712
1178.Cave-painting. Australia713
1179.Irish cross715
1180.Roman standard715
1187-1192.Broken leg. Dakota716-717
1193.Broken leg. Chinese717
1199.Speech. Ojibwa719
1200.Talk. Mexican719
1201.Talk. Maya719
1202.Talk. Guatemala720
1204-1210.Dwellings. Dakota721
1211.Dwellings. Moki721
1212.Dwelling. Maya722
1213.House. Egyptian722
1214.Eclipse of the sun722
1224.Meteors. Mexican724
1225.Cross. Dakota725
1226.Cross. Ohio mound725
1227.Dragon fly725
1228.Crosses. Eskimo727
1229.Cross. Tulare valley, California727
1230.Crosses. Owens valley, California728
1231.Cross. Innuit729
1232.Crosses. Moki729
1233.Crosses. Maya729
1234.Crosses. Nicaragua730
[24]1235-1236.Crosses. Guatemala730-731
1237.Crosses. Sword-makers’ marks732
1238.Cross. Golasecca733
1239-1251.Composite forms735-736
1252.Wolf-man. Haida737
1253.Panther-man. Haida737
1254.Moose. Kejimkoojik739
1255.Hand. Kejimkoojik740
1256.Engravings on bamboo. New Caledonia743
1257.Typical character. Guiana745
1258.Moki devices746
1259.Frames and arrows. Moki746
1260.Blossoms. Moki746
1261.Moki characters748
1262.Mantis. Kejimkoojik749
1263.Animal forms. Sonora749
1264-1278.Weapons and ornaments. Dakota750-752
1280.Australian wommera and clubs754
1281.Turtle. Maya756
1282.Armadillo. Yucatan756
1283.Dakota drawings756
1284.Ojibwa drawings757
1285-1287.Grave creek stone761-762
1288.Imitated pictograph765
1289.Fraudulent pictograph767
1290.Chinese characters767



By Garrick Mallery.


An essay entitled “Pictographs of the North American Indians: A Preliminary Paper,” appeared in the Fourth Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology. The present work is not a second edition of that essay, but is a continuation and elaboration of the same subject. Of the eighty-three plates in that paper not one is here reproduced, although three are presented with amendments; thus fifty-one of the fifty-four plates in this volume are new. Many of the text figures, however, are used again, as being necessary to the symmetry of the present work, but they are now arranged and correlated so as to be much more useful than when unmethodically disposed as before, and the number of text figures now given is twelve hundred and ninety-five as against two hundred and nine, the total number in the former paper. The text itself has been rewritten and much enlarged. The publication of the “Preliminary Paper” has been of great value in the preparation of the present work, as it stimulated investigation and report on the subject to such an extent that it is now impossible to publish within reasonable limits of space all the material on hand. Indeed, after the present work had been entirely written and sent to the Public Printer, new information came to hand which ought to be published, but can not now be inserted.

It is also possible to give more attention than before to the picture-writing of the aboriginal inhabitants of America beyond the limits of the United States. While the requirements of the acts of Congress establishing the Bureau of Ethnology have been observed by directing main attention to the Indians of North America, there is sufficient notice of Central and South America to justify the present title, in which also the simpler term “picture-writing” is used instead of “pictographs.”

Picture-writing is a mode of expressing thoughts or noting facts by marks which at first were confined to the portrayal of natural or artificial objects. It is one distinctive form of thought-writing without[26] reference to sound, gesture language being the other and probably earlier form. Whether remaining purely ideographic, or having become conventional, picture-writing is the direct and durable expression of ideas of which gesture language gives the transient expression. Originally it was not connected with the words of any language. When adopted for syllabaries or alphabets, which is the historical course of its evolution, it ceased to be the immediate and became the secondary expression of the ideas framed in oral speech. The writing common in civilization may properly be styled sound-writing, as it does not directly record thoughts, but presents them indirectly, after they have passed through the phase of sound. The trace of pictographs in alphabets and syllabaries is discussed in the present work under its proper heading so far as is necessary after the voluminous treatises on the topic, and new illustrations are presented. It is sufficient for the present to note that all the varied characters of script and print now current are derived directly or mediately from pictorial representations of objects. Bacon well said that “pictures are dumb histories,” and he might have added that in the crude pictures of antiquity were contained the germs of written words.

The importance of the study of picture-writing depends partly upon the result of its examination as a phase in the evolution of human culture. As the invention of alphabetic writing is admitted to be the great step marking the change from barbarism to civilization, the history of its earlier development must be valuable. It is inferred from internal evidence, though not specifically reported in history, that picture-writing preceded and generated the graphic systems of Egypt, Assyria, and China, but in America, especially in North America, its use is still current. It can be studied here without any requirement of inference or hypothesis, in actual existence as applied to records and communications. Furthermore, the commencement of its evolution into signs of sound is apparent in the Aztec and the Maya characters, in which transition stage it was arrested by foreign conquest. The earliest lessons of the genesis and growth of culture in this important branch of investigation may, therefore, be best learned from the western hemisphere. In this connection it should be noticed that picture-writing is found in sustained vigor on the same continent where sign language has prevailed and has continued in active operation to an extent historically unknown in other parts of the world. These modes of expression, i. e., transient and permanent thought-writing, are so correlated in their origin and development that neither can be studied to the best advantage without including the other. Unacquainted with these facts, but influenced by an assumption that America must have been populated from the eastern hemisphere, some enterprising persons have found or manufactured American inscriptions composed of characters which may be tortured into identity with some of the Eurasian alphabets or syllabaries, but which sometimes[27] suggest letters of indigenous invention. This topic is discussed in its place.

For the purposes of the present work there is no need to decide whether sign-language, which is closely connected with picture-writing, preceded articulate speech. It is sufficient to admit the high antiquity of thought-writing in both its forms, and yet it is proper to notice a strong current of recent opinions as indicated by Prof. Sayce (a) in his address to the anthropologic section of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, as follows:

I see no escape from the conclusions that the chief distinctions of race were established long before man acquired language. If the statement made by M. de Mortillet is true, that the absence of the mental tubercle, or bony excrescence in which the tongue is inserted, in a skull of the Neanderthal type found at La Naulette, indicates an absence of the faculty of speech, one race at least of palæolithic man would have existed in Europe before it had as yet invented an articulate language. Indeed it is difficult to believe that man has known how to speak for any very great length of time. * * * We can still trace through the thin disguise of subsequent modifications and growth the elements, both lexical and grammatical, out of which language must have arisen. * * * The beginnings of articulate language are still too transparent to allow us to refer them to a very remote era. * * * In fact the evidence that he is a drawing animal * * * mounts back to a much earlier epoch than the evidence that he is a speaking animal.

When a system of ideographic gesture signs prevailed and at the same time any form of artistic representation, however rude, existed, it would be expected that the delineations of the former would appear in the latter. It was but one more and an easy step to fasten upon bark, skins, or rocks the evanescent air pictures that still in pigments or carvings preserve their ideography or conventionalism in their original outlines. A transition stage between gestures and pictographs, in which the left hand is used as a supposed drafting surface, upon which the index draws lines, is exhibited in the Dialogue between Alaskan Indians in the First Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology (a). This device is common among deaf-mutes, without equal archeologic importance, as it may have been suggested by the art of writing, with which, even when not instructed in it, they are generally acquainted.

The execution of the drawings, of which the several forms of picture-writing are composed, often exhibits the first crude efforts of graphic art, and their study in that relation is of value.

When pictures are employed for the same purpose as writing, the conception intended to be presented is generally analyzed and only its most essential points are indicated, with the result that the characters when frequently repeated become conventional, and in their later form cease to be recognizable as objective portraitures. This exhibition of conventionalizing has its own historic import.

It is not probable that much valuable information will ever be obtained from ancient rock carvings or paintings, but they are important as indications of the grades of culture reached by their authors, and of the subjects which interested those authors, as is shown[28] in the appropriate chapters following. Some portions of these pictures can be interpreted. With regard to others, which are not yet interpreted and perhaps never can be, it is nevertheless useful to gather together for synoptic study and comparison a large number of their forms from many parts of the world. The present collection shows the interesting psychologic fact that primitive or at least very ancient man made the same figures in widely separated regions, though it is not established that the same figures had a common significance. Indications of priscan habitat and migrations may sometimes be gained from the general style or type of the drawings and sculptures, which may be divided into groups, although the influence of the environing materials must always be considered.

The more modern specimens of picture-writing displayed on skins, bark, and pottery are far more readily interpreted than those on rocks, and have already afforded information and verification as to points of tribal history, religion, customs, and other ethnologic details.

A criticism has been made on the whole subject of picture-writing by the eminent anthropologist, Dr. Andree, who, in Ethnographische Parallelen und Vergleiche (a), has described and figured a large number of examples of petroglyphs, a name given by him to rock-drawings and now generally adopted. His views are translated as follows:

But if we take a connected view of the petroglyphs to which the rock pictures, generally made with red paint, are equivalent, and make a comparison of both, it becomes evident that they are usually made for mere pastime and are the first artistic efforts of rude nations. Nevertheless, we find in them the beginnings of writing, and in some instances their transition to pictography as developed among North American Indians becomes evident.

It appears, therefore, that Dr. Andree carefully excludes the picture-writings of the North American Indians from his general censure, his conclusion being that those found in other parts of the world usually occupy a lower stage. It is possible that significance may yet be ascertained in many of the characters found in other regions, and perhaps this may be aided by the study of those in America; but no doubt should exist that the latter have purpose and meaning. The relegation to a trivial origin of such pictographs as are described and illustrated in the present work will be abandoned after a thorough knowledge of the labor and thought which frequently were necessary for their production. American pictographs are not to be regarded as mere curiosities. In some localities they represent the only intellectual remains of the ancient inhabitants. Wherever found, they bear significantly upon the evolution of the human mind.

Distrust concerning the actual significance of the ancient American petroglyphs may be dispelled by considering the practical use of similar devices by historic and living Indians for purposes as important to them as those of alphabetic writing, these serving to a surprising extent the same ends. This paper presents a large number of conclusive[29] examples. The old devices are substantially the same as the modern, though improved and established in the course of evolution. The ideography and symbolism displayed in these devices present suggestive studies in psychology more interesting than the mere information or text contained in the pictures. It must also be observed that when Indians now make pictographs it is with intention and care—seldom for mere amusement. Even when the labor is undertaken merely to supply the trade demand for painted robes or engraved pipes or bark records, it is a serious manufacture, though sometimes only imitative and not intrinsically significant. In all other known instances in which pictures are made without such specific intent as is indicated under the several headings of this work, they are purely ornamental; but in such cases they are often elaborate and artistic, not idle scrawls.

This paper is limited in its terms to the presentation of the most important known pictographs of the American Indians, but examples from other parts of the world are added for comparison. The proper classification and correlation of the matter collected has required more labor and thought than is apparent. The scheme of the work has been to give in an arrangement of chapters and sections some examples with illustrations in connection with each heading in the classification. This plan has involved a large amount of cross reference, because in many cases a character or a group of characters could be considered with reference to a number of different characteristics, and it was necessary to choose under which one of the headings it should be presented, involving reference to that from the other divisions of the work. Sometimes the decision was determined by taste or judgment, and sometimes required by mechanical considerations.

It may be mentioned that the limitation of the size of the present volume required that the space occupied by the text should be subordinated to the large amount of illustration. It is obvious that a work on picture-writing should be composed largely of pictures, and to allow room for them many pages of the present writer’s views have been omitted. Whatever may be the disadvantage of this omission it leaves to students of the work the opportunity to form their own judgments without bias. Indeed, this writer confesses that although he has examined and studied in their crude shape, as they went to the printer, all the illustrations and descriptions now presented, he expects that after the volume shall be delivered to him in printed form with its synoptic arrangement he will be better able than now to make appropriate remarks on its subject-matter. Therefore he anticipates that careful readers will judiciously correct errors in the details of the work which may have escaped him and that they will extend and expand what is yet limited and partial. It may be proper to note that when the writer’s observation has resulted in agreement with published authorities or contributors, the statements that could have been made on his own personal knowledge have been cited, when possible, from[30] the printed or manuscript works of others. Quotation is still more requisite when there is disagreement with the authorities.

Thanks for valuable assistance are due and rendered to correspondents and to officers of the Bureau of Ethnology and of the United States Geological Survey, whose names are generally mentioned in connection with their several contributions. Acknowledgment is also made now and throughout the work to Dr. W. J. Hoffman, who has officially assisted in its preparation during several years, by researches in the field, in which his familiarity with Indians and his artistic skill have been of great value. Similar recognition is due to Mr. De Lancey W. Gill, in charge of the art department of the Bureau of Ethnology and the U. S. Geological Survey, and to Mr. Wells M. Sawyer, his assistant, specially detailed on the duty, for their work on the illustrations presented. While mentioning the illustrations, it may be noted that the omission to furnish the scale on which some of them are produced is not from neglect, but because it was impossible to ascertain the dimensions of the originals in the few cases where no scale or measurement is stated. This omission is most frequently noticeable in the illustrations of petroglyphs which have not been procured directly by the officers of the Bureau of Ethnology. The rule in that Bureau is to copy petroglyphs on the scale of one-sixteenth actual size. Most of the other classes of pictographs are presented without substantial reduction, and in those cases the scale is of little importance.

It remains to give special notice to the reader regarding the mode adopted to designate the authors and works cited. A decision was formed that no footnotes should appear in the work. A difficulty in observing that rule arose from the fact that in the repeated citation of published works the text would be cumbered with many words and numbers to specify titles, pages and editions. The experiment was tried of printing in the text only the most abbreviated mention, generally by the author’s name alone, of the several works cited, and to present a list of them arranged in alphabetic order with cross references and catch titles. This list appears at the end of the work with further details and examples of its use. It is not a bibliography of the subject of picture-writing, nor even a list of authorities read and studied in the preparation of the work, but it is simply a special list, prepared for the convenience of readers, of the works and authors cited in the text, and gives the page and volume, when there is more than one volume in the edition, from which the quotation is taken.



In the plan of this work a distinction has been made between a petroglyph, as Andree names the class, or rock-writing, as Ewbank called it, and all other descriptions of picture-writing. The criterion for the former is that the picture, whether carved or pecked, or otherwise incised, and whether figured only by coloration or by coloration and incision together, is upon a rock either in situ or sufficiently large for inference that the picture was imposed upon it where it was found. This criterion allows geographic classification. In presenting the geographic distribution, prominence is necessarily (because of the laws authorizing this work) given to the territory occupied by the United States of America, but examples are added from various parts of the globe, not only for comparison of the several designs, but to exhibit the prevalence of the pictographic practice in an ancient form, though probably not the earliest form. The rocks have preserved archaic figures, while designs which probably were made still earlier on less enduring substances are lost.

Throughout the world in places where rocks of a suitable character appear, and notably in South America, markings on them have been found similar to those in North America, though until lately they have seldom been reported with distinct description or with illustration. They are not understood by the inhabitants of their vicinity, who generally hold them in superstitious regard, and many of them appear to have been executed from religious motives. They are now most commonly found remaining where the population has continued to be sparse, or where civilization has not been of recent introduction, with exceptions such as appear in high development on the Nile.

The superstitions concerning petroglyphs are in accord with all other instances where peoples in all ages and climes, when observing some phenomenon which they did not understand, accounted for it by supernatural action. The following examples are selected as of interest in the present connection.

It must be premised with reference to the whole character of the mythology and folk-lore of the Indians that, even when professed converts to Christianity, they seem to have taken little interest in the stories of the Christian church, whether the biblical narratives or the lives and adventures of the saints, which are so constantly dwelt upon[32] throughout the Christian world that they have become folk-lore. The general character of the Christian legends does not seem to have suited the taste of Indians and has not at all impaired their affection for or their belief in the aboriginal traditions.

Among the gods or demigods of the Abnaki are those who particularly preside over the making of petroglyphs. Their name in the plural, for there are several personages, is Oonagamessok. They lived in caves by the shore and were never seen, but manifested their existence by inscriptions on the rocks. The fact that these inscribed rocks are now very seldom found is accounted for by the statement that the Oonagamessok have become angry at the want of attention paid to them since the arrival of the white people and have caused the pictures to disappear. There is no evidence to determine whether this tradition should be explained by the fact that the ingenious shamans of the last century would sometimes produce a miracle, carving the rocks themselves and interpreting the marks in their own way, or by the fact that the rock inscriptions were so old that their origin was not remembered and an explanation was, as usual, made by ascription to a special divinity, perhaps a chieftain famous in the old stage of mythology, or perhaps one invented for the occasion by the class of priests who from immemorial antiquity have explained whatever was inexplicable.

At a rock near the mouth of the Magiguadavic river, at the time immediately before the Passamaquoddy Indians chose their first governor after the manner of the whites, the old Indians say there suddenly appeared a white man’s flag carved on the rocks. The old Indians interpreted this as a prophecy that the people would soon be abandoned to the white man’s methods, and this came to pass shortly after. Formerly they had a “Mayouett” or chief. Many other rock carvings are said to have foretold what has since come to pass. Strange noises have also been heard near them.

The Omaha superstition is mentioned on pages 91-92 infra.

The Mandans had an oracle stone on which figures appeared on the morning after a night of public fasting. They were deciphered by the shaman, who doubtless had made them.

Mr. T. H. Lewis (a) gives the following tradition relating to the incised bowlders in the upper Minnesota valley:

In olden times there used to be an object that marked the bowlders at night. It could be seen, but its exact shape was indistinct. It would work making sounds like hammering, and occasionally emit a light similar to that of a firefly. After finishing its work it would give one hearty laugh like a woman laughing and then disappear. The next morning the Indians would find another pictured bowlder in the vicinity where the object had been seen the night previous.

Mr. J. W. Lynd (a) says of the Dakotas:

The deities upon which the most worship is bestowed, if, indeed, any particular one is nameable, are Tunkan (Inyan) the Stone God and Wakinyan, the Thunder Bird. The latter, as being the main god of war, receives constant worship and sacrifices; whilst the adoration of the former is an every-day affair. The Tunkan,[33] the Dakotas say, is the god that dwells in stones or rocks, and is the oldest god. If asked why it is considered the oldest, they will tell you because it is the hardest.

Mr. Charles Hallock, on the authority of Capt. Ed. Hunter, First Cavalry, U. S. A., furnishes the following information respecting the Assiniboin, Montana, rock pictures, which shows the reverence of these Indians for the petroglyphs even when in ruins:

Some of the rocks of the sculptured cliff cleaved off and tumbled to the ground, whereupon the Indians assembled in force, stuck up a pole, hung up some buffalo heads and dried meat, had a song and dance, and carefully covered the detached fragments (which were sculptured or painted) with cotton cloth and blankets. Jim Brown, a scout, told Capt. Hunter that the Indians assembled at this station at stated times to hold religious ceremonies. The pictures are drawn on the smooth face of an outcrop or rocky projection.

Marcano (a) gives an account in which superstition is mixed with historic tradition. It is translated as follows:

The legend of the Tamanaques, transmitted by Father Gili, has also been invoked in favor of an ancient civilization. According to the beliefs of this nation, there took place in days of old a general inundation, which recalls the age of the great waters of the Mexicans, during which the scattered waves beat against the Encaramada. All the Tamanaques were drowned except one man and one woman, who fled to the mountain of Tamacu or Tamanácu, situated on the banks of Asiveru (Cuchivero). They threw above their heads the fruits of the palm tree, Mauritia, and saw arising from their kernels the men and women who repeopled the earth. It was during this inundation that Amalavica, the creator of mankind, arrived on a bark and carved the inscription of Tepumereme. Amalavica remained long among the Tamanaques, and dwelt in Amalavica-Jeutitpe (house). After putting everything in order he set sail and returned “to the other shore,” whence he had come. “Did you perchance meet him there?” said an Indian to Father Gili, after relating to him this story. In this connection Humboldt recalls that in Mexico, too, the monk Sahagun was asked whether he came from the other shore, whither Quetzalcoatl had retired.

The same traveler adds: “When you ask the natives how the hieroglyphic characters carved on the mountains of Urbana and Encaramada could have been traced, they reply that this was done in the age of the great waters, at the time when their fathers were able to reach the heights in their canoes.”

If these legends and these petroglyphs are proof of an extinct civilization, it is astonishing that their authors should have left no other traces of their culture. To come to the point, is it admissible that they were replaced by savage tribes without leaving a trace of what they had been, and can we understand this retrograde march of civilization when progress everywhere follows an ascending course? These destructions of American tribes in place are very convenient to prop up theories, but they are contrary to ethnologic laws.

The remarkable height of some petroglyphs has misled authors of good repute as well as savages. Petroglyphs frequently appear on the face of rocks at heights and under conditions which seemed to render their production impossible without the appliances of advanced civilization, a large outlay, and the exercise of unusual skill. An instance among many of the same general character is in the petroglyphs at Lake Chelan, Washington, where they are about 30 feet above the present water level, on a perpendicular cliff, the base of which is in the lake. On simple examination the execution of the pictographic work would[34] seem to involve details of wharfing, staging, and ladders if operated from the base, and no less elaborate machinery if approached from the summit. Strahlenberg suggests that such elevated drawings were made by the ingenious use of stone wedges driven into the rock, thus affording support for ascent or descent, and reports that he actually saw such stone wedges in position on the Yenesei river. A very rough geological theory has been presented by others to account for the phenomena by the rise of the rocks to a height far above the adjacent surface at a time later than their carving.

But in the many cases observed in America it is not necessary to propose either the hypothesis involving such elaborate work as is suggested or one postulating enormous geological changes. The escarpment of cliffs is from time to time broken down by the action of the elements and the fragments fall to the base, frequently forming a talus of considerable height, on which it is easy to mount and incise or paint on the remaining perpendicular face of the cliff. When the latter adjoins a lake or large stream, the disintegrated débris is almost immediately carried off, leaving the drawings or paintings at an apparently inaccessible altitude. When the cliff is on dry land, the rain, which is driven against the face of the cliff and thereby increased in volume and force at the point in question, also sweeps away the talus, though more slowly. The talus is ephemeral in all cases, and the face of the cliff may change in a week or a century, as it may happen, so its aspect gives but a slight evidence of age. The presence, therefore, of the pictures on the heights described proves neither extraordinary skill in their maker nor the great antiquity which would be indicated by the emergence of the pictured rocks through volcanic or other dynamic agency. The age of the paintings and sculptures must be inferred from other considerations.

Pictures are sometimes found on the parts of rocks which at present are always, or nearly always, covered with water. On the sea shore at Machias bay, Maine, the peckings have been continued below the line of the lowest tides as known during the present generation. In such cases subsidence of the rocky formation may be indicated. At Kejimkoojik lake, Nova Scotia, incisions of the same character as those on the bare surface of the slate rocks can now be seen only by the aid of a water glass, and then only when the lake is at its lowest. This may be caused by subsidence of the rocks or by rise of the water through the substantial damming of the outlet. Some rocks on the shores of rivers, e. g., those on the Kanahwa, in West Virginia, show the same general result of the covering and concealment of petroglyphs by water, except in an unusual drought, which may more reasonably be attributed to the gradual elevation of the river through the rise of the surface near its mouth than to the subsidence of the earth’s crust at the locality of the pictured rocks.

It must be admitted that no hermeneutic key has been discovered[35] applicable to American pictographs, whether ancient on stone or modern on bark, skins, linen, or paper. Nor has any such key been found which unlocks the petroglyphs of any other people. Symbolism was of individual origin and was soon variously obscured by conventionalizing; therefore it requires separate study in every region. No interpreting laws of general application to petroglyphs so far appear, although types and tendencies can be classified. It was hoped that in some lands petroglyphs might tell of the characters and histories of extinct or emigrated peoples, but it now seems that knowledge of the people who were the makers of the petroglyphs is necessary to any clear understanding of their work. The fanciful hypotheses which have been formed without corroboration, wholly from such works as remain, are now generally discarded.

There is a material reason why the interpretation of petroglyphs is attended with special difficulty. They have often become so blurred by the elements and so much defaced where civilized man has penetrated that they cease to have any distinct or at least incontrovertible features. The remarks relating to Dighton rock, infra, Chap. XXII, are in point.

Rock-carving or picture-writing on rocks is so old among the American tribes as to have acquired a nomenclature. The following general remarks of Schoolcraft (a) are of some value, though they apply with any accuracy only to the Ojibwa and are tinctured with a fondness for the mysterious:

For their pictographic devices the North American Indians have two terms, namely, Kekeewin, or such things as are generally understood by the tribe, and Kekeenowin, or teachings of the medas or priests and jossakeeds or prophets. The knowledge of the latter is chiefly confined to persons who are versed in their system of magic medicine, or their religion, and may be deemed hieratic. The former consists of the common figurative signs, such as are employed at places of sepulture or by hunting or traveling parties. It is also employed in the muzzinabiks, or rock-writings. Many of the figures are common to both and are seen in the drawings generally; but it is to be understood that this results from the figure alphabet being precisely the same in both, while the devices of the nugamoons or medicine, wabino, hunting, and war songs are known solely to the initiates who have learned them, and who always pay high to the native professors for this knowledge.

In the Oglala Roster mentioned in Chapter XIII, Section 4, infra, one of the heads of families is called Inyanowapi, translated as Painted (or inscribed) rock. A blue object in the shape of a bowlder is connected with the man’s head by the usual line, and characters too minute for useful reproduction appear on the bowlder. The name is interesting as giving the current Dakota term for rock-inscriptions. The designation may have been given to this Indian because he was an authority on the subject and skilled either in the making or interpretation of petroglyphs.

The name “Wikhegan” was and still is used by the Abnaki to signify portable communications made in daily life, as distinct from the rock carvings mentioned above, which are regarded by them as mystic.


One of the curious facts in connection with petroglyphs is the meager notice taken of them by explorers and even by residents other than the Indians, who are generally reticent concerning them. The present writer has sometimes been annoyed and sometimes amused by this indifference. The resident nearest to the many inscribed rocks at Kejimkoojik Lake, Nova Scotia, described in Chapter II, Section 1, was a middle-aged farmer of respectable intelligence who had lived all his life about 3 miles from those rocks, but had only a vague notion of their character, and with difficulty found them. A learned and industrious priest, who had been working for many years on the shores of Lake Superior preparing not only a dictionary and grammar of the Ojibwa language, but an account of Ojibwa religion and customs, denied the present existence of any objects in the nature of petroglyphs in that region. Yet he had lived for a year within a mile of a very important and conspicuous pictured rock, and, on being convinced of his error by sketches shown him, called in his Ojibwa assistant and for the first time learned the common use of a large group of words which bore upon the system of picture-writing, and which he thereupon inserted in his dictionary, thus gaining from the visitor, who had come from afar to study at the feet of this supposed Gamaliel, much more than the visitor gained from him.




The information thus far obtained about petroglyphs in Canada is meager. This may be partly due to the fact that through the region of the Dominion now most thoroughly known the tribes have generally resorted for their pictographic work to the bark of birch trees, which material is plentiful and well adapted for the purpose. Indeed the same fact affords an explanation of the paucity of rock-carvings or paintings in the lands immediately south of the boundary line separating the United States from the British possessions. It must also be considered that the country on both sides of that boundary was in general heavily timbered, and that even if petroglyphs are there they may not even yet have been noticed. But that the mere plenty of birch bark does not evince the actual absence of rock-pictures in regions where there was also an abundance of suitable rocks, and where the native inhabitants were known to be pictographers, is shown by the account given below of the multitudes of such pictures lately discovered in a single district of Nova Scotia. It is confidently believed that many petroglyphs will yet be found in the Dominion. Others may be locally known and possibly already described in publications which have escaped the researches of the present writer. In fact, from correspondence and oral narrations, there are indications of petroglyphs in several parts of the Dominion besides those mentioned below, but their descriptions are too vague for presentation here. For instance, Dr. Boas says that he has seen a large number of petroglyphs in British Columbia, of which neither he nor any other traveler has made distinct report.


The only petroglyphs yet found in the peninsula of Nova Scotia are in large numbers within a small district in Queens county, and they comprise objects unique in execution and in interest. They were examined by the present writer in the field seasons of 1887 and 1888, and some were copied by him, but many more copies were taken in the last-mentioned year by Mr. George Creed, of South Rawdon, Nova Scotia, who had guided the writer to the locality. Attention was at first[38] confined to Fairy lake and its rocks. This lake is really a bay of a larger lake which is almost exactly on the boundary line between Annapolis and Queens counties, one of those forming the chain through which the Liverpool river runs, and called Cegemacaga in More’s History of Queens County (a), but according to Dr. Silas Rand in his Reading Book in the Micmac Language (a), Kejimkoojik, translated by him as “swelled parts,” doubtless referring to the expansion of the Maitland river at its confluence with the Liverpool river.

The Fairy rocks, as distinct from others in the lake, are three in number, and are situated on the east side of Kejimkoojik lake and south of the entrance to Fairy lake. The northernmost of the three rocks is immediately at the entrance, the westernmost and central rock showing but a small surface at high water and at the highest stage of the water being entirely submerged. Three other inscribed rocks are about 2 miles south of these, at Piels (a corruption of Pierre’s) point, opposite an island called Glodes or Gload island, so named from a well-known Micmac family. These rocks are virtually a continuation of the same formation with depressions between them. Two other localities in the vicinity where the rocks are engraved, as hereafter described, are at Fort Medway river and Georges lake. As they are all of the same character, on the same material, and were obviously made by the same people, they are all classed together, when referred to in this paper, as at Kejimkoojik lake. All of these rocks are of schistose slate of the Silurian formation, and they lie with so gentle a dip that their magnitudes vary greatly with a slight change in the height of the water. On August 27, 1887, when, according to the reports of the nearest residents, the water was one foot above the average summer level, the unsubmerged portion of the central rock then surrounded by water was an irregular oval, the dimensions of which were 47 by 60 feet. The highest points of the Fairy rocks at that date were no more than three and few were more than two feet above the surface of the water. The inclination near the surface is so small that a falling of the water of one foot would double the extent of that part of the surface which, by its smoothness and softness, is adapted to engraving. The inclination at Piels point is steeper, but still allows a great variation of exposed surface in the manner mentioned.

Mr. Creed first visited the Fairy rocks in July, 1881. His attention was directed exclusively to the northernmost rock, which was then more exposed than it was in September, 1887, and much of the inscribed portion seen by him in 1881 was under water in 1887. The submerged parts of the rocks adjoining those exposed are covered with incisions. Many inscriptions were seen in 1881 by Mr. Creed through the water, and others became visible through a water glass in 1887. His recollection of the inscribed dates seen in 1881 is that some with French names attached were of years near 1700, and that the worn appearance of the figures and names corresponded with the lapse of time indicated by[39] those dates. A number of markings were noticed by him which are not found in the parts now exposed, and were evidently more ancient than most of the engravings on the latter. From other sources of information it is evident that either from a permanent rise in the water of the lake or from the sinking of the rocks, they formerly showed, within the period of the recollection of people now living, a much larger exposed surface than of late years, and that the parts long since permanently submerged were covered with engravings. The inference is that those engravings were made before Europeans had visited the locality.

It is to be specially remarked that the exposed surfaces where the rocks were especially smooth were completely marked over, no space of 3 inches square being unmarked, and over nearly all of those choice parts there were two, and in many cases three, sets of markings, above one another, recognizable by their differing distinctness. It also seemed that the second or third marking was upon plane surfaces where the earlier markings had been nearly obliterated by time. With pains and skill the earlier markings can be traced, and these are the outlines which from intrinsic evidence are Indian, whereas the later and more sharply marked outlines are obviously made by civilized men or boys, the latest being mere initials or full names of persons, with dates attached. Warning must be given that the ancient markings, which doubtless were made by the Micmacs, will probably not only escape the attention of the casual visitor, but even that an intelligent expert observer who travels to the scene with some information on the subject, and for the express purpose of finding the incisions, may fail to see anything but names, ships, houses, and similar figures of obviously modern design. This actually occurred within the week when the present writer was taking copies of the drawings by a mode of printing which left no room for fancy or deception. Indeed, frequently the marks were not distinctly apparent until after they had been examined in the printed copies.

The mode in which the copies were taken was by running over and through their outlines a blue aniline pencil, and then pressing a wetted sheet of ordinary printing paper upon them, so that the impression was actually taken by the process of printing. During the two field seasons mentioned, with the aid of Mr. Creed, three hundred and fifty different engravings and groups of engravings were thus printed. Some of these prints were of large dimensions, and included from ten to fifty separate characters and designs.

On the parts exposed in 1887 there were dates from 1800 to the current year, the number for the last year being much the greatest, which was explained by the fact that the wonderfully beautiful lake had been selected for a Sunday-school excursion. Over the greater part of the surface visible in 1887 there were few levels specially favorable for marking, and when these were found the double or treble use was in some instances noticed.


After the writer had inspected the rocks and discovered their characteristics, and learned how to distinguish and copy their markings, it seemed that, with the exception of a few designs recently dug or chipped out by lumbermen or visitors, almost always initials, the only interesting or ancient portions were scratchings which could be made on the soft slate by any sharp instrument. The faces of the rocks were immense soft and polished drawing-slates, presenting to any person who had ever drawn or written before an irresistible temptation to draw or write. The writer, happening to have with him an Indian stone arrow which had been picked up in the neighborhood, used its point upon the surface, and it would make as good scratches as any found upon the rocks except the very latest, which were obviously cut by the whites with metal knives.

As is above suggested, the peculiar multiplication of the characters upon the most attractive of the slates affords evidence as to their relative antiquity superior to that generally found in petroglyphs.[41] The existence of two or three different sets of markings, all visible and of different degrees of obliteration or distinctness, is in itself important; but, in addition to that, it is frequently the case that the second and third in the order of time have associated with them dates, from which the relative antiquity of the faintest, the dateless, can be to some extent estimated. Dates of the third and most recent class are attached to English names and are associated with the forms of English letters; those of the second class accompany French names, and in some cases have French designs. Figs. 1 and 2, about one-fourth original size, are presented to give an idea of these peculiar palimpsests.


Fig. 1.—Palimpsest on Fairy rocks, Nova Scotia.

For examples of other copies printed from the rocks at Kejimkoojik lake, see Figs. 549, 550, 654, 655, 656, 657, 658, 717, 718, 739, 740, 741, 1254, 1255, and 1262. These offer intrinsic evidence of the Micmac origin of the early class of engravings.

Fig. 2.—Palimpsest on Fairy rocks, Nova Scotia.

The presence of French names and styles of art in the drawings is explained by a story which was communicated by Louis Labrador, whose great-grandfather, old Ledore, according to his account, guided a body of French Acadians who, at the time of the expulsion, were not shipped off with the majority. They escaped the English in 1756 and traveled from the valley of Annapolis to Shelbourne, at the extreme southeast of the peninsula. During that passage they halted for a considerable time to recruit in the beautiful valley along the Kejimkoojik lake, on the very ground where these markings appear, which also was on the ancient Indian trail. Another local tradition, told by a resident of the neighborhood, gives a still earlier date for the French work. He says that after the capture of Port Royal, now Annapolis, in 1710, a party of the defeated Frenchmen, with a number of Indians as guides, went with their cattle to the wide meadows upon Kejimkoojik lake and remained there for a long time. It is exceedingly probable that the French would have been attracted to scratch on this fascinating smooth slate surface whether they had observed previous markings or not, but it seems evident that they did scratch over such previous markings. The latter, at least, antedated the beginning of the eighteenth century.

A general remark may be made regarding the Kejimkoojik drawings, that the aboriginal art displayed in them did not differ in any important degree from that shown in other drawings of the Micmacs and the Abnaki in the possession of the Bureau of Ethnology. Also that the rocks there reveal pictographic tendencies and practices which suggest explanations of similar work in other regions where less evidence remains of intent and significance. The attractive material of the slates and their convenient situation tempted past generations of Indians to record upon them the images of their current thoughts and daily actions. Hence the pictographic practice went into operation at this locality with unusual vigor and continuity. Although at Kejimkoojik lake there is an exceptional facility for determining the relative dates of the several horizons of scratchings, the suggestion there evoked may help to ascertain similar data elsewhere.


Mr. Charles Hallock kindly communicates information concerning pictographs on Nipigon bay, which is a large lake in the province of Ontario, 30 miles northwest of Lake Superior, with which it is connected by Nipigon river. He says:

The pictographs, which are principally of men and animals, occupy a zone some 60 feet long and 5 feet broad, about midway of the face of the rock; they are painted in blood-red characters, much darker than the color of the cliff itself.


He also, later, incloses a letter received by himself from Mr. Newton Flanagan, of the Hudson Bay Company, an extract from which is as follows:

About the dimensions of the red rock in Nipigon bay, upon which appear the Indian painted pictures, as near as I can give you at present, the face of the rock fronting the water is about 60 feet, rising to a greater height as it runs inland. The width along the water is something like 900 yards, depth quite a distance inland. The pictures are from 10 to 15 or perhaps 20 feet above the water; the pictures are representations of human figures, Indians in canoes, and of wild animals. They are supposed to have been painted ages ago, by what process or for what reason I am unable to tell you, nor do I know how the paint is made indelible.

As far as I can gather, the Indians here have no traditions in regard to those paintings, which I understand occur in several places throughout the country, and none of the Indians hereabouts nowadays practice any such painting.


Mr. Hallock also furnishes information regarding a petroglyph, the locality of which he gives as follows: Roche Percée, on the Souris river, in Manitoba, near the international boundary, 270 miles west of Dufferin, and nearly due north from Bismarck. This is an isolated rock in the middle of a plain, covered with pictographs of memorable events. It stands back from the river a half mile.

Mr. A. C. Lawson (a) gives an illustrated account of petroglyphs on the large peninsula extending into the Lake of the Woods and on an island adjacent to it. Strictly speaking this peninsula is in the district of Keewatin, but it is very near the boundary line of Manitoba, to which it is attached for administrative purposes. The account is condensed as follows:

On the north side of this peninsula, i. e., on the south shore of the northern half of the lake, about midway between the east and west shores, occurs one of the two sets of hieroglyphic markings. Lying off shore at a distance of a quarter to a half a mile, and making with it a long sheltered channel, is a chain of islands, trending east and west. On the south side of one of these islands, less than a mile to the west of the first locality, is to be seen the other set of inscriptions. The first set occurs on the top of a low, glaciated, projecting point of rock, which presents the characters of an ordinary roche moutonnée. The rock is a very soft, foliated, green, chloritic schist, into which the characters are more or less deeply carved. The top of the rounded point is only a few feet above the high-water mark of the lake, whose waters rise and fall in different seasons through a range of ten feet. The antiquity of the inscriptions is at once forced upon the observer upon a careful comparison of their weathering with that of the glacial grooves and striæ, which are very distinctly seen upon the same rock surface. Both the ice grooves and carved inscriptions are, so far as the eye can judge, identical in extent of weathering, though there was doubtless a considerable lapse of time between the disappearance of the glaciers and the date of the carving.

The island on which were found the other inscriptions is one of the many steep rocky islands known among the Indians as Ka-ka-ki-wa-bic min-nis, or Crow-rock island. The rock is a hard greenstone, not easily cut, and the inscriptions are not cut into the rock, but are painted with ochre, which is much faded in places. The surface upon which the characters are inscribed forms an overhanging wall protected from the rain, part of which has fallen down.


The Indians of the present day have no traditions about these inscriptions beyond the supposition that they must have been made by the “old people” long ago.

The sketches published as copies of these glyphs show spirals, concentric circles, crosses, horseshoe forms, arrow shapes, and other characters similar to those found on rocks in the southwestern part of the United States, and also to petroglyphs in Brazil, examples from both of which regions are presented in this work, under their appropriate headings.


Dr. Franz Boas (a) published an account of a petroglyph on Vancouver island (now presented as Fig. 3) which, slightly condensed, is translated as follows:

Fig. 3.—Petroglyph on Vancouver island.

The accompanying rock picture is found on the eastern shore of Sproat lake, near its southern outlet. Sproat lake lies about 10 kilometers north of the upper end of the Alberni fiord, which cuts deep into the interior of Vancouver island. In former times this region was the territory of the Hōpetschisāth, a tribe of the Nootka or Aht, who even now have a village some miles below the lake, at the entrance of Stamp river into the main river. That tribe, according to the statement of some of its older members, was a branch of the Kowitchin, who occupy the east side of Vancouver island, some kilometers northeast of the upper end of Alberni fiord. At that time the Ts’ēschāáth, another tribe of the Nootka, are said to have ascended the fiord and mixed with the Hōpetschisāth. The present inhabitants of the region know nothing concerning the origin of the rock picture. According to their legend, the rock on which it is carved was once the house of Kwótiath. Kwótiath is the wandering divinity in Nootka mythology, and corresponds approximately to the raven of the Tlinkit and Haida, the Qäls of the Kowitchin. The picture is found on a perpendicular rock wall about 7 meters high, which drops directly into the lake, so that it was necessary to make the copy while standing in the water. The rock is traversed in the middle by a broad cleft, narrowing below, from which blocks have fallen out which bore part of the drawing. To the north and south of the rock wall the shore rises gently, but rocky portions are found everywhere. The lines of the drawing are flat[45] grooves, about two or three fingers’ breadth, and in many places are so weathered as to be hardly recognizable. They have been scraped into the rock probably by the points of sticks rubbing moist sand against it. No marks of blows of any kind are found. The figures are here given in the same relative position in which they are found on the rock, except that the upper one on the right hand is at a distance from all the others, at the southern end of the rock. The objects represented are evidently fishes or marine monsters. The middle figure to the left of the cleft may be a manned boat, the fore part of which is probably destroyed.

Dr. Boas says that the copy as found in the Verhandlungen is incorrect. The design on the right hand is reversed and is now corrected.

Mr. G. M. Sproat (a) mentions this petroglyph:

It is rudely done and apparently not of an old date. There are half a dozen figures intended to represent fishes or birds—no one can say which. The natives affirm that Quawteaht made them. In their general character these figures correspond to the rude paintings sometimes seen on wooden boards among the Ahts, or on the seal-skin buoys that are attached to the whale and halibut harpoons and lances. The meaning of these figures is not understood by the people; and I dare say if the truth were known, they are nothing but feeble attempts on the part of individual artists to imitate some visible objects which they had strongly in their minds.


Drawings or paintings on rocks are distributed generally over the greater part of the territory of the United States.

They are found on bowlders formed by the sea waves or polished by ice of glacial epochs; on the faces of rock ledges adjoining lakes and streams; on the high walls of canyons and cliffs; on the sides and roofs of caves; in short, wherever smooth surfaces of rock appear. Yet, while they are so frequent, there are localities to be distinguished in which they are especially abundant and noticeable. They differ markedly in character of execution and apparent subject-matter.

An obvious division can be made between the glyphs bearing characters carved or pecked and those painted without incision. There is also a third, though small, class in which the characters are both incised and painted. This division seems to coincide to a certain extent with geographic areas and is not fully explained by the influence of materials; it may, therefore, have some relation to the idiosyncrasy or development of the several authors, and consequently to tribal habitat and migrations.

In examining a chart of the United States in use by the Bureau of Ethnology, upon which the distribution of the several varieties of petroglyphs is marked, two facts are noticeable: First, the pecked and incised characters are more numerous in the northern and those expressed in colors more numerous in the southern areas. Second, there[46] are two general groupings, distinguished by typical styles, one in the north Atlantic states and the other in the south Pacific states.

The north Atlantic group is in the priscan habitat of the tribes of the Algonquian linguistic family, and extends from Nova Scotia southward to Pennsylvania, where the sculpturings are frequent, especially on the Susquehanna, Monongahela, and Alleghany rivers, and across Ohio from Lake Erie to the Kanawha river, in West Virginia. Isolated localities bearing the same type are found westward on the Mississippi river and a few of its western tributaries, to and including the Wind river mountains, in Wyoming, the former habitat of the Blackfeet Indians. All of these petroglyphs present typical characters, sometimes undefined and complicated. From their presumed authors, they have been termed the Algonquian type. Upon close study and comparison they show many features in common which are absent in extra-limital areas.

Immediately south of the Kanawha river, in West Virginia, and extending southward into Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina, the pecked or sculptured petroglyphs are replaced by painted figures of a style differing from the Algonquian. These are in the area usually designated as Cherokee territory, but there is no evidence that they are the work of that tribe; indeed, there is no indication of their authorship. The absence of pecked characters in this area is certainly not due to an absence of convenient material upon which to record them as the country is as well adapted to the mode of incision as is the northern Atlantic area.

Upon the Pacific slope a few pecked as well as colored petroglyphs occur scattered irregularly throughout the extreme northern area west of the Sierra Nevada, but on the eastern side of that range of mountains petroglyphs appear in Idaho, which have analogues extending south to New Mexico and Arizona, with remarkable groups at intervals between these extremes. All of these show sufficient similarity of form to be considered as belonging to a type which is here designated “Shoshonean.” Tribes of that linguistic family still occupy, and for a long time have occupied, that territory. Most of this Shoshonean group consists of pecked or incised characters, though in the southern area unsculptured paintings predominate.

On the western side of the Sierra Nevada, from Visalia southward, at Tulare agency, and thence westward and southward along the Santa Barbara coast, are other groups of colored petroglyphs showing typical features resembling the Shoshonean. This resemblance may be merely accidental, but it is well known that there was intercourse between the tribes on the two sides of the Sierra Nevada, and the Shoshonean family is also represented on the Pacific slope south of the mountain range extending from San Bernardino west to Point Conception. In this manner the artistic delineation of the Santa Barbara tribes may have been influenced by contact with others.

Petroglyphs have seldom been found in the central area of the United[47] States. In the wooded region of the Great lakes characters have been depicted upon birch bark for at least a century, while in the area between the Mississippi river and the Rocky mountains the skins of buffalo and deer have been used. Large rocks and cliffs favorably situated are not common in that country, which to a great extent is prairie.

In the general area of these typical groups characters are frequently found which appear intrusive, i. e., they have a strong resemblance not only to those found in other American groups, but are nearly identical with characters in other parts of the world. This fact, clearly established, prevents the adoption of any theory as to the authorship of many of the petroglyphs and thwarts attempts to ascertain their signification.


Ensign Albert P. Niblack, U. S. Navy, (a) gives a brief account, with sketches, reproduced here as Fig. 4, of petroglyphs in Alaska, which were taken from rocks from the ancient village of Stikine, near Fort Wrangell. Others were found on rocks just above high-water mark around the sites of ruined and abandoned villages.

Fig. 4.—Petroglyphs in Alaska.

In the upper character the Alaskan typical style of human faces is noticeable. The lower gives a representation of the orca or whale killer, which the Haida believe to be a demon called Skana, about which there are many mythic tales. Mr. Niblack remarks:

In their paintings the favorite colors used are black, light green, and dark red. Whether produced in painting, tattooing, or relief carving, the designs are somewhat conventional. However rude the outline, there are for some animals certain conventional signs that clearly indicate to the initiated what figure is meant. With the brown bear it is the protruding tongue; with the beaver and wolf it is the character of the teeth; with the orca, the fin; with the raven, the sharp beak; with the eagle, the curved beak, etc.



Mr. G. K. Gilbert, of the U. S. Geological Survey, gives the following information concerning petroglyphs observed by him in the vicinity of San Francisco mountain, Arizona:

The localities of the sketches Figs. 5, 6, and 7 are about 35 miles east and southeast of San Francisco mountain, the material being a red sandstone, which stands in low buttes upon the plain. About these are mealing stones, fragments of pottery and chipped flints, giving evidence of the residence of sedentary Indians. So many localities of petroglyphs were seen that I regard it as probable that a large number could be found by search. The drawings in every case but one were produced by blows upon the surface of the rocks, breaking through the film of rock discolored by weathering so as to reveal (originally) the color of the interior of the rock. The[49] single exception is the first pattern in Fig. 6, similar to the patterns on pottery and blankets, produced by painting with a white pigment on red rock. The original arrangement of the drawings upon the rock was not as a rule preserved, but they have approximately the original arrangement. I neglected to record the scale of the drawings, but the several pictures are drawn on approximately the same scale.

Fig. 5.—Petroglyph in Arizona.
Fig. 6.—Petroglyph in Arizona.

All of these figures partake of the general type designated as the Shoshonean, and it is notable that close repetitions of some of the characters appear in petroglyphs in Tulare valley and Owens valley, California, which are described and illustrated in this section.

The object resembling a centipede, in Fig. 6, is a common form in various localities in Santa Barbara county, California, as will be observed by comparing the illustrations given in connection with that locality. In other of the Arizona and New Mexican petroglyphs similar outlines are sometimes engraved to signify the maize stalk.

Fig. 7.—Petroglyph in Arizona.

Mr. Paul Holman, of the U. S. Geological Survey, reports that eight miles below Powers butte, on a mesa bordering on the Gila river and rising abruptly to the height of 150 feet, are pictographs covering the entire vertical face. Also on the summit of a spur of Oatman mountain, 200 yards from the Gila and 300 feet above it, are numbers of pictographs. Many of them are almost obliterated where they are on exposed surfaces.

Lieut. Col. Emory (a) reports that on a table-land near the Gila bend is a mound of granite bowlders, blackened by augite and covered with unknown characters, the work of human hands. On the ground near by were also traces of some of the figures, showing that some of the pictographs, at least, were the work of modern Indians. Others were of undoubted antiquity. He also reports in the same volume (b) that characters upon rocks of questionable antiquity occur on the Gila river at 32° 38′ 13″ N. lat. and 190° 7′ 30″ long. According to the plate, the figures are found upon bowlders and on the face of the cliff to the height of 30 feet.


Lieut. Whipple (a) remarks upon petroglyphs at Yampais spring, Williams river, as follows:

The spot is a secluded glen among the mountains. A high shelving rock forms a cave, within which is a pool of water and a crystal stream flowing from it. The lower surface of the rock is covered with pictographs. None of the devices seem to be of recent date.

Many of the country rocks lying on the Colorado plateau of northern Arizona, east of Peach springs, bear petroglyphs of considerable artistic workmanship. Some figures, observed by Dr. W. J. Hoffman in 1872, were rather elaborate and represented the sun, human beings in various styles approaching the grotesque, and other characters not understood. All of those observed were made by pecking the surface of basalt with a harder variety of stone.

Mr. Gilbert also obtained sketches of etchings in November, 1878, on Partridge creek, northern Arizona, at the point where the Beale wagon road comes to it from the east. He says: “The rock is cross-laminated Aubrey sandstone and the surfaces used are faces of the laminæ. All the work is done by blows with a sharp point. (Obsidian is abundant in the vicinity.) Some inscriptions are so fresh as to indicate that the locality is still resorted to. No Indians live in the immediate vicinity, but the region is a hunting ground of the Wallapais and Avasupais (Cosninos).”

Notwithstanding the occasional visits of the above named tribes, the characters submitted more nearly resemble those of other localities known to have been made by the Moki Pueblos.

Rock drawings are of frequent occurrence along the entire extent of the valley of the Rio Verde, from a short distance below Camp Verde to the Gila river.

Mr. Thomas V. Keam reports drawings on the rocks in Canyon Segy, and in Keam’s canyon, northeastern Arizona. Some forms occurring at the latter locality are found also upon Moki pottery.


Petroglyphs are reported by Lieut. Theodore Mosher, Twenty-second Infantry, U. S. Army, to have been discovered by Lieut. Casey’s party in December, 1887, on the Chiulee (or Chilalí) creek, 30 or 40 miles from its confluence with San Juan river, Arizona. A photograph made by the officer in charge of the party shows the characters to have been outlined by pecking, the designs resembling the Shoshonean type of pictographs, and those in Owens valley, California, a description of which is given below.

A figure, consisting of two concentric circles with a straight line running out from the larger circle, occurs, among other carvings, on one of the many sculptured bowlders seen by Mr. J. R. Bartlett (a) in the valley of the Gila river in Arizona. His representation of this bowlder is here copied as Fig. 8. His language is as follows:

Fig. 8.—Petroglyph in Arizona.

I found hundreds of these bowlders covered with rude figures of men, animals, and other objects of grotesque forms, all pecked in with a sharp instrument. Many of them, however, were so much defaced by long exposure to the weather and by subsequent markings, that it was impossible to make them out. Among these rocks I found several which contained sculptures on the lower side, in such a position that it would be impossible to cut them where they then lay. Some weighed many tons each and would have required immense labor to place them there, and that, too, without an apparent object. The natural inference was that they had fallen down from the summit of the mountain after the sculptures were made on them. A few only seemed recent; the others bore the marks of great antiquity.

In the collections of the Bureau of Ethnology is an album or sketch book, which contains many drawings made by Mr. F. S. Dellenbaugh, from which the following sketches of petroglyphs in Arizona are selected, together with the brief references attached to each sheet.

Fig. 9 is a copy of characters appearing in Shinumo canyon, Arizona. They are painted, the middle and right hand figures being red, the human form having a white mark upon the abdomen; the left-hand figure of a man is painted yellow, the two plumes being red.

Fig. 9.—Petroglyph in Shinumo canyon, Arizona.

The petroglyphs in Fig. 10 are rather indistinct and were copied from the vertical wall of Mound canyon. The most conspicuous forms appear to be serpents.


Fig. 10.—Petroglyph in Mound canyon, Arizona.


In the foothills of California, wherever overhanging and rain-protected rocks occur, they are covered with paintings of various kinds made by Indians. Those on Rocky hill, some 15 miles east of Visalia, are especially interesting. The sheltered rocks are here covered with images of men, animals, and various inanimate objects, as well as curious figures. The paint used is red, black, and white, and wherever protected it has stood the ravages of time remarkably well. In many places the paintings are as vivid as the day they were laid on. Deer, antelope, coyotes, birds, and turtles are figured quite frequently, and may indicate either names of chiefs or tribes, or animals slain in the hunt. Here are also circles, spirals, crowns or bars, etc., signs the meaning of which is yet doubtful.

Mr. H. W. Turner, in a letter dated June 3, 1891, furnishes sketches (Fig. 11) from this locality, and a description of them as follows:

Fig. 11.—Petroglyphs near Visalia, California.

I send herewith a rough sheet of drawings of figures on the sheltered face of a huge granite cropping in Tulare county, California. One-half of the cropping had split off, leaving a nearly plane surface, on which the figures were drawn in red, white, and black pigments. The locality is known as Rocky point. They are now quarrying granite at the place. It lies about 12 miles nearly due east of Visalia, in the first foothills and south of Yokall creek. The figures appear to have been drawn many years ago, and numbers of them are now indistinct.

During the summer of 1882 Dr. Hoffman visited the Tule river agency, California, where he found a large rock painting, of which Fig. 983, infra, is a copy made by him. His description of it is as follows:

“The agency is upon the western side of the Sierra Nevada, in the headwater canyons of the branches of the south fork of Tule river. The[53] country is at present occupied by several tribes of the Mariposan linguistic stock, and the only answer made to inquiries respecting the age or origin of the painting was that it was found there when the ancestors of the present tribes arrived. The local migrations of the various Indian tribes of this part of California are not yet known with sufficient certainty to determine to whom the records may be credited, but all appearances with respect to the weathering and disintegration of the rock upon which the record is engraved, the appearance of the coloring matter subsequently applied, and the condition of the small depressions made at the time for mixing the pigments with a viscous substance, indicate that the work was performed about a century ago.

“The Indians now at Tule river have occupied that part of the state for at least one hundred years, and the oldest now living state that the records were found by their ancestors, though whether more than two generations ago could not be ascertained.


“The drawings were outlined by pecking with a piece of quartz or other siliceous rock, the depth varying from a mere visible depression to a third of an inch. Having thus satisfactorily depicted the several ideas, colors were applied which appear to have penetrated the slight interstices between the crystalline particles of the rock, which had been bruised and slightly fractured by hammering with a piece of stone. It appears probable, too, that to insure better results the hammering was repeated after application of the colors.

“Upon a small bowlder, under the natural archway formed by the breaking of the large rock, small depressions were found which had been used as mortars for grinding and mixing the colors. These depressions average 2 inches in diameter and about 1 inch in depth. Traces of color still remain, mixed with a thin layer of a shining substance resembling a coating of varnish and of flinty hardness. This coating is so thin that it can not be removed with a steel instrument, and appears to have become a part of the rock itself.

“From the animals depicted upon the ceiling it seems that both beaver and deer were found in the country, and as the beaver tail and the hoofs of deer and antelope are boiled to procure glue, it is probable that the tribe which made these pictographs was as far advanced in respect to the making of glue and preparing of paints as most other tribes throughout the United States.

“Examination shows that the dull red color is red ocher, found in various[55] places in the valley, while the yellow was an ocherous clay, also found there. The white color was probably obtained there, and is evidently earthy, though of what nature can only be surmised, not sufficient being obtainable from the rock picture to make satisfactory analysis with the blow-pipe. The composition of the black is not known, unless it was made by mixing clay and powdered charcoal. The latter is a preparation common at this day among other tribes.

“An immense granite bowlder, about 20 feet in thickness and 30 in length, is so broken that a lower quarter is removed, leaving a large square passageway through its entire diameter almost northwest and southeast. Upon the western wall of this passageway is a collection of the colored sketches of which Fig. 983 is a reduced copy. The entire face of the rock upon which the pictograph occurs measures about 12 or 15 feet in width and 8 in height. The largest human figure measures 6 feet in height, from the end of the toes to the top of the head, the others being in proportion as represented.

Fig. 12.—Petroglyph at Tule river, California.

“Upon the ceiling are a number of well executed drawings of the beaver, bear, centipede (Fig. 12), and bald eagle (Fig. 13). Many of the other forms indicated appear to represent some variety of insects, several of which are drawn with exaggerated antennæ, as in Fig. 14. It is curious to note the gradual blending of forms, as, for instance, that of the bear with those resembling the human figure, often found among the Shoshonean types in Arizona and New Mexico, some of which are described and figured infra.

Fig. 13.—Petroglyph at Tule river, California.
Fig. 14.—Petroglyph at Tule river, California.

“Fig. 15 embraces a number of characters on the ceiling. The left hand upper figure is in black, with a narrow line of red surrounding it. The drawing is executed neatly and measures about 18 inches in length.[56] The remaining characters are in dull red, probably ocher, though the two on the left hand, beneath the one just mentioned, are more yellowish.

Fig. 15.—Petroglyph at Tule river, California.

“The first three forms in Fig. 16 are copies of human-like figures painted on the ceiling. They are each about 12 inches in length. The other form in Fig. 16 is white and is on the southern vertical wall of the passageway facing the north. It resembles some of the human forms occurring elsewhere in the same series of petroglyphs.”

Fig. 16.—Petroglyph at Tule river, California.

In the range of mountains forming the northwestern boundary of Owens valley are extensive groups of petroglyphs, apparently dissimilar to those found west of the Sierra Nevada. Dr. Hoffman, of the Bureau of Ethnology, hastily examined them in 1871 and more thoroughly in the autumn of 1884. They are now represented in Pls. I to XI. So large a space is given to these illustrations because of their intrinsic interest, and also because it is desirable to show for one locality what is true of some others, viz, the very large number of petroglyphs still to be found in groups and series. Even with the present illustrations, the petroglyphs in Owens valley are by no means exhaustively shown.

Dr. Hoffman’s report is as follows:


One of the most important series of groups is that in the northern portion of Owens valley, between the White mountains on the east and the Benton range on the west. On the western slope of the latter, at Watterson’s ranch, is a detached low butte or mesa, upon the blackened basaltic bowlders and cliffs of which are numerous deeply cut characters, the most interesting of which are reproduced in Pls. I and II. The illustrations are, approximately, one-twelfth real size. The designs of footprints, in the lower left-hand corner of Pl. I, vary in depth from half an inch to 1½ inches. They appear to have been pecked and finally worked down to a uniform and smooth surface by rubbing, as if with a piece of stone or with wood and sand.

In almost all, if not all, instances throughout the entire series referred to in this description the sculptured surfaces have assumed the same shining blackened luster as the original and undisturbed surface of the bowlder, caused by gradual oxidation of the iron present. This would seem to indicate considerable antiquity of the petroglyphs.


On the northeast angle of the mesa referred to were found the remains of an old camp, over which were scattered large quantities of arrowheads, knives, and flakes of obsidian. This in itself would be insignificant, but the fact that many of the specimens of this material have been lying exposed to the elements until the upper surface has undergone change in color, so as to become bleached and friable, in some instances to the depth of from one-tenth to one-fourth of an inch, warrants the inference that the relics may have been made by the same people who made the petroglyphs, as the worked relics generally differ from those of the present Indians by being larger and less elaborately finished.

At the lower end of the southeastern slope of the mesa are a number of flat rocks bearing mortar holes, which have no doubt been used in grinding grass seed and other grains.

In general type these petroglyphs correspond very closely to those of other areas, in which the so-called Shoshonian types occur, the most common, apart from those presented in Pls. I and II, consisting of concentric circles, rings, footprints of the bear and of man, and various outlines of the human form, beside numerous unintelligible forms.


Southeastward of this locality there is a low divide leading across the Benton range into the broad, arid, sloping sand desert of Owens valley proper, but it is not until a point 12 miles south of Benton, along the line of the old stage road, is reached that petroglyphs of any consequence are met with. From this point southward, for a distance of 6 miles, large exposures and bowlders of basalt are scattered, upon which are great numbers of petroglyphs, pecked into the rock to depths of from half an inch to 1½ inches, and representing circles, footprints, human forms, etc.

The first series of illustrations, selected from numerous closely-connected bowlders, are here presented on Pls. III to VII. The designs marked a on Pl. III resemble serpents, while that at d is obviously such. This device is on the horizontal surface, and is pecked to the depth of about 1 inch. The scale of the drawing is one-thirtieth of the original petroglyph. The characters indicating the human form in e, g, and h resemble the ordinary Shoshonian type, and are like those from various localities in Arizona and southern Utah and Colorado.


The upper characters in A on Pl. IV represent the trail of a grizzly bear—as indicated by the immense claws—followed by a human footprint. The original sculpturings are clearly cut, the toes of the man’s foot being cup-like, as if drilled with a blunt piece of wood and sand. The tracks average 15 inches in length and vary in depth from half an inch to more than an inch. The course of direction of the tracks, which are cut upon a horizontal surface, is from north-northeast to south-southwest.


In E is the semblance of an apparently two-headed snake, as also in a on Pl. VII. It is possible that this was pecked into the rock to record the finding of such an anomaly. The occurrence of double-headed serpents is not unique, five or six instances having been recorded, one of which is from California, and a specimen may be seen in the collection of the U. S. National Museum.

In Pl. V, c, e, g are characters resembling some from the Canary islands [see Figs. 144 and 145], as well as many of the cupstones and dumb-bell forms from Scotland [see Figs. 149 and 150].


An interesting specimen is presented in d, on Pl. VI, resembling the Ojibwa thunder bird, as well as etchings of Innuit workmanship to denote man [as shown in Fig. 1159]. The figures presented in Pl. III are the northernmost of the series, of which those on Pl. VII form the southernmost examples, the distance between these two points being about 2 miles.


For the space of 4 miles southward there are a few scattered petroglyphs, to which reference will be made below, and the greatest number of characters are not found until the southernmost extremity of the entire series is reached. These are over the surface of immense bowlders lying on the east side of the road where it passes through a little valley known locally as the Chalk grade, probably on account of[59] the whitened appearance of the sand and of some of the embankments. A general view of the faces of the bowlders upon which the chief sculpturings occur is presented in Fig. 17. The petroglyphs are represented in Pls. VIII to XI.

Fig. 17.—View of Chalk grade petroglyphs, Owens valley.

The figures presented in Pl. VIII are, with one exception, each about one-thirtieth the size of the original. The animal character in e is upon the top of the largest bowlder shown on Fig. 17, and is pecked to the depth of from one-fourth to one-half an inch. Portions of it are much defaced through erosion by sand blown by the strong summer winds. The characters in g are only one-tenth of the original size, but of depth similar to the preceding.


On Pl. IX, a is one-twentieth the size of the original, while the remaining sculpturings are about one-tenth size. The cross in a is singularly interesting because of the elaborateness of its execution. The surface within the circle is pecked out so as to have the cross stand out bold and level with the original surface. This is true also of f on Pl. VIII. Pl. IX, b, contains some animal forms like those reported from New Mexico and Arizona, and Brazil [and presented in this work], especially that character to the right resembling a guanaco couchant, although, from its relationship to the figure of an antelope, in the same group, it no doubt is intended to represent one of the latter species.


On Pl. X, as well as on others of this collection, are found many forms of circles with interior decoration, such as lines arranged by pairs, threes, etc., zigzag and cross lines, and other seemingly endless arrangements. They are interesting from the fact of the occurrence of almost identical forms in remote localities, as in the Canary islands and in Brazil. [These are figured and described infra.]


It is probable that they are not meaningless, because the disposition of the Indian, as he is to-day, is such that no time would be spent upon such laborious work without an object, and only motives of a religious or ceremonial nature would induce him to expend the time and labor necessary to accomplish such results as are still presented. On Pl. XI, a, are more footprints and animal forms of the genus cervus or antelocapra. The figures in b and d, having an upright line with two crossing it at right angles, may signify either a lizard or man, the latter signification being probably the true one, as similar forms are drawn in petroglyphs of a Shoshonian type, as in Arizona. [See supra.]


The country over which these records are scattered is arid beyond description and destitute of vegetation. Watterson’s ranch group is more favorably located, there being an abundance of springs and a stream running northward toward Black lake.


The only Indians found in this vicinity are Pai Utes, but they are unacquainted with the significance of the characters, and declare that they have no knowledge of the authors.

As to the age of the sculpturings nothing can be learned. The external surface of all the bowlders, as well as the surface of the deepest figures, is a glistening brownish black, due, possibly, to the presence of iron. The color of a freshly broken surface becomes lighter in tint as depth is attained, until at about one-half or three-fourths of an inch from the surface the rock is chocolate brown. How long it would take the freshly broken surface of this variety of rock to become thoroughly oxidized and blackened it is impossible even to conjecture, taking into consideration the physical conditions of the region and the almost entire absence of rainfall.

Upon following the most convenient course across the Benton range to reach Owen valley proper drawings are also found, though in limited numbers, and seem to partake of the character of indicators as to course of travel. By this trail the northernmost of the several groups of drawings above mentioned is the nearest and most easily reached.

The pictures upon the bowlders at Watterson’s are somewhat different from those found elsewhere. The number of specific designs is limited, many of them being reproduced from two to six or seven times, thus seeming to partake of the character of personal names.

In a communication dated Saratoga Springs, at the lower part of Death valley, California, February 5, 1891, Mr. E. W. Nelson says that about 200 yards from the springs, and on the side of a hill, he found[61] several petroglyphs. He also furnished a sketch as an example of their general type, now presented as Fig. 18. The locality is in the lower end of Death valley. Mr. Nelson says:

Fig. 18.—Petroglyphs in Death valley, California.

The spring here is in a basin some 60 to 80 acres in extent in which are ponds and tule marsh. Close by is an extensive ancient Indian camping ground, over which are scattered very many “chips” made from manufacturing arrow points from quartz crystal, chert, chalcedony, flint, and other similar material.

The figures in the sketch inclosed are situated relatively, as to size and location, as they occur on the rock. The latter is cracked and slopes at different angles, but the figures are all visible from a single point of view. There are several other figures in this group that are too indistinct to copy owing to age, or weather wearing. The group copied is the most extensive one seen, but many smaller groups and single figures are to be found on the rocks near by.

The Shoshoni inhabit this region and a few families of Shoshoni live about the Panamint mountains at present.

Dr. C. Hart Merriam, of the Department of Agriculture, on his return from the exploration of Death valley, kindly furnished a photograph of a ledge in Emigrant canyon, Panamint mountains, which was received too late for insertion in this work. This is much regretted, as a large number of petroglyphs are represented in groups. The characters are of the Shoshonean type. Among them are “Moki goats,” tridents, the Greek Φ, many crosses, and other figures shown in this chapter as found in the same general region.

In the Mojave desert, about 2 miles north of Daggett station, according to the Mining and Scientific Press (a) is a small porphyritic butte known as “Rattlesnake rock,” “so named by reason of the immense number of these reptiles that find shelter in this mass of rock.” The accompanying Fig. 19 is a reproduction of that given in the paper quoted. The author states that “the implement used in making these characters was evidently a dull-pointed stone, as the lines are not sharp, and the sides of the indentation show marks of striation.”

Fig. 19.—Rattlesnake rock, Mojave desert, California.

Lieut. Whipple reports the discovery of pictographs at Piute creek,[62] about 30 miles west of the Mojave villages. These are carved upon a rock, “are numerous, appear old, and are too confusedly obscured to be easily traceable.” They bear great general resemblance to drawings scattered over northeast Arizona, southern Utah, and western New Mexico.

From information received from Mr. Alphonse Pinart, pictographic records exist in the hills east of San Bernardino, somewhat resembling those at Tule river in the southern spurs of the Sierra Nevada, Kern county.

Mr. Willard J. Whitney, of Elmhurst, Lackawanna county, Pennsylvania, gives information regarding nearly obliterated pecked petroglyphs upon two flat granite rocks, or bowlders, on the summit of a mountain 4 miles directly west of Escondido, San Diego county, California.[63] The designs are not colored, and are not more than one-eighth or one-fourth of an inch in depth. There is a good lookout from the eminence, but there are no indications of either trails or burials in the vicinity.


This may be the locality mentioned by Mr. Barnes, of San Diego, who furnished information relating to petroglyphs in San Diego county.

Dr. Hoffman reports the following additional localities in Santa Barbara and Los Angeles counties. Fifteen miles west of Santa Barbara, on the northern summit of the Santa Ynez range, and near the San Marcos pass, is a group of paintings in red and black. Fig. 20 resembles a portion of a checker-board in the arrangement of squares.

Fig. 20.—Petroglyph near San Marcos pass, California.


Serpentine and zigzag lines occur, as also curved lines with serrations on the concave sides; figures of the sun; short lines and groups of short parallel lines, and figures representing types of insect forms also appear, as shown in Figs. 21 and 22.

Fig. 21.—Petroglyphs near San Marcos pass, California.
Fig. 22.—Petroglyphs near San Marcos pass, California.

These paintings are in a cavity near the base of an immense bowlder, over 20 feet in height. A short distance from this is a flat granitic bowlder, containing twenty-one mortar holes, which had evidently been used by visiting Indians during the acorn season. Oaks are very abundant, and their fruit formed one of the sources of subsistence.

Three miles west-northwest of this locality, in the valley near the base of the mountain, are indistinct figures in faded red, painted upon a large rock. The characters appear similar, in general, to those above mentioned.

Forty-three miles west of Santa Barbara, in the Najowe valley, is a[66] promontory, at the base of which is a large shallow cavern, the opening being smaller than the interior, upon the roof and back of which are many designs, some of which are reproduced in Fig. 23, of forms similar to those observed at San Marcos pass. Several characters appear to have been drawn at a later date than others, such as horned cattle, etc. The black used was a manganese compound, while the red pigments[67] consist of ferruginous clays, abundant at numerous localities in the mountain canyons.

Fig. 23.—Petroglyphs in Najowe valley, California.

Some of the human figures are drawn with the hands and arms in the attitude of making the gestures for surprise or astonishment, and negation, as in Fig. 24.

Fig. 24.—Petroglyphs in Najowe valley, California.

The characters in Fig. 25 resemble forms which occur at Tulare valley, and in Owens valley, respectively, and insect forms also occur as in Fig. 26.


Fig. 25.—Petroglyphs, Najowe valley, California.
Fig. 26.—Petroglyphs in Najowe valley, California.

Other designs abounding at this locality are shown in Figs. 27 and 28.

Fig. 27.—Petroglyphs in Najowe valley, California.
Fig. 28.—Petroglyphs in Najowe valley, California.

One of the most extensive groupings, and probably the most elaborately drawn, is in the Carisa plain, near Mr. Oreña’s ranch, 60 or 70 miles due north of Santa Barbara. The most conspicuous figure is that of the sun, resembling a human face, with ornamental appendages at the cardinal points, and bearing striking resemblance to some Moki masks and pictographic work. Serpentine lines and anomalous forms also abound.

Four miles northeast of Santa Barbara, near the residence of Mr. Stevens, is an isolated sandstone bowlder measuring about 20 feet high and 30 feet in diameter, upon the western side of which is a slight cavity bearing designs shown in Fig. 29, which correspond in general form to others in Santa Barbara county. The gesture for negation appears in the attitude of the human figures.

Fig. 29.—Petroglyphs near Santa Barbara, California.

Half a mile farther east, on Dr. Coe’s farm, is another smaller bowlder, in a cavity of which various engravings appear shown in Fig. 30. Parts of the drawings have disappeared through disintegration of the rock, which is called “Pulpit rock,” on account of the shape of the[69] cavity, its position at the side of the narrow valley, and the echo observed upon speaking a little above the ordinary tone of voice.

Fig. 30.—Petroglyphs near Santa Barbara, California.

Painted rocks also occur in the Azuza canyon, about 30 miles northeast of Los Angeles, of which Fig. 31 gives copies.

Fig. 31.—Petroglyphs in Azuza canyon, California.

Just before his departure from the Santa Barbara region, Dr. Hoffman was informed of the existence of eight or nine painted records in that neighborhood, which up to that time had been observed only by a few sheep-herders and hunters.

Mr. L. L. Frost, of Susanville, California, reports the occurrence of pictographs (undoubtedly petroglyphs) 15 miles south of that town, on Willow creek, and at Milford, in the lower end of the valley. No details were furnished as to their general type and condition.

On Porter creek, 9 miles southwest of Healdsburg, on a large bowlder of hornblende syenite, petroglyphs similar to those found in Arizona and Nevada are to be seen. They are generally oblong circles or ovals, some of which contain crosses.

Figs. 32 and 33 are reduced copies 1/32 of original size of colored petroglyphs found by Dr. Hoffman in September, 1884, 12 miles west-northwest of the city of Santa Barbara, California. The locality is almost at the summit of the Santa Ynez range of mountains; the gray sandstone[70] rock on which they are painted is about 30 feet high and projects from a ridge so as to form a very marked promontory extending into a narrow mountain canyon. At the base of the western side of this bowlder is a rounded cavity, measuring on the inside about 15 feet in width and 8 feet in height. The floor ascends rapidly toward the back of the cave, and the entrance is rather smaller in dimensions than the above measurements of the interior. About 40 yards west of this rock is a fine spring of water. One of the four old Indian trails leading northward across the mountains passes by this locality, and it is probable that this was one of the camping places of the tribe which came south to trade, and that some of its members were the authors of the paintings. The three trails beside the one just mentioned cross the mountains at several points east of this, the most distant being about 15 miles. Other trails were known, but these four were most direct to the immediate vicinity of the Spanish settlement which sprang up shortly after the establishment of the Santa Barbara mission in 1786. The appearance and position of these and other pictographs in the vicinity appear to be connected with the several trails. The colors used in the paintings are red and black.

Fig. 32.—Petroglyph in Santa Barbara county, California.

The circles figured in b and d of Fig. 32, and c, r, and w of Fig. 33, together with other similar circular marks bearing cross lines upon the interior, were at first unintelligible, as their forms among various tribes have very different signification. The character in Fig. 32, above and projecting from d, resembles the human form, with curious lateral bands of black and white, alternately. Two similar characters appear, also, in Fig. 33, a, b. In a the lines from the head would seem to indicate a superior rank or condition of the person depicted.


At the private ethnologic collection of Mr. A. F. Coronel, of Los Angeles, California, Dr. Hoffman discovered a clue to the general import of the above petroglyphs, as well as the signification of some of their characters. In a collection of colored illustrations of old Mexican costumes he found blankets bearing borders and colors nearly identical with those shown in the circles in Fig. 32, d, and Fig. 33, c, r, w. It is probable that the circles represent bales of blankets which early became articles of trade at the Santa Barbara mission. If this supposition is correct, the cross lines would seem to represent the cords used in tying the blankets into bales, which same cross lines appear as cords in l, Fig. 33. Mr. Coronel also possesses small figures of Mexicans, of various conditions of life, costumes, trades, and professions, one of which, a painted statuette, is a representation of a Mexican lying down flat upon an outspread serape, similar in color and form to the black and white bands shown in the upper figure of d, Fig. 32, and a, b, of Fig. 33, and instantly suggesting the explanation of those figures. Upon the latter the continuity of the black and white bands is broken, as the human figures are probably intended to be in front, or on top, of the drawings of the blankets.

Fig. 33.—Petroglyph in Santa Barbara county, California.

The small statuette above mentioned is that of a Mexican trader, and if the circles in the petroglyphs are considered to represent bales of blankets, the character in Fig. 32, d, is still more interesting, from the union of one of these circles with a character representing the trader, i. e., the man possessing the bales. Bales, or what appear to be bales, are represented to the top and right of the circle in d, in that figure. In Fig. 33, l, a bale is upon the back of what appears to be a horse, led in[72] an upward direction by an Indian whose headdress and ends of the breechcloth are visible. To the right of the bale are three short lines, evidently showing the knot or ends of the cords used in tying a bale of blankets without colors, therefore of less importance, or of other goods. Other human forms appear in the attitude of making gestures, one also in j, Fig. 33, probably carrying a bale of goods. In the same figure u represents a centipede, an insect found occasionally south of the mountains, but reported as extremely rare in the immediate northern regions. For remarks upon x in the same figure see Chapter XX, Section 2, under the heading The Cross.

Mr. Coronel stated that when he first settled in Los Angeles, in 1843, the Indians living north of the San Fernando mountains manufactured blankets of the fur and hair of animals, showing transverse bands of black and white similar to those depicted, which were sold to the inhabitants of the valley of Los Angeles and to Indians who transported them to other tribes.

It is probable that the pictographs are intended to represent the salient features of a trading expedition from the north. The ceiling of the cavity found between the paintings represented in the two figures has disappeared, owing to disintegration, thus leaving a blank about 4 feet long, and 6 feet from the top to the bottom between the paintings as now presented.


Petroglyphs are reported by Mr. Cyrus F. Newcomb as found upon cliffs on Rock creek, 15 miles from Rio Del Norte, Colorado. Three small photographs, submitted with this statement, indicate the characters to have been pecked; they consist of men on horseback, cross-shaped human figures, animals, and other designs greatly resembling those found in the country of the Shoshonean tribes, examples of which are given infra.

Another notice of the same general locality is made by Capt. E. L. Berthoud (a) as follows:

The place is 20 miles southeast of Rio Del Norte, at the entrance of the canyon of the Piedra Pintada (Painted rock) creek. The carvings are found on the right of the canyon or valley and upon volcanic rocks. They bear the marks of age and are cut in, not painted, as is still done by the Utes everywhere. They are found for a quarter of a mile along the north wall of the canyon, on the ranches of W. M. Maguire and F. T. Hudson, and consist of all manner of pictures, symbols, and hieroglyphics done by artists whose memory even tradition does not now preserve. The fact that these are carvings done upon such hard rock invests them with additional interest, as they are quite distinct from the carvings I saw in New Mexico and Arizona on soft sandstone. Though some of them are evidently of much greater antiquity than others, yet all are ancient, the Utes admitting them to have been old when their fathers conquered the country.

Mr. Charles D. Wright, of Durango, Colorado, in a communication dated February 20, 1885, gives an account of some “hieroglyphs” on[73] rocks and upon the walls of cliff houses near the boundary line between Colorado and New Mexico. He says:

The following were painted in red and black paints on the wall (apparently the natural rock wall) of a cliff house: At the head was a chief on his horse, armed with spear and lance and wearing a pointed hat and robe; behind this character were some twenty characters representing people on horses lassoing horses, etc. In fact the whole scene represented breaking camp and leaving in a hurry. The whole painting measured about 12 by 16 feet.

Mr. Wright further reports characters on rocks near the San Juan river. Four characters represent men as if in the act of taking an obligation, hands extended, and wearing a “kind of monogram on breast, and at their right are some hieroglyphics written in black paint covering a space 3 by 4 feet.”

The best discussed and probably the most interesting of the petroglyphs in the region are described and illustrated by Mr. W. H. Holmes (a), of the Bureau of Ethnology. The illustrations are here reproduced in Figs. 34 to 37, and the remarks of Mr. Holmes, slightly condensed, are as follows:

The forms reproduced in Fig. 34 occur on the Rio Mancos, near the group of cliff houses. They are chipped into the rock evidently by some very hard implement and rudely represent the human figure. They are certainly not attempts to represent nature, but have the appearance rather of arbitrary forms, designed to symbolize some imaginary being.

Fig. 34.—Petroglyphs on the Rio Mancos, Colorado.

The forms shown in Fig. 35 were found in the same locality, not engraved, but painted in red and white clay upon the smooth rocks. These were certainly done by the cliff-builders, and probably while the houses were in process of construction, since the material used is identical with the plaster of the houses. The sketches and[74] notes were made by Mr. Brandegee. The reproduction is approximately one-twelfth the size of the original.

Fig. 35.—Petroglyphs on the Rio Mancos, Colorado.

The examples shown in Fig. 36 occur on the Rio San Juan about 10 miles below the mouth of the Rio La Plata and are actually in New Mexico. A low line of bluffs, composed of light-colored massive sandstones that break down in great smooth-faced blocks, rises from the river level and sweeps around toward the north. Each of these great blocks has offered a very tempting tablet to the graver of the primitive artist, and many of them contain curious and interesting inscriptions. Drawings were made of such of these as the limited time at my disposal would permit. They are all engraved or cut into the face of the rock, and the whole body of each figure has generally been chipped out, frequently to the depth of one-fourth or one-half of an inch.

Fig. 36.—Petroglyphs on the Rio San Juan, New Mexico.

The work on some of the larger groups has been one of immense labor, and must owe its completion to strong and enduring motives. With a very few exceptions the engraving bears undoubted evidence of age. Such new figures as occur are quite easily distinguished both by the freshness of the chipped surfaces and by the designs themselves. The curious designs given in the final group have a very perceptible resemblance to many of the figures used in the embellishment of pottery.

The most striking group observed is given in Fig. 37 A, same locality. It consists of a great procession of men, birds, beasts, and fanciful figures. The whole picture as placed upon a rock is highly spirited and the idea of a general movement toward the right, skillfully portrayed. A pair of winged figures hover about the train as if[75] to watch, or direct its movements; behind these are a number of odd figures, followed by an antlered animal resembling a deer, which seems to be drawing a notched sledge containing two figures of men. The figures forming the main body of the procession appear to be tied together in a continuous line, and in form resemble one living creature about as little as another. Many of the smaller figures above and below are certainly intended to represent dogs, while a number of men are stationed about here and there as if to keep the procession in order.

Fig. 37.—Petroglyphs on the Rio San Juan, New Mexico.

As to the importance of the event recorded in this picture, no conclusions can be drawn; it may represent the migration of a tribe or family or the trophies of a victory. A number of figures are wanting in the drawing at the left, while some of those at the right may not belong properly to the main group. The reduction is, approximately, to one-twelfth.

Designs B and C of the same figure represent only the more distinct portions of two other groups. The complication of figures is so great that a number of hours would have been necessary for their delineation, and an attempt to analyze them here would be fruitless.

It will be noticed that the last two petroglyphs are in New Mexico, but they are so near the border of Colorado and so connected with the series in that state that they are presented under the same heading.


The following account is extracted from Rafn’s Antiquitates Americanæ (a):

In the year 1789 Doctor Ezra Stiles, D. D., visited a rock situated in the Township of Kent in the State of Connecticut, at a place called Scaticook, by the Indians. He thus describes it: “Over against Scaticook and about one hundred rods East of Housatonic River, is an eminence or elevation which is called Cobble Hill. On the top of this stands the rock charged with antique unknown characters. This rock is by itself and not a portion of the Mountains; it is of White Flint; ranges North and South; is from twelve to fourteen feet long; and from eight to ten wide at base and top; and of an uneven surface. On the top I did not perceive any characters; but the sides all around are irregularly charged with unknown characters, made not indeed with the incision of a chisel, yet most certainly with an iron tool, and that by[76] pecks or picking, after the manner of the Dighton Rock. The Lacunae or excavations are from a quarter to an inch wide; and from one tenth to two tenths of an inch deep. The engraving did not appear to be recent or new, but very old.”


Charles C. Jones, jr., (a) describes a petroglyph in Georgia as follows:

In Forsyth county, Georgia, is a carved or incised bowlder of fine grained granite, about 9 feet long, 4 feet 6 inches high, and 3 feet broad at its widest point. The figures are cut in the bowlder from one-half to three-fourths of an inch deep. It is generally believed that they are the work of the Cherokees.

The illustration given by him is here reproduced in Fig. 38. It will be noted that the characters in it are chiefly circles, including plain, nucleated, and concentric, sometimes two or more being joined by straight lines, forming what is now known as the “spectacle shaped” figure. The illustrations should be compared with the many others presented in this paper under the heading of Cup Sculptures, see Chapter V, infra.

Fig. 38.—Petroglyphs in Georgia.

Dr. M. F. Stephenson (a) mentions sculptures of human feet, various animals, bear tracks, etc., in Enchanted mountain, Union county, Georgia. The whole number of sculptures is reported as one hundred and forty-six.

Mr. Jones (b) gives a different résumé of the objects depicted, as follows:

Upon the Enchanted mountain, in Union county, cut in plutonic rock, are the tracks of men, women, children, deer, bears, bisons, turkeys, and terrapins, and the outlines of a snake, of two deer, and of a human hand. These sculptures—so far as they have been ascertained and counted—number one hundred and thirty-six. The most extravagant among them is that known as the footprint of the “Great Warrior.” It measures 18 inches in length and has six toes. The other human tracks and those of the animals are delineated with commendable fidelity.



Mr. G. K. Gilbert, of the U. S. Geological Survey, has furnished a small collection of drawings of Shoshonean petroglyphs from Oneida, Idaho, shown in Fig. 39. Some of them appear to be totemic characters, and possibly were made to record the names of visitors to the locality.

Fig. 39.—Petroglyphs in Idaho (Shoshonean).

Mr. Willard D. Johnson, of the U. S. Geological Survey, reports pictographic remains observed by him near Oneida, Idaho, in 1879. The figures represent human beings and were on a rock of basalt.

A copy of another petroglyph found in Idaho appears in Fig. 1092, infra.


Petroglyphs are reported by Mr. John Criley as occurring near Ava, Jackson county, Illinois. The outlines of the characters observed by him were drawn from memory and submitted to Mr. Charles S. Mason, of Toledo, Ohio, through whom they were furnished to the Bureau of Ethnology. Little reliance can be placed upon the accuracy of such drawing, but from the general appearance of the sketches the originals of which they are copies were probably made by one of the middle Algonquian tribes of Indians.

The “Piasa” rock, as it is generally designated, was referred to by the missionary explorer Marquette in 1675. Its situation was immediately above the city of Alton, Illinois.


Marquette’s remarks are translated by Dr. Francis Parkman (a) as follows:

On the flat face of a high rock were painted, in red, black, and green, a pair of monsters, each “as large as a calf, with horns like a deer, red eyes, a beard like a tiger, and a frightful expression of countenance. The face is something like that of a man, the body covered with scales; and the tail so long that it passes entirely round the body, over the head, and between the legs, ending like that of a fish.”

Another version, by Davidson and Struvé (a), of the discovery of the petroglyph is as follows:

Again they (Joliet and Marquette) were floating on the broad bosom of the unknown stream. Passing the mouth of the Illinois, they soon fell into the shadow of a tall promontory, and with great astonishment beheld the representation of two monsters painted on its lofty limestone front. According to Marquette, each of these frightful figures had the face of a man, the horns of a deer, the beard of a tiger, and the tail of a fish so long that it passed around the body, over the head, and between the legs. It was an object of Indian worship and greatly impressed the mind of the pious missionary with the necessity of substituting for this monstrous idolatry the worship of the true God.

A footnote connected with the foregoing quotation gives the following description of the same rock:

Near the mouth of the Piasa creek, on the bluff, there is a smooth rock in a cavernous cleft, under an overhanging cliff, on whose face, 50 feet from the base, are painted some ancient pictures or hieroglyphics, of great interest to the curious. They are placed in a horizontal line from east to west, representing men, plants, and animals. The paintings, though protected from dampness and storms, are in great part destroyed, marred by portions of the rock becoming detached and falling down.

Mr. McAdams (a), of Alton, Illinois, says “The name Piasa is Indian and signifies, in the Illini, ‘The bird which devours men.’” He furnishes a spirited pen-and-ink sketch, 12 by 15 inches in size and purporting to represent the ancient painting described by Marquette. On the picture is inscribed the following in ink: “Made by Wm. Dennis, April 3d, 1825.” The date is in both letters and figures. On the top of the picture in large letters are the two words, “FLYING DRAGON.” This picture, which has been kept in the old Gilham family of Madison county and bears the evidence of its age, is reproduced as Fig. 40.

Fig. 40.—The Piasa petroglyph.

He also publishes another representation (Fig. 41) with the following remarks:

One of the most satisfactory pictures of the Piasa we have ever seen is in an old German publication entitled “The Valley of the Mississippi Illustrated. Eighty[79] illustrations from nature, by H. Lewis, from the Falls of St. Anthony to the Gulf of Mexico,” published about the year 1839 by Arenz & Co., Düsseldorf, Germany. One of the large full-page plates in this work gives a fine view of the bluff at Alton, with the figure of the Piasa on the face of the rock. It is represented to have been taken on the spot by artists from Germany. We reproduce that part of the bluff (the whole picture being too large for this work) which shows the pictographs. In the German picture there is shown just behind the rather dim outlines of the second face a ragged crevice, as though of a fracture. Part of the bluff’s face might have fallen and thus nearly destroyed one of the monsters, for in later years writers speak of but one figure. The whole face of the bluff was quarried away in 1846-’47.

Fig. 41.—The Piasa petroglyph.

Under Myths and Mythic Animals, Chapter XIV, Section 2, are illustrations and descriptions which should be compared with these accounts, and Chapter XXII gives other examples of errors and discrepancies in the description and copying of petroglyphs.

Mr. A. D. Jones (a) says of the same petroglyph:

After the distribution of firearms among the Indians, bullets were substituted for arrows, and even to this day no savage presumes to pass the spot without discharging his rifle and raising his shout of triumph. I visited the spot in June (1838) and examined the image and the ten thousand bullet marks on the cliff seemed to corroborate the tradition related to me in the neighborhood.

Mr. McAdams, loc. cit., also reports regarding Fig. 42:

Fig. 42.—Petroglyph on the Illinois river.

Some twenty-five or thirty miles above the mouth of the Illinois river, on the west bank of that stream, high up on the smooth face of an overhanging cliff, is another interesting pictograph sculptured deeply in the hard rock. It remains to-day probably[80] in nearly the same condition it was when the French voyagers first descended the river and got their first view of the Mississippi. The animal-like body, with the human head, is carved in the rock in outline. The huge eyes are depressions like saucers, an inch or more in depth, and the outline of the body has been scooped out in the same way; also the mouth.

The figure of the archer with the drawn bow, however, is painted, or rather stained with a reddish brown pigment, over the sculptured outline of the monster’s face.

Mr. McAdams suggests that the painted figure of the human form with the bow and arrows was made later than the sculpture.

The same author (b) says, describing Fig. 43:

Fig. 43.—Petroglyph near Alton, Illinois.

Some 3 or 4 miles above Alton, high up beneath the overhanging cliff, which forms a sort of cave shelter on the smooth face of a thick ledge of rock, is a series of paintings, twelve in number. They are painted or rather stained in the rock with a reddish brown pigment that seems to defy the tooth of time. It may be said, however, that their position is so sheltered that they remain almost perfectly dry. We made sketches of them some thirty years ago and on a recent visit could see that they had changed but little, although their appearance denotes great age.

These pictographs are situated on the cliff more than a hundred feet above the river. A protruding ledge, which is easily reached from a hollow in the bluff, leads to the cavernous place in the rock.

Mr. James D. Middleton, formerly of the Bureau of Ethnology, mentions the occurrence of petroglyphs on the bluffs of the Mississippi river, in Jackson county, about 12 miles below Rockwood. Also of others about 4 or 5 miles from Prairie du Rocher, near the Mississippi river.


Mr. P. W. Norris, of the Bureau of Ethnology, found numerous caves on the banks of the Mississippi river, in northeastern Iowa, 4 miles south of New Albion, containing incised petroglyphs. Fifteen miles south of this locality paintings occur on the cliffs. He also discovered painted characters upon the cliffs on the Mississippi river, 19 miles below New Albion.


Mr. Edward Miller reports in Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, vol. X, 1869, p. 383, the discovery of a petroglyph near the line of the Union Pacific railroad, 15 miles southeast of Fort Harker, formerly known as Fort Ellsworth, Kansas. The petroglyph is upon a formation belonging to No. 1, Lower Cretaceous group, according to the classification of Meek and Hayden.


The parts of the two plates VII and VIII of the work cited, which bear the inscriptions, are now presented as Fig. 44, being from two views of the same rock.

Fig. 44.—Petroglyphs in Kansas.


Mr. James D. Middleton, formerly of the Bureau of Ethnology, in a letter dated August 14, 1886, reports that at a point in Union county, Kentucky, nearly opposite Shawneetown, Illinois, petroglyphs are found, and from the description given by him they appear to resemble those in Jackson county, Illinois, mentioned above.

Mr. W. E. Barton, of Wellington, Ohio, in a communication dated October 4, 1890, writes as follows:

At Clover Bottom, Kentucky, on a spur of the Big Hill, in Jackson county, about 13 miles from Berea, is a large rock which old settlers say was covered with soil and vegetation within their memory. Upon it are representations of human tracks, with what appear to be those of a bear, a horse, and a dog. These are all in the same direction, as though a man leading a horse, followed the dog upon the bear’s track. Crossing these is a series of tracks of another and larger sort which I can not attempt to identify. The stone is a sandstone in the subcarboniferous. As I remember, the strata are nearly horizontal, but erosion has made the surface a slope of about 20°. The tracks ascending the slope cross the strata. I have not seen them for some years.

The crossing of the strata shows that the tracks are the work of human hands, if indeed it were not preposterous to think of anything else in rocks of that period. Still the tracks are so well made that one is tempted to ask if they can be real. They alternate right and left, though the erosion and travel have worn out some of the left tracks. A wagon road passes over the rock and was the cause of the present exposure of the stone. It can be readily found a fourth of a mile or less from the Pine Grove schoolhouse.


A number of inscribed rocks have been found in Maine and information of others has been obtained. The most interesting of them and the largest group series yet discovered in New England is shown in Pl. XII.


The rock upon which the glyphs appear is in the town of Machiasport, Maine, at Clarks point, on the northwestern side of Machias bay,[82] 2 miles below the mouth of Machias river. The rock or ledge is about 50 feet long from east to west and about fifteen feet in width, nearly horizontal for two-thirds its length, from the bank or western end at high water, thence inclining at an angle of 15° to low-water mark. Its southern face is inclined about 40°. The formation is schistose slate, having a transverse vein of trap dike extending nearly across its section. Nearly the entire ledge is of blue-black color, very dense and hard except at the upper or western end, where the periodical formation of ice has scaled off thin layers of surface and destroyed many figures which are remembered by persons now living. The ebb and flow of tides, the abrasion of moving beach stones or pebble wash and of ice-worn bowlders, have also effaced many figures along the southern side, until now but one or two indentations are discernible. Visitors, in seeking to remove some portion of the rock as a curiosity or in striving to perpetuate their initials, have obscured several of the most interesting, and until recently the best defined figures. It was also evident to the present writer, who carefully examined the rock in 1888, that it lay much deeper in the water than once had been the case. At the lowest tides there were markings seen still lower, which could not readily have been made if that part of the surface had not been continuously exposed. The depression of a rock of such great size, which was so gradual that it had not been observed by the inhabitants of the neighboring settlement, is an evidence of the antiquity of the peckings.

The intaglio carving of all the figures was apparently made by repeated blows of a pointed instrument—doubtless of hard stone; not held as a chisel, but working by a repetition of hammerings or peckings. The deepest now seen is about three-eighths of an inch. The amount of patient labor bestowed upon these figures must have been great, considering the hardness of the rock and the rude implement with which they were wrought.

There is no extrinsic evidence of their age. The place was known to traders early in the seventeenth century, and much earlier was visited by Basque fishermen, and perhaps by the unfortunate Cortereals in 1500 and 1503. The descendants of the Mechises Indians, a tribal branch of the Abnaki, who once occupied the territory between the St. Croix and Narraguagus rivers, when questioned many years ago, would reply in substance that “all their old men knew of them,” either by having seen them or by traditions handed down through many generations.

Several years ago Mr. H. R. Taylor, of Machias, who made the original sketch in 1868 and kindly furnished it to the Bureau of Ethnology, applied to a resident Indian there (Peter Benoit, then nearly 80 years old) for assistance in deciphering the characters. He gave little information, but pointed out that the figures must not all be read “from one side only,” thus, the one near the center of the sketch, which seen from the south was without significance, became from the opposite[83] point a squaw with sea fowl on her head, denoting, as he said, “that squaw had smashed canoe, saved beaver-skin, walked one-half moon all alone toward east, just same as heron wading alongshore.” Also that the three lines below the figure mentioned, which together resemble a bird track or a trident, represent the three rivers, the East, West, and Middle rivers of Machias, which join not far above the locality. The mark having a rough resemblance to a feather, next on the right of this river-sign, is a fissure in the rock. Most of the figures of human beings and other animals are easily recognizable.

Peckings of a character similar to those on the Picture rock at Clarks point, above described, were found and copied 600 feet south of it at high-water mark on a rock near Birch point. Others were discovered and traced on a rock on Hog island, in Holmes bay, a part of Machias bay. All these petroglyphs were without doubt of Abnaki origin, either of the Penobscot or the Passamaquoddy divisions of that body of Indians. The rocks lay on the common line of water communication between those divisions and were convenient as halting places.


In the Susquehanna river, about half a mile south of the state line, is a group of rocks, several of the most conspicuous being designated as the “Bald Friars.” Near by are several mound-shaped bowlders of the so-called “nigger-head” rock, which is reported as a dark-greenish chlorite schist. Upon the several bowlders are deep sculpturings, apparently finished by rubbing the depression with stone, or wood and sand, thus leaving sharp and distinct edges to the outlines. Some of these figures are an inch in depth, though the greater number are becoming more and more eroded by the frequent freshets, and by the running ice during the breaking up in early spring of the frozen river.

The following account is given by Prof. P. Frazer (a):

Passing the Pennsylvania state line one reaches the southern barren serpentine rocks, which are in general tolerably level for a considerable distance.

About 700 yards, or 640 meters, south of the line, on the river shore, are rocks which have been named the Bald Friars. French’s tavern is here, at the mouth of a small stream which empties into the Susquehanna. About 874 yards (800 meters) south of this tavern are a number of islands which have local names, but which are curious as containing inscriptions of the aborigines.

The material of which most of these islands are composed is chlorite schist, but as this rock is almost always distinguished by the quartz veins which intersect it, so in this case some of the islands are composed of this material almost exclusively, which gives them a very striking white appearance.

One of these, containing the principal inscriptions, is called Miles island.

The figures, which covered every part of the rocks that were exposed, were apparently of historical or at least narrative purport, since they seemed to be connected. Doubtless the larger portion of the inscription has been carried away by the successive vicissitudes which have broken up and defaced, and in some instances obliterated, parts of which we find evidence of the previous existence on the islands.


Every large bowlder seems to contain some traces of previous inscription, and in many instances the pictured side of the bowlder is on its under side, showing that it has been detached from its original place. The natural agencies are quite sufficient to account for any amount of this kind of displacement, for the rocks in their present condition are not refractory and offer no great resistance to the wear of weather and ice; but in addition to this must be added human agencies.

Amongst other things, they represent the conventional Indian serpent’s head, with varying numbers of lines.

Some of the signs next frequently recurring were concentric circles, in some cases four and in other cases a lesser number.

Fig. 45.—Bald Friar rock, Maryland.

Fig. 45 is a reproduction of Prof. Frazer’s illustration.

This region was also referred to by Dr. Charles Rau (a), his cut from the specimen in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution (Mus. No. 39010) being here reproduced as Fig. 46.

Fig. 46.—Slab from Bald Friar rock, Maryland.

During the autumn of the years 1888 and 1889 Dr. Hoffman visited these rocks, securing sketches and measurements, the former of which are reproduced in Figs. 47 and 48. The figures are deeply cut, as if rubbed down with sand and a round stick of green wood. The deepest channels, varying from three-fourths to 1¼ inches across and almost as deep as they are wide, appear as if cut out with a gouge, and for this reason bear a strong resemblance to the petroglyphs in Owens valley, California. In whatever manner these sculpturings were made, it is[85] evident that much time and great labor were expended upon them, as this variety of rock, locally termed “Nigger-head,” is extremely hard.

Fig. 47.—Top of Bald Friar rock, Maryland.

Fig. 45 represents a bird’s-eye view of the top of the rock, bearing the greater amount of workmanship. The petroglyphs cover a surface measuring about 5 feet by 4 feet 6 inches. The extreme ends of the figures extend beyond the irregular horizontal surface and project over the rounded edge of the rock, so that the line, at the left-hand lower part of the illustration, dips at an angle of about 45°. The two short lines at the extreme right are upon the side of the upper edge of the rock, where the surface inclines at an angle of 30°.

Some of the figures are indefinite, which is readily accounted for by the fact that the rock is in the river, a considerable distance from shore, and annually subjected to freshets and to erosion by floating logs and drift material. The characters at the right end of the upper row resemble those near Washington, Lancaster county, Pennsylvania. (See Fig. 73.)


Fig. 48 presents three characters, selected from other portions of the rock, to illustrate the variety of designs found. They are like some found at Owens valley, California, as will be observed by comparing them with the descriptions and plates under that heading in this section. The left-hand figure is 4 inches in diameter, the middle one 6 inches wide and about 15 inches in height, and the third, or right-hand, is composed of concentric rings, measuring about 10 inches across.

Fig. 48.—Characters from Bald Friar rock, Maryland.


The following description of the much-discussed Dighton rock is taken from Schoolcraft (b), where it is accompanied with a plate, now reproduced as Fig. 49:

Fig. 49.—Dighton rock, Massachusetts.

The ancient inscription on a bowlder of greenstone rock lying in the margin of the Assonet or Taunton river, in the area of ancient Vinland, was noticed by the New England colonists so early as 1680, when Dr. Danforth made a drawing of it. This outline, together with several subsequent copies of it, at different eras, reaching to 1830, all differing considerably in their details, but preserving a certain general resemblance, is presented in the Antiquatés Americanes [sic] (Tables XI, XII), and referred to the same era of Scandinavian discovery. The imperfections of the drawings (including that executed under the auspices of the Rhode Island Historical Society in 1839, Table XII), and the recognition of some characters bearing more or less resemblance to antique Roman letters and figures, may be considered to have misled Mr. Magnusen in his interpretation of it. From whatever cause, nothing could, it would seem, have been wider from the purport and true interpretation of it. It is of purely Indian origin, and is executed in the peculiar symbolic character of the Kekeewin.

A number of copies of the inscriptions on this rock, taken at different times by different persons, are given below in Chapter XXII, sec. 2, with remarks upon them.

Dr. Hoffman visited the locality in 1886, and found that the surface was becoming rapidly destroyed from the frequent use of scrubbing with broom and water to remove the film of sand and dirt which is[87] daily deposited by every tide, the rock being situated at a short distance inshore. Visitors are frequent, and the guide or ferryman does not interfere with them so long as he can show his passengers the famous inscription.

The resemblance between the characters on this rock and those found in western Pennsylvania, near Millsboro, Fig. 75, and south of Franklin, on the “Indian God rock,” Fig. 74, will be noted.

In Rafn’s Antiq. Amer. (b) is the following account:

A large stone, on which is a line of considerable length in unknown characters, has been recently found in Rutland, Worcester county, Massachusetts; they are regularly placed, and the strokes are filled with a black composition nearly as hard as the rock itself. The Committee also adds that a similar rock is to be found in Swanzy, county of Bristol and Commonwealth of Massachusetts, perhaps ten miles from the Dighton Rock.


The late Mr. P. W. Norris, who was connected with the Bureau of Ethnology, reported large numbers of pecked totemic characters on the horizontal faces of the ledges of rock at Pipestone quarry in Minnesota, and presented some imitations of the peckings. There is a tradition that it was formerly the custom for each Indian who gathered stone (catlinite) for pipes, to inscribe his totem (whether clan or tribal or personal totem is not specified) upon the rock before venturing to quarry upon this ground. Some of the cliffs in the immediate vicinity were of too hard a nature to admit of pecking or scratching, and upon these the characters were placed in colors. Mr. Norris distinguished bird tracks, the outline of a bird resembling a pelican, deer, turtle, a circle with an interior cross, and a human figure.

Examples of so-called totemic designs from this locality are given in Fig. 50, which are reproduced from the work of R. Cronau (a):

Fig. 50.—Petroglyphs at Pipestone, Minn.

The same petroglyphs and also others at the Pipestone quarry are described and illustrated by Prof. N. H. Winchell (a). A part of his remarks is as follows:

On the glaciated surface of the quartzite about the “Three Maidens,” which is kept clean by the rebound of the winds, are a great many rude inscriptions, which were made by pecking out the rock with some sharp-pointed instrument or by the use of other pieces of quartzite. They are of different sizes and dates, the latter being evinced by their manner of crossing and interfering and by the evident difference in the weight of the instruments used. They generally represent some animal, such as the turtle, bear, wolf, buffalo, elk, and the human form. The “crane’s foot” is the most common; next is the image of men; next the turtle. It would seem as if any warrior or hunter who had been successful and happened to pass here left his tribute of thanks to the great spirit in a rude representation of his game and perhaps a figure of himself on the rocks about these bowlders, or perhaps had in a similar way invoked the good offices of the spirits of his clan when about to enter on some expedition. In some cases there is a connection of several figures by a continuous line, chipped in the surface of the rock in such a manner as if some legend or adventure were narrated, but for the most part the figures are isolated. This is the “sacred ground” of the locality. Such markings can be seen at no other place, though there is abundance of bare, smooth rock. (Similar inscriptions are found on the red[88] quartzite in Cottonwood county). The excavation of the surface of the rock is very slight, generally not exceeding a sixteenth of an inch, and sometimes only enough to leave a tracing of the designed form. The hardness of the rock was a barrier to deep sculpturing with the imperfect instruments of the aborigines; but it has effectually preserved the rude forms that were made. The fine glacial scratches that are abundantly scattered over this quartzite indicate the tenacity with which it retains all such impressions, and will warrant the assignment of any date to these inscriptions that may be called for within the human period. Yet it is probable that they date back to no very great antiquity. They pertain, at least, to the dynasty of the present Indian tribes. The totems of the turtle and the bear, which are known to have been powerful among the clans of the native races in America at the time of the earliest European knowledge of them, and which exist to this day, are the most frequent objects represented. The “crane’s foot,” or “turkey foot,” or “bird track,” terms which refer perhaps to the same totem sign—the snipe—is not only common on these rocks, but is seen among the rock inscriptions of Ohio, and was one of the totems of the Iroquois, of New York.

In June, 1892, Mr. W. H. Holmes, of the Bureau of Ethnology, visited the Pipestone quarry and took a number of tracings of the petroglyphs, which unfortunately were received too late for insertion in the present work. Some of his remarks are as follows:

The trouble with the figures copied and published by Prof. Winchell is that they are not arranged in the original order. It will now be impossible to correct this entirely, as most of the stones have been taken up and removed. * * * The Winchell drawings were evidently drawn by eye and have a very large personal equation; besides, they are mixed up while appearing to be in some order. The few groups that I was able to get are, it seems to me, of more interest than all the single figures you could put in a book. There can be little doubt that in the main this[89] great group of pictures was arranged in definite order, agreeing with the arrangements of mythical personages and positions usual in the aboriginal ceremonials of the region. It is a great pity that the original order has been destroyed, but the inroads of relic hunters and inscription cranks made it necessary to take up the stones. One large stone was taken to Minneapolis by Prof. Winchell. There are a few pieces still in place. All were near the base of one of the great granite bowlders, and it is said here that formerly, within the memory of the living, the place was visited by Indians who wished to consult the gods.

The following description is extracted from the account of Mr. James W. Lynd (b):

Numerous high bluffs and cliffs surround it; the Pipestone quarry and the alluvial flat below these, in which the quarry is situated, contains a huge bowlder that rests upon a flat rock of glistening, smooth appearance, the level of which is but a few inches above the surface of the ground. Upon the portions of this rock not covered by the bowlder above and upon bowlder itself are carved sundry wonderful figures—lizards, snakes, otters, Indian gods, rabbits with cloven feet, muskrats with human feet, and other strange and incomprehensible things—all cut into the solid granite, and not without a great deal of time and labor expended in the performance. * * *

A large party of Ehanktonwanna and Teetonwan Dakotas, says the legend, had gathered together at the quarry to dig the stone. Upon a sultry evening, just before sunset, the heavens suddenly became overclouded by a heavy rumbling thunder and every sign of an approaching storm, such as frequently arises on the prairie without[90] much warning. Each one hurried to his lodge, expecting a storm, when a vivid flash of lightning, followed immediately by a crashing peal of thunder, broke over them, and, looking towards the huge bowlder beyond their camp, they saw a pillar or column of smoke standing upon it, which moved to and fro, and gradually settled down into the outline of a huge giant, seated upon the bowlder, with one long arm extended to heaven and the other pointing down to his feet. Peal after peal of thunder, and flashes of lightning in quick succession followed, and this figure then suddenly disappeared. The next morning the Sioux went to this bowlder and found these figures and images upon it, where before there had been nothing, and ever since that the place has been regarded as wakan or sacred.

Mr. T. H. Lewis (b) gives a description of Fig. 51.

Fig. 51.—Petroglyphs in Brown’s valley, Minnesota.

This bowlder is in the edge of the public park, on the north end of the plateau at Brown’s valley, Minnesota. The bowlder has a flat surface with a western exposure, is irregular in outline, and is about 5 feet 8 inches in diameter, and firmly imbedded in the terrace.

The central figure, a, undoubtedly represents a man, although the form is somewhat conventional; b represents a bird; c represents a tortoise; d is a cross and circle combined, but the circle has a groove extending from it; e, f, and g, although somewhat in the shape of crosses, probably represent bird tracks; h and i are nondescript in character, although there must be some meaning attached to them; k and l are small dots or cups cut into the bowlder.

The figures as illustrated are one-eighth of their natural size, and are also correct in their relative positions one to the other. The work is neatly done although the depth of the incisions is very slight.


Mr. Charles Hallock, of Washington, D. C., reports the occurrence of pictured rocks near Fort Assiniboin, Montana, but does not mention whether they are colored or incised, and also fails to describe the general type of the characters found.


The following (condensed) description of petroglyphs found in Dakota county, Nebraska, is furnished by Mr. J. H. Quick, of Sioux City, Iowa:

The petroglyphs are found upon the face of a sandstone cliff in a deep ravine at a point where two watercourses (dry for the most part), meet about 20 miles south of Sioux City, Iowa, but in Dakota county, in the State of Nebraska. At this point the range of bluffs which bounds the Missouri river bottom is deeply cut through by the above-mentioned ravine, which runs in a northerly direction towards the Missouri. Another ravine coming from the southwest leaves this narrow point of land between the two ravines, rising to a height of 50 to 75 feet above the bottom of the ravines. For some distance from the point this cape, if I may so term it, shows ledges of sandstone cropping out on both sides. And exactly at the point and for some rods back on the east side are found the pictographs under consideration.

The rocks are of two kinds, a few feet of hard jasperous sandstone superimposed on about the same thickness of sandstone so soft that it can be crumbled to pieces in the fingers. The lower soft strata have been worn away, leaving the upper harder layers jutting out to a distance of several feet over and completely sheltering them. And on the smooth surface of these lower soft strata, protected by the overhanging ledge above, shut in by bluffs 200 feet high on the east and sheltered from the winds by dense underwood and scrubby forest trees, are carved these pictographs. These safeguards, combined with the advantage of a very secluded situation, have combined to preserve them, very little marred by careless and mischievous hands.


The eagle or “thunder-bird” figures are quite numerous. There are also many of the “buffalo track” and of the “turkey track” figures. I call them “turkey tracks” because they all show a spur and seem to represent some of the large gallinaciæ.

In one of the groups, which I will call the “bear-fight group,” we are at a loss to determine whether the figure of the small animal was a part of the original design or a subsequent interpolation. It seemed genuine, but was not so deeply carved as the other figures. The same may be said of the diagonal bars across the figure of the bear.

In the other group, which I will term the “turkey-track group,” there are some figures of which we could not even imagine the meaning. But they are undoubtedly genuine, and seem to belong to the same design as the other figure.

The “bear-track” figures are very numerous and of several different sizes. A cat-like figure, which we call a panther, shows faintly. It is about effaced by time. Other figures reminded us of a crab or crawfish, but we were unable to determine whether the line running back just below belongs to it or not.

I am informed by the same gentleman who saw these petroglyphs in 1857 that there were at one time many more some 3 or 4 miles from this place, near Homer, Nebraska, in the vicinity of a large spring, but he also said that as it is a favorite picnic ground for the country people the carvings are probably destroyed. I presume others may be found in these bluffs.

I surmise that the almost cave-like nature of the place where the carvings I have above attempted to describe are situated rendered it a favorite camping ground and resting place; and also that the ravines above mentioned made easy trails from the Missouri bottom up to the higher grounds farther from the river, because it obviated the ascent of the very steep bluffs.

The Winnebago Indian reservation is a few miles south of this locality, but they were placed here by the Government as late as from 1860 to 1865. Previous to that time I think this ground was occupied by the Omahas. I have been unable to gain any information as to the Indians who carved these figures or as to their meaning.


The most instructive of the petroglyphs, copies of which are kindly furnished by Mr. Quick, is presented as Pl. XIII, and selected sketches from that and the other petroglyphs copied are shown as Figs. 52 and 53.

Fig. 52.—Characters from Nebraska petroglyphs.

Frank La Flèche, of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, in February, 1886, communicated the following:

Ingnanχe gikáχa-ina is the Omaha name of a rock ledge on the banks of the Missouri river, near the Santee agency, Nebraska. This ledge contains pictographs of[92] men who passed to the happy hunting grounds, of life size, the sandstone being so soft that the engravings would be made with a piece of wood. They are represented with the special cause (arrow, gun, etc.), which sped them to hades. The souls themselves are said to make these pictographs before repairing “to the spirits.”

Fig. 53.—Characters from Nebraska petroglyphs.

Rev. J. Owen Dorsey, of the Bureau of Ethnology, says that the probable rendering of the term when corrected is, “Spirit(s) they-made-themselves the (place where).”


Petroglyphs have been found by members of the U. S. Geological Survey at the lower extremity of Pyramid lake, Nevada, though no accurate reproductions are available. These characters are mentioned as incised upon the surface of basalt rocks.

Petroglyphs also occur in considerable numbers on the western slope of Lone Butte, in the Carson desert. All of these appear to have been produced on the faces of bowlders and rocks by pecking and scratching with some hard mineral material like quartz.

A communication from Mr. R. L. Fulton, of Reno, Nevada, tells that the drawing now reproduced as Fig. 54 is a pencil sketch of curious petroglyphs on a rock on the Carson river, about 8 miles below old[93] Fort Churchill. It is the largest and most important one of a group of similar characters. It is basaltic, about 4 feet high and equally broad.

Fig. 54.—Petroglyphs on Carson river, Nevada.

Mr. Fulton gives the following description:

The rock spoken of has an oblong hole about 2 inches by 4 and 16 inches deep at the left end, which has been chipped out before the lines were drawn, if it was not some form of the ancient mill which is so common, as it seems to be the starting point for the whole scheme of the artist. The rock lies with a broad, smooth top face at an angle towards the south, and its top and southeast side are covered with lines and marks that convey to the present generation no intelligence whatever, so far as I can learn.

A line half an inch wide starts at the hole on the left and sweeping downward forms a sort of border for the work until it reaches midway of the rock, when it suddenly turns up and mingles with the hieroglyphics above. Two or three similar lines cross at the top of the stone, and one runs across and turns along the north side, losing itself in a coating of moss that seems as hard and dry and old as the stone itself. From the line at the bottom a few scallopy looking marks hang that may be a part of the picture, or it may be a fringe or ornament. The figures are not pictures of any animal, bird, or reptile, but seem to be made up of all known forms and are connected by wavy, snake-like lines. Something which might be taken for a dog with a round and characterless head at each end of the body, looking towards you, occupies a place near the lower line. The features are all plain enough. A deer’s head is joined to a patchwork that has something that might be taken for 4 legs beneath it. Bird’s claws show up in two or three places, but no bird is near them. Snaky figures run promiscuously through the whole thing. A circle at the right end has spokes joining at the center which run out and lose themselves in the maze outside.

The best known and largest collection of marks that I know of covers a large smooth ledge at Hopkins Soda Springs, 12 miles south of the summit on the Central Pacific railroad. The rock is much the same in character as those I have described, but the groundwork in this case is a solid ledge 10 feet one way and perhaps 40 the other, all closely covered with rude characters, many of which seem to point to human figures, animals, reptiles, etc. The ledge lies at an angle of 45°, and must have been a tempting place for a lazy artist who chanced that way.

Many other places on the Truckee river have such rocks all very much alike, and yet each bearing its own distinct features in the marking. Near a rock half a mile east of Verdi, a station on the Central Pacific railroad, 10 miles east of Reno, lie two others, the larger of which has lines originating in a hole at the upper right-hand corner, all running in tangents and angles, making a double-ended kind of an arrangement of many-headed arrows, pointing three ways. A snail-like scroll lies between the two arms, but does not touch them. Below are blotches, as if the artist had tried his tools.

This region has been roamed over by the Washoe Indians from a remote period, but none of them know anything of these works. One who has gray hair and more wrinkles than hairs, who is bent with age and who is said to be a hundred years old, was led to the spot. He said he saw them a heap long time ago, when he was only a few summers old, and they looked then just as they do now.

Mr. Lovejoy, a well-known newspaper man, took up, in 1854, the ranche where the rocks lie, and said just before his death that they were in exactly the same condition when he first saw them as they are to-day. Others say the same, and they are certainly of a date prior to the settlement of this coast by Americans and probably by the Spanish.

They are very peculiar in many respects, and the rock is wonderfully adapted to the uses to which it has been put. Wherever the surface has been broken the color[94] has changed to gray, and no amount of wear or weather seems to turn it back. The indentation is so shallow as to be imperceptible to sight or touch, and yet the marks are as plain as they could be made, and can be seen as far as the rock can be distinguished from its fellows.

It is hardly likely that the work was done without some motive besides the simple love of doing it, and it was well and carefully done, too, showing much patience and doubtless consumed a good deal of time, as the tools were poor.

A large ledge is marked near Meadow lake in Nevada county, and in the state of Nevada the petroglyphs cover a route extending from the southeast to the northwest corner of the state, crossing the line into California in Modoc county, and leaving a string of samples clear across the Madeline plains.

Eight miles below Belmont, in Nye county, Nevada, an immense rock which at some time has fallen into the canyon from the porphyry ledge above it has a patch of marks nearly 20 feet square. It is so high that a man on horseback can not reach the top.

A number at Reveillé, in the same county, are also marked. On the road to Tybo every large rock is marked, one of the figures being a semicircle with a short vertical spoke within the curve. At Reno a heavy black rock a couple of feet across is[95] beautifully engraved to represent a bull’s eye of 4 rings, an arrow with a very large feather, and one which may mean a man. In a steep canyon 15 miles northeast of Reno, in Spanish Spring mountains, several cliffs are well marked, and an exposed ledge, where the Carson river has cut off the point of a hill below Big Bend, is covered with rings and snakes by the hundred. Several triangles, a well-formed square and compass, a woman with outstretched arms holding an olive branch, etc., are there.

Humboldt county has its share, the best being on a bluff below the old Sheba mine. Ten miles south of Pioche are about 50 figures cut into the rock, many of them designed to represent mountain sheep. Eighty miles farther south, near Kane’s Spring, the most numerous and perfect specimens of this prehistoric art are found. Men on horseback engaged in the pursuit of animals are among the most numerous, best preserved, and carefully executed.

The region I have gone over is of immense size, and must impress everyone with the importance of a set of symbols which extends in broken lines from Arizona far into Oregon.

Fig. 55 exhibits engravings at Reveillé, Nevada. Great numbers of incised characters of various kinds are also reported from the walls of rocks flanking Walker river, near Walker lake, Nevada. Waving lines, rings, and what appear to be vegetable forms are of frequent occurrence. The human form and footprints are also depicted.

Fig. 55.—Petroglyphs at Reveillé, Nevada.

Fig. 56 is a copy of a drawing made by Lieut. A. G. Tassin, Twelfth U. S. Infantry, in 1877, of an ancient rock-carving at the base and in the recesses of Dead mountain and the abode of dead bad Indians according to the Mohave mythology. This drawing and its description is from a manuscript report on the Mohave Indians, in the library of the Bureau of Ethnology, prepared by Lieut. Tassin.

Fig. 56.—Petroglyphs at Dead mountain, Nevada.

He explains some of the characters as follows:

(a) Evidently the two different species of mesquite bean.

(b) Would seem to refer to the bite of the cidatus, and to the use of a certain herb for its cure.

(c) Presumably the olla or water cooler of the Mohaves.


The whole of this series of petroglyphs is regarded as being Shinumo or Moki. They show a general resemblance to drawings in Arizona, known to have been made by the Moki Indians. The locality is within the territory of the Shoshonean linguistic division, and the drawings are in all probability the work of one or more of the numerous tribes comprised within that division.


On the north wall of Canyon de Chelly, one-fourth of a mile east of its mouth, are several groups of petroglyphs, consisting chiefly of various grotesque forms of the human figure, and also numbers of animals, circles, etc. A few of them are painted black, the greater portion consisting of rather shallow lines, which are in some places considerably weathered. Further up the canyon, in the vicinity of the cliff dwellings, are numerous small groups of pictographic characters, consisting of men and animals, waving or zigzag lines, and other odd figures.

Lieut. James H. Simpson (a), in his Journal of a Military Reconnoissance, etc., presents a number of plates bearing copies of inscriptions on rocks in the northwestern part of New Mexico, among which are those on the so-called “Inscription rock” at El Moro, here reproduced as Fig. 57. The petroglyphs are selected from the south face of the rock. Lieut. Simpson states that most of the characters are no higher than a man’s head, and that some of them are undoubtedly of Indian origin.

Fig. 57.—Inscription rock, New Mexico.

Among the many colored etchings and paintings on rock discovered by the Pacific railroad expedition in 1853-’54, Lieut. Whipple (c) notes those at Rocky dell creek, New Mexico, which were found between the edge of the Llano Estacado and the Canadian river. The stream flows through a gorge, upon one side of which a shelving sandstone rock forms a sort of cave. The roof is covered with paintings, some evidently ancient, and beneath are innumerable carvings of footprints, animals, and symmetrical lines. He also remarks (d) that figures cut upon a rock at Arch spring, near Zuñi, present some faint similarity to those at Rocky dell creek.


Near Ojo Pescado, in the vicinity of the ruins, are petroglyphs, also reported by Lieut. Whipple (d), which are very much weather-worn and have “no trace of a modern hand about them.”

Mr. Edwin A. Hill, of Indianapolis, in a letter, notes petroglyphs on the Denver and Rio Grande railroad, between Antonite and Espanola. Below Tres Piedras and near Espanola are rude sculptures, lining the valley on both sides of the road for a long distance, at least several miles. The canyon has a slope of about 45° and contains many bowlders, and on every available face pictographs are cut. Figures of arrows, hatchets, circles, triangles, bows, spears, turtles, etc., are outlined as if with some cutting-tool. The country had two years before been occupied by Apaches, but far greater age is attributed to the petroglyphs.

Other petroglyphs actually within the geographical area of New Mexico are so near the border that they are treated of in connection with those of Colorado.

Prof. E. D. Cope (a) gives a copy of figures which he found on the side of a ravine near Abiquiu, on the river Chama. They are cut in Jurassic sandstone of medium hardness, and are quite worn and overgrown with the small lichen which is abundant on the face of the rock.

Mr. Gilbert Thompson, of the U. S. Geological Survey, reports his observation of petroglyphs at San Antonio springs, 30 miles east of Fort Wingate, New Mexico. The human figure, in various forms, occurs, as well as numerous other characters, strikingly similar to those frequent in the country farther west occupied by the Moki Indians. The peculiarity of these figures is that the outlines are incised and that the depressions thus formed are filled with red, blue or white pigments. The interior of the figures is simply painted with one or more of the same colors.

Figs. 58 and 59 are reproductions of drawings of petroglyphs from Ojo de Benado, south of Zuñi, New Mexico. The manuscripts which once accompanied them, and which were forwarded to the Bureau of[98] Ethnology in the usual official manner, have become separated from the sketches, and on those there are no indications of the collectors’ names.

Fig. 58.—Petroglyphs at Ojo de Benado, New Mexico.

The characters are very like others from several localities in the territory and in the adjacent region. The type is that of the Pueblos generally.

Mr. Bandelier, in conversation, reported having seen and sketched a petroglyph at Nambe, in a canyon about 2 miles east of the pueblo, also another at Cueva Pintada, about 17 miles by the trail northwest of Cochiti.

Fig. 59.—Petroglyphs at Ojo de Benado, New Mexico.


The following is extracted from Schoolcraft (c):

There is a pictographic Indian inscription [now obliterated] in the valley of the Hudson, above the Highlands, which from its antiquity and character appears to[99] denote the era of the introduction of firearms and gunpowder among the aboriginal tribes of that valley. This era, from the well-known historical events of the contemporaneous settlement of New Netherlands and New France, may be with general accuracy placed between the years 1609, the date of Hudson’s ascent of that stream above the Highlands, and the opening of the Indian trade with the Iroquois at the present site of Albany, by the erection of Fort Orange, in 1614. * * *

In a map published at Amsterdam, in Holland, in 1659, the country, for some distance both above and below Esopus creek, is delineated as inhabited by the Waranawankongs, who were a totemic division or enlarged family clan of the Mohikinder. They spoke a well-characterized dialect of the Mohigan, and have left numerous geographical names on the streams and physical peculiarities of that part of the river coast quite to and above Coxsackie. The language is Algonquin.

Esopus itself appears to be a word derived from Seepu, the Minsi-Algonquin name for a river.

* * * The inscription may be supposed, if the era is properly conjectured, to have been made with metallic tools. The lines are deeply and plainly impressed. It is in double lines. The plumes from the head denote a chief or man skilled in the Indian medico-magical art. The gun is held at rest in the right hand; the left appears to support a wand. [The position of the arm may be merely a gesture.]

The reproduction here as Fig. 60 is from a rock on the western bank of the Hudson, at Esopus landing. It is presented mainly on account of the frequent allusions to it in literature.

Fig. 60.—Petroglyph at Esopus, New York.


Mr. James Mooney, of the Bureau of Ethnology, reports petroglyphs upon a gray gneissoid rock, a short distance east of Caney river, on the north side of the road from Asheville to Burnsville, North Carolina. The face of the surface is at an angle of 30° toward the south, and the sculptured area covers about 10 feet square. The characters consist chiefly of cup-shaped depressions, some about 2 inches deep, some being also connected. There are a few markings which appear to have been intended to represent footprints. The characters resemble, to some extent, those at Trap Rock gap, Georgia, and at the Juttaculla rock, North Carolina, on a branch of the Tuckasegee river, above Webster.

The above-described sculptured rock is on the property of Ellis Gardner, and is known as Gardner’s, or the “Garden rock.”

Mr. Mooney also reports that at Webster, North Carolina, there is one large rock bearing numerous petroglyphs, rings, cup-shaped depressions, fish-bone patterns, etc. He further states, upon the authority of Dr. J. M. Spainhour, of Lenoir, that upon a light gray rock measuring 4 feet by 30 are numerous cup-shaped petroglyphs, he having counted 215. The rock is on the Yadkin river, 4 miles below Wilkesboro, and is at times partly under water.

Dr. Hoffman, who in 1886 visited western North Carolina, gives the following account of colored pictographs found there by him.

“The locality known as ‘Paint rock’ is situated on the east or right bank of the French Broad river, about 100 yards above the Tennessee and North Carolina state line. The limestone cliff, which terminates abruptly near the river, measures about 100 feet in height and covers[100] an area from side to side of exposure of at least 100 yards. The accompanying view (Fig. 61), taken from across the river, presents the wall of limestone rock and the position of the petroglyph, which is delineated in proper proportion nearly in the center of the illustration.

Fig. 61.—Paint rock, North Carolina.

“The property belongs to Mr. J. W. Chockley, who has been living in the vicinity for about fifteen years. He states that during this time the pictograph has undergone some change on account of gradual disintegration or fracture of the rock. The first knowledge of the pictograph, according to local tradition, dates back about sixty years, and no information as to its import could be learned, either from the white residents, who are few in number, or the straggling Cherokee Indians who visit the railway station at odd intervals.”

The pictograph is peculiar in design, no animal forms being apparent but an indefinite number of short, straight lines at right angles to one another, as shown in Fig. 62. One-thirty-sixth actual size.

Fig. 62.—Petroglyphs on Paint rock, North Carolina.

The characters are in dark red, probably a ferrous oxide, quantities of which are found in the neighborhood. The color appears to have[101] penetrated the softer portions of the limestone, though upon the harder surfaces it has been removed by exposure to the elements. The lowermost figure appears to resemble a rude outline of a human form, with one arm lowered and reaching forward, though this is only a suggestion.

Upon the face of the rock, a few yards to the right of the above, are indistinct outlines of circles, several of which indicate central spots, and one, at least, has a line extending from the center downward for about 8 inches.


A large number of petroglyphs are reported from this state. It is sufficient to present the following examples extracted, with reproduced illustrations and abbreviated descriptions, from the Report of the Committee of the State Archæological Society, published in the Report of the Ohio State Board of Centennial Managers.

Fig. 63 is a copy of the petroglyph on the Newark Track rock.

Fig. 63.—Newark Track rock, Ohio.

It is described in the volume cited, pages 94, 95, as follows:

The inscriptions near Newark, in Licking county, Ohio, originally covered a vertical face of conglomerate rock, 50 or 60 feet in length, by 6 and 8 feet in height. This rock is soft and, therefore, the figures are easily erased * * *. About the year 1800 it became a place where white men sought to immortalize themselves by cutting their names across the old inscription * * *.

On the rock faces and detached sandstone blocks of the banks of the Ohio river there are numerous groups of intaglios, but in them the style is quite different from those to which I have referred, and which are located in the interior. Those on the Ohio river resemble the symbolical records of the North American Indians, such as the Kelley Island stone, described in Schoolcraft by Capt. Eastman, the Dighton rock, the Big Indian rock of the Susquehanna, and the “God rock” of the Allegheny river. In those the supposed bird track is generally wanting. The large sculptured rock near Wellsville, which is only visible at low water of the Ohio, has among the figures one that is prominent on the Barnesville stones. This is the fore foot of the bear, with the outside toe distorted and set outward at right angles.

Other sculptured rocks of a similar character have been found in Fairfield, Belmont, Cuyahoga, and Lorain counties.


That the ancient bird-track character belonged to the mound-builders is evident from the fact that it is found among their works, constructed of soil on a large scale.

One of these bird-track mounds occurs in the center of the large circular inclosure near Newark, Ohio, now standing in the Licking county fair grounds. Among the characters will be noticed the human hand. In one instance the hand is open, the palm facing the observer, and in the other the hand is closed, except the index finger which points downward to the base of the cliff. Of the bird-track characters there are many varieties. There is also a character resembling a cross and another bearing some resemblance to an arrow.

Fig. 64 is an illustration of the Independence stone, which is described in the same volume, pp. 98, 99, as follows:

Fig. 64.—Independence stone, Ohio.

Great care has been taken to obtain a correct sketch of what remains of this inscription. A very rude drawing of it was published in Schoolcraft’s great work upon the Indian tribes, in 1854.

The rock here described only contains a portion of the inscription. The balance was destroyed in quarrying. The markings on the portion of the rock preserved consist of the human foot, clothed with something like a moccasin or stocking; of the naked foot; of the open hand; of round markings one in front of the great toe, of each representation of the clothed foot; the figure of a serpent, and a peculiar character which might be taken for a rude representation of a crab or crawfish, but which bears a closer resemblance to an old-fashioned spearhead used in capturing fish.

Fig. 65 is a copy of the drawings on the Track rock, near Barnesville, Belmont county, Ohio, the description of which is in the same volume, pp. 89-93.

Fig. 65.—Barnesville Track rock, Ohio.

The rude cuts of the human faces, part of the human feet, the rings, stars, serpents, and some others, are evidently works of art, as in the best of them the marks of the engraving instrument are to be seen. In all cases, whether single or in groups, the relative dimensions of the figures are preserved. The surface of this block is 8 by 11 feet.


At the south end of the petroglyphs occurs a figure of several concentric rings, a design by no means confined to Ohio. The third figure right of this resembles others in the same group, and evidently indicates the footprints of the buffalo. Human footprints are generally indicated by the pronounced toe marks, either detached as slight depressions or attached to the foot, and are thus recognized as different from bear tracks, which frequently have but slight indications of toes or perhaps claw marks, and in which also the foot is shorter or rounder. The arrow-shaped figures are no doubt intended for turkey tracks, characters common to many petroglyphs of the middle and eastern Algonquian area.

Fig. 66 gives several of the above characters enlarged from the preceding figure.

Fig. 66.—Characters from Barnesville Track rock.


In Fig. 67, referring to another block mentioned in the same report, lying 20 feet south of the one first mentioned, there is a duplication of the characters before noted—human footprints, bear and turkey tracks, and the indication of what may be intended to represent a serpent.

Fig. 67.—Barnesville Track rock, No. 2.

Fig. 68, from p. 105 of the same volume, gives copies of sketches from the rocks near Wellsville, Ohio, with remarks as follows:

Fig. 68.—Petroglyphs, Wellsville, Ohio.

On the Ohio side of the river, 1 mile above Wellsville, there is a large group of sculptures on a flat sand rock of the coal series, scarred by floating ice and flood wood. They are only visible in low water, as they are only 2 or 3 feet above the extreme low stage of the river. * * * They are made in double outline and not by a single deep channel. The outlines are a series of dots made with a round-pointed instrument, seldom more than half an inch deep.

The upper design is a rattlesnake with a fancy head and tail. Its length is 4½ feet, a very clumsy affair, but intended for the common yellow rattlesnake of the West. The head of the snake, which occupies a space 6 inches square, is represented in the second character, which is reduced from a tracing size of nature. It brings to mind the horned snake of the Egyptians, which was an object of worship by them.

The character at the left hand of the lower line may be an uncouth representation of a demon or evil spirit. The right-hand character is probably an otter carrying a vine or string in his month.

It is more probable that the lines from the mouth of the animal indicate magic or supernatural power, of which many examples appear in this paper, as also of the device in the region of the animal’s heart, from which a line extends to the mouth. These characteristics connect the glyph with the Ojibwa drawings on bark.


Many bowlders and rock escarpments at and near the Dalles of the Columbia river, Oregon, are covered with incised or pecked glyphs.[105] Some of them are representations of human figures, but characters of other forms predominate.

Mr. Albert S. Gatschet, of the Bureau of Ethnology, reports the discovery by him, in 1878, of rock etchings 4 miles from Gaston, Oregon, and 2½ miles from the ancient settlement of the Tuálati (or Atfálati) Indians. These etchings are about 100 feet above the valley bottom on six rocks of soft sandstone, projecting from the grassy hillside of Patten’s valley, opposite Darling Smith’s farm, and are surrounded with timber on two sides.

This sandstone ledge extends for one-eighth of a mile horizontally along the hillside, upon the projecting portions of which the inscriptions are found. These rocks differ greatly in size, and slant forward so that the inscribed portions are exposed to the frequent rains of that region. The first rock, or that one nearest the mouth of the canyon, consists of horizontal zigzag lines and a detached straight line, also horizontal. On another side of the same rock is a series of oblique parallel lines. Some of the most striking characters found upon other exposed portions of the rock appear to be human figures, i. e., circles to which radiating lines are attached, and bear indications of eyes and mouth, long vertical lines running downward as if to represent the body, and terminating in a furcation, as if intended for legs, toes, etc. To the right of one figure is an arm and three-fingered hand (similar to some of the Moki characters), bent downward from the elbow, the humerus extending at a right angle from the body. Horizontal rows of short vertical lines are placed below and between some of the figures, probably numerical marks of some kind.

Other characters occur of various forms, the most striking being an arrow pointing upward, with two horizontal lines drawn across the shaft, and with vertical lines having short oblique lines attached thereto.

Mr. Gatschet remarks that the Tuálati tell a trivial story to explain the origin of these pictures, the substance of which is as follows: The Tillamuk warriors living on the Pacific coast were often at variance with the several Kalapuya tribes. One day, passing through Patten’s valley to invade the country of the Tuálati, they inquired of a woman how far they were from their camp. The woman, desirous not to betray her own countrymen, said they were yet at a distance of one (or two?) days’ travel. This made them reflect over the intended invasion, and, holding a council, they decided to withdraw. In commemoration of this the inscription, with its numeration marks, was incised by the Tuálati.

Dr. Charles Rau received from Dr. James S. Denison, physician at the Klamath agency, Lake county, Oregon, a communication relative to the practice of painting figures on rocks in the territory of the Klamath Indians in Oregon. There are in that neighborhood many rocks bearing painted figures; but Dr. Rau’s (b) description refers specially[106] to a single rock, called Ktá-i Tupákshi (standing rock), situated about 50 yards north of Sprague river and 150 yards from the junction of Sprague and Williamson rivers. It is about 10 feet high, 14 feet long, and 12 or 14 feet deep. Fig. 69, drawn one-twelfth of the natural size, illustrates the character of the paintings seen on the smooth southern surface of this rock. The most frequent designs are single or concentric circles, like Fig. 69, a, which consists of a dark red circle surrounded by a white one, the center being formed by a round red spot. Fig. 69, b, painted in dark red and white colors, exhibits a somewhat Mahadeo-like shape; the straight appendage of the circle is provided on each side with short projecting lines, alternately red and white, and almost producing the effect of the so-called herring-bone ornament.

Fig. 69.—Petroglyphs in Lake county, Oregon.

Fig. 69, c and d, executed in dark red, are other designs seen on the standing rock above mentioned. The colors, which, as the informant thinks, are rubbed in with grease, appear quite distinct on the dark surface of the rock.


Along the river courses in northern and western Pennsylvania many rocks are found bearing traces of carvings, though, on account of the character of the geological formations, some of them are nearly obliterated.

In 1875 Mr. P. W. Shafer published in a historical map of Pennsylvania several groups of pictographs. These had before appeared in a rude and crowded form in the Transactions of the Anthropological Institute of New York, 1871-’72, page 66, where the localities are mentioned as “Big” and “Little” Indian rocks, respectively. One of these rocks is in the Susquehanna river, below the dam at Safe harbor, and the drawing clearly shows its Algonquian origin. The characters are nearly all either animals or various forms of the human body. Birds, bird tracks, and serpents also occur. A part of this pictograph is presented below, Fig. 1089.

Dr. W. J. Hoffman visited this place during the autumn of 1889 and made sketches of the petroglyphs. The Algonquian type of delineation of objects is manifest.


The rock known as “Big Indian rock” is in the Susquehanna river, three-fourths of a mile below the mouth of Conestoga creek and about 400 yards from the eastern bank of the Susquehanna. It is one of many, but larger than any other in the immediate vicinity, measuring about 60 feet in length, 30 feet in width, and an average height of about 20 feet. The upper surface is uneven, though smoothly worn, and upon this are pecked the characters, shown in Fig. 70.

Fig. 70.—Big Indian rock, Pennsylvania.

The characters, through exposure to the elements, are becoming rather indistinct, though a few of them are pecked so deep that they still present a depression of from one-fourth to one-half an inch in depth. The most conspicuous objects consist of human figures, thunder birds, and animals resembling the panther.

“Little Indian rock” is also situated in the Susquehanna river, one-fourth of a mile from the eastern bank and a like distance below the mouth of Conestoga creek. This rock, also of hard micaceous schist, is not so large as the one above mentioned, but bears more interesting characters, the most conspicuous being representations of the thunder bird, serpents, deer and bird tracks, etc.

Fig. 71.—Little Indian rock, Pennsylvania.

Prof. Persifor Frazer, jr., (b) remarks upon the gradual obliteration of these pictographs, and adds:

In addition to these causes of obliteration it is a pity to have to record another, which is the vandalism of some visitors to the locality who have thought it an excellent[108] practical joke to cut spurious figures alongside of and sometimes over those made by the Indians. It is not unlikely, too, that the “fish pots” here, as in the case of the Bald Friar’s inscriptions, a few miles below the Maryland line, may have been constructed in great part out of fragments of rock containing these hieroglyphics, so that the parts of the connected story which they relate are separated and the record thus destroyed.

Others have cut their initials or full names in these rocks, thus for an obscure record whose unriddling would award the antiquarian, substituting one, the correct deciphering of which leads to obscurity itself.

At McCalls ferry, on the Susquehanna river, in Lancaster county, and on the right shore near the water’s edge, is a gray gneissoid flat rock, bearing petroglyphs that have been pecked upon the surface. It is irregular in shape, measuring about 3½ by 4 feet in superficial area, upon which is a circle covering nearly the entire surface, in the middle of which is a smaller circle with a central point. On one side of the inner space, between the outer and inner circles, are a number of characters resembling human figures and others of unintelligible form. The petroglyph is represented in Fig. 72.

Fig. 72.—Petroglyph at McCalls ferry, Pennsylvania.

The resemblance between these drawings and those on Dighton rock is to be noted, as well as that between both of them and some in Ohio. All those localities are within the area formerly occupied by tribes of the Algonquian stock.


Near Washington, Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, on “Mill stream,” one-fourth of a mile above its junction with the Susquehanna river, is a large bowlder of gray sandstone (Fig. 73), the exposed portion of which bears several deeply incised lines which appear to have served as topographic indicators, as several others of like kind occur farther downstream. The longest incision is about 28 inches in length, the next one parallel to it, about 14 inches, while the third character is V-shaped, one arm of which is about 10 inches in length and the other 12. The apex of this character points in a southeast direction.

Fig. 73.—Petroglyph near Washington, Pennsylvania.

One-eighth of a mile farther down is another bowlder, also near the water, which bears shorter lines than the preceding, but in general pointing almost southeast and northwest.

The workmanship is similar to that at Conowingo, Maryland, at the site of the Bald Friar rocks. The marks appear to have been chipped to a considerable depth and then rubbed with sand and some hard substance so as to present a smooth and even surface, removing all or nearly all of the pecked surface.

Mr. P. W. Shafer, on the same historical map of Pennsylvania before mentioned, presents also a group of pictures copied from the originals on the Alleghany river, in Venango county, 5 miles south of Franklin, on what is known as the Indian God rock. There are but six characters furnished in his copy, three of which are variations of the human form, while the others are undetermined.

This rock was visited in 1886 by Dr. Hoffman, who made a number of drawings of objects represented, of which only those in Fig. 74 are here reproduced. The face of the bowlder bearing the original petroglyphs has been much disfigured by visitors who, in endeavoring to display their skill by pecking upon the surface names, dates, and other[110] designs, have so injured it that it is difficult to trace the original characters.

Fig. 74.—Petroglyphs on “Indian God rock.”

Fig. 74, a, represents, apparently, a panther. Above and beneath it are markings resembling wolf tracks, while farther down is a turkey track, and in the left-hand lower corner is a human form, such as is usually found upon rocks in the areas represented by Shoshonian tribes.

The design at b is much mutilated and eroded, and may originally have been a character like a, the first of this series.

The characters at c and d are evidently human faces, the former representing that of the sun, the latter being very much like a mask. That at e is found upon other Algonquian rocks, notably those called “Bald Friar,” Maryland, in the Susquehanna river, immediately below the state line of Pennsylvania.

The bowlder upon which these petroglyphs are engraved lies at the water’s edge, and during each freshet the lower half of the surface and sometimes even more is under water. At these times floating logs, impelled according to the curve in the river immediately above, are directed toward this rock, which may explain the worn surface and the eroded condition of the sculpture.

Mr. J. Sutton Wall, of Monongahela city, describes in correspondence a rock bearing pictographs opposite the town of Millsboro, in Fayette county, Pennsylvania. This rock is about 390 feet above the level of the Monongahela river, and belongs to the Waynesburg stratum of sandstone. It is detached and rests somewhat below its true horizon. It is about 6 feet in thickness, and has vertical sides; only two figures are carved on the sides, the principal inscriptions being on the top, and all are now considerably worn. Mr. Wall mentions the outlines of animals and some other figures formed by grooves or channels cut from an inch to a mere trace in depth. No indications of tool marks were[111] discovered. The footprints are carved depressions. The character marked z, near the lower left-hand corner, is a circular cavity 7 inches deep. A copy of the inscription made in 1882 by Mr. Wall and Mr. William Arison is reproduced as Fig. 75.

Fig. 75.—Petroglyph at Millsboro, Pennsylvania.

Again the resemblance between these drawings, those on Dighton rock, and some of those in Ohio, introduced above, is to be noted, and the fact that all these localities are within the area formerly occupied by tribes of the Algonquian stock.

Mr. Wall also contributes a group of glyphs on what is known as the “Geneva Picture rock,” in the Monongahela valley, near Geneva. These are footprints and other characters similar to those from Hamilton farm, West Virginia, which are shown in Fig. 1088.

Mr. L. W. Brown, of Redstone, Fayette county, Pennsylvania, mentions a rock near Layton, in that county, which measures about 15 by 25 feet in area, upon the surface of which occur a number of petroglyphs consisting of the human figure, animals, and footprints, some[112] of which are difficult to trace. From a rough sketch reproduced as Fig. 76, made by Mr. Brown, these appear to be Algonquian in type.

Fig. 76.—Petroglyphs near Layton, Pennsylvania.

Mr. Brown also submitted for examination two pieces of chocolate-colored, smooth, fine grained slate, of hard texture, bearing upon the several sides outlines of incised figures. The specimens were found in Indian graves in Fayette county, Pennsylvania. The outline of the[113] incisions, although they are not strictly petroglyphs, are reproduced in Figs. 77 and 78.

Fig. 77.—Glyphs in Fayette county, Pennsylvania.

The designs are made in delicate lines, as if scratched with a sharply pointed piece of quartz, or possibly metal. The character d on Fig. 78 is the representation of a fish, which has been accentuated by additional cutting since found. The characters resemble the Algonquian type, many of them being frequently found among those tribes living along the Great Lakes.

Fig. 78.—Glyphs in Fayette county, Pennsylvania.


In C. C. Rafn’s Antiq. Amer. (c), is the following account:

Portsmouth rocks.—The rocks, for there are several of them, are situated on the western side of the island of Rhode Island, in the town of Portsmouth, on the shore, about 7 miles from Newport, taking the western road, and 4 miles from Bristol ferry. * * * They are partially, if not entirely, covered by water at high tide; and such was the state of the tide and the lateness of the hour when the location was ascertained, that I was unable to make a thorough examination of them. I saw sufficient, however, to satisfy me that they were formerly well covered with characters, although a large portion of them have become obliterated by the action of air and moisture, and probably still more by the attrition of masses of stone against them in violent storms and gales, and by the ruthless ravages of that most destructive power of all, the hand of man.

Tiverton rocks [op. cit. d].—Their situation may be thus known: by tracing along the east side of the map of Rhode Island until you strike Tiverton, and then following along to the southwest extremity of that town, the Indian name Puncoteast, also the English names Almy and High Hill, will be seen. The inscriptions are on masses of Graywacke. * * * We can only state they were occupied with some kind of characters.

These two inscriptions are pictured, op. cit., Table XIII.



Mr. T. H. Lewis (c), gives a description of Fig. 79 as follows:

This bowlder is on a high terrace on the west side of the Minnesota river, 1½ miles south of Browns valley, and is in Roberts county, South Dakota. It is oblong in form, being 3½ feet in length, 2 feet in width, and is firmly imbedded in the ground.

Of the characters a and b are undoubtedly tortoises; c is probably intended to represent a bird track; d represents a man, and is similar to the one at Browns valley, Minnesota, [Fig. 51, supra;] e is a nondescript of unusual form; f is apparently intended to represent a headless bird, in that respect greatly resembling certain earthen effigies in the regions to the southeast.

The figures are about one-fourth of an inch in depth and very smooth, excepting along their edges, which roughness is caused by a slight unevenness of the surface of the bowlder.

The same authority, op. cit., describes Fig. 79, g.

Fig. 79.—Petroglyphs in Roberts county, South Dakota.

This bowlder, 4 miles northwest of Browns valley, Minnesota, is in Roberts county, South Dakota.

The figures here represented are roughly pecked into the stone, and were never finished; for the grooves that form the pictograph on other bowlders in this region have been rubbed until they are perfectly smooth. The face of the bowlder upon which these occur is about 2 feet long and 1½ feet in width.


Mr. John Haywood (a) gives the following account:

About 2 miles below the road which crosses the Harpeth river from Nashville to Charlotte is a large mound 30 or 40 feet high. About 6 miles from it is a large rock, on the side of the river, with a perpendicular face of 70 or 80 feet altitude. On it, below the top some distance and on the side, are painted the sun and moon in yellow colors, which have not faded since the white people first knew it. The figure of the sun is 6 feet in diameter; that of the moon is of the old moon. The sun and moon are also painted on a high rock on the side of the Cumberland river, in a spot which several ladders placed upon each other could not reach, and which is also inaccessible except by ropes let down the summit of the rock to the place where the painting was performed. * * * The sun is also painted on a high rock on the side of the Cumberland river, 6 or 7 miles below Clarksville; and it is said to be painted also at the junction of the Holston and French Broad rivers, above Knoxville, in East Tennessee; also on Duck river, below the bend called the Devil’s Elbow, on the west side of the river, on a bluff; and on a perpendicular flat rock facing the river, 20 feet below the top of the bluff and 60 above the water, out of which the rock rises, is the painted representation of the sun in red and yellow colors, 6 feet[115] in circumference, yellow on the upper side and a yellowish red on the lower. The colors are very fresh and unfaded. The rays, both yellow and red, are represented as darting from the center. It has been spoken of ever since the river was navigated and has been there from time immemorial. * * *

The painting on Big Harpeth, before spoken of, is more than 80 feet from the water and 30 or 40 below the summit. All these paintings are in unfading colors, and on parts of the rock inaccessible to animals of every description except the fowls of the air. The painting is neatly executed, and was performed at an immense hazard of the operator.

Mr. W. M. Clarke, in Smithsonian Report for 1877, page 275, says:

On the bluffs of the Big Harpeth many pictures of Indians, deer, buffalo, and bows and arrows are to be seen. These pictures are rudely drawn, but the coloring is as perfect now as when first put on.

Haywood (b) says:

At a gap of the mountains and near the head of Brasstown creek, which is toward the head of the Hiawassee, and among the highlands, is a large horizontal rock on which are engraved the tracks of deer, bears, horses, wolves, turkeys, and barefooted human beings of all sizes. Some of the horses’ tracks appear to have slipped forward. The direction of them is westward. Near them are signs of graves.

He also (c) gives the following account:

On the south bank of the Holston, 5 miles above the mouth of French Broad, is a bluff of limestone opposite the mounds and a cave in it. The bluff is 100 feet in height. On it are painted in red colors, like those on the Paint rock, the sun and moon, a man, birds, fishes, etc. The paintings have in part faded within a few years. Tradition says these paintings were made by the Cherokees, who were accustomed in their journeys to rest at this place. Wherever on the rivers of Tennessee are perpendicular bluffs, on the sides, and especially if caves be near, are often found mounds near them, inclosed in intrenchments, with the sun and moon painted on the rocks, and charcoal and ashes in the smaller mounds. These tokens seem to be evincive of a connection between the mounds, the charcoal and ashes, the paintings and the caves.


Mr. J. R. Bartlett (b) gives the following account:

About 30 miles from El Paso del Norte, in Texas, very near the boundary line of Mexico, there is an overhanging rock, extending for some distance, the whole surface of which is covered with rude paintings and sculptures, representing men, animals, birds, snakes, and fantastic figures. The colors used are black, red, white, and a brownish yellow. The sculptures are mere peckings with a sharp instrument just below the surface of the rock. The accompanying engravings [reproduced in Fig. 80] show the character of the figures and the taste of the designers. Hundreds of similar ones are painted on the rocks at this place. Some of them, evidently of great age, had been partly defaced to make room for more recent devices.

The overhanging rock, beneath which we encamped, seemed to have been a favorite place of resort for the Indians, as it is at the present day for all passing travelers. The recess formed by this rock is about 15 feet in length by 10 in width. Its entire surface is covered with paintings, one laid on over the other, so that it is difficult to make out those which belong to the aborigines. I copied a portion of these figures, about which there can be no doubt as to the origin. They represent Indians with shields and bows, painted with a brownish earth; horses, with their riders; uncouth looking animals, and a large rattlesnake. Similar devices cover the rock in every part, but are much defaced. Near this overhanging rock is the largest and finest tank or pool of water to be found about here. It is only reached by clambering[116] on the hands and knees 15 or 20 feet up a steep rock. Over it projects a gigantic bowlder, which, resting on or wedged between other rocks, leaves a space of about 4 feet above the surface of the water. On the underside of this bowlder are fantastic designs in red paint, which could only have been made by persons lying on their backs in this cool and sheltered spot.

Fig. 80.—Petroglyphs near El Paso, Texas.

Mr. Charles Hallock, of Washington, District of Columbia, gives information that there is a locality termed the Painted caves, “on the Rio Grande, near Devil’s river, in Crockett county, Texas, on the line of the ‘Sunset’ railroad. Here the rock is gray limestone and the petroglyphs are for the most part sculptured. They are in great variety, from a manifest antiquity to the most recent date; for these cliff caverns have been from time immemorial the refuge and resort of all sorts of wayfarers, marauders, and adventurers, who have painted, cut, and carved in every geometrical and grotesque form imaginable.”


Carvings and paintings on rocks are found in such numbers in the southern interior of Utah that a locality there has been named Pictograph rocks.

Mr. G. K. Gilbert, of the U. S. Geological Survey, collected in 1875 a number of copies of inscriptions in Temple creek canyon, southeastern Utah, and noted their finding as follows:

The drawings were found only on the northeast wall of the canyon, where it cuts the Vermillion cliff sandstone. The chief parts are etched, apparently by pounding with a sharp point. The outline of a figure is usually more deeply cut than the body. Other marks are produced by rubbing or scraping, and still others by laying on colors. Some, not all, of the colors are accompanied by a rubbed appearance, as though the material had been a dry chalk.

I could discover no tools at the foot of the wall, only fragments of pottery, flints, and a metate.

Several fallen blocks of sandstone have rubbed depressions that may have been[117] ground out in the sharpening of tools. There have been many dates of inscriptions, and each new generation has unscrupulously run its lines over the pictures already made. Upon the best protected surfaces, as well as the most exposed, there are drawings dimmed beyond restoration and others distinct. The period during which the work accumulated was longer by far than the time which has passed since the last. Some fallen blocks cover etchings on the wall, and are themselves etched.

Colors are preserved only where there is almost complete shelter from rain. In two places the holes worn in the rock by swaying branches impinge on etchings, but the trees themselves have disappeared. Some etchings are left high and dry by a diminishing talus (15 to 20 feet), but I saw none partly buried by an increasing talus (except in the case of the fallen block already mentioned).

The painted circles are exceedingly accurate, and it seems incredible that they were made without the use of a radius.

In the collection contributed by Mr. Gilbert there are at least fifteen series or groups of figures, most of which consist of the human form (from the simplest to the most complex style of drawing), animals, either singly or in long files—as if driven—bird tracks, human feet and hands, etc. There are also circles, parallel lines, and waving or undulating lines, spots, and other characters.

Mr. Gilbert also reports the discovery, in 1883, of a great number of pictographs, chiefly in color, though some are only incised, in a canyon of the Book cliff containing Thompson’s spring, about 4 miles north of Thompson’s station, on the Denver and Colorado Railroad, Utah. He has also furnished a collection of drawings of pictographs at Black rock spring, on Beaver creek, north of Milford, Utah. A number of fallen blocks of basalt at a low escarpment are filled with etchings upon the vertical faces. The characters generally are of an “unintelligible” nature, though the human figure is drawn in complex forms. Footprints and circles abound.

Mr. I. C. Russell, of the U. S. Geological Survey, furnished rude drawings of pictographs at Black rock spring, Utah (see Fig. 1093). Mr. Gilbert Thompson also discovered pictographs at Fool creek canyon, Utah (see Fig. 1094).

Mr. Vernon Bailey, in a letter dated January 18, 1889, reports that in the vicinity of St. George “all along the sandstone cliffs are strange figures like hieroglyphics and pictures of animals cut in the rocks, but now often worn dim.”

Mr. George Pope, of Provo city, Utah county, in a letter, kindly gives an account of an inscription on a rock in a canyon at the mouth of Provo river, about 7 miles from the city named. There is no paint seen, the inscription being cut. A human hand is conspicuous, being cut (probably pecked) to a depth of at least one-third of an inch, and so with representations of animals.

Dr. Rau (c) gives the design of a portion of a group carved on a cliff in the San Pete valley at the city of Manti, Utah, now reproduced as Fig. 81. He says:

Fig. 81.—Petroglyphs near Manti, Utah.

A line drawn horizontally through the middle of the parallel lines connecting the concentric circles would divide the figure into two halves, each bearing a close[118] resemblance to Prof. Simpson’s fifth type of cup stones. A copy of the group in question was made and published by Lieut. J. W. Gunnison, in The Mormons or Latter-Day Saints, etc., Philadelphia, 1853, p. 63. The illustration is taken from Bancroft’s Native Races (Vol. IV, p. 717). In accordance with Lieut. Gunnison’s design, the position of the grotesque human figure is changed to the left of the concentric circle. He also says that the Mormon leaders made this aboriginal inscription subservient to their religion by giving the following translation of it: “I, Mahanti, the second king of the Lamanites, in five valleys of the mountains, make this record in the twelve hundredth year since we came out of Jerusalem. And I have three sons gone to the south country to live by hunting antelope and deer.” * * * Schoolcraft attempts (Vol. III, p. 494) something like an interpretation which appears to me fanciful and unsatisfactory.

The following extract is made from The Shinumos by F. S. Dellenbaugh (a).

Some of the least disintegrated ruins are situated on the Colorado river, only a short distance below the mouth of the Dirty Devil river. * * * A level shelf varying from about 6 to 10 feet in width ran along for 150 feet or more. In most places the rocks above protruded as far as the edge of the lower rocks, sometimes farther, thus leaving a sort of gallery, generally 7 or 8 feet high. Walls that extended to the roof had been built along the outer edge of the natural floor, and the inclosed space being subdivided by stone partitions to suit the convenience of the builders, the whole formed a series of rather comfortable rooms or houses. The back walls of the houses—the natural rock—had on them many groups of hieroglyphics, and farther along where there was no roof rock at all the vertical faces had been inscribed with seeming great care. Some of the sheltered groups were painted in various dull colors, but most of them were chiseled.

The figure [82] gives a chiseled group. It is easy to see that these are signs of no low order. Considering their great age, their exposure, many of the delicate touches must be obliterated.


Fig. 82.—Petroglyphs on Colorado river, Utah.

The inscriptions on this ruin might possibly be the history of the defense of the crossing, the stationing of the garrison, the death of officers of rank, etc.

The following sketches of petroglyphs, with the references attached, are taken from the sketch book of Mr. F. S. Dellenbaugh, before referred to.

The petroglyph, of which Fig. 83 is a copy, appears on a horizontal rock 5 miles below the mouth of the Dirty Devil river, Utah.

Fig. 83.—Petroglyphs on Colorado river, Utah.

The characters in Fig. 84 from rocks near the preceding group are painted red, with the imprint of a hand (on the larger figure) in white.

Fig. 84.—Petroglyphs on Colorado river, Utah.

The petroglyphs reproduced in Fig. 85 are copied from the vertical walls near the two groups immediately before mentioned.

Fig. 85.—Petroglyphs on Colorado river, Utah.

The characters presented in Fig. 86 are copied from a vertical surface 10 by 16 feet in area and halfway up the ascent to the geodetic point west of “Windsor castle,” Pipe Spring. The human forms are similar in general design to the greater number of such representations made by the Shinumo Indians.

Fig. 86.—Petroglyphs at Pipe Spring, Utah.

The human forms represented in Fig. 87 are from the vicinity of Colorado river, 5 miles below the mouth of the Dirty Devil river. Mr.[120] Dellenbaugh notes that the darkest portions of the figures indicate a chiseled surface.

Fig. 87.—Petroglyphs on Colorado river, Utah.


Fig. 88 represents a number of petroglyphs obtained at the same locality as the one last mentioned. The greater number of the characters appear to represent snakes.

Fig. 88.—Petroglyphs on Colorado river, Utah.

Fig. 89 shows characters from the Shinumo canyon, which, according to the draftsman’s general notes, are painted.

Fig. 89.—Petroglyphs in Shinumo canyon, Utah.


In 1886 Dr. Hoffman visited a local field 9 miles southwest of Tazewell, Tazewell county, Virginia, which can be designated as follows: The range of hills bounding the western side of the valley presents at various points low cliffs and exposures of Silurian sandstone. About 4 miles below the village, known as Knob post-office, there is a narrow ravine leading up toward a depression in the range, forming a pass to the valley beyond, near the summit of which is a large irregular exposure of rock facing west-southwest, upon the eastern extremity of which are a number of pictographs, many of which are still in good preservation. Fig. 90 is a representation. The westernmost object, i. e., the one on the extreme left, appears to be a circle about 16 inches in diameter, from the outer side of which are short radiating lines giving the whole the appearance of a sun. Beneath and to the right of this is the outline of an animal resembling a doe.

Fig. 90.—Petroglyphs in Tazewell county, Virginia.

Other figures, chiefly human, follow in close succession to the eastern edge of the vertical face of the rock, nearly all of which present the arms in various attitudes, i. e., extended or raised as in extreme surprise or adoration. Concentric rings appear at one point, while a thunder-bird is shown not far away. About 12 feet east of this place are several figures resembling the thunder-bird.

All of the characters, with one exception, are drawn in heavy or solid[122] lines of dark red paint, presumably a ferruginous coloring material prepared in the neighborhood, which abounds in iron compounds. The exception is one object which appears to have been black, but is now so faded or eroded as to seem dark gray.

The following account of the Tazewell county, Virginia, pictographs is taken from Coale’s Life, etc., of Waters: (a)

In August, 1871, the writer went to visit Tazewell county by way of the saltworks. Upon this place are found those strangely painted rocks which have been a wonder and a mystery to all who have seen them. The grandfather of Gen. Bowen settled the cove in 1766, one hundred and ten years ago, and the paintings were there then, and as brilliant to-day as they were when first seen by a white man. They consist of horses, elk, deer, wolves, bows and arrows, eagles, Indians, and various other devices. The mountain upon which these rocks are based is about 1,000 feet high, and they lie in a horizontal line about halfway up and are perhaps 75 feet broad upon their perpendicular face.

When it is remembered that the rock is hard, with a smooth white surface, incapable of absorbing paint, it is a mystery how the coloring has remained undimmed under the peltings of the elements for how much longer than a hundred years no one can tell. This paint is found near the rocks, and Gen. Bowen informed the writers that his grandmother used it for dyeing linsey, and it was a fadeless color.

As there was a battle fought on a neighboring mountain, between 1740 and 1750, between the Cherokees and Shawnees for the possession of a buffalo lick, the remains of the rude fortifications being still visible, it is supposed the paintings were hieroglyphics conveying such intelligence to the red man as we now communicate to each other through newspapers.

It was a perilous adventure to stand upon a narrow, inclined ledge without a shrub or a root to hold to, with from 50 to 75 feet of sheer perpendicular descent below to a bed of jagged bowlders and the home of innumerable rattlesnakes, but I didn’t make it. I crawled far enough along that narrow slanting ledge with my fingers inserted in the crevices of the rocks to see most of the paintings, and then “coon’d” it back with equal care and caution.

Five miles east of the last-noted locality and 7 west of Tazewell, high up against a vertical cliff of rock, is visible a lozenge-shaped group of red and black squares, known in the locality as the “Handkerchief rock,” because the general appearance of the colored markings suggests the idea of an immense bandana handkerchief spread out. The pictograph is on the same range of hills as the preceding, but neither is visible from any place near the other. The objects can not be viewed upon Handkerchief rock excepting from a point opposite to it and across the valley, as the locality is so overgrown with large trees as to obscure it from any position immediately beneath. The lozenge or diamond-shaped figure appears to cover an area about 3 feet in diameter.


Capt. Charles Bendire, U. S. Army, in a letter dated Fort Walla-walla, Washington, May 18, 1881, mentions a discovery made by Col. Henry C. Merriam, then lieutenant-colonel Second United States Infantry, as thus quoted:

While encamped at the lower end of Lake Chelan, lat. 48° N., he made a trip to the upper end of said lake, where he found a perpendicular cliff of granite with a[123] perfectly smooth surface, from 600 to 1,000 feet high, rising out of the lake. On the cliff he found Indian picture-writings, painted evidently at widely different periods, but evidently quite old. The oldest was from 25 to 30 feet above the present water level, and could at the time they were executed only be reached by canoe. The paintings are figures, black and red in color, and represent Indians with bows and arrows, elk, deer, bear, beaver, and fish, and are from 1 foot to 18 inches in size. There are either four or five rows of these figures, quite a number in each row. The Indians inhabiting this region know nothing of the origin of these pictures, and say that none of their people for the past four generations knew anything about them.

Since the preceding letter was written a notice of the same rock has been published, together with an illustration, by Mr. Alfred Downing, of Seattle, Washington, in “The Northwest,” VII, No. 10, October, 1889, pp. 3, 4. The description, condensed, is as follows:

In that part of Washington territory until recent years known as the Moses Indian reservation lies the famous Lake Chelan, 70 miles in length with an average width of 2 miles.

About half a mile from its head, on the western shore and rising from the water, as an abrupt and precipitous wall of granite, stands “Pictured rock.”

The most remarkable feature of the Chelan picture is that the figures representing Indians, bear, deer, birds, etc., are painted upon the surface of the smooth granite, nearly horizontal, but about 17 feet above the lake; the upper portion of the picture being about 2 feet higher. The figures depicted are 5 to 10 inches long.

The difference between high and low stage of water at any period during the year does not exceed 4 feet, and this high-water mark being well defined along the shore, it becomes self-evident that these signs were placed there ages ago, when the water was 17 feet higher than it is now. The granite bluff or walls in this instance are smooth, being weather and water worn, and afford no hold for hand or foot either from above or below, and from careful observation it would appear to be a physical impossibility for either a white or red man to show his artistic skill on those rocks unless at the ancient stage of water and with the aid of a canoe or a “dugout.”

The paint or color used was black and red, the latter resembling venetian. How wonderfully the color has stood the test in the face of the storms to which the lake is subject is apparent; only in one or two instances does it to-day show any signs of fading or weather-wearing. The signs impressed me as intending to convey the idea of the prowess of an Indian chief in the hunt, or as being a page in the history of a tribe, the small perpendicular strokes seen in the lower portion indicating probably the number of bear, deer, or other animals slain.

When referring, in Pacific Railroad Report, vol. I, page 411, to a locality on the Columbia river in Washington, between Yakima and Pisquouse counties, Mr. George Gibbs mentioned pecked and colored petroglyphs which he found there as follows:

It was a perpendicular rock, on the face of which were carved sundry figures, most of them intended for men. They were slightly sunk into the sandstone and colored, some black, others red, and traces of paint remained more or less distinctly on all of them. These also, according to their [the Indians’] report, were the work of the ancient race; but from the soft nature of the rock, and the freshness of some of the paint, they were probably not of extreme antiquity.

For another example of petroglyphs from Washington see Fig. 679.



Mr. John Haywood (d) gives the following account:

In the county of Kenhaway [Kanawha] about 4 miles below the Burning spring, and near the mouth of Campbell’s creek, in the state of Virginia, is a rock of great size, on which, in ancient times, the natives engraved many representations. There is the figure of almost every indigenous animal—the buffalo, the bear, the deer, the fox, the hare, and other quadrupeds of various kinds; fish of the various productions of the western waters, fowls of different descriptions, infants scalped, scalps alone, and men as large as life. The rock is in the river Kenhaway, near its northern shore, accessible only at low water unless by the aid of water craft.

The following notice of the same locality, but perhaps not of the same rock, was published by James Madison (a), bishop of Virginia, in 1804:

I cannot conclude this letter without mentioning another curious specimen of Indian labour, and of their progress in one of the arts. This specimen is found within 4 miles of the place whose latitude I endeavoured to take, and within 2 of what are improperly called Burning springs, upon a rock of hard freestone, which sloping to the south, touching the margin of the river, presents a flat surface of above 12 feet in length and 9 in breadth, with a plane side to the east of 8 or 9 feet in thickness.

Upon the upper surface of this rock, and also upon the side, we see the outlines of several figures, cut without relief, except in one instance, and somewhat larger than the life. The depth of the outline may be half an inch; its width three-quarters, nearly, in some places. In one line ascending from the part of the rock nearest the river there is a tortoise; a spread eagle, executed with great expression, particularly the head, to which is given a shallow relief, and a child, the outline of which is very well drawn. In a parallel line there are other figures, but among them that of a woman only can be traced. These are very indistinct. Upon the side of the rock there are two awkward figures which particularly caught my attention. One is that of a man with his arms uplifted, and hands spread out as if engaged in prayer. His head is made to terminate in a point, or rather, he has the appearance of something upon the head of a triangular or conical form; near to him is another similar figure suspended by a cord fastened to his heels. I recollected the story which Father Hennepin relates of one of the missionaries from Canada who was treated in a somewhat similar manner, but whether this piece of seemingly historical sculpture has reference to such an event can be only a matter of conjecture. A turkey, badly executed, with a few other figures may also be seen. The labour and the perseverance requisite to cut those rude figures in a rock so hard that steel appeared to make but little impression upon it, must have been great; much more so than making of enclosures in a loose and fertile soil.

Another petroglyph, a copy of which is presented in Fig. 1088, is thus described in a letter from Morgantown, West Virginia:

The famous pictured rocks on the Evansville pike, about 4 miles from this place, have been a source of wonder and speculation for more than a century, and have attracted much attention among the learned men of this country and Europe. The cliff upon which these drawings exist is of considerable size and within a short distance of the highway above mentioned. The rock is a white sandstone, which wears little from exposure to the weather, and upon its smooth surface are delineated the outlines of at least fifty [?] species of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, embracing in the number panthers, deer, buffalo, otters, beavers, wildcats, foxes, wolves, raccoons, opossums, bears, elk, crows, eagles, turkeys, eels, various sorts of fish, large and small, snakes, etc. In the midst of this silent menagerie of specimens of the animal kingdom is the full length outline of a female form, beautiful and perfect[125] in every respect. Interspersed among the drawings of animals, etc., are imitations of the footprints of each sort, the whole space occupied being 150 feet long by 50 feet wide. To what race the artist belonged or what his purpose was in making these rude portraits must ever remain a mystery, but the work was evidently done ages ago.

The late P. W. Norris, of the Bureau of Ethnology, reported that he found petroglyphs in many localities along the Kanawha river, West Virginia. Engravings are numerous upon smooth rocks, covered during high water, at the prominent fords in the river, as well as in the niches or long shallow caves high in the rocky cliffs of this region. Rude representations of men, animals, and some characters deemed symbolic were found, but none were observed superior to, or essentially differing from those of modern Indians.

On the rocky walls of Little Coal river, near the mouth of Big Horse creek, are cliffs which display many carvings. One of the rocks upon which a mass of characters appear, is 8 feet in length and 5 feet in height.

About 2 miles above Mount Pleasant, Mason county, on the north side of the Kanawha river, are numbers of characters, apparently totemic. These are at the foot of the hills flanking the river.

On the cliffs near the mouth of the Kanawha river, opposite Mount Carbon, Nicholas county, are numerous pictographs. These appear to be cut into the sandstone rock.

Pictographs were lately seen at various points on the banks of the Kanawha river, both above and below Charleston, but since the construction of the Chesapeake and Ohio railroad some of the rocks bearing them have been destroyed. About 6 miles above Charleston there was formerly a rock lying near its water’s edge upon which, it is reported by old residents, were depicted the outline of a bear, turkey tracks, and other markings. Tradition told that this was a boat or canoe landing, used by the Indians in their travels when proceeding southward. The tribe was not designated. From an examination of the locality it was learned that this rock had been broken and used in the construction of buildings. It is said that a trail passing there led southward, and at a point 10 miles below the Kanawha river stood several large trees upon which were marks of red ocher or some similar pigment, at which point the trail spread or branched out in two directions, one leading southward into Virginia, the other southwest toward Kentucky.

On a low escarpment of sandstone facing Little Coal river, 6 or 8 miles above its confluence with Coal river and about 18 miles south of the Kanawha river, are depicted the outlines of animals, such as the deer, panther (?), etc., and circles, delineated in dark red, but rather faint from disintegration of the surface. The characters are similar in general appearance to those in Tazewell county, Virginia, and appear as if they might have been made by the same tribe. There are no peculiarities in the topography of the surrounding region that would suggest the idea of their having served as topographic indications,[126] but they rather appear to be a record of a hunting party, and to designate the kinds of game abounding in the region.

Mr. L. V. McWhorter reports pictographs in a cave near Berlin, Lewis county, West Virginia. No details are given.

A petroglyph found in a rock shelter in West Virginia is also presented in Pl. XXXI.


A large number of glyphs are incised on the face of a rock near Odanah, now a village of the Ojibwa Indians, 12 miles northeast from Ashland, on the south shore of lake Superior, near its western extremity. The characters were easily cut on the soft stone, so were also easily worn by the weather, and in 1887 were nearly indistinguishable. Many of them appeared to be figures of birds. An old Ojibwa Indian in the vicinity told the present writer that the site of the rock was formerly a well-known halting place and rendezvous, and that on the arrival of a party, or even of a single individual, the appropriate totemic mark or marks were cut on the rock, much as white men register their names at a hotel.

Fig. 91.—Petroglyphs in Brown’s cave, Wisconsin.

The Pictured cave of La Crosse valley, called Brown’s cave, is described by Rev. Edward Brown (a) as follows:

This curious cavern is situated in the town of Barre, 4 miles from West Salem and 8 miles from La Crosse. * * *

Before the landslide it was an open shelter cavern, 15 feet wide at the opening and 7 feet at the back end; greatest width, 16 feet; average, 13; length, 30 feet; height, 13 feet, and depth of excavation after clearing out the sand of the landslide, 5 feet. The pictures are mostly of the rudest kind, but differing in degree of skill. Except several bisons, a lynx, rabbit, otter, badger, elk, and heron, it is perhaps impossible to determine with certainty what were intended or whether they represented large or small animals, no regard being had to their relative sizes.

[Examples of the figures are here presented as Fig. 91.]


Perhaps a indicates a bison or buffalo, and is the best executed picture of the collection. Its size is 19 inches long by 15½ inches from tip of the horns to the feet.

b represents a hunter, with a boy behind him, in the act of shooting an animal with his bow and arrow weapon. The whole representation is 25 inches long; the animal from tip of tail to end of horn or proboscis 12 inches, and from top of head to feet 7 inches; the hunter 11 inches high, the boy 4½.

c represents a wounded animal, with the arrow or weapon near the wound. This figure is 21¾ inches from the lower extremity of the nose to the tip of the tail, 8¾ inches from fore shoulders to front feet, and 8 inches from the rump to the hind feet. The weapon is 4½ inches long by 5 inches broad from the tip of one prong or barb to that of the other.

d represents a chief with eight plumes and a war club, 11 inches from top of head to the lower extremity, and 6¾ inches from the tip of the upper finger to the end of the opposite arm; the war club 6½ inches long.

Dr. Hoffman made a visit to this cave in August, 1888, to compare the pictographic characters with others of apparently similar outline and of known signification. He found but a limited number of the figures distinct, and these only in part, owing to the rapid disintegration of the sandstone upon which they were drawn. Many names and inscriptions had been incised in the soft surface by visitors, who also, by means of the smoke of candles, added grotesque and meaningless figures over and between the original paintings, so as to seriously injure the latter.

Mr. T. H. Lewis (d) describes the petroglyphs, a part of which is reproduced in Fig. 92, as follows:

Fig. 92.—Petroglyphs at Trempealeau, Wisconsin.

Last November my attention was called to some rock sculptures located about 2½ miles northwest from Trempealeau, Wisconsin. There is at the point in question an exposed ledge of the Potsdam sandstone extending nearly one-eighth of a mile along the east side of the lower mouth of the Trempealeau river, now known as the bay. Near its north end there is a projection extending out about 7 feet from the top of the ledge and overhanging the base about 10 feet. The base of the ledge is 40 feet back from the shore, and the top of the cliff at this point is 30 feet above the water. On the face of the projection, and near the top, are the sculpture figures referred to.

The characters designated a a are two so-called canoes, somewhat crescent-shaped, but with some variation in outline; b has the same form, but the additional upright portion overlaps it; c and d are also of the same form as a, but c is cut in the bottom of d; e probably represents a fort, and its length is 18½ inches; f is a nondescript, and it partly overlaps d; g is a nondescript four-legged animal, its length in a straight line from the end of the nose to the tip of the tail being 10½ inches; h may be intended to represent a foot, but possibly it may be a hand; it is 7½ inches in length; i is an outspread hand, a little over 13 inches long; j undoubtedly represents a foot and is 4½ inches long; k k are of the same class as a.


The figures are not mere outlines, but intaglio, varying in depth from a quarter of an inch to fully 1 inch. Although the surface of the rock is rough the intaglios were rubbed perfectly smooth after they had been engraved by pecking or cutting.


Several pictographs in Wyoming are described by Capt. William A. Jones, U. S. Army (a). They are reproduced here as Figs. 93, 94, and 95.

Fig. 93, found in the Wind river valley, Wyoming, was interpreted by members of a Shoshoni and Banak delegation to Washington in 1880 as “an Indian killed another.” The latter is very roughly delineated in the horizontal figure, but is also represented by the line under the hand of the upright figure, meaning the same dead person. At the right is the scalp taken and the two feathers showing the dead warrior’s rank. The arm nearest the prostrate foe shows the gesture for killed; concept, to put down, flat.

Fig. 93.—Petroglyph in Wind river valley, Wyoming.

The same gesture appears in Fig. 94, from the same authority and locality. The scalp is here held forth, and the numeral (1) is indicated by the lowest stroke.

Fig. 94.—Petroglyph in Wind river valley, Wyoming.


Fig. 95, from the same locality and authority, was also interpreted by the Shoshoni and Banak. It appears from their description that a Blackfoot had attacked the habitation of some of his own people. The right-hand upper figure represents his horse, with the lance suspended from the side. The lower figure illustrates the log house built against a stream. The dots are the prints of the horse’s hoofs, while the two lines running outward from the upper inclosure show that two thrusts of the lance were made over the wall of the house, thus killing the occupant and securing two bows and five arrows, as represented in the left-hand group. The right-hand figure of that group shows the hand raised in the attitude of making the gesture for kill.

Fig. 95.—Petroglyphs in Wind river valley, Wyoming.

The Blackfeet, according to the interpreters, were the only Indians in the locality mentioned who constructed log houses, and therefore the drawing becomes additionally interesting, as an attempt appears to have been made to illustrate the crossing of the logs at the corners, the gesture for which (log house) is as follows:

Both hands are held edgewise before the body, palms facing, spread the fingers, and place those of one hand into the spaces between those of the other, so that the tips of each protrude about an inch beyond.

Another and more important petroglyph was discovered on Little Popo-Agie, northwestern Wyoming, by members of Capt. Jones’s party in 1873. The glyphs are upon a nearly vertical wall of the yellow sandstone in the rear of Murphy’s ranch, and appear to be of some antiquity. Further remarks, with specimens of the characters, are presented below in this paper. (See Fig. 1091.)

Dr. William H. Corbusier, U. S. Army, in a letter to the writer, mentions the discovery of drawings on a sandstone rock near the headwaters of Sage creek, in the vicinity of Fort Washakie, Wyoming, and gives a copy which is presented as Fig. 96. Dr. Corbusier remarks that neither the Shoshoni nor the Arapaho Indians know who made the drawings. The two chief figures appear to be those of the human form,[130] with the hands and arms partly uplifted the whole being inclosed above and on either side by an irregular line.

Fig. 96.—Petroglyph near Sage creek, Wyoming.

The method of grouping, together with various accompanying appendages, as irregular lines, spirals, etc., observed in Dr. Corbusier’s drawing, show great similarity to the Algonquian type, and resemble some engravings found near the Wind river mountains, which were the work of Blackfeet (Satsika) Indians, who, in comparatively recent times, occupied portions of the country in question, and probably also sketched the designs near Fort Washakie.

Fig. 97 is also reported from the same locality.


Fig. 97.—Petroglyph near Sage creek, Wyoming.


No adequate attention can be given in the present paper to the distribution and description of the petroglyphs of Mexico. In fact very little accurate information is accessible regarding them. The distinguished explorer, Mr. A. Bandelier, in a conversation mentioned that he had sketched but not published two petroglyphs in Sonora. One, very large and interesting, was at Cara Pintada, 3 miles southwest of Huassavas, and a smaller one was at Las Flechas, 1 mile west of Huassavas. He also sketched one in Chihuahua on the trail from Casas Grandes to the Cerro de Montezuma. From the accounts of persons met in his Mexican travels he gave it as his opinion that a large number of petroglyphs still remained in the region of the Sierra Madre.

The following mention of the paintings of the ancient inhabitants of Lower California is translated from an anonymous account, in Documentos para la Historia de Mexico (a), purporting to have been written in 1790:

Throughout civilized California, from south to north, and especially in the caves and smooth rocks, there remain various rude paintings. Notwithstanding their disproportion and lack of art, the representations of men, fish, bows and arrows, can be distinguished and with them different kind of strokes, something like characters. The colors of these paintings are of four kinds; yellow, a reddish color, green and black. The greater part of them are painted in high places, and from this it is inferred by some that the old tradition is true, that there were giants among the ancient Californians. Be this as it may, in the Mission of Santiago, which is at the south, was discovered on a smooth rock of great height, a row of hands stamped in red. On the high cliffs facing the shore are seen fish painted in various shapes and sizes, bows, arrows, and some unknown characters. In other parts are Indians armed with bows and arrows, and various kinds of insects, snakes, and mice, with lines and characters of other forms. On a flat rock about 2 yards in length were stamped insignia or escutcheons of rank and inscriptions of various characters.

Towards Purmo, about 30 leagues beyond the Mission of Santiago del Sur, is a bluff 8 yards in height and on the center of it is seen an inscription which resembles Gothic letters interspersed with Hebrew and Chaldean characters [?].

Though the Californian Indians have often been asked concerning the significance of the figures, lines, and characters, no satisfactory answer has been obtained. The most that has been established by their information is that the paintings were their predecessors, and that they are absolutely ignorant of the signification of them. It is evident that the paintings and drawings of the Californians are significant symbols and landmarks by which they intended to leave to posterity the memory, either of their establishment in this country, or of certain wars or political or natural triumphs. These pictures are not like those of the Mexicans, but might have the same purpose.

Several petroglyphs in Sonora are described and illustrated infra in Chapter XX on Special Comparisons. The following copies of petroglyphs are presented here as specimens and are markedly different from those in the northwestern states of Mexico, which represent the Aztec culture.


The description of Fig. 98 is extracted from Viages de Guillelmo Dupaix (a):

Fig. 98.—Petroglyphs in Mexico.

Going from the town of Tlalmanalco to that of Mecamecan, at a distance of a league to the east of the latter and in the confines of the estate of Señor Don José Tepatolco, is an isolated rock of granitic stone artificially cut into a conical form with a series of six steps cut in the solid rock itself on the eastern side, the summit forming a platform or horizontal section suitable for the purpose of observing the stars at all points of the compass. It is, therefore, most evident that this ancient monument or observatory was employed solely for astronomical observations, and it is further proved by various hieroglyphs cut in the south side of the cone; but the most interesting feature of this side is the figure of a man standing upright and in profile directing his gaze to the east with the arms raised, holding in the hands a tube or species of optical instrument. Beneath his feet is seen a carved frieze with six compartments or squares and other symbols of a celestial nature are engraved[133] on their surfaces, evidently the product of observation and calculation. Some of them have connection with those found symmetrically arranged in circles on the ancient Mexican calendar, exposed in this capital to general admiration. In front of the observer is a rabbit seated and confronted by two parallel rows of numerical figures; lastly two other symbols relating to the same science are seen at the back.

Prof. Daniel G. Brinton (a), gives an account of the illustration here produced on Pl. XIV A, which may be thus condensed:


The “Stone of the Giants” at Escamela near the city of Orizaba, Mexico, has been the subject of much discussion. Father Damaso Sotomayor sees in the inscribed figures a mystical allusion to the coming of Christ to the Gentiles and to the occurrences supposed in Hebrew myth to have taken place in the Garden of Eden. This stone was examined by Capt. Dupaix in the year 1808 and is figured in the illustrations to his voluminous narrative. The figure he gives [now presented as B on Pl. XIV] is, however, so erroneous that it yields but a faint idea of the real character and meaning of the drawing. It omits the ornament on the breast and also the lines along the right of the giant’s face, which as I shall show are distinctive traits. It gives him a girdle where none is delineated, and the relative size and proportions of all the three figures are quite distorted.

The rock on which the inscription is found is roughly triangular in shape, presenting a nearly straight border of 30 feet on each side. It is hard and uniform in texture and of a dark color. The length or height of the principal figure is 27 feet, and the incised lines which designate the various objects are deeply and clearly cut.

I now approach the decipherment of the inscriptions. Any one versed in the signs of the Mexican calendar will at once perceive that it contains the date of a certain year and day. On the left of the giant is seen a rabbit surrounded with ten circular depressions. These depressions are the well-known Aztec marks for numerals, and the rabbit represents one of the four astronomic signs by which they adjusted their chronologic cycles of fifty-two years. The stone bears a carefully dated record, with year and day clearly set forth. The year is represented to the left of the figure and is that numbered “ten” under the sign of the rabbit; the day of the year is number “one” under the sign of the fish.

These precise dates recurred once, and only once, every fifty-two years, and had recurred only once between the year of our era, 1450, and the Spanish conquest of Mexico in 1519-’20. Within the period named the year “ten rabbit” of the Aztec calendar corresponded with the year 1502 of the Gregorian calendar. It is more difficult to fix the day, but it is, I think, safe to say that, according to the most probable computations, the day, “one fish,” occurred in the first month of the year 1502, which month coincided in whole or in part with our February.

Such is the date on the inscription. Now, what is intimated to have occurred on that date? The clew to this is furnished by the figure of the giant. It represents an ogre of horrid mien with a death’s-head grin and formidable teeth, his hair wild and long, the locks falling down upon the neck. Suspended on the breast as an ornament is the bone of a human lower jaw, with its incisor teeth. The left leg is thrown forward as in the act of walking, and the arms are uplifted, the hands open, and the fingers extended as at the moment of seizing the prey or the victim. The lines about the umbilicus represent the knot of the girdle which supported the maxtli or breechcloth.

There is no doubt as to which personage of the Aztec pantheon this fear-inspiring figure represents. It is Tzontemoc Mictlantecutli, “the Lord of the Realm of the Dead, He of the Falling Hair,” the dread god of death and the dead. His distinctive marks are there, the death’s-head, the falling hair, the jaw bone, the terrible aspect, the giant size.

We possess several chronicles of the empire before Cortes destroyed it, written in the hieroglyphs which the inventive genius of the natives had devised. Taking two[134] of these chronicles, one known as the Codex Telleriano-Remensis, the other as the Codex Vaticanus, I turn to the year numbered “ten” under the sign of the rabbit and I find that both present the same record which I copy in the following figure.

Fig. 99.—The Emperor Ahuitzotzin.

The figure so copied is entitled “Extract from the Vatican Codex,” which is a slight error. It is a copy from the Codex Telleriano-Remensis, Kingsborough, I, Pt. 4, p. 23, year 1502, which is here reproduced as Fig. 99. The record in the Vatican Codex, Kingsborough, II, p. 130, differs in some unimportant details. It may also be noted that in the text relating to the Codex Telleriano-Remensis, Kingsborough, VI, p. 141, the word Ahuitzotl is given as “the name of an aquatic animal famous in Mexican mythology.” The present opportunity is embraced to recognize the acumen displayed by Prof. Brinton in his interpretation of the petroglyph. He proceeds as follows:

The sign of the year (the rabbit) is shown merely by his head for brevity. The ten dots, which give its number, are beside it. Immediately beneath is a curious quadruped, with what are intended as water-drops dripping from him. The animal is the hedgehog, and the figure is to be constructed iconomatically; that is, it must be read as a rebus through the medium of the Nahuatl language. In that language water is atl, in composition a, and hedgehog is uitzotl. Combine these and you get ahuitzotl, or, with the reverential termination, ahuitzotzin. This was the name of the ruler or emperor, if you allow the word, of ancient Mexico before the accession to the throne of that Montezuma whom the Spanish conquistador, Cortes, put to death.

Returning to the page from the chronicle, we observe that the hieroglyph of Ahuitzotzin is placed immediately over a corpse swathed in its mummy cloths, as was the custom of interment with the highest classes in Mexico. This signifies that the death of Ahuitzotzin took place in that year. Adjacent to it is the figure of his[135] successor, his name iconomatically represented by the headdress of the nobles, the tecuhtli, giving the middle syllables of “Mo-tecuh-zoma.” No doubt is left that La Piedra de los Gigantes of Escamela is a necrologic tablet commemorating the death of the Emperor Ahuitzotzin, some time in February, 1502.

Mr. Eugène Boban (a) mentions manuscript copies, dating from the beginning of the century, of various sculptured stones in Mexico. These sculpturings represent native ideographic characters, among them the teocalli, the tepetl, the sign ollin, etc.

On several of the plates which compose this collection are notes indicating the place where the monument, fragment, or ruin is found, from which the characters are copied; for example, one of them bears the note: “de la calle Rl de la villa de Cuernabaca.” Several others bear annotations which show that they have been copied in the cemetery, in the streets of that town, or in its environs.

Aside from these notes the plates are not accompanied by any information which could give a trace of the person who drew them, or the purpose for which they were intended.

The same author (b) describes a large sculptured stone of Mexico, the designs on which have been reproduced in paintings on deerskin. After giving a detailed description of the copied MS. he speaks of the stone as follows:

We deem it of interest to give some notes concerning the famous cylindrical stone, both sculptured and painted, known by the name Teocuauhxicalli (the sacred drinking vase of the eagles) on which are found the themes of all the designs which have been above described. This stone, buried at the time of the Spanish Conquest, was discovered in the first half of this century at the close of a series of excavations made in the soil of the Place d’Armes, Mexico. The director of the national museum, who was then M. Rafael Gondra, contented himself with taking the dimensions and making a hurried sketch of it. It was then reinterred, as the necessary funds were lacking to exhume it entirely and transport it to the museum.

The name Teocuauhxicalli is composed of: Teotl, god; cuauhili, eagle, and xicalli, hemispherical vase formed from the half of a gourd. It may be translated by, “The vase of god and the eagles,” or, rather, “The sacred drinking cup of the eagles.”

“The Mexican monarch Axayacatl, jealous of his predecessor Motecuhzoma I, took down the Teocuauhxicalli which was in the upper part of the Great Temple of Mexico, and replaced it by another, sculptured by his order;” so says the eminent Mexican archæologist and historian, Don Manuel Orozco y Berra, in his excellent work, Historia Antigua y de la Conquesta de Mexico (t. III, p. 348). This monument was also dedicated to the god of war, Huitzilopochtli.

According to Duran and Tezozomoc, those stones on which gods were represented were designated by the name Teocuauhxicalli; i. e., divine cuauhxicalli. They belonged to the class of painted stones, for they were covered with several colors.

Orozco y Berra adds the following: “It is evident that the figures sculptured and painted do not represent armed warriors preparing for combat. On the contrary, we see that they represent gods. Among them is found Huitzilopochtli (god of war) with his arms and attributes, having before him another deity or high priest who holds in his hands the emblems of the holocaust.

“The figures of the upper part are not fighting and could not have known how to fight, if we judge by their positions; the chest is turned back, the face raised toward the sky, in which appears an object which resembles the astronomical sign cipactli.


“Everywhere on the surface of this stone are noticed symbols, birds, quadrupeds, fantastic reptiles, signs of the sun, days, months, and a quantity of objects whose character is imitated in manuscripts and rituals. There can be no doubt that we are in the presence of a monument devoted to the gods and bearing legends relative to their worship. M. the minister of Fomento, D. Vicente Rivera Palacio, in 1877 made several attempts at excavation in the Plaza Mayor of Mexico, to recover this important monument, but all search remained unfruitful.”

This stone is supposed to be buried beneath the Place d’Armes at Mexico.

Mexican petroglyphs are also discussed and figured by Chavero (a).

It would seem from these and other descriptions of and allusions to petroglyphs in Mexico, that at the time of the Spanish conquest they were extant in large numbers, though now seldom found. Perhaps the Spaniards destroyed them in the same spirit which led them to burn up many of the Mexican pictographs on paper and other substances.

A number of illustrations of the Mexican pictographic writings are given below under various headings.


The valuable paper of A. L. Pinart (a), giving a description of the petroglyphs found by him in the Greater and Lesser Antilles, is received too late for reproduction of the illustrations. He explored a number of the groups of the West Indies with varying success, but found that the island of Puerto Rico was the one which now furnishes the greatest amount of evidence of development in the pictographic art. His marks translated with condensation appear below.


The first petroglyph to be mentioned is found at la Cueva del Islote, on Punta Braba, about 5 leagues east from Arecibo and on the north side of the island of Puerto Rico. The grotto is found in an immense blackish mass of igneous rock, forming a point projecting into the sea, which beats furiously against it; it communicates with the sea at the foot, and the water entering this passage, which is quite narrow, produces a terrific roaring followed soon after by veritable thunder claps. The people of the neighborhood have a superstitious fear of it, and it is only with great difficulty that anyone can be found to accompany one there. The entrance on the land side is toward the east—a yawning crevasse, filled partly with rubbish and partly by the stunted vegetation of the coast. On penetrating to the interior we find, after following a short but wide passage, a pyriform chamber 20 meters in diameter. In the ceiling a very narrow crack admits a ray of light which, reflected in the water of the sea, filling the bottom of the cave, produces a bluish twilight. Notwithstanding this twilight, we are obliged to carry torches to distinguish objects. All around us, but especially over the point where the sea enters in, are to be seen the inscriptions represented here. The incisions are very deep, and the edges are generally dulled by the blows of the hammer; in certain spots, toward the lower part of the grotto, several inscriptions are partially effaced by the action of the sea, but those of the upper part are in a remarkable state of preservation. Beneath certain principal figures of the groups are little circular basin-like depressions cut in the rock with a trench running down toward the bottom.


I will not attempt here to give a formal explanation of these inscriptions, but may we not regard the spot in which they are found as having served for a rendezvous for the ancient Borrinqueños where they performed their sacrifices or the ceremonies of their religion? On the other hand, the appearance of these inscriptions is very peculiar. One of them might be considered a representation of those little figurines and statuettes of stone found in Mexico, in Mixteca, and in the country to the south. In another a head is curiously decorated with a diadem of feathers, and apparently represents one presiding at a feast served in the small circular basin set before him. The most noticeable thing in this group of inscriptions is the frequency of the grinning faces in a circle, often alone, often accompanied by two others placed at the sides, which are universally met with in every inscription found in the Greater and Lesser Antilles. The same may be said of the human figure apparently swaddled in cloths like a very young infant, the head and body more or less decorated, which is also very frequently found.

Following these petroglyphs of Islote, we present a list of others discovered at Puerto Rico, hastily describing them and giving a particular description only of those which are of the greatest interest.

In the above-mentioned grotto of Cueva de los Archillas, near the village of Ciales, we observed the curious figures bearing traces of a crown and peculiar ear ornaments. In la Cueva de los Conejos, some distance from Arecibo, on the road from Utauado, we found a figure partly incised and partly painted in a dark red; it is very artistically fashioned, and represents the famous “guava,” the monster spider of the Greater Antilles, of which the natives have a great dread. It is probable that the ancient Borrinqueños also considered it with a certain awe, and we find images of the same animal in la Cueva del Templo on the coast of Haiti, at Santo Domingo. A solitary rock of a reddish color, in a field of the hacienda of Don Pedro Pavez at la Carolina, a short distance from the Rio Pedras, bears a series of grimacing faces in circles. On a granitic rock of large dimensions, superimposed on a heap of rocks of the same character, in the midst of a grove of Indian trees and at the entrance of the Cano del Indio into Rio la Ceiba, near Fajardo, on the east side, are found three swaddled human figures, the heads decorated with various ornaments. On a black rock in the Rio Arriba, one of the branches of the Rio de la Ceiba, is a petroglyph which presents but little that is of interest.

On the Loma Muñoz, near the Rio Arriba above mentioned, and on the summit of the hill, stands a dark rock with smooth face protected by another mass of rock, forming a sort of shelter on which is an inscription composed of a number of incised grinning faces. At the confluence of the Rio Blanco and the Rio de la Ceiba, in the district of Fajardo, is a series of violent rapids formed by immense rocks of a granitic character, on which are cut a large number of other grimacing faces and also some swaddled figures, and other incisions which are not of interest.


Lady Edith Blake, wife of Sir Henry Arthur Blake, formerly governor of the Bahama islands, has kindly furnished the following information and sketches (Figs. 100, 101, and 102), relating to petroglyphs in the Bahama islands. Lady Blake says:

The carvings are on the walls of an “Indian hole,” also called Hartford cave, in the northern shore of a small island in Rum Cay, one of the Bahama group. Rum Cay measures 5 miles from north to south and about 8 or 9 from east to west. It lies 20 miles northwest of Watlings island, the San Salvador of Columbus.

The cave is situated on the seashore about a mile and a half from the western point of the island to the eastward of a bluff, close to which is a “puffing hole,” through which the waves blow when the seas roll in from the north. The cave is[138] semicircular in shape and about 20 yards in depth, and is partially filled with debris of rocks, earth, and sand.

Fig. 100.—Petroglyphs in the Bahamas.

Like all rocks of which the Bahamas are formed, those in Hartford cave are a mixture of coral, detritus, and shell, very rough and full of cracks and indentations, and in this cave, from the constant damp of filtration and spray, the walls were coated with a deposit of lime and salt, so that it would be impossible to say if the carvings had been colored. If ever they had been, any traces of coloring must long have disappeared. Besides the markings copied there were others scattered over the walls of the cave, most of which were circles apparently resembling human faces. Unfortunately, we neglected to measure the carvings, but I should judge the circles or faces to be 10 inches or more across, while others of the figures must have been a foot and a half in length, and the markings must have been nearly half an inch in depth, cut into the face of the rock, and seemed to us such as might have been made with a sharp stone implement. Although we visited numerous caves in the various islands of the Bahamas, in no other did we find any appearance of markings or carvings on the walls, nor could we hear of any reported to have such markings.


Fig. 101.—Petroglyphs in the Bahamas.

The absence of any traces of carvings in other caves whose situation was better adapted for the preservation of markings, had such ever existed, and the proof that their contents afforded that most of those caves had been known to the Lucayans and used by them as burying places or otherwise, and the close proximity of Hartford cave to the sea, taken in connection with the great number of markings on its walls, led me to think that possibly this cave had been the resort of the marauding tribes whom the Lucayans gave Columbus to understand were their enemies, and who were in the habit of making war upon them; and if so, the Caribs, or whatever tribe it may have been, had left these rock markings as mementos of their various expeditions and guides to succeeding ones.

Fig. 102.—Petroglyphs in the Bahamas.

The above-mentioned petroglyphs bear a remarkable similarity to those in British Guiana figured and described below, and the authorship would seem to relate to the same group of natives, the Caribs.


In the Guesde collection of antiquities, described in the Smithsonian report for 1884, p. 834, Fig. 208, here reproduced as Fig. 103, is an inscribed slab found in Guadeloupe. It weighs several tons and it is impossible to remove it. In the vicinity are to be seen many other rocks bearing inscriptions, but this is the most elaborate of the group.

The inscriptions may be compared with those from Guiana presented in this work.

Fig. 103.—Petroglyph in Guadeloupe.


Pinart (b) gives the following account, translated and condensed:

The island of Aruba forms one of the group of the islands of Curaçao, on the north coast of Venezuela. This group consists of three principal islands, Curaçao, Buen Ayre, Aruba, and some isolated rocks. It belongs to Holland.

Aruba is the most western island of the group and is situated opposite the peninsula of Paraguana, on the mainland. The distance between the two is about 10 leagues, and from the island the shores of the continent can be seen very distinctly.

These islands, at the time of the discovery by the Spaniards, were inhabited by an Indian race which has left numerous traces of its occupancy; pottery, stone objects, petroglyphs, etc., are met with in large numbers in Aruba and in a less quantity on Buen Ayre and Curaçao. * * * These petroglyphs are quite different in character from those which I have recently described in a brief study of the Greater and Lesser Antilles, and their appearance brings to mind those found in Orinoco, in Venezuela, in the peninsula of Paraguana, on the border of the Magdalena river, and as far as Chiriqui. They differ from these, however, in several respects, and especially in that they are almost always multi-colored. The colors usually employed are red,[140] blue, a yellowish white, and black. They are, moreover, painted and not cut in the rock. They show the same degree of variance as I have already noticed in North America—in Sonora, Arizona, and Chihuahua—between the petroglyphs which I have designated as Pimos, which are always incised, and those in the mountains which I designated as Comanche, and which are always painted and in many colors. The petroglyphs are, as has already been said, very numerous on the island of Aruba. I have personal knowledge of thirty, but, according to my friend Père van Kolwsjk, there must be more than fifty. The most important groups are as follows:

(1) Avikok. An enormous dark rock forms the summit of a wooded knob, and in this rock are two large cavities, one above the other, on the walls of which are the petroglyphs represented.

(2) Fontein. On the border of a fresh-water lagoon, a short distance from the northeast part of the island, near the sea, is a grotto of coralline origin, whose walls are of remarkable whiteness. This grotto is composed of a principal passage, quite wide, cut off toward the lower end by a row of stalactites and stalagmites, which, joining together, form a curious grimacing figure. On the wall to the left, as we look toward the bottom of the grotto, are found some petroglyphs. They are well preserved, thanks to their situation and the shelter from inclement weather, and they show no indication of painting, being distinctly traced on the walls.

(3) Chiribana. On some granitic spurs of a hill of the same name are found curious petroglyphs.

(4) At Lero de Wajukan, near Avikok, and at the foot of a hill, petroglyphs are found on some blocks of granite. I notice specially the human figure which in the original is outlined in red and bears on the shoulder a hatchet of the Carib type with a haft.

(5) At Ayo I discovered petroglyphs with figures in blue and red.

(6) At Woeboeri inscriptions are found on the wall of an immense mass of granite.

(7) Some petroglyphs on the walls of a grotto at Karasito.



Some writers have endeavored to draw definite ethnic distinctions between the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North America and those farther south. The opinions and theories which have favored such discriminations have originated in error and ignorance. Until lately there has been but scanty scientific investigation of the peoples of Central and South America and but a limited exploration of the regions now or formerly occupied by them. The latest opinion of the best ethnologists is that no sufficient reason can be shown for separate racial classification of the aborigines of the three Americas. The examples of petroglyphs now presented from Central and South America, all of which are selected as typical, show remarkable similarity to some of those above illustrated and described, especially to those in California, New Mexico, and Arizona. This topic is further discussed under the heading of Special Comparison, Chapter XX, infra.



Dr. J. F. Bransford (a) gives the following account:

On a hillside on the southern end of the island of Ometepec, Nicaragua, about 1½ miles east of Point San Ramon, are many irregular blocks of basalt with marks and figures cut on them. The hillside faces east, and is about half a mile from the lake. There were similar markings on many of the shore rocks, which, in May, were partially covered with water, notwithstanding that that was about the driest season. These markings were excavated about half an inch in depth and a little more in width. Human faces and spiral lines predominated. There was also a crown, a representation of a monkey, and many irregular figures.

Several illustrations from these rocks are presented, infra, in Figs. 1102 and 1103, and one is reproduced in this connection as Fig. 104.

Fig. 104.—Petroglyphs in Nicaragua.



The following extract is taken from the work of Dr. S. Habel (a):

Santa Lucia is a village in the Republic of Guatemala, in the Department of Esquintla, near the base of the Volcano del Fuego, at the commencement of the inclined plane which extends from the mountain range to the coast of the Pacific Ocean. * * *

The sculptured slabs are in the vicinity of the village. The greater number of them form an extended heap, rendering it probable that there are others hidden from view that more extended researches would reveal. * * * All the sculptures, with the exception of three statues, are in low relief, nearly all being in cavo-relievo, that is, surrounded by a raised border, the height of which indicates the elevation of the relief. The same kind of relief was practiced by the ancient Assyrians and Egyptians.

In seven instances the sculpture represents a person adoring a deity of a different theological conception in each case. One of these seems to represent the sun, another the moon, while in the remaining five it is impossible to define their character. All these deities are represented by a human figure, of which only the head, arms, and breast are correctly portrayed, proving that the religious conceptions had risen to anthropomorphism, while the idols of the nations of Central America and Mexico, which have previously come to our knowledge, are represented by disfigured human forms or grotesque images.

Four of the other sculptures represent allegorical subjects; two of them the myth of the griffin, the bird of the sun.

The slabs on which the low reliefs are sculptured are of various sizes; the greater number of these, like those representing the deities, are 12 feet in length, 3 feet in width, and 2 feet in thickness. Nine feet of the upper part of these stones are occupied by the sculptures, while the lower 3 feet appear to have served as a base.

Several illustrations of these rock sculptures are presented, infra, as Figs. 1235 and 1236. It is evident that these very large slabs received their markings when they were in the locality in which they are now found so can be classed geographically.


Alexander von Humboldt (a) gives general remarks, now condensed, upon petroglyphs in South America:

In the interior of South America, between the second and fourth degrees of north latitude, a forest-covered plain is inclosed by four rivers, the Orinoco, the Atabapo, the Rio Negro, and the Cassiquiare. In this district are found rocks of granite and of syenite, covered with colossal symbolical figures of crocodiles and tigers, and drawings of household utensils, and of the sun and moon. The tribes nearest to its boundaries are wandering naked savages, in the lowest stages of human existence, and far removed from any thoughts of carving hieroglyphics on rocks. One may trace in South America an entire zone, extending through more than 8° of longitude, of rocks so ornamented, viz, from the Rupuniri, Essequibo, and the mountains of Pacaraima, to the banks of the Orinoco and of the Yupura. These carvings may belong to very different epochs, for Sir Robert Schomburgk even found on the Rio Negro representations of a Spanish galiot, which must have been of a later date than the beginning of the sixteenth century; and this in a wilderness where the natives were probably as rude then as at the present time. Some miles from Encaramada[143] there rises in the middle of the savannah the rock Tepu-Mereme, or painted rock. It shows several figures of animals and symbolical outlines which resemble much those observed by us at some distance above Encaramada, near Caycara. Rocks thus marked are found between the Cassiquiare and the Atabapo and, what is particularly remarkable, 560 geographical miles farther to the east, in the solitudes of Parime. Nicholas Hortsmann found on the banks of the Rupunuri, at the spot where the river winding between the Macarana mountains forms several small cascades, and before arriving at the district immediately surrounding lake Amucu, “rocks covered with figures,” or, as he says in Portuguese, “de varias letras.” We were shown at the rock of Culimacari, on the banks of the Cassiquiare, signs which were called characters, arranged in lines, but they were only ill-shaped figures of heavenly bodies, boa-serpents, and the utensils employed in preparing manioc meal. I have never found among these painted rocks (piedras pintadas) any symmetrical arrangement or any regular even-spaced characters. I am therefore disposed to think that the word “letras,” in Hortsmann’s journal, must not be taken in the strictest sense.

Schomburgk saw and described other petroglyphs on the banks of the Essequibo, near the cascade of Warraputa. Neither promises nor threats could prevail on the Indians to give a single blow with a hammer to these rocks, the venerable monuments of the superior mental cultivation of their predecessors. They regard them as the work of the Great Spirit, and the different tribes whom we met with, though living at a great distance, were nevertheless acquainted with them. Terror was painted on the faces of my Indian companions, who appeared to expect every moment that the fire of heaven would fall on my head. I saw clearly that my endeavors to detach a portion of the rock would be fruitless, and I contented myself with bringing away a complete drawing of these memorials. Even the veneration everywhere testified by the Indians of the present day for these rude sculptures of their predecessors show that they have no idea of the execution of similar works. There is another circumstance which should be mentioned. Between Encaramada and Caycara, on the banks of the Orinoco, a number of these hieroglyphical figures are sculptured on the face of precipices at a height which could now be reached only by means of extraordinarily high scaffolding. If one asks the natives how these figures have been cut, they answer, laughing, as if it were a fact of which none but a white man could be ignorant, that “in the days of the great waters their fathers went in canoes at that height.”


Mr. W. H. Holmes (b), of the Bureau of Ethnology, gives this account of petroglyphs in the province of Chiriqui, state of Panama:

Pictured rocks.—Our accounts of these objects are very meager. The only one definitely described is the “piedra pintal.” A few of the figures engraved upon it are given by Seemann, from whom the following paragraph is quoted:

“At Caldera, a few leagues (north) from the town of David, lies a granite block known to the country people as the piedra pintal or painted stone. It is 15 feet high, nearly 50 feet in circumference, and flat on the top. Every part, especially the eastern side, is covered with figures. One represents a radiant sun; it is followed by a series of heads, all with some variations, scorpions, and fantastic figures. The top and the other side have signs of a circular and oval form, crossed by lines. The sculpture is ascribed to the Dorachos (or Dorasques), but to what purpose the stone was applied no historical account or tradition reveals.”

These inscriptions are irregularly placed and much scattered. They are thought to have been originally nearly an inch deep, but in places are almost effaced by weathering, thus giving a suggestion of great antiquity. Tracings of these figures made recently by Mr. A. L. Pinart show decided differences in detail, and Mr. McNiel gives still another transcription.


In Fig. 105 Mr. McNiel’s sketch of the southwest face of the rock is presented.

Fig. 105.—Petroglyphs in Colombia.

Other illustrations from Colombia appear as Figs. 151 and 1166, infra.


The name of Guiana has been applied to the territory between the rivers Amazon, Orinoco, Negro, and Cassiquiare. It was once divided into the French, British, Dutch, Portuguese, and Spanish Guianas. The Portuguese Guiana now belongs to Brazil and Spanish Guiana is part of Venezuela. Many petroglyphs have been found in the several Guianas. They appear throughout the whole of the part belonging to Venezuela, but they are more thickly grouped in parts of the valley of the Orinoco.

The subject is well discussed in the following extract from Among the Indians of Guiana, by im Thurn (a):

The pictured rocks of Guiana are not all of one kind. In all cases various figures are rudely depicted on larger or smaller surfaces of rocks. Sometimes these figures are painted, though such cases are few and of but little moment; more generally they are graven on the rock, and these alone are of great importance. Rock sculptures may, again, be distinguished into two kinds, differing in the depth of incision, the apparent mode of execution, and, most important of all, the character of the figures represented.

Painted rocks in British Guiana are mentioned by Mr. C. Barrington Brown. He says that in coming down past Amailah fall, on the Cooriebrong river, he passed “a large white sandstone rock ornamented with figures in red paint.” * * * Mr. Wallace, in his account of his Travels on the Amazons, mentions the occurrence of similar drawings in more than one place near the Amazons. * * *

The engraved rocks must be of some antiquity; that is to say, they must certainly date from a time before the influence of Europeans was much felt in Guiana. As has already been said, the engravings are of two kinds and are probably the work of two different people; nor is there even any reason to suppose that the two kinds were produced at one and the same time.

These two kinds of engravings may, for the sake of convenience, be distinguished as “deep” and “shallow,” respectively, according as the figures are deeply cut into the rock or are merely scratched on the surface. The former vary from one-eighth to one-half of an inch, or even more, in depth; the latter are of quite inconsiderable depth. This difference probably corresponds with a difference in the means by which they were produced. The deep engravings seem cut into the rock with an edged tool, probably of stone; the shallow figures were apparently formed by long[145] continued friction with stones and moist sand. The two kinds seem never to occur in the same place or even near to each other; in fact, a distinct line may almost be drawn between the districts in which the deep and shallow kinds occur, respectively; the deep form occurs at several spots on the Mazeruni, Essequibo, Ireng, Cotinga, Potaro, and Berbice rivers. The shallow form has as yet only been reported from the Corentyn river and its tributaries, where, however, examples occur in considerable abundance. But the two kinds differ not only in the depth of incision, in the apparent mode of their production, and in the place of their occurrence, but also—and this is the chief difference between the two—in the figures represented.

Fig. 106 is a typical example of the shallow carvings.

Fig. 106.—Shallow carvings in Guiana.

Fig. 1104, infra, is a similar example of the deep carvings.

The shallow engravings seem always to occur on comparatively large and more or less smooth surfaces of rock, and rarely, if ever, as the deep figures, on detached blocks of rock, piled one on the other. The shallow figures, too, are generally much larger, always combinations of straight or curved lines in figures much more elaborate than those in the deep engravings; and these shallow pictures always represent not animals, but greater or less variations of the figure which has been described. Lastly, though I am not certain that much significance can be attributed to this, all the examples that I have seen face more or less accurately eastward.

The deep engravings, on the other hand, consist not of a single figure but of a greater or less number of rude drawings. * * * These depict the human form, monkeys, snakes, and other animals, and also very simple combinations of two or three straight[146] or curved lines in a pattern, and occasionally more elaborate combinations. The individual figures are small, averaging from 12 to 18 inches in height, but a considerable number are generally represented in a group.

Some of the best examples of this latter kind are at Warrapoota cataracts, about six days’ journey up the Essequibo.

* * * The commonest figures at Warrapoota are figures of men or perhaps sometimes monkeys. These are very simple and generally consist of one straight line, representing the trunk, crossed by two straight lines at right angles to the body line; one about two-thirds of the distance from the top, represents the two arms as far as the elbows, where upward lines represent the lower part of the arms; the other, which is at the lower end, represent the two legs as far as the knees, from which point downward lines represent the lower part of the legs. A round dot, or a small circle, at the top of the trunk line, forms the head; and there are a few radiating lines where the fingers, a few more where the toes, should be. Occasionally the trunk line is produced downwards as if to represent a long tail. Perhaps the tailless figures represent men, the tailed monkeys. In a few cases the trunk, instead of being indicated by one straight line, is formed by two curved lines, representing the rounded outlines of the body; and the body thus formed is bisected by a row of dots, almost invariably nine in number, which seem to represent vertebræ.

Most of the other figures at Warrapoota are very simple combinations of two, three, or four straight lines similar to the so-called “Greek meander pattern,” which is of such widespread occurrence. Combinations of curved and simple spiral lines also frequently occur. Many of these combinations closely resemble the figures which the Indians of the present day paint on their faces and naked bodies.

The same author (pp. 368, 369) gives the following account of the superstitious reverence entertained for the petroglyphs by the living Indians of Guiana:

Every time a sculptured rock or striking mountain or stone is seen, Indians avert the ill will of the spirits of such places by rubbing red peppers (Capsicum) each in his or her own eyes. * * * Though the old practitioners inflict this self-torture with the utmost stoicism, I have again and again seen that otherwise rare sight of Indians children, and even young men, sobbing under the infliction. Yet the ceremony was never omitted. Sometimes, when by a rare chance no member of the party had had the forethought to provide peppers, lime juice was used as a substitute; and once, when neither peppers nor limes were at hand, a piece of blue indigo-dyed cloth was carefully soaked, and the dye was then rubbed into the eyes.

The same author (b) adds:

It may be as well briefly to sum up the few facts that can be said, with any probability, of these rock pictures in Guiana. The engravings are of two kinds, which may or may not have had different authors and different intention. They were still produced after the first arrival of Europeans, as is shown by the sculptured ship. They were, therefore, probably made by the ancestors of the Indians now in the country; for, from the writings of Raleigh and other early explorers, as well as from the statements of early colonists, it is to be gathered that the present tribes were already in Guiana at the time of the first arrival of Europeans, though not perhaps in the same relative positions as at present. The art of stone-working being destroyed by the arrival of Europeans, the practice of rock-engraving ceased. Possibly the customary figures were for a time painted instead of engraved; but this degenerated habit was also soon relinquished. As to the intention of the figures, that they had some seems certain, but what kind this was is not clear. Finally, these figures really seem to indicate some very slight connection with Mexican civilization.

The following extract from a paper on the Indian picture-writing in[147] British Guiana, by Mr. Charles B. Brown (a), gives views and details somewhat different from the foregoing:

These writings or markings are visible at a greater or less distance in proportion to the depth of the furrows. In some instances they are distinctly visible upon the rocks on the banks of the river at a distance of 100 yards; in others they are so faint that they can only be seen in certain lights by reflected rays from their polished surfaces. They occur upon greenstone, granite, quartz-porphyry, gneiss, and jasperous sandstone, both in a vertical and horizontal position, at various elevations above the water. Sometimes they can only be seen during the dry season when the rivers are low, as in several instances on the Berbice and Cassikytyn rivers. In one instance, on the Corentyn river, the markings on the rock are so much above the level of the river when at its greatest height, that they could only have been made by erecting a staging against the face of the rock, unless the river was at the time much above its usual level. The widths of the furrows vary from half an inch to 1 inch, while the depth never exceeds one-fourth of an inch. * * * The furrows present the same weather-stained aspect as the rocks upon which they are cut. * * *

The Indians of Guiana know nothing about the picture-writing by tradition. They scout the idea of their having been made by the hand of man, and ascribe them to the handiwork of the Makunaima, their great spirit. * * *

As these figures were evidently cut with great care and at much labor by a former race of men, I conclude that they were made for some great purpose, probably a religious one, as some of the figures give indications of phallic worship.


Prof. R. Hartmann (a) presented a pencil drawing of a South American rock, covered with sculptures, sketched by Mr. Anton Goering, a painter in Leipzig, which is here reproduced as Fig. 107. The rock is situated not far from San Esteban, a village in the vicinity of Puerto Cabello, in Venezuela. C. F. Appun, in Unter den Tropen, I, p. 82, remarks as follows in reference to this “Piedra de los Indios” (Indians’ stone), a large granite block lying by the side of the road:

Fig. 107.—Sculptured rock in Venezuela.

These drawings, cut in the stone to a depth of half an inch, mostly represent snakes and other animal forms, human heads and spiral lines, and differ from those which I afterward saw in Guiana, on the Essequibo and Rupununi, in characters[148] and forms, but their execution, like that of the latter, is rude. Though greatly weathered by the influence of rain and the atmosphere, the figures can still be perfectly distinguished and gigantic patience, such as none but Indians possess, was surely needed to carve them in the hard granite mass by means of a stone.

Dr. G. Marcano (a) gives an account translated as follows, which is connected with Fig. 108:

Fig. 108.—Rock near Caïcara, Venezuela.

A tradition, the legend of the rock of Tepumereme, has been preserved by Father Gili. Some old writers, adhering to the Tamanak acceptation of the word, say indifferently tepumeremes or rocas pintadas (painted rocks). Usage has converted Tepumereme into a proper noun. At the present day it is applied exclusively to the rock situated some leagues from Encaramada, in the midst of the savanna, this rock having been the Mount Ararat of the Tamanaks.

Supposing that it is authentic, this legend, which we will relate further on [see page 33, supra], yields no information that might aid us in interpreting hieroglyphs, and so we are reduced to describing its principal characters.

Not all our pictographs correspond to the region of the Raudals, but in our ignorance of the peoples who carved them we see no harm in bringing them together so long as they all come from the banks of the Orinoco, and so long as the localities where they exist are indicated. The copies which we give of them have been very carefully made and reduced to one-tenth.

The first thing that strikes one on looking at them is that, despite differences in detail, the design presents a general common character. In fact, there is question not of figures with undecided forms, but with sure lines perfectly traced and combined in one and the same style. They are geometric designs rather than objective representations. The illustration [Fig. 108] came from a rock in the vicinity of Caïcara, a town situated on the right bank of the Orinoco, close to its last great bend. It represents three jaguars, one large and two small, the former being separated from the latter by an ornamented sun placed at the level of their feet. The spotting of their hides is rendered by means of angular lines arranged in so regular a manner that one might take them to be tigers did he not know that these felines never existed in these regions. The jaguars differ in insignificant details which, however, must have a purpose, in view of the general regularity. The largest shows six radiating lines on the muzzle and a circle in one of the ears. The second shows two hooks on the lower part of the body. The third is preceded by an isolated head, which is unfinished, without ears, inclined differently from the others. Some differences are also noted in the limbs.

Placed in the attitude of marching, these animals seem to descend from a height and to follow the same direction. Perhaps there is question here of a mnemonic whole, and, we might add, of a totem, if we knew that that system had been employed by the Indians of the region.

The same author (p. 205) gives a description of the petroglyphs of the rapids of Chicagua, here presented as Fig. 109.

Fig. 109.—Petroglyphs of Chicagua rapids, Venezuela.

This interesting collection includes the most varied ideographs.

Alongside of representations analogous to the preceding there appear new characters[149] and partial groupings which we had not yet found. On running over them one passes successively from simple points to figures made up of tangled lines, to objective representations, and even to letters of the alphabet, a resemblance which, of course, is fortuitous.

The first group begins by three points similar to those in Fig. 19 [of Marcano, occurring in Fig. 1105 in this paper], followed by two circles with central dots, and terminates below in a plexus of broken lines. The second group, placed at the right, is composed of regular figures of great variety. Among them we note the two lowest, one of which resembles a K and the other a reversed A. A spiral, two circles, one of which has two appendices, and a figure in broken lines make up the third group. Below is seen a coiled serpent. Its head is characteristic; it is found in other pre-Columbian carvings of the Orinoco. As regards design e, we will merely call attention to the sign analogous to the E of our alphabet. It is found at times in the United States of America. [For this remark the author refers to the ideograph for pain, in Figs. 824 and 872, infra.]

Design f is an animal difficult to characterize; its head and tail may be guessed at. The body is covered with ornaments and the legs, very incomplete, are in the attitude of running. Design g represents probably a tree with an appendix of undulating lines; design h, a head surmounted by a complicated headgear. This is the first distinctly human representation that we have found in the country. The strange combinations of designs j, k, and l exhibit the dots at the end of the lines which we have already spoken of. Design m resembles an M; design n shows a circle with plane face.

Thus we see that the statements of some travelers concerning mysterious hieroglyphic combinations are far from being realized. As regards the exaggerations of[150] Humboldt, they arise from the fact that he did not content himself with describing what he had seen. This is illustrated by the following sentence: “There is even seen on a grassy plain near Uruana an isolated granite rock on which, according to the account of trustworthy people, there are seen at a height of 80 feet deeply carved images which appear arranged in rows and represent the sun, the moon, and different species of animals, especially crocodiles and boas.” Elsewhere he speaks of kitchen and household utensils and of a number of objects which he can only have seen with the eyes of his imagination.

Other illustrations of pictographs in Venezuela are presented as Figs. 152, 153, 1105 and 1106, infra.


Remarks of general applicability to this region are made by Mr. J. Whitfield (a), an abstract of which follows:

The rock inscriptions were visited in August, 1865. Several similar inscriptions are said to exist in the interior of the province of Ceará, as well as in the provinces of Pernambuco and Piauhy, especially in the Sertaōs, that is, in the thinly-wooded parts of the interior, but no mention is ever made of their having been seen near the coast.

In the margin and bed only of the river are the rocks inscribed. On the margin they extend in some instances to 15 or 20 yards. Except in the rainy season the stream is dry. The rock is a silicious schist of excessively hard and flinty texture. The marks have the appearance of having been made with a blunt, heavy tool, such as might be made with an almost worn-out mason’s hammer. The situation is about midway between Serra Grande or Ibiapaba and Serra Merioca, about 70 miles from the coast and 40 west of the town Sobral. The native population attribute all the “Letreiros” (inscriptions), as they do everything else of which they have no information, to the Dutch, as records of hidden wealth. The Dutch, however, only occupied the country for a few years in the early part of the seventeenth century. Along the coast numerous forts, the works of the Dutch, still remain; but there are no authentic records of their ever having established themselves in the interior of the country, and less probability still of their amusing themselves with inscribing puzzling hieroglyphics, which must have been a work of time, on the rocks of the far interior, for the admiration of wandering Indians.

Mr. Franz Keller (a) narrates as follows regarding Fig. 110:

Fig. 110.—Petroglyphs on the Cachoeira do Ribeirão, Brazil.

I found a “written rock” covered with spiral lines and concentric rings, evenly carved in the black gneiss-like material, and similar to those of the Caldeirão. Looking about for more, I discovered a perfect inscription, whose straight orderly lines can hardly be thought the result of lazy Indians’ “hours of idleness.” These characters were incised on a very hard smooth block 3 feet 4 inches in length, and 3¼ feet in height and breadth. It lay at an angle of 45°, only 8 feet above low water, and close to the water’s edge of the second smaller rapid, the Cachoeira do Ribeirão. The transverse section of the characters is not very deep, and their surface is as worn as that of the inscription farther down. In some places they are almost effaced by time and are to be seen distinctly only with a favorable light. A dark brown coat of glaze, found everywhere on the surface of the stones, laved at times by the water, covers the block so uniformly well on the concave glyphs as on the parts untouched by instrument, that many ages must have elapsed since some patient Indian spent long hours in cutting them out with his quartz chisel. As the lines of the inscription run almost perfectly horizontally, and as the figures near the Caldeirão and the Cachoeira and the Cachoeira das Lages are so little above low-water mark, the present position of the block seems to have been the original one. * * * On the rocky shores of the Araguaya, that huge tributary of the Tocantino, there are similar rude outlines of animals near a rapid called Martirios, from the first Portuguese explorers[151] fancying they recognized the instruments of the Passion in the clumsy representation.

Dr. Ladisláu Netto (a) gives the illustration, reproduced as Fig. 111, of an inscription discovered by Domingos S. Ferreira Penna on the rock called Itamaraca, on the Rio Xingu. Dr. Netto’s description is translated as follows:

Fig. 111.—The rock Itamaraca, Brazil.


This whole inscription seems to represent one idea, figuring a collection of villages of vast proportions, inclosed by fortifications on two sides, at which it seems most accessible. On these same sides this collection of villages has external constructions or means of security, a kind of meanders or symbolic figures, which perhaps signify difficulties besetting the communication of the inhabitants with the surrounding fields.

In the lower part of the left-hand side there is a group of figures which seem to represent residences of chiefs, war houses, or redoubts, built near the principal entrance to the villages or to the city for its defense. There are found three figures of saurians, one with a large tail, on the side of the redoubts or fortified houses, as if representing the population, and two with small tails, which seem strange, and which walk toward the first.

This inscription is evidently the most perfect and the most notable of those found till now in all America [?], not only by its perfect condition and dimensions, but also by the mode in which a series of ideas has here been brought together.

The same author, on p. 552, furnishes copies of inscriptions carved on stones in the valley of the Rio Negro, and remarks: “In this series there are notable the two crowned personages [represented here in Fig. 112], one of whom holds a staff in the right hand, and below and under them there are two figures of capibars (sea-hogs) facing each other, and whose representation in black color resembles some figures from the inscriptions of North America.”

Fig. 112.—Petroglyphs on the Rio Negro, Brazil.

The following account is in Dr. E. R. Heath’s (a) Exploration of the River Beni:

Hieroglyphics were found on rocks at the falls and rapids of the rivers Madeira and Mamoré. * * * By accident we found some at the rapids at the foot of Caldierão do Inferno. Designs d and b are figures on the same rock side by side. a is another face of the same rock 10 feet across. e and f are on the upper surface of a rock, and c on one of its sides near the bottom; g is upon a rock 15 feet above the surface of the river. Many more were on the other rocks, but our time did not permit further copying. Mr. T. M. Fetterman, my companion, and myself sketched as fast as possible.

Fig. 113 is a reproduction of the illustration given.

Fig. 113.—Petroglyphs at the Caldierão do Inferno, Brazil.

The moment we arrived at the falls of Girão we searched for stone carvings, finding a few, and several repetitions of circles similar to those already found. Designs a and d are on the west and east side of the same rock, which is 9 feet in length. The figure is 21 inches high, the five circles 1 foot across. The east side was almost obliterated. Designs b and c are on loose stones; b, facing west, is 16 inches long; the rock is 50 inches long and 35 wide; c is 22 inches long; the rock 70 inches long by 27 inches broad, and was 30 feet above the river at date. The rocks are basaltic,[153] dipping north at an angle of 86°. Many small stones, 1 and 2 feet in diameter, lie about, with marks on them nearly defaced.

Fig. 114 is a reproduction of the illustration.

Fig. 114.—Petroglyphs at the falls of Girão, Brazil.

At Pederneira all the rocks on the right side at the foot of the rapids are literally covered with figures. Fig. 115 a is on a large bowlder facing the south; b has joined to its right side, c; d, e, and f are on the same stone. Most of these rocks are only a few feet above low water and are covered at least eight months each year.

Fig. 115.—Petroglyphs at Pederneira, Brazil.

At Araras rapids the river is very wide, [containing] two islands and a rocky ledge crossing the river from the rapid. Nearly all the rocks on the right bank are covered with figures.


These are reproduced in Fig. 116.

Fig. 116.—Petroglyphs at Araras rapids, Brazil.

Having no small canoe we could not pass a small channel so as to gather copies of the figures we could see at a distance. The approaches both above and below the rapids and falls are many times as difficult to pass as the rapid or fall itself, giving rise to the division into “head,” “body,” and “tail.” Some not only have these divisions, but also have these subdivided into “head, body, and tail.” One is constantly hearing “el rabo,” “el rabo del rabo,” “el rabo del cuerpo,” or “cabeza,” and so on.

Ribeiráo.—The tail of the rapid is 3 miles in length, a continuous broken current and fields of rocks. It is here, on a rock but a foot or two above the river, that the hieroglyphic shown in F. Keller’s “Amazon and Madeira” is found. As both Mr. Fetterman and myself made copies of it, unknown to the other till finished, our copies may be relied on, although differing from Keller’s. The length[155] of the upper part is 45 inches and of the lower 36 inches, with 13 inches depth of each.

The copy mentioned is given here as Fig. 117.

Fig. 117.—Petroglyphs at Ribeiráo, Brazil.
Fig. 118.—Character at Madeira rapid, Brazil.

The character of the lower right-hand corner was at one time as clearly cut as we represent it, some of the edges being yet clear and distinct.

At the rapid of Madeira there were a number of circles similar to 15 and 16 at Ribeiráo. On a ridge of rocks in the middle of the river, just above Larges rapids, are figures, and we had only time to sketch one, Fig. 118.

At Pao Grande we had a better harvest, showing evidently a later period than the former. One could easily believe these were made at the time of the Spanish conquest, the anchors, shields, and hearts being so often found in Spanish religious rites. Without doubt these were notices for navigators, as they were only out of water and seen when that passage was dangerous. Where projecting points of rock gave a face both up and down stream the same figure was on both faces. These rocks are syenitic granite and are cut to a depth of a half inch.

Fig. 119 is a reproduction of the copy published.

Fig. 119.—Petroglyphs at Pao Grande, Brazil.

Senhor Tristão de Alencar Araripe (a) gives a large number of descriptions with illustrations, a selection of which, with translations, is as follows:

In the province of Ceará district of Inhamun, on the plantation of Carrapateira, is a small hill (or mound). On the face of one of its rocks, on the eastern side, near the edge of the road, is the inscription given in Fig. 120 painted in red.

Fig. 120.—Petroglyph in Ceará, Brazil.

In the district of Inhamun, on the plantation of Carrapateira, in Morcego, on the top of a mound, is a semicircular stone bearing on the face toward the mound the four characters which appear in Fig. 121.


Fig. 121.—Petroglyph in Morcego, Brazil.

In Inhamun, on the plantation of Carrapateira, in Morcego, is a large stone mound, the stones being piled up in a form of a tower; and in the inside of this tower, on the south or southwest side, are the characters given in Fig. 122 painted in bright, cochineal color.

Fig. 122.—Petroglyphs in Morcego, Brazil.

Near the road from Cracará to Favelas, Inhamun, is a large rock, on the face of which, at the top of the western side, is the inscription [given on the upper part of Fig. 123,] all in red paint, as is also that following.


Fig. 123.—Petroglyphs in Inhamun, Brazil.

The under part of this rock forms a shelter, and on the roof of this shelter are all the remaining characters of the figure.

To the right or south of the shelter containing the inscription is a stone, with the form of the figure represented in the third place in the lower row of characters, counting from left to right, on a small heap, with the rear end raised up and the sharp point toward the east, its side inclining toward the west, in such a way that it can be climbed to the end which is erect.

On the same side, at the south, but beyond this, on the top of a rise, is a mound in sight, which is represented by the figure [delineated in the lower part of Fig. 123 at the extreme right,] resembling an inclosure (corral) with the 21 small lines before it.

Fig. 124 is a copy of an inscription at Pedra Lavrada, Province of Parahiba, published loc. cit., but the description by Senhor de Alencar Araripe is very meager, amounting in substance to the following:

This is an inscription of vast proportions on a large rock in the town of Pedra Lavrada, which takes its name from that of the rock.

Fig. 124.—Petroglyphs at Pedra Lavrada, Brazil.

Other petroglyphs in Brazil are copied in Figs. 1107, 1108, 1109, 1110, 1111, 1113, 1114, and also under the heading of Cup Sculptures, Chapter V, infra.


F. P. Moreno (a), Museo de La Plata, Catamarca, gives an illustration of an inscribed rock at Bajo de Canota, Mendoza, reproduced as Fig. 125.

Fig. 125.—Inscribed rock at Bajo de Canota, Argentine Republic.


The following account is furnished by Messrs. de Rivero and Von Tschudi (a):

Eight leagues north of Arequipa there exist a multitude of engravings on granite which represent figures of animals, flowers, and fortifications, and which doubtless tell the story of events anterior to the dynasty of the Incas.



The illustration presented is copied here as Fig. 126.

Fig. 126.—Petroglyphs near Arequipa, Peru.

The account is continued as follows:

In the province of Castro-Vireyna, in the town of Huaytara, there is found in the ruins of a large edifice, of similar construction to the celebrated palace of old Huanuco, a mass of granite many square yards in size, with coarse engravings like those last mentioned near Arequipa. None of the most trustworthy historians allude to these inscriptions or representations, or give the smallest direct information concerning the Peruvian hieroglyphics, from which it may possibly be inferred that in the times of the Incas there was no knowledge of the art of writing in characters and that all of these sculptures are the remains of a very remote period. * * * In many parts of Peru, chiefly in situations greatly elevated above the sea are vestiges of inscriptions very much obliterated by time.

The illustration is copied here as Fig. 127.

Fig. 127.—Petroglyph in Huaytara, Peru.

Charles Wiener (a), in Pérou et Bolivie, gives another statement, viz:

The archeologists of Peru have only found a single point—Tiahuanaco—where there were a limited number, though very interesting, of signs on rocks or stones which seemed to all observers to be symbolic. While there are a few petroglyphs found in Peru there are a large number of inscriptions properly so called on the tissues which cover or are found in connection with remains in the graves.

A number of pictographs from Peru are described and illustrated infra (see Figs. 688, 720, and 1167).


Prof. Edwyn C. Reed, of Valparaiso, Chile, presented through A. P. Niblack, ensign U. S. Navy, a photograph of a large bowlder bearing numerous sculpturings. No information pertaining to the locality at which the rock is situated or details respecting the characters upon it were furnished. The photograph is reproduced in Fig. 128.


Fig. 128.—Sculptured bowlder in Chile.

Mr. R. A. Philippi, of Santiago, a corresponding member, made a communication to the Berliner Gesellschaft für Anthropologie, session of January 19, 1876, page 38, from which the following is extracted and translated:

I made a visit to the valley “Cajon de los Cipreses” in order to see the glacier giving rise to the Rio de los Cipreses, a tributary of the Cachapoal, and on that occasion had a cursory view of a rock with some pictures. I send you herewith a drawing of the rock and some of the figures cut on it. The rock, a kind of greenstone, lies at an altitude of about 5,000 feet above sea level, and the surface covered with figures, gently inclined down to the ground, may be 8 feet long and 5 or 6 feet high. The lines are about 4 mm. broad and 1 to ½ mm. deep. The carved figures on the stone are without any sort of order. When I spoke before a meeting of our faculty of physical and mathematical sciences concerning this stone which the shepherds of the region called piedra marcada, I learned that similar stones with carved figures are found in various places.

The figure mentioned is here reproduced as Fig. 129.

Fig. 129.—Petroglyph in Cajon de los Cipreses, Chile.



The term “extra-limital,” familiar to naturalists, refers in its present connection to the sculptures, paintings, and drawings on rocks beyond the continents of North and South America, which are now introduced for comparison and as evidence of the occurrence throughout the world of similar forms in the department of work now under examination.


Mr. Edward G. Porter (a), in “The Aborigines of Australia,” says: “Their rock carvings are only outline sketches of men, fish, animals, etc., sometimes seen on the top of large flat rocks. Two localities are mentioned, one on Sydney common and another on a rock between Brisbane water and Hawkesbury river.”

Much more detailed information is given by Thomas Worsnop, viz:

At Chasm island, which lies 1½ miles from “Groote Eylandt,” in the steep sides of the chasms, were deep holes or caverns undermining the cliffs, upon the walls of which are found rude drawings, made with charcoal and something like red paint, upon the white ground of the rock. These drawings represented porpoises, turtle, kangaroos, and a human hand, and Mr. Westall found the representations of a kangaroo with a file of thirty-two persons following after it.

In the MacDonnell ranges, 6 miles from Alice springs, in a large cave, there were paintings made by the aborigines, well defined parallel lines, intersected with footprints of the emu, kangaroo rat, and birds, with the outlines of iguana, hands of men, well sketched and almost perfect.

The parallel lines were of deep red and yellow colors, with brown and white borders; the footprints of light red, light yellow, and black; the outlines of the animals and hands were of red, yellow, white, black, wonderfully (considering it was done by savages) displayed and blended. All the paintings were in good preservation and evidently touched up occasionally, as they looked quite fresh.

I can only conjecture that these paintings were left as a record, a life-long charm, against the total destruction of the above animals. The paintings were seen by Mr. S. Gason, of Beltana, in the year 1873.

Very interesting groups of native drawings are to be seen in the caves of the Emily gorge in the MacDonnell ranges. Many of these drawings represent life-size objects.


The same author, page 20, describes the petroglyph copied in Fig. 130 as follows:

Fig. 130.—Petroglyph on Finke river, Australia.

Mr. Arthur John Giles in the year 1873 discovered, at the junction of Sullivan’s creek with the Finke river, carvings on rocks. The sketch represents a smooth-faced rock, portion of a rock cliff about 45 feet high, composed of hard metamorphic slate. The lower portion of the sculptured face has been worn and broken away, forming a sort of cave. From the level of the creek to the lower edge of the sculptured rock is about 15 feet. The perpendicular lines are cut out, forming semicircular grooves about 1½ inches in diameter, cut in to a depth of nearly half an inch; all remaining figures are also carved into the solid rock to a depth of one-fourth of an inch.

The same author, page 14, gives the following description of some pictures discovered between 1831 and 1840 by Capt. Stokes on Depuch island, one of the Forestier group in Dampier archipelago, on the western coast of Australia:

Depuch island would seem to be their favorite resort, and we found several of their huts still standing. The natives are doubtless attracted to the place partly by the reservoirs of water they find among the rocks after rain; partly that they may enjoy the pleasure of delineating the various objects that attract their attention on the smooth surface of the rocks. This they do by removing the hard red outer coating and baring to view the natural color of the greenstone, according to the outline[163] they have traced. Much ability is displayed in many of these representations, the subject of which could be discovered at a glance. The number of specimens are immense, so that the natives must have been in the habit of amusing themselves in this innocent manner for a long period of time.

These savages of Australia, who have adorned the rocks of Depuch island with their drawings, have in one thing proved themselves superior to the Egyptian and the Etruscan, whose works have elicited so much admiration and afforded food to so many speculations, namely, there is not in them to be observed the slightest trace of indecency.

Fig. 131.—Petroglyphs in Depuch island, Australia.

Fig. 131 shows a number of the characters drawn on these rocks. They are supposed to represent objects as follows:

a, a goose or duck; b, a beetle; c, a fish, with a quarter moon over, considered to have some reference to fishing by moonlight; d, a native, armed with spear and wommera or throwing stick, probably relating his adventures, which is usually done by song and accompanied with great action and flourishing of weapons, particularly when boasting of his powers; e, a duck and a gull; f, a native in a hut, with portion of the matting with which they cover their habitations; g, shark and pilot fish; h, a corroboreeo or native dance; i, a native dog; j, a crab; k, a kangaroo; l, appears to be a bird of prey, having seized upon a kangaroo rat.


The same author, page 5, describes another locality as follows:

In New South Wales, in the neighborhood of Botany bay and port Jackson, the figures of animals, of shields and weapons, and even of men, have been found carved upon the rocks, roughly, indeed, but sufficiently well to ascertain very fully what was the object intended. Fish were often represented, and in one place the form of a large lizard was sketched out with tolerable accuracy. On top of one of the hills the figure of a man, in the attitude usually assumed by them when they begin to dance, was executed in a still superior style.

The figure last mentioned was probably the god Daramūlŭn, see Howitt, Australian Customs of Initiation (a).

A special account of the aboriginal rock carvings at the head of Bantry bay is furnished by R. Etheridge, jr. (a), as follows, the illustration referred to being presented here as Fig. 132:

Fig. 132.—Petroglyphs at Bantry bay, Australia.

Of the numerous traces of aboriginal rock carvings to be seen on the shores of Port Jackson, none probably equal in extent or completeness of detail those on the heights at the head and on the eastern side of Bantry bay, Middle harbor, Australia.

The table of sandstone over which the carvings are scattered measures 2 chains in one direction by 3 in the contrary, and has a gentle slope of 7 degrees to the southwest. The high road as now laid out passes over a portion of them. * * *

The figures are represented in their present state in outline by a continuous indentation or groove from 1 to 1½ inches broad by half an inch to 1 inch in depth. Some are single subjects scattered promiscuously over the surface; others form small groups, illustrating compound subjects, but all appear to have been executed about one and the same time. * * *

An advance on the other sculptures existing at this place seems to be made in the originals of the designs a and b, from the fact that an attempt was apparently made to represent a compound idea in the form of a single combat between two warriors. The figures are quite contiguous to one another. The individual marked a seems to be holding in his right hand a body similar to that represented as c, and the position in which it is held would lend color to the belief in its shield-like nature. In the opposite hand are a bundle of rods which have been suggested to be spears, and this explanation for the want of a better may be accepted. On the other hand, we are confronted with the fact that these weapons of offense and defense are held in the wrong hands, unless the holder be regarded as sinistral; otherwise it must be conceived that the warrior’s back is presented to the observer, which is contrary to the other evidence existing in the carving. The opponent, marked as b, with legs astride and arms outstretched much in the position of an aboriginal when throwing the boomerang, is equally definitive. I conceive it quite possible that the position of[165] the boomerang close to the right hand conveys the idea that this man has just thrown the missile at the subject of a, allowing, of course, for the want of a knowledge of perspective on the part of the aboriginal artist. * * *

In several other figures the head is a mere rounded outline, but in b it is presented with a rather bird-like appearance. Another peculiarity is the great angularity given to the kneecap: this is visible both in a and b. It is further exemplified in the elbow of the left arms of both a and b.


The term “Oceanica” is used here without geographic precision, to include several islands not mentioned in other sections of the present work, in different parts of the globe, where specially interesting petroglyphs have been found and made known in publications. Although more such localities are known than are now mentioned, the pictographs from them are not of sufficient importance to justify description or illustration, but it may be remarked that they show the universality of the pictographic practice.


Dr. Julius von Haast (a) published notes, condensed as follows, descriptive of the illustration produced here as Fig. 133:

The most remarkable petroglyphs found in New Zealand are situated about 1 mile on the western side of the Weka Pass road in a rock shelter, which is washed out of a vertical wall of rock lining a small valley for about 300 feet on its right or southern side. The whole length of the rock below the shelter has been used for painting, and it is evident that some order has been followed in the arrangement of the subjects and figures. The paint consists of kokowai (red oxide of iron), of which the present aborigines of New Zealand make still extensive use, and of some fatty substance, such as fish oil, or perhaps some oily bird fat. It has been well fixed upon the somewhat porous rock and no amount of rubbing will get it off.

Some of the principal objects evidently belong to the animal kingdom, and represent animals which either do not occur in New Zealand or are only of a mythical or fabulous character. The paintings occur over a face of about 65 feet, and the upper end of some reaches 8 feet above the floor, the average height, however, being 4 to 5 feet. They are all of considerable size, most of them measuring several feet, and one of them even having a length of 15 feet.

Beginning at the eastern end in the left-hand corner is the representation a of what might be taken for a sperm whale with its mouth wide open diving downward. This figure is 3 feet long. Five feet from it is another figure c, which might also represent a whale or some fabulous two-headed marine monster. This painting is 3 feet 4 inches long. Below it, a little to the right in d, we have the representation of a large snake possessing a swollen head and a long protruding tongue. This figure is nearly 3 feet long, and shows numerous windings.

It is difficult to conceive how the natives in a country without snakes could not only have traditions about them but actually be able to picture them, unless they had received amongst them immigrants from tropical countries who had landed on the coasts of New Zealand.


Between the two fishes or whales is b, which might represent a fishhook, and below the snake d a sword e with a curved blade.

Advancing toward the right is a group which is of special interest, the figure i, which is nearly a foot long, having all the appearance of a long-necked bird carrying the head as the cassowary and emu do, and as the moa has done. If this design should represent the moa, I might suggest that it was either a conventional way of drawing that bird or that it was already extinct when this representation was painted according to tradition; in which latter case k might represent the taniwha or gigantic fabulous lizard which is said to have watched the moa. h is doubtless a quadruped, probably a dog, which was a contemporary of the moa and was used also as food by the moa hunters. j is evidently a weapon, probably an adz or tomahawk, and might, being close to the supposed bird, indicate the manner in which the latter was killed during the chase. The post, with the two branches near the top l, finds a counterpart in the remnant of a similar figure g between the figures c and i. They might represent some of the means by which the moa was caught or indicate that it existed in open country between the forest. m, under which the rock in the central portion has scaled off, is like f, one of the designs which resemble ancient oriental writing.

Fig. 133.—Petroglyph in New Zealand.

Approaching the middle portion of the wall we find here a well-shaped group of paintings, the center of which n has all the appearance of a hat ornamented on the crown. The rim of this broad-brimmed relic measures 2 feet across. The expert of ancient customs and habits of the Malayan and South Indian countries might perhaps be able to throw some light upon this and the surrounding figures, o to r.

From q, which is altogether 3 feet high, evidently issues fire or smoke; it therefore might represent a tree on fire, a lamp or an altar with incense offering. * * * The figure o is particularly well painted, and the outlines are clearly defined, but I[167] can make no suggestion as to its meaning. In s we have, doubtless, the picture of a human being who is running away from q, the object from the top of which issues fire or smoke. I am strengthened in my conviction that it is meant for a man by observing a similar figure running away from the monster aa. p, which has been placed below that group, might be compared to a pair of spectacles, but is probably a letter or an imitation of such a sign.

A little more to the right a figure 6 feet long is very prominent. It is probably the representation of a right whale in the act of spouting. Above it, in v, the figure of a mantis is easily recognizable, whilst u and the characters to the right below the supposed right whale again resemble cyphers or letters. w and y, although in many respects different, belong doubtless to the same group, and represent large lizards or crocodiles. * * * w is 4 feet long; it is unfortunately deficient in its lower portion, but it is still sufficiently preserved to show that besides four legs it possesses two other lower appendages, of which one is forked and the other has the appearance of a trident. I wish also to draw attention to the unusual form of the head. y is a similar animal 3 feet long, but it has eight legs, and head and tail are well defined. The head is well rounded off, and both animals represent, without doubt, some fabulous animal, such as the taniwha, which is generally described as a huge crocodile, of which the ancient legends give so many accounts.

aa, a huge snake-like animal 15 feet long, is probably a representation of the tuna tuoro, a mythical monster. It is evident that the tuna tuoro is in the act of swallowing a man, who tries to save himself by running away from it.


Mr. A. Langen (a) made a report on the Kei islands and their Ghost grottoes, with a plate now reproduced as Fig. 134. He says:

The group of the small Kei islands, more correctly Arue islands [southwest from New Guinea], is a sea bottom raised by volcanic forces and covered with corals and shells. The corals appear but at a few points. They are in the main covered with a layer of shells cemented together, whose cement is so hard and firm that it offers resistance to the influence of time even after the shell has been weathered away.

Fig. 134.—Petroglyphs in Kei islands.

On the whole, all the figures in similar genre are represented in thousands of specimens. [They may be divided into three series, the first including letters a to k; the second, letters l to t; the third, letters u to cc.] Many are effaced and unrecognizable, only letter k, series 1; letters n, o, s, t, series 2; and letters cc, series 3, stand isolated and seem to have a peculiar meaning. The popular legend ascribes the greatest age to the characters of series 1 and series 2, and it is said that the signs record a terrible fight in which the islanders lost many dead, but yet remained victors. It is stated that the signs were produced by the ghosts of the fallen. The signs of series 3 are said to be the work of a woman named Tewaheru, who was able to converse with ghosts as well as with the living. But, when on one occasion she helped a living man to recover his dead wife by betraying to him the secret of making the spirit return to the body, she is said to have been destroyed by the ghosts and changed into a blackbird, whose call even at this day indicates death. Since that time no medium is said to exist between the living and the dead, nor do any new signs appear on the rock.

Investigation in place showed me that the color of series 3 consists of ocher made up with water. The very oldest drawings seem to have been made with water color, as the color has nowhere penetrated into the rock. Most of the figures are painted on overhanging rocks in such a way as to be protected as much as possible against wind and weather; whether they bear any relation to the signs on the rocks of Papua, and what that relation may be, I am not yet able to judge.


It may safely be assumed that the caves as abodes of spirits were sacred, but did not serve as places of burial. The lead rings and pieces of copper gongs found in small number before some of the caves seem to be derived from sacrifices offered to the spirits. At the present day no more sacrifices are offered there, and the islanders knew nothing of the existence of these things.



In this island carved human figures of colossal size have been frequently noticed in various publications, with and without illustrations, but apart from those statues ancient stone houses remain in which have been found large stone slabs bearing painted figures. Paymaster William J. Thompson, U. S. Navy (a) says of the Orongo houses, that the “smooth slabs lining the walls and ceilings were ornamented with mythological figures and rude designs painted in white, red, and black pigments.” The figures partake of the form of fish and bird-like animals, the exaggerated outlines clearly indicating mythologic beings, the type of which does not exist in nature. Fig. 135 is presented here, extracted by permission from the work above cited, and it may be of interest to know that nearly all, if not all, of the original specimens are now deposited in the U. S. National Museum.

Fig. 135.—Petroglyphs in Easter island.

While the curious carvings on the wooden tablets which are discussed in the work of Paymaster Thompson are not petroglyphs, it seems proper to mention them in this connection. Fig. 136 is taken from Mittheilungen der Anthropologischen Gesellschaft, in Wien (a), and shows one of the tablets, which does not appear to be presented in this exact form in the work before mentioned.


Fig. 136.—Tablet from Easter island.

The following remarks by Prof. de Lacouperie (b) are quoted on account of the eminence of his authority, though the subject is still under discussion:

The character of eastern India, the Vengi-Châlukya, was also carried to north Celebes islands. The people have not remained at the level required for the practical use of a phonetic writing. It is no more used as an alphabet. Curiously enough, it is employed as pictorial ornaments on the MSS. they now write in a pictographic style of the lowest scale. This I have seen on the facsimile (Bilderschriften des Ostindischen Archipels, Pl. I, 1, 11) published by Dr. A. B. Meyer, of Dresden, in his splendid album on the writings of this region.

In the Easter island, or Vaihu, some fourteen inscriptions have been found incised on wooden boards, perhaps of driftwood. The characters are peculiar. Most of them display strange shapes, in which, with a little imagination, forms of men, fishes, trees, birds, and many other things have been fancied. A curious characteristic is that the upper part of the signs are shaped somewhat like the head of the herronia or albatross. A pictorial tendency is obvious in all of these. Some persons in Europe have taken them for hieroglyphics, and have ventured to find a connection with the flora and fauna of the island. The knowledge of this writing is now lost; and it is not sure that the few priests and other men of the last generation who boasted of being able to read them could do so thoroughly. Anyhow, in 1770, some chiefs were still able to write down their names on a deed of gift when the island was taken in the name of Carlos III of Spain.

In examining carefully the characters I was struck by the forked heads of many of them, which reminded me of the forked matras of the Vengi-Châlukya inscriptions. A closer comparison with Pls. i to viii of the Elements of South Indian Paleography (A. C. Burnell, Elements of South Indian Paleography, from the fourth to the seventeenth century A. D., being An Introduction to the Study of South Indian Inscriptions and MSS., 2d edit., London and Mangalore, 1878; Pls. i, vii, viii are specially interesting for the forked matras) soon showed me that I was on the right track, and a further study of the Vaihu characters, and their analysis by comparing the small differences (vocalic notation) existing between several of them, convinced me that they are nothing else than a decayed form of the above writing of southern India returning to the hieroglyphical stage. With this clue, the inscriptions[171] of Easter island are no more a sealed text. They can easily be read after a little training. Their language is Polynesian, and I can say that the vocabulary of the Samoan dialect has proved very useful to me for the purpose.


In the more settled and civilized parts of Europe petroglyphs are now rarely found. This is, perhaps, accounted for in part by the many occasions for use of the inscribed rocks or by their demolition during the long period after the glyphs upon them had ceased to have their original interest and significance and before their value as now understood had become recognized. Yet from time to time such glyphs have been noticed, and they have been copied and described in publications.

But few of the petroglyphs in the civilized portions of Europe not familiar by publication have that kind of interest which requires their reproduction in the present paper. It may be sufficient to state in general terms that Europe is no exception to the rest of the world in the presence of petroglyphs.

A number of these extant in the British islands and in the Scandinavian peninsula, besides the few examples presented in this chapter, are described and illustrated in other parts of this work, and brief accounts of others recently noted in France, Spain, and Italy are also furnished.


Nearly all of the petroglyphs found in the British islands, accounts of which have been published, belong to the class of cup sculptures discussed in Chapter V, infra, but several inscriptions showing characters not limited to that category are mentioned in “Archaic Rock Inscriptions,” (a) from which the following condensed extract referring to a cairn in county Meath, Ireland, is taken:

The ornamentation may be thus described: Small circles, with or without a central dot; two or many more concentric circles; a small circle with a central dot, surrounded by a spiral line; the single spiral; the double spiral, or two spirals starting from different centers; rows of small lozenges or ovals; stars of six to thirteen rays; wheels of nine rays; flower ornaments, sometimes inclosed in a circle or wide oval; wave-like lines; groups of lunette-shaped lines; pothooks; small squares attached to each other side by side, so as to form a reticulated pattern; small attached concentric circles; large and small hollows; a cup hollow surrounded by one or more circles; lozenges crossed from angle to angle (these and the squares produced by scrapings); an ornament like the spine of a fish with ribs attached, or the fiber system of some leaf; short equiarmed crosses, starting sometimes from a dot and small circle; a circle with rays round it, and the whole contained in a circle; a series of compressed semicircles like the letters ∩ ∩ ∩ inverted; vertical lines far apart, with ribs sloping downwards from them like twigs; an ornament like the fiber system of a broad leaf, with the stem attached; rude concentric circles with short rays extending from part of the outer one; an ornament very like the simple Greek fret, with dots in the[172] center of the loop; five zigzag lines and two parallel lines, on each of which, and pointing toward each other, is a series of cones ornamented by lines radiating from the apex, crossed by others parallel to the base—this design has been produced by scraping, and I propose to call it the Patella ornament, as it strikingly resembles the large species of that shell so common on our coasts, and which shell Mr. Conwell discovered in numbers in some of the cists, in connection with fragments of pottery and human bones; a semicircle with three or four straight lines proceeding from it, but not touching it; a dot with several lines radiating from it; combinations of short straight lines arranged either at right angles to or sloping from a central line; an S-shaped curve, each loop inclosing concentric circles; and a vast number of other combinations of the circle, spiral, line, and dot, which can not be described in writing.

Some of the ancient “Turf-Monuments” of England are to be classed as petroglyphs. The following extracts from the work of Rev. W. A. Plenderleath (b) give sufficient information on these curious pictures:

Although all the White Horses, except one, are in Wiltshire, that one exception is the great sire and prototype of them all, which is at Uffington, just 2½ miles outside the Wiltshire Boundary and within that of Berkshire. * * * The one mediæval document in which the White Horse is mentioned is a cartulary of the Abbey of Abingdon, which must have been written either in the reign of Henry II or soon after, and which runs as follows: “It was then customary amongst the English that any monks who wished might receive money or landed estates and both use and devolve them according to their pleasure. Hence two monks of the monastery at Abingdon, named Leofric and Godric Cild, appear to have obtained by inheritance manors situated upon the banks of the Thames; one of them, Godric, becoming possessed of Spersholt, near the place commonly known as the White Horse Hill, and the other that of Whitchurch, during the time that Aldhelm was abbot of this place.”

This Aldhelm appears to have been abbot from 1072 to 1084, and from the terms in which the White Horse Hill is mentioned the name was evidently an old one at that time.

Now it was only two hundred years before this time, viz, in 871, that a very famous victory had been gained by King Alfred over the Danes close to this very spot. “Four days after the battle of Reading,” says Asser, “King Æthelred, and Alfred, his brother, fought against the whole army of the pagans at Ashdown. * * * And the flower of the pagan youths were there slain, so that neither before nor since was ever such destruction known since the Saxons first gained Britain by their arms.” And it was in memory of this victory that, we are informed by local tradition, Alfred caused his men, the day after the battle, to cut out the White Horse, the standard of Hengist, on the hillside just under the castle. The name Hengist, or Hengst, itself means Stone Horse in the ancient language of the Saxons, and Bishop Nicholson, in his “English Atlas,” goes so far as to suppose the names of Hengist and Horsa to have been not proper at all, but simply emblematical.

The Uffington horse measures 355 feet from the nose to the tail and 120 feet from the ear to the hoof. It faces to sinister, as do also those depicted upon all British coins. The slope of the portion of the hill upon which it is cut is 39°, but the declivity is very considerably greater beneath the figures. The exposure is southwest.

The author then describes the White Horse on Bratton Hill, near Westbury, Wilts, now obliterated, the dimensions of which were, extreme length, 100 feet; height, nearly the same; from toe to chest, 54 feet, and gives accounts of several other White Horses, the antiquity[173] of which is not so well established. He then (c) treats of the Red Horse in the lordship of Tysoe, in Warwickshire, as follows:

This is traditionally reported to have been cut in 1461, in memory of the exploits of Richard, Earl of Warwick, who was for many years one of the most prominent figures in the Wars of the Roses. The earl had in the early part of the year found himself, with a force of forty thousand men, opposed to Queen Margaret, with sixty thousand, at a place called Towton, near Tadcaster. Overborne by numbers, the battle was going against him, when, dismounting from his horse, he plunged his sword up to the hilt in the animal’s side, crying aloud that he would henceforth fight shoulder to shoulder with his men. Thereupon the soldiers, animated by their leader’s example, rushed forward with such impetuosity that the enemy gave way and flew precipitately. No less than twenty-eight thousand Lancastrians are said to have fallen in this battle and in the pursuit which followed, for the commands of Prince Edward were to give no quarter. It was to this victory that the latter owed his elevation to the throne, which took place immediately afterwards.

The Red Horse used to be scoured every year, upon Palm Sunday, at the expense of certain neighboring landowners who held their land by that tenure, and the scouring is said to have been as largely attended and to have been the occasion of as great festivity as that of the older horse in the adjoining county of Berks. The figure is about 54 feet in extreme length by about 31 in extreme height.

The best known of Turf-Monuments other than horses is the Giant, on Trendle Hill, near Cerne Abbas, in Dorsetshire. This the same author (d) describes as follows:

This is a figure roughly representing a man, undraped, and with a club in his right hand; the height is 180 feet, and the outlines are marked out by a trench 2 feet wide and of about the same depth. It covers nearly an acre of ground. Hutchin imagines this figure to represent the Saxon god, Heil, and places its date as anterior to A. D. 600. * * * Britton, on the other hand, tells us that “vulgar tradition makes this figure commemorate the destruction of a giant who, having feasted on some sheep in Blackmoor and laid himself to sleep on this hill, was pinioned down like another Gulliver and killed by the enraged peasants, who immediately traced his dimensions for the information of posterity.” There were formerly discernible some markings between the legs of the figure rather above the level of the ankles, which the country folk took for the numerals 748, and imagined to indicate the date. We need, perhaps, scarcely remark that Arabic numerals were unknown in Europe until at least six centuries later than this period.


Mr. Paul B. Du Chaillu (a) gives the following (condensed) account describing, among many more “rock tracings,” as he calls them, those reproduced as Figs. 137 and 138:

There are found in Sweden large pictures engraved on the rocks which are of great antiquity, long before the Roman period.

These are of different kinds and sizes, the most numerous being the drawings of ships or boats, canoe-shaped and alike at both ends (with figures of men and animals), and of fleets fighting against each other or making an attack upon the shore. The hero of the fight, or the champion, is generally depicted as much larger than the other combatants, who probably were of one people, though of different tribes, for their arms are similar and all seem without clothing, though in some cases they are represented as wearing a helmet or shield.


On some rocks are representations of cattle, horses, reindeer, turtles, ostriches, and camels, the latter showing that in earlier times these people were acquainted with more southern climes. The greatest number and the largest and most complicated in detail of the tracings occur, especially in the present Sweden, in Bohuslän, “the ancient Viken of the Sagas,” on the coast of the peninsula washed by the Cattegat. They are also found in Norway, especially in Smaalenene, a province contiguous to that of Bohuslän, but become more scarce in the north, though found on the Trondhjem fjord.

Fig. 137.—Petroglyph in Bohuslän, Sweden.

Fig. 137 is a copy of a petroglyph in Tanum parish, Bohuslän, Sweden. The large figure is doubtless a champion or commander, the exaggerated size of which is to be noted in connection with that of the Zulu chiefs in Fig. 142, infra, from South Africa, and Fig. 1024, infra, from North America. There are numerous small holes and footprints between the chief and the attacking force. Height, 20 feet; width, 15 feet.

In Bohuslän the tracings are cut in the quartz, which is the geological formation of the coast. They are mostly upon slightly inclined rocks, which are generally 200 or 300 feet or more above the present level of the sea, and which have been polished by the action of the ice. The width of the lines in the same representation varies from 1 to 2 inches and even more, and their depth is often only a third or fourth of an inch, and at times so shallow as to be barely perceptible. Those tracings, which have for hundreds, perhaps for thousands, of years been laid bare to the ravages of the northern climate, are now most difficult to decipher, while those which have been protected by earth are as fresh as if they had been cut to-day. Many seem to[175] have been cut near the middle or base of the hills, which were covered with vegetation, and were in the course of time concealed by the detritus from above.

Fig. 138 is from the same author (b) and locality. Height, 29 feet; width, 17 feet. The large birds and footprints and a chief designated by his size will be noticed, and also a character in the middle of the extreme upper part of the illustration which may be compared with the largest human form in Fig. 983, infra, from Tule valley, California.

Fig. 138.—Petroglyph in Bohuslän, Sweden.


Perrier du Carne (a), gives the following account (translated and condensed) of signs carved on the dolmen of Trou-aux-Anglais, in Épone:

This dolmen, situated in the commune of Épone, in a place called Le Bois de la Garenne, was constructed beneath the ground; it was concealed from view and it is to this circumstance, no doubt, that its preservation is due. Nothing indicates that it has been surmounted by a tumulus; in any case this tumulus had long since disappeared,[176] and the ground was entirely leveled when the digging was commenced some years ago. * * *

The characters (Fig. 139) are carved in intaglio on the farthest stone of the entrance, on the left side. The whole of the inscription measures 1m, 10 in height and 82 centimeters in width, and may be divided into two groups, an upper and a lower one.

Fig. 139.—Petroglyph in Épone, France.

The upper character represents a rectangular figure divided into three transverse sections; in the third section and almost in the center is a cupule.

The lower character is more complicated and more difficult to describe. The first, or left-hand portion, represents a stone hatchet with a shaft; there is no doubt as to this, in my mind, as the outlines are perfectly clear, the design of the hatchet being very distinct. This hatchet measures 0m, 108 in length and 38mm in width to the edge of the blade. These are precisely the most common dimensions of the hatchets of our country. As to the remainder of the character, I think an interpretation of it difficult and premature.

On the whole, the result of an examination of these inscriptions leaves the impression that the author did not seek to cover a stone with ornamentation, for these outlines have nothing whatever of the ornamental, but that he wished to represent to his people, by intelligible symbols, some particular idea.

É. Cartailhac (a) begins an account of petroglyphs in the Department of Morbihan, in the old province of Brittany, translated and condensed as follows:

It is hardly possible to give a description of the designs in the covered way of Gavr’ inis. They are various linear combinations, the lines being straight, curved, undulating, isolated, or parallel, ramified like a fern, segments of concentric circles, limited or not, and decorating certain compartments with close winding spirals, recalling vividly the figures produced by the lines on the skin in the hollow of the hand and on the tips of the fingers.

In the midst of accumulated and very oddly grouped lines, which no doubt are merely decorative, there are found signs which must have had a meaning, and some figures easy to determine.

The hatchet, the stone hatchet and no other, the large hatchet of Tumiac, of Mané-er-Hroèg, and of Mont Saint Michel, is represented in intaglio or in relief, real size. A single pillar of Gavr’ inis bears eighteen of them. Less numerous groups are seen on some other blocks of the same covered way.

On a little block placed under the ceiling in order to wedge up one of the covering slabs, is seen the image of a hatchet with handle, conformable to a type found in the marsh of Ehenside in Cumberland, England. On many other monuments the presence of the same figures of hatchets, with handles or without, has been observed. The most curious slab is certainly that of Mané-er-Hroèg. It had been broken, and its three pieces had been thrown in disorder before the threshold of the crypt. One of its faces, very well smoothed off, bears a cartouche in the form of a stirrup, filled with enigmatic signs and surrounded above and below by a dozen hatchets with handles, all engraved.

One other sign, the imprint of the naked foot, is to be noted, found only once on this slab. Two human footprints are traced on one of the pillars of the crypt of the Petit-Mont in Arzon. They are said to be divided off, by a slight relief, from the rest of the granite frame on which they are sculptured, and which contains other drawings. Similar figures, engraved on rock or on tombstones, are cited from abroad, in lands far apart. In Sweden, the prints of naked or sandaled feet are[177] common among the rock sculptures of the age of bronze which represent the curious scenes of the life of the people of that period. It is proper to note that these Scandinavian and Morbihan sculptures are not synchronous; the idea of an immediate influence of one people on the other can not be entertained. One might, however, maintain the identity of origin.

The other inscriptions of Brittany are enigmatic in every respect. But they probably had a conventional value, a determined meaning. There is first of all a sort of complicated cartouche, plainly defined, having the appearance of a buckler or heraldic shield. Among the isolated signs it is proper to note a figure of the shape of the letter U with the ends spread wide apart and curved in opposite directions. It recalls, with some aid from the imagination, the character which on the Scandinavian rocks represents more plainly ships and barks.

The sculpturing of hands and feet is to be remarked in connection with similar characters on the rocks in America, many illustrations of which appear in the present work.

B. Souché (a) in 1879 described and illustrated curious characters on the walls of the crypt of the tumulus of Lisières (Deux-Sèvres), France, some of which in execution markedly resemble several found in the United States and figured in this work.


Mr. T. Jagor (a) communicated a brochure in reference to the Cueva de Altamira, transmitted to him by Prof. Vilanova in Madrid: “Short notes on some prehistoric objects of the province of Santander,” in which Don Marcelino de Sautuola describes the wall pictures and other finds in the cave discovered by him at Altamira. Mr. Jagor remarks as follows on the subject:

The reproductions of the large wall pictures discovered in that cave displayed, in part, so excellent technique that the question arose how much of this excellence is to be attributed to the prehistoric artist, and how much to his modern copyist. Mr. Vilanova, who visited the cave soon after its discovery, and who regards the wall pictures as prehistoric, being about equal in age to the Danish Kjökken-möddings, states that the pictures given are pretty faithful imitations of the originals. The published drawings are all found on the ceiling of the first cave; on the walls of the subsequent caves are seen sketches of those pictures, which the artist afterwards completed. The outlines of all the drawings have been cut in the wall with coarse instruments, and nearly all the bone implements found in the cave show scratches, which render it probable that they were used for this purpose. The colors used consist merely of various kinds of ocher found in the province, without further preparation. Finally Mr. Vilanova reports that in the cave farthest back there was found, in his presence, an almost perfect specimen of Ursus spelæus.

Don Manuel de Góngora y Martinez (a) gives the account translated as follows:

The inscriptions of Fuencaliente are of great interest and importance. About one league east of the town, on a spur of the Sierra de Quintana, at the site of the Piedra Escritá, there is an almost inaccessible place, the home of wild beasts and mountain goats. Beyond the river de los Batanes and the river de las Piedras, looking toward sunset and toward the town, the artisans of a remote age cut skillfully and symmetrically with the point of the pickax into the flank of the rock and of the mountain, which is of fine flint, leaving a facade or frontispiece 6 yards in height[178] and twice as wide, and excavating there two contiguous caves, which are wide at the mouth and end in a point, making two triangular niches polished on their four faces. On the two outer fronts to the left and right appear more than 60 symbols or hieroglyphs, written in a simple and rustic way with the index finger of a rude hand, and with a reddish bituminous pigment. The niches, about a yard and a half in height, 1 yard deep, and half a yard at the mouth, are covered by the exceedingly hard and immense rock of the mountain. There is formed, as it were, a vestibule or esplanade before the monument, and it is defended by a rampart made of the rocks torn from the niches, strengthened with juniper, oaks, and cork trees. The half-moon, the sun, an ax, a bow and arrows, an ear of corn, a heart, a tree, two human figures, and a head with a crown stand out among those signs, the foreshadowings of primitive writing.

The inscription on the first triangular face of the second cave is reproduced here as the left-hand group of the upper part of Fig. 1108, infra, and that “on the outer plane to the right, which already turns pyramidally to the north,” is reproduced as the right-hand group of the same figure. They are inserted at that place for convenient comparison with other characters on the figure mentioned and with those in Figs. 1097 and 1107.


Mr. Moggridge (in Jour. Anthrop. Inst. Gr. Br. and I., VIII, p. 65) observes that one of the designs, q, reported by Dr. Von Haast from New Zealand (see Fig. 133), was the same as one which had been seen on rocks 6,900 feet above the sea in the northwest corner of Italy. He adds:

The inscriptions are not in colors, as are those given in Dr. Von Haast’s paper, but are made by the repeated dots of a sharp pointed instrument. It is probable that if we knew how to read them they might convey important information, since the same signs occur in different combinations, just as the letters of our alphabet recur in different combinations to form words. Without the whole of these figures we can not say whether the same probability applies to them.


The following examples are selected from the large number of petroglyphs known to have been discovered in Africa apart from those in Egypt, which are more immediately connected with the first use of syllabaries and alphabets, with symbolism and with gesture signs, under which headings some examples of the Egyptian hieroglyphics appear in this work.


In the Revue Géographique Internationale (a) is a communication upon the rock inscriptions at Tyout (Fig. 140) and Moghar (Fig. 141) translated, with some condensation, as follows:

Fig. 140.—Petroglyphs at Tyout, Algeria.

On the last military expedition made in the Sahara Gen. Colonieu made a careful restoration of the inscriptions on the rocks, whose existence was discovered at Tyout and Moghar. At Tyout these inscriptions are engraved on red or Vosgian sandstone,[179] and at Moghar on a hard compact calcareous stone. At Moghar the designs are more complicated than those at Tyout. An attempt has been made to render ideas by more learned processes; to the simplicity of the line, the artlessness of the poses which are seen at Tyout, there are added at Moghar academic attitudes difficult to render, and which must be intended to represent some custom or ceremony in use among the peoples who then inhabited this country. The costume at Moghar is also more complicated. The ornaments of the head recall those of Indians, and the woman’s dress is composed of a waist and a short skirt fastened by a girdle with flowing ends. All this is very decent and elegant for the period. The infant at the side is swaddled. The large crouching figure is the face view of a man who seems to be bearing his wife on his shoulders. At the right of this group is a giraffe or large antelope. In the composition above may be distinguished a solitary individual in a crouching attitude, seen in front, the arms crossed in the attitude of prayer or astonishment. The animals which figure in the designs at Moghar are cattle and partridges. The little quadruped seated on its haunches may be a gerboise (kind of rat), very common in these parts.

In the inscriptions at Tyout we easily recognize the elephant, long since extinct in these regions, but neither horse nor camel is seen, probably not having been yet imported into the Sahara country.

Fig. 141.—Petroglyphs at Moghar, Algeria.


While the picture-writings of Egypt are too voluminous for present discussion and fortunately are thoroughly presented in accessible publications, it seems necessary to mention the work of the late Mrs. A. B. Edwards (a). She gives a good account of the petroglyphs on the rocks bounding the ancient river bed of the Nile below Philæ, which show their employment in a manner similar to that in parts of North America:

These inscriptions, together with others found in the adjacent quarries, range over a period of between three and four thousand years, beginning with the early reigns[180] of the ancient empire and ending with the Ptolemies and Cæsars. Some are mere autographs. Others run to a considerable length. Many are headed with figures of gods and worshippers. These, however, are for the most part mere graffiti, ill drawn and carelessly sculptured. The records they illustrate are chiefly votive. The passer-by adores the gods of the cataract, implores their protection, registers his name, and states the object of his journey. The votaries are of various ranks, periods, and nationalities; but the formula in most instances is pretty much the same. Now it is a citizen of Thebes performing the pilgrimage to Philæ, or a general at the head of his troops returning from a foray in Ethiopia, or a tributary prince doing homage to Rameses the Great and associating his suzerain with the divinities of the place.


Dr. Richard Andree, in Zeichen bei den Naturvölkern (a), presents well-considered remarks, thus translated:

The Hottentots and the Bantu peoples of South Africa produce no drawings, though the latter accomplish something in indifferent sculptures. The draftsmen and painters of South Africa are the Bushmen, who in this way, as well as by many other striking ethnic traits, testify to their independent ethnic position. The extraordinary multitude of figures of men and animals drawn by this people within its whole area, now greatly reduced, from the cape at the south to the lands and deserts north of the Orange river, and which they still draw at this day in gaudy colors, testify to an uncommonly firm hand, a keenly observing eye, and a very effective characterization. The Bushman artist mostly selects the surfaces of the countless rock bowlders, the walls of caves, or rock walls protected by overhanging crags, to serve as the canvas whereon to practice his art. He either painted his figures with colors or chiseled them with a hard sharp stone on the rock wall, so that they appear in intaglio. The number of these figures may be judged from the fact that Fritsch at Hopetown found “thousands” of them, often twenty or more on one block; Hubner, at “Gestoppte Fontein,” in Transvaal, saw two hundred to three hundred together, carved in a soft slate. The earth colors employed are red, ochre, white, black, mixed with fat or also with blood. What instrument (brush?) is employed in applying the colors has not yet been ascertained, since, so far as I know, no Bushman artist has yet been observed at his work. As regards the paintings[181] themselves, various classes may be distinguished, but in all cases the subjects are representations of figures; ornaments and plants are excluded. First of all, there are fights and hunting scenes, in which white men (boers) play a part, demonstrating the modern origin of these paintings. Next there are representations of animals, both of domestic animals (cattle, dogs) and of game, especially the various antelope species, giraffes, ostriches, elephants, rhinoceroses, monkeys, etc. A special class consists of representations of obscene nature, and, by way of exception, there has been drawn in one instance a ship or a palm tree.

Dr. Emil Holub (a) says:

The Bushmen, who are regarded as the lowest type of Africans, in one thing excel all the other South African tribes whose acquaintance I made between the south coast and 10° south latitude. They draw heads of gazelles, elephants, and hippopotami astonishingly well. They sketch them in their caves and paint them with ochre or chisel them out in rocks with stone implements, and on the tops of mountains we may see representations of all the animals which have lived in those parts in former times. In many spots where hippopotami are now unknown I found beautiful sketches of these animals, and in some cases fights between other native races and Bushmen are represented.

G. Weitzecker (a) gives a report of a large painting, in a cave at Thaba Phatsoua district of Léribé, here presented as Fig. 142, containing eighteen characters, with the addition of eight boys’ heads. It represents the flight of Bushman women before some Zulu Kaffirs (Matebele). The description, translated, is as follows:

Fig. 142.—Petroglyph in Léribé, South Africa.

As usual, the Bushmen are represented as dwarfs and painted in bright color as contrasted with the Kaffirs, who are painted large and of dark color. The scene is full of life, a true artistic conception, and in the details there are many important things to be noted. For this reason I add a sketch of it, with the figures numbered, in order to be able to send you some brief annotations.

I will premise that as far as the women are concerned, in the small figures, no mistaken notion should be entertained in regard to the anterior appendages which catch, or rather strike, the eye in some of them. There is question simply of the pudendal coverings of the Bushman women, consisting of a strip of skin, and flapping in the wind.

a seems to represent a woman in an advanced interesting condition, who in her headlong flight has lost even her mantle. She holds in her hand a mogope (disproportionate); that is to say, a gourd dipper, such as are found, I believe, among all the south African tribes.

b. This figure, besides the mogope which she holds in her left hand, carries away in her flight, steadying it on her head with her right hand, a nkho (sesuto), a baked earthenware vessel, in which drinks are kept, and of which the ethnographic museum now contains some specimens. This woman, too, has lost all her clothing except the pudendal covering, and she looks pregnant. The attitudes of flight, while maintaining equilibrium, I deem very fine.

c, f, g, h, l, m, and perhaps j. Women carrying their babies on their backs, as is the practice of the natives, in the so-called thari; that is, a sheepskin so prepared that they can fasten it to their bodies and hold it secure, even while bent to the ground or running.

l and m. Women with twins. It may be worthy of note that the painter has placed them last, hampered as they are with a double weight.

c. Apparently a woman who has fallen in her flight. Figures e and i represent men, who by their stature might be thought to be Bushmen, as also by their color, which, so far as I remember, is not the same as that of the men coming up after them, being rather similar to that of the women. In that case e would stoop to raise[182] the woman c who has fallen, and i would point the way to the others. Otherwise, if there is question of Matebeles, which is rendered plausible by the fact that n (which evidently represents an enemy) is not larger in stature than those two, then e would stoop to snatch the baby of the fallen woman, and i would strive to catch up with the two women g and h, who flee before it.

j. I can not explain this unless as a diffusion of color, which has transformed into something unrecognizable the figure of the child carried by its mother, who has fallen, like b.

k seems to be a woman resigned to her fate, who touches her neck with the left hand, unless, indeed, the line which I take to be the arm is the sketch of the thari with the baby.

l. A woman who runs toward the looker-on.

m represents a woman who has sat down, perhaps in order to place her twins better in the thari, while behind her n arrives, preparing to spear her. With n the band of enemies begins plainly, o seeming to be the leader, who, standing still, gives the signal. But this figure must have been altered by the water, which by diluting the color of the body has made it appear as a garment.

p and q. These admirable portraits of impetuosity and menace are a pictorial translation of the saying “having long legs so as to run fast.”

r. A fine type of an attitude in the poise of running.

The author’s discussion respecting the difference in size between the male human figures mentioned as indicating their respective tribes would have been needless had he considered the frequent expedient of representing chiefs or prominent warriors by figures of much larger stature than that of common soldiers or subjects. This device is common in the Egyptian glyphs, and examples of it also appear in the present work. (See Figs. 138, 139, and 1024.)

The same author, loc. cit., gives a brief account of two petroglyphs found by him near Leribo, in Basutoland, South Africa. They were on a large hollow rock overlooking a plain where the bushmen might spy game. The rock was all covered with pictures to a man’s height. Many of them were entirely or almost entirely spoiled, both by the hands of herdsmen and by water running down the walls in time of rain. Some of them, however, are still very well preserved. They are shown on Fig. 143.

Fig. 143.—Petroglyphs in Basutoland, South Africa.

The left hand character represents a man milking an animal; the latter, judging by the back part, especially by the legs, was at first taken for an elephant; but the fore parts, especially the fore legs, evidently are those of a bovine creature or of an elk (eland). The enormous proportions of the back part are probably due to diffusion of colors,[183] through the action of water running down the rock. The right hand character represents the sketch of an elk (eland), on which and under which are depicted four monkeys, admirable for fidelity of expression. The legs, with one exception, are not finished.


These islands are considered in connection with the continent of Africa.

Fig. 144.—Petroglyphs in the Canary islands.

S. Berthelot (a) gives an account, referring to Figs. 144 and 145, from which the following is extracted and translated:

A site very little frequented, designated by the name of Los Letreros, appears to have been inhabited in very ancient times by one of the aboriginal tribes established on the Island of Fer, one of the Canary islands. At a distance of about three-quarters of a league from the coast all the land sloping and broken by volcanic mounds extends in undulations to the edge of the cliffs which flank the coast. It is on this desert site, called Los Letreros, that inscriptions are found engraved on an ancient flow of basaltic lava, with a smooth surface, over an extent of more than 400 meters. On all this surface, at various distances and without any relation to each[184] other, but placed where the lava presents the smoothest spots, rendered shining and glassy by the light varnish left by the volcanic matter in cooling, are the various groups of characters.

When we examine closely these different signs or characters so deeply engraved [pecked] on the rock, doubtless by means of some hard stone (obsidian or basalt), the first thing observed is that several identical signs are reproduced several times in the same group. These are, first, round and oval characters, more or less perfect, sometimes simple and isolated, again agglomerated in one group. These characters so often reproduced are again seen in juxtaposition or united, sometimes to others which are similar, sometimes to different ones, and even inclosed in others similar to them; for example, a in Fig. 144.

Round or more or less oval characters reappear several times in b.

Others, which are not met with more than once or twice among the groups of signs, also present notable variations; examples in c.

Of these are formed composite groups d, which belong, however, to the system of round signs.

Other analogous but not identical signs appear to assume rather the ovoid form than the round, and seem to have been so traced as not to be confounded with the round symbols. Some of them resemble leaves or fruit.

Another system of simple characters is the straight line, which can be represented by a stroke of the pen, isolated or repeated as if in numeration, and sometimes accompanied by other signs.

Other peculiar signs shown in e, which are not repeated, figure in the different groups of characters which the author has reproduced.

We notice further, in f, a small number of signs which bear a certain analogy to each other, and several of which are accompanied by other and more simple characters.

Several others still more complicated are in eccentric shapes which it is attempted to present in g.

Including the common oval characters often repeated and those consisting of a simple stroke similar to the strokes made by school children, all the various engraved characters scarcely exceed 400.

Fig. 145 gives a view of a series of different groups of signs in the length of the whole lava flow. The copyist has expressed by dots those symbols which were confused, partly defaced by the weather, or destroyed by fissures in the rock.

Fig. 145.—Petroglyphs in Canary Islands.

The same author (b) gives an account of several strange characters found engraved on a rock of the grotto of Belmaco, in the island of La Palma, one of the Canaries. He says:

These drawings, presented that they may be compared with those of Fer Island (Los Letreros), show some fifteen signs, some of which are repeated several times and others partly effaced by weather, or at least feebly traced. But what seems most remarkable is that six or seven[185] signs are recognized as exactly similar to those of Letreros, of the island of Fer, and almost all the others are analogous, for we recognize at once in comparing them the same style of bizarre writing, formed of hieroglyphic characters, mainly rude arabesques.


A considerable number of petroglyphs found in Asia are described and illustrated under other headings of this work. The following are presented here for geographic grouping:


Prof. Terrien de Lacouperie (c) says:

It is apparently to the art of the aboriginal non-Chinese that the following inscription [not copied] belongs, should it be proved to be primitive; and it is the only precise mention I have ever found of the kind in my researches.

Outside of Li-tch’eng (in N. Shangtang), at some 500 li on the west towards the north, is a stone cliff mountain, on the upper parts of which may be seen marks and lines representing animals and horses. They are numerous and well drawn, like a picture.


Prof. Edward S. Morse (a) kindly furnishes the illustration, reduced from a drawing made by a Japanese gentleman, Mr. Morishima, which is here reproduced (1/30 original size) as Fig. 145 a:

Fig. 145 a.—Petroglyph in Yezo, Japan.

Prof. Morse in a letter gives further information as follows: “The inscriptions are cut in a rough way on the side of the cliff on the northwestern side of the bay of Otaru. Otaru is a little town on the western coast of Yezo. The cliffs are of soft, white tufa about 100 feet high, and the inscriptions were cut possibly with stone axes, and were 1 inch in width and from ¼ to ½ of an inch in depth. They are about 4 feet from the ground.”

Prof. John Milne (a) remarks upon the same petroglyph, of which he gives a rude copy, as follows:

So far as I could learn the Japanese are quite unable to recognize any of the characters, and they regard them as being the work of the Ainos.

I may remark that several of the characters are like the runic m. It has been suggested[186] that they have a resemblance to old Chinese. A second suggestion was that they might be drawings of the insignia of rank carried by certain priests; a third idea was that they were phallic; a fourth that they were rough representations of men and animals, the runic m being a bird; and a fifth that they were the handicraft of some gentleman desirous of imposing upon the credulity of wandering archæologists.

I myself am inclined to think that they were the work of the peoples who have left so many traces of themselves in the shape of kitchen middens and various implements in this locality. In this case they may be Aino.

Another illustration from Japan is presented in Pl. LII.


Mr. Rivett-Carnac, in Archæologic Notes on Ancient Sculpturings on Rocks in Kumaon, India (a), gives a description of the glyphs copied in Fig. 146:

Fig. 146.—Petroglyphs at Chandeshwar, India.

At a point about two miles and a half south of Dwara-Hath, and twelve miles north of the military station of Ranikhet in Kumaon, the bridle-road leading from the plains through Naini Tal and Ranikhet to Baijnath, and thence on to the celebrated shrine of Bidranath, is carried through a narrow gorge at the mouth of which is a temple sacred to Mahadeo, ... which is locally known by the name of Chandeshwar.

About two hundred yards south of the temple, toward the middle of the defile, rises a rock at an angle of forty-five degrees presenting a surface upon which, in a space measuring fourteen feet in height by twelve in breadth, more than two hundred cups are sculptured. They vary from an inch and a half to six inches in diameter and from half an inch to an inch in depth, and are arranged in groups composed of approximately parallel rows.

The cups are mostly of the simple types and only exceptionally surrounded by single rings or connected by grooves.


N. S. Shtukin (a) referring to certain picture-writings on the cliffs of the Yenesei river, in the Quarterly Isvestia of the Imperial Geographical Society for 1882, says: “These are figured, but are not particularly remarkable, except as being the work of invaders from the far south, perhaps Persians. Camels and pheasants are among the animals represented.”

Philip John von Strahlenberg, in An Historico-Geographical Description of the North and Eastern Parts of Europe and Asia, etc., reported inscriptions relating to the chase, on the banks of the river Yenesei. He says of one: “It takes its characteristic features from the natural history of the region; and we may suppose it to embrace rude representations of the Siberian hare, the cabarda or musk deer and other known quadrupeds.”

He also furnishes a transcript of inscriptions found by him on a precipitous rock on the river Irtish. This rock, which is 36 feet high, is isolated. It has four sides, one of which faces the water and has a number of tombs or sepulchral caves beneath. All of the four faces[187] have rude representations of the human form, and other unintelligible characters are drawn in red colors in a durable kind of pigment, which[188] is found to be almost indestructible and is much used for rock inscriptions.

Prof. Terrien de Lacouperie, op. cit., makes the following remarks:

Symbolical marks, incised or drawn graffitti, not properly speaking inscriptions, have been found in Siberia, but they are not the expected primitive remains of ancient writings. Some are purely Tartar, being written in Mongolian and Kalmuck; others, obviously the work of common people, may be Arabic, while some others found on the left bank of the Jenissei river are much more interesting. They seem to me to be badly written in Syriac, from right to left horizontally, before the time of the adaptation of this writing to the Uigur and Mongol. The characters are still separated one from the other. On one of these graffitti found at the same place several Chinese characters, as written by common people, are recognizable.

Some hieroglyphical graffitti have been discovered on rocks above Tomsk, on the right bank of the Tom river, in Siberia. They are incised at a height of more than 20 feet. They are very rude, and somewhat like the famous Livre de Sauvages of merry fame in palæography. Quadrupeds, men, heads, all roughly drawn, and some indistinct lines, are all that can be seen. It looks more like the pictorial figures which can be used as a means of notation by ignorant people at any moment than like an historical beginning of some writing. There is not the slightest appearance of any sort of regularity or conventional arrangement in them.

The last we have to speak of are quite peculiar and altogether different from the others. The signs are painted in red. They are made of straight lines, disposed like drawings of lattices and window shades, and also like the tree characters of the Arabs and like the runes. They are met with near the Irtisch river, on a rock over the stream Smolank.

Figs. 513, 721, 722, and 723, infra, have relation to this geographic region.

It is to be remarked that some of the Siberian and Tartar characters, especially those reproduced by Schoolcraft, I, Pls. 65 and 66, have a strong resemblance to the drawings of the Ojibwa, some of which are figured and described in the present work, and this coincidence is more suggestive from the reason that the totem or dodaim, which often is the subject of those drawings, is a designation which is used by both the Ojibwa and the Tartar with substantially the same sound and significance.



The simplest form of rock inscription is almost ubiquitous. In Europe, Asia, Africa, America, and Oceanica, shallow, round, cup-like depressions are found, sometimes in rows, sometimes singly, sometimes surrounded by a ring or rings, but often quite plain. The cup-markers often arranged their sculpturings in regularly spaced rows, not infrequently surrounding them with one or more clearly cut rings; sometimes, again, they associated them with concentric circles or spirals. Occasionally the sculptors demonstrated the artificial character of their work by carving it in spots beyond the reach of atmospheric influences, such as the interiors of stone cists or of dwellings. It must, however, be noted that, although there is thus established a distinction between those markings which are natural and those which are artificial, it is possible that there may have been some distant connection between the two, and that the depressions worn by wind and rain may have suggested the idea of the devices, now called cup-markings, to those who first sculptured them.

Vast numbers of these cup stones are found in the British islands, often connected with other petroglyphs. In the county of Northumberland alone there are 53 stones charged with 350 sculptures, among which are many cup depressions. So also in Germany, France, Denmark, and indeed everywhere in Europe, but these forms took their greatest development in India.

The leading work relating to this kind of sculpture is that of Prof. J. Y. Simpson (a), afterward known as Sir James Simpson, who reduces the forms of the cup sculptures to seven elementary types, here reproduced in Fig. 147. His classification is as follows:

Fig. 147.—Types of cup sculptures.

First type. Single cups.—They are the simplest type of these ancient stone-cuttings. Their diameter varies from 1 inch to 3 inches and more, while they are often only half an inch deep, but rarely deeper than an inch or an inch and a half. They commonly appear in different sizes on the same stone or rock, and although they sometimes form the only sculptures on a surface they are more frequently associated with figures of a different character. They are in general scattered without order over the surface, but occasionally four or five or more of them are placed in more or less regular groups, exhibiting a constellation-like arrangement.

Second type. Cups surrounded by a single ring.—The incised rings are usually much shallower than the cups and mostly surround cups of comparatively large size. The ring is either complete or broken, and in the latter case it is often traversed by a radial groove which runs from the central cup through and even beyond the ring.


Third type. Cups surrounded by a series of concentric complete rings.—In this complete annular form the central cup is generally more deeply cut than the surrounding rings, but not always.

Fourth type. Cups surrounded by a series of concentric, but incomplete rings having a straight radial groove.—This type constitutes perhaps the most common form of the circular carvings. The rings generally touch the radial line at both extremities, but sometimes they terminate on each side of it without touching it. The radial groove occasionally extends considerably beyond the outer circle, and in most cases[191] it runs in a more or less downward direction on the stone or rock. Sometimes it runs on and unites into a common line with other ducts or grooves coming from other circles, till thus several series of concentric rings are conjoined into a larger or smaller cluster, united together by the extension of their radial branch-like grooves.

Fifth type. Cups surrounded by concentric rings and flexed lines.—The number of inclosing or concentric rings is generally fewer in this type than in the two last preceding types, and seldom exceeds two or three in number.


Sixth type. Concentric rings without a central cup.—In many cases the concentric rings of the types already described appear without a central cup or depression, which is most frequently wanting in the complete concentric circles of the third type.

Seventh type. Concentric circular lines of the form of a spiral or volute.—The central beginning of the spiral line is usually, but not always, marked by a cup-like excavation.


It often occurs that two, three, or more of these various types are found on the same stone or rock, a fact indicating that they are intimately allied to each other.

Prof. Simpson presents what he calls “the chief deviations from the principal types” reproduced here as Fig. 148.

Fig. 148.—Variants of cup sculptures.

The first four designs represent cups connected by grooves, which is a noticeable and frequently occurring feature. In Fig. 149 views of sculptured rock surfaces at Auchnabreach, Argyleshire, Scotland, are given. Simple cups, cups surrounded by one ring or by concentric rings, with radial grooves and spirals, appear here promiscuously mingled. Fig. 150 exhibits isolated as well as connected cups, a cup surrounded by a ring, and concentric rings with radial grooves, on a standing stone (menhir), belonging to a group of seven at Ballymenach, in the parish of Kilmichael-Glassary, in Argyleshire, Scotland.

Fig. 149.—Cup sculptures at Auchnabreach, Scotland.
Fig. 150.—Cup sculptures at Ballymenach, Scotland.

Dr. Berthold Seeman remarks concerning the characters in Fig. 105, supra, copied from a rock in Chiriqui, Panama, that he discovers in it a great resemblance to those of Northumberland, Scotland, and other parts of Great Britain. He says, as quoted by Dr. Rau (d):

It is singular that, thousands of miles away, in a remote corner of tropical America, we should find the concentric rings and several other characters typically identical with those engraved on the British rocks.

The characters in Chiriqui are, like those of Great Britain, incised on large stones, the surface of which has not previously undergone any smoothing process. The incised stones occur in a district of Veraguas (Chiriqui or Alanje), which is now thinly inhabited, but which, judging from the numerous tombs, was once densely peopled.

From information received during my two visits to Chiriqui and from what has been published since I first drew attention to this subject, I am led to believe that there are a great many inscribed rocks in that district. But I myself have seen only one, the now famous piedra pintal (i. e., painted stone), which is found on a plain at Caldera, a few leagues from the town of David. It is 15 feet high, nearly 50 feet in circumference, and rather flat on the top. Every part, especially the eastern side, is covered with incised characters about an inch or half an inch deep. The first figure on the left hand side represents a radiant sun, followed by a series of heads or what appear to be heads, all with some variation. It is these heads, particularly the appendages (perhaps intended for hair?), which show a certain resemblance to one of the most curious characters found on the British rocks, and calling[194] to mind the so-called “Ogham characters.” These “heads” are succeeded by scorpion-like or branched and other fantastic figures. The top of the stone and the other sides are covered with a great number of concentric rings and ovals, crossed by lines. It is especially these which bear so striking a resemblance to the Northumbrian characters.

Fig. 151.—Cup sculptures in Chiriqui.

Fig. 151 presents five selected characters from the rock mentioned: a attached to the respective numbers always refers to the Chiriqui and b to the British type of the several designs; 1a and 1b represent radiant suns; 2a and 2b show several grooves, radiating from an outer arch, resembling, as Dr. Seeman thinks, the Ogham characters; 3a and 3b show the completely closed concentric circles; 4a and 4b show how the various characters are connected by lines; 5a and 5b exhibit the groove or outlet of the circle.

Mr. G. H. Kinahan, in Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, 1889, p. 171, gives an account of Barnes’s Inscribed Dallâus, County Donegal, Ireland. One of his figures bears four cups joined together by lines forming a cross. The remainder of the illustrations consist of concentric rings and cups resembling others already figured in this paper.


Marcano (c) describes Fig. 152 as follows:

The chain of Cuchivero, situated in Venezuela between the Orinoco and the Caura, shows on its flanks small plateaus on which are numerous stones which seem to have been aligned. This chain is separated by a deep valley from that of Tiramuto, from which were copied the petroglyphs here presented. The one represents a single sun, the other two suns joined together. The rays of the former run from one circumference to the other. The other two are joined together by a central stroke, and the rays all start from the outer circumference.

Fig. 152.—Cup sculptures in Venezuela.

The same author (loc. cit.) thus describes Fig. 153:

These designs, taken on the little hills of the high Cuchivero, differ altogether from the preceding. a is a very regular horizontal grouping. It begins by a spiral joined to three figures similar among themselves, and similar also to the eyes of jaguars which we have often met with. There follows a sort of isolated fret; at its right is another, larger and joined to a circle different from the preceding; it has a central point, and the second circumference is interrupted. The figure terminates in a spiral like the one at the beginning of the line, and which, being turned in the opposite direction, serves as its pendant.

Fig. 153.—Cup sculptures in Venezuela.

b is formed of two horizontal rows one above the other. We there find first of all two frets united by a vertical stroke ending in a hook. The characters which follow, resembling those of a, are distinct in each row, but on closer inspection they are seen to have a peculiar correspondence.

Dr. Ladisláu Netto (b) gives copies of carvings on the rocks in Brazil on the banks of the Rio Negro, from Moura to the city of Manaus, and remarks upon the characters reproduced here as Fig. 154, that they represent the figure of the multiple concentric circles joined together two by two, as were found[196] on several other rocks in the same region, and as they appear in many inscriptions of Central America and at various points of North America.

Fig. 154.—Cup sculptures in Brazil.

Senhor Araripe (b) gives the following account:

In Banabuiu, Brazil, about three-quarters of a league from the plantation of Caza-nova, on the road to Castelo, is a stone resting upon another, at the height of a man, which the inhabitants call Pedra-furada (pierced stone) having on its western face the inscription in Fig. 155.

The characters have been much effaced by the rubbing of cattle against them; the stone has also cracked. Some fragments lying at the foot of it bear on their upper faces round holes made by a sharp tool, and resembling those shown in this figure.

Fig. 155.—Cup sculptures in Brazil.

Cup stones, called by the French pierres à ecuelles and pierres à cupules and by the Germans Schalensteine, are found throughout Hindustan, on the banks of the Indus, at the foot of the Himalayas, in the valley of Cashmere, and on the many cromlechs around Nagpoor. At this very day one may see the Hindu women carrying the water of the Ganges all the way to the mountains of the Punjab, to pour into the cupules and thus obtain from the divinity the boon of motherhood earnestly desired.

The cup sculptures often become imposing by their number and combination. In the Kamaon mountains there are numerous blocks that support small basins. One of them is mentioned as being 13 feet in length by 9 in breadth and 7 in height, and showing five rows of cupules. At Chandeswar (see Fig. 146) the rocks themselves are covered with these signs. They present two different types. One of the most frequent groups shows a simple round cavity; in the others, the cupels are encircled by a sort of ring carved in intaglio and encircling figures. One of these figures recalls the swastika, the sacred sign of the Aryans. The present Hindus are absolutely ignorant of the origin of these sculptures; they are fain to attribute them to the Goalas, a mysterious race of shepherd kings who preceded the great invasions which imprinted an indelible stamp on the Indies as well as on Europe. These cupels are correlated with the worship of Mahadeo, one of the many names given to Siva, the third god of the Hindu triad, whose emblem is the[197] serpent. Chandeswar is reached through a narrow gorge; at the entrance is found a temple sacred to Mahadeo. The columns and slabs bear cupules similar to those seen on the rocks.

Some of the Mahadeo designs engraved on stone slabs in this temple (see Rivett-Carnac, loc. cit.) are represented in Fig. 156, showing a marked resemblance to and approaching identity with this class of cuttings on bowlders, rocks, and megalithic monuments in Europe.

Fig. 156.—Cup sculptures in India.

A large number of stones with typical cup markings have been found in the United States of America. Some of those illustrated in this paper are presented in Pl. V, and Figs. 19 and 48.

Among the many attempts, all hitherto unsatisfactory, to explain the significance of the cup stones as distributed over nearly all parts of the earth, one statement of Mr. Rivett-Carnac (b) is of value as furnishing the meaning now attached to them in India. He says:

Having seen sketches and notes on rock sculptures in India which closely resemble unexplained rock carvings in Scotland, and having myself found one of the Scotch forms cut on a bowlder in Kángrá, * * * being at Ayodhyá with a Hindu who speaks good English, I got a fakir and drew on the sand of the Gogra the figure concentric circles . I asked what that meant. The fakir at once answered, “Mahadeo.” I then drew concentric circles with line from center and got the same answer. At Delhi my old acquaintance, Mr. Shaw, told me that these two signs are chalked on stones in Kángrá by people marching in marriage processions. The meaning given to these two symbols now in India is familiarly known to the people.

Mahadeo, more accurately Mahadiva, is the god of generation. He is worshiped by the Sawas, one of the numerous Hindu sects, under the[198] form of a phallus, often represented by a simple column, which sometimes is placed on the yoni or female organ. It is suggested that in a common form of the sculptures the inner circle represents the Mahadeo or lingam, and the outer or containing circle the yoni. No idea of obscenity occurs from this representation to the Hindus, who adore under this form the generative power in nature.

Prof. Douglas, in the Saturday Review, November 24, 1883, furnishes some remarks on the topic now considered:

In Palestine and the country beyond Jordan some of the marks found are so large that it has been supposed that they may have been used as small presses of wine, or as mortars for pounding the gleanings of wheat. But there is an objection to these theories as accounting for the marks generally, which is fatal to them. To serve these purposes the rocks on which the marks occur should be in a horizontal position, whereas in a majority of cases all over the world the “cups” are found either on shelving rocks or on the sides of perpendicular stones. This renders worthless also the ideas which have at different times been put forward that they may have been used for some sort of gambling game, or as sun-dials. A Swiss archæologist who has lately devoted himself to the question believes that he has recognized, in the sculpturings under his observation, maps of the surrounding districts, the “cups” indicating the mountain peaks. In the same way others have thought that similar markings may have been intended as maps or plans pointing out the direction and character of old circular camps and cities in their neighborhood. But if any such resemblances have been discovered they can hardly be other than fortuitous, since it is difficult to understand how rows of cup marks, arranged at regular intervals and in large numbers, could have served as representatives either of the natural features of a country or of camps and cities. But a closer resemblance may be found in them as maps if we suppose that they were intended to represent things in the heavens rather than on earth. The round cup-like marks are reasonably suggestive of the sun, moon, and stars, and if only an occasional figure could be found representing a constellation, some color might be held to be given to the idea; but unfortunately this is not the case. Nevertheless the shape of the marks has led many to believe that they are relics of the ancient sun worship of Phœnicia, and that their existence in Europe is due to the desire of the Phœnician colonists to convert our forefathers to their faith. But there are many reasons for regarding this theory, though supported by the authority of Prof. Nilsson, as untenable. The observations of late years have brought to light cup marks and megalithic circles in parts of Europe on which a Phœnician foot never trod; and it is a curious circumstance that in those portions of the British Isles most frequented by these indefatigable traders there are fewer traces of these monuments than in the northern and inland districts, which were comparatively inaccessible to them.

The Swiss archæologist mentioned above by Prof. Douglas is Fritz Roediger (a), of whose theory the following is a translated abstract:

What renders the deciphering of these sign stones exceedingly difficult (I purposely avoid the words “map stones” because not all are such) is their great variety in size, position, material, workmanship, and meaning. I will here speak of the latter only, inasmuch as there are stones which in their smallest and their largest form are yet frequently nothing else than boundary stones, whose origin can often not be definitely established as prehistoric, while on the other hand again we discover well-marked boundary stones, which at the same time show the outline of the piece of ground which they guard. Similarly we find prehistoric (Gallic) “Leuk” stones, differing from the meter-high communal and state boundary stones of modern times in nothing but this, that they have some indistinct grooves and one or two hooks,[199] while on the other hand we meet “Leuk” stones, which on their restricted heads, often also on the side walls, indicate their environs for (Leuk) miles around, up, down, and sidewise, while a third class of this form merely adorn crossroads, and indicate deviations by means of lines and points (waranden). Thus we find quite extensive slabs or structures that signify only some hectares, often only one, while we meet very small ones, or, at any rate, of moderate size, which, one man can move, that represent very large districts, some presenting only lines and grooves, others with shells of various sizes, a third kind with both kinds of ornaments and samples of ornaments, and again others with no sign at all, but yet respected as stones of special meaning by the population, and called “hot stone,” “pointed stone,” “heath stone,” “child’s stone,” etc. Other stones have basin-like or platter-like depressions, and finally there are outcropping rocks with marks of one kind or another, holes, rents, clefts, etc. A further great difficulty hampering the deciphering of these wonderful stones is the lack of opportunities for comparison and experience. I have been markedly favored in this respect by my sojourn and wanderings in valley, mountain and alp. Western Switzerland is a very paradise for investigations of this kind, especially the lake country and the upper part of the canton of Solothurn (Soleure). A third difficulty, often insuperable, lies in the nonexistence of appropriate good maps for comparison. In this respect too we are well off in Switzerland.

According to my observations in this field, now continued nearly 12 years, prehistoric man had: (1) His land or province survey; (2) his circle, district, and communal surveys, in reference to which (3) the Alpine surveys deserve special mention, in cantons which down to the present day know nothing of such surveys; (4) private and special surveys. Thus it seems that my observations lend full confirmation to the oldest historic or traditional statements concerning the tenure of land of the Kelto-Germans or Germano-Kelts.

Among the Ojibwa concentric circles, according to Schoolcraft (d), constituted the symbol of time. It would be dangerous to explain the many markings of this character by the suggested symbolism, which also recalls that of Egypt in relation to the circle-figure. Inquiries have often been made whether the North American Indians have any superstitious or religious practices connected with the markings under consideration, e. g., in relation to the desire for offspring, which undoubtedly is connected with the sculpturing of cup depressions and furrows in the eastern hemisphere. No evidence is yet produced of any such correspondence of practice or tradition relating to it. In the absence of any extrinsic explanation the prosaic and disappointing suggestion intrudes that circular concentric rings are easy to draw and that the act of drawing them suggests the accentuation of depressions or hollows within their curves. Much stress is laid upon the fact that the characters are found in so many parts of the earth, with the implication that all the sculptors used them with the same significance, thus affording ground for the hypothesis that anciently one race of people penetrated all the regions designated. But in such an implication the history of the character formed by two intersecting straight lines is forgotten. The cross is as common as the cup-stone, and has, or anciently had, a different signification among the different people who used it, beginning as a mark and ending as a symbol. Therefore, it may readily be imagined that the rings in question, which are drawn[200] nearly as easily as the cross, were at one time favorite but probably meaningless designs, perhaps, in popular expression, “instinctive” commencements of the artistic practice, as was the earliest delineation of the cross-figure. Afterward the rings, if employed as symbols or emblems, would naturally have a different meaning applied to them in each region where they now appear.

It must, however, be noted that the figures under discussion can be and often are the result of conventionalization. A striking remark is made by Mr. John Murdoch (a), of the Smithsonian Institution, that south of Bering strait the design of the “circle and dot,” which may be regarded as the root of the cup sculpture, is the conventionalized representation of a flower, and is very frequently seen as an ornamental device.

An elucidation of some of the most common forms of cup sculptures is given, without qualification and also without authority, but with the serene consciousness of certainty, by the Rev. Charles Rogers, “D.D., LL. D., F. S. A., Scot., etc.,” as follows:

The sculptures are sacred books, which the awe-inspired worshipper was required to revere and, probably, to salute with reverence. A single circle represented the sun, two circles in union the sun and moon—Baal and Ashtaroth. The wavy groove passing across the circle pointed to the course of water from the clouds, as discharged upon the earth. Groups of pit marks pointed to the stars or, more probably, to the oaks of the primeval temples.



In leaving the geographic distribution of petroglyphs to examine the comprehensive theme of pictographs in general, the first and correct impression is that the mist of the archaic and unknown is also left and that the glow of current significance is reached. The pictographs of the American Indians are seldom if ever cryptographs, though very often conventional and sometimes, for special reasons, preconcerted, as are their signals. They are intended to be understood without a key, and nearly all of those illustrated below in the present work are accompanied by an interpretation. As the art is in actual daily use it is free from the superstition pending from remote antiquity.

It will be noticed that a large proportion of the pictographs to be now presented, which are not petroglyphs, are Micmac, Abnaki, Dakota, and Ojibwa, although it is admitted that as many more could be obtained from other tribes, such as the Zuñi and the Navajo. The reason for the omission of details regarding the latter is that they are already published, or are in the course of publication, by Mrs. Stevenson, Dr. Matthews, Mr. Cushing, Mr. Fewkes, and other writers, who have specially devoted themselves to the peoples mentioned and the region occupied by them.

The present writer obtained a valuable collection of birch-bark pictographs immemorially and still made by the Passamaquoddy and Penobscot tribes of Abnaki in Maine, showing a similarity in the use of picture-writing between the members of the widespread Algonquian stock in the regions west of the great lakes and those on the northeastern seaboard. He also learned that the same art was common to the less known Montagnais and Nascapees in the wooded regions north of the St. Lawrence. This correlation of the pictographic practice, in manner and extent, was before inferentially asserted, but no satisfactory evidence of it had been furnished until the researches of the Bureau of Ethnology, in 1887 and 1888, made by the writer, brought into direct comparison the pictography of the Ojibwa with that of the Micmacs and the Abnaki. Many of the Indians of the last-named tribes still use marks and devices on birch bark in the ordinary affairs of life, especially as notices of departure and direction and for warning and guidance. The religious use of original drawings among them, which is still prominent among the Ojibwa, has almost ceased, but traces of it remain.


The most interesting of all the accounts regarding the pictographs of the North American Indians published before the last decade was contained in the works of Henry R. Schoolcraft, issued in 1853 and subsequent years, and the most frequently quoted part of his contributions on this subject describes the pictographs of the Ojibwa. He had special facilities for obtaining accurate information with regard to all matters relating to that tribe on account of his marriage to one of its women, a granddaughter of a celebrated chief, Waub-o-jeeg and daughter of a European named Johnson. She was educated in Ireland and had sufficient intelligence to understand and describe to her husband the points of interest relating to her tribe.

The accounts given by Mr. Schoolcraft, with numerous illustrations, convey the impression that the Ojibwa were nearly as far advanced in hieroglyphic writing as the Egyptians before their pictorial representations had become syllabic. The general character of his voluminous publications has not been such as to assure modern critics of his accuracy, and the wonderful combination of minuteness and comprehensiveness attributed by him to the Ojibwa “hieroglyphs” has of late been generally regarded with suspicion. It was considered in the Bureau of Ethnology an important duty to ascertain how much of truth existed in these remarkable accounts, and for that purpose the writer, with Dr. Hoffman as assistant, examined the most favorable points in the present habitat of the tribe, namely, the northern regions of Minnesota and Wisconsin, to ascertain how much was yet to be discovered.

The general results of the comparison of Schoolcraft’s statements with what is now found show that he told the truth in substance, but with much exaggeration and coloring. The word “coloring” is particularly appropriate, because in his copious illustrations various colors were used freely and with apparent significance, whereas, in fact, the general rule in regard to the birch-bark rolls was that they were never colored at all; indeed, the bark was not adapted to coloration. The metaphorical coloring was also flourished by him in a manner which seems absurd to any thorough student of the Indian philosophy and religions. Metaphysical concepts are attached by him to some of the devices which he calls “symbols,” which could never have been entertained by a people in the stage of culture of the Ojibwa. While some symbolism, in the wide sense of the term, may be perceived, iconography and ideography are more apparent.

The largest part of the bark rolls and other pictographs of the Ojibwa obtained by the Bureau, relates to the ceremonies of the Midē' and of the shamanistic orders; another division refers to the Jessakid performances, which can be classed under the head of jugglery; and a third part embraces the more current and practical uses. Examples of all of these are given, infra.

The difficulties sometimes attending the pursuit of ceremonial pictographs were exemplified to the writer at Odanah, Wisconsin. Very[203] few of the Ojibwa in that neighborhood, who are generally civilized and in easy circumstances, had any more than a vague knowledge that such things as inscribed bark rolls had ever existed. Three, however, were traced and one was shown. The owner, an uncompromising heathen, was called Kitche-sha-bads. “Kitche” means big, “sha” is an attempt at the French form of John, and “bads” is a bad shot at Baptiste, the whole translation, therefore, being “Big John the Baptist.” This old fellow, though by no means as enterprising or successful as some of the younger generation, had a snug house and farm and $300 in the savings bank at Ashland. One thing, however, he needed, viz, whisky. The strictest regulations prevailed on the reservation, really prohibitory to the introduction of spirits, and, indeed, there was at the nearest town, Ashland, a severe penalty for selling any form of liquor to an Indian. To obtain whisky, therefore, was the only consideration which would tempt him to allow a copy of the roll to be taken or by which he could be induced to recite or rather to chant it in the manner prescribed. He was undoubtedly accomplished in the knowledge of the Midē' rites, and the roll, which was shown in his hands, but not out of them, is substantially the same as one of those copied in the present work, which was discovered several hundred miles farther northwest among a different division of the same tribe. The shaman began rather mildly to plead that he was an old man and could not remember well unless his spirit was made good by a little whisky. This difficulty might have been obviated by a traveler’s pocket flask, but his demands increased with great rapidity. He said that the roll could only be sung at night, that he must have another old man to help him, and the old man must have whisky; then that there must be a number of young men, who would join in the chorus, and all the young men must have whisky too. These demands made it evident that he was intending to have a drunken orgy, which resulted in a cloture of the debate. And yet the idea of the old shaman was in its way correct. The ceremonial chants could be advantageously pronounced only under inspiration, which was of old obtained by a tedious form of intoxication, now expedited by alcohol.

The fact that this work shows a large proportion of pictographs from the Siouan linguistic family, and especially from the Dakota division of that family, may be explained partly by the greater familiarity of the present writer with it than with most other Indian divisions. Yet probably more distinctive examples of evolution in ideography and in other details of picture-writing are found still extant among the Dakota than among any other North American tribe. The degree of advance made by the Dakota was well expressed by the Rev. S. D. Hinman, who was born, lived, married, and died in their midst, and, though unfortunately he committed to writing but little of his knowledge, was more thoroughly informed about that people than any other man of European descent.


To express his views clearly he gave to this writer in a manuscript communication his own classification of pictography (which is not in all respects approved) as follows:

I. Picturing.—[This is the method called by Prof. Brinton (b) iconographic writing.] This shows a simple representation of a thing or event in picture, as of a bear, a man’s hand, a battle.

II. Ideography.—This arbitrarily, though significantly, recalls an idea or abstract quality, as love or goodness.

III. Picture-writing.—This will, in picture and character, arbitrarily or otherwise, recite a connected story, there being a picture or character for every word, even for conjunctions and prepositions.

IV. Phonetic writing.—This gives phonetic value to every picture and spells out the words by sound, almost as in later alphabets, as if a lion should stand for the “l” sound, a bear for the “b” sound, etc., and from this last by modification came alphabets. [This is the familiar theory, which is accurate so far as it is applicable, of the initial sound, but other elements are disregarded, such as the “rebus,” for which special class Prof. Brinton, loc. cit., has invented the title of the Iconomatic method.]

Accepting this chronologic if not evolutionary arrangement, Mr. Hinman decided that the Dakota picture-writing had passed through stage I and was already entering upon stage II when it was first observed by the European explorers. Of III and IV he found no examples in Dakota pictography, though in sign language the Dakota had progressed further and had entered upon III.

As a summary of the topic it seems that pictographs other than petroglyphs which presumably are more modern than most of the latter, can be studied, not by geographic distribution, but by their ascertainable intent and use. Unless the classification of the remaining part of this work under its various headings has been defective, further discussion in this chapter is unnecessary.



Substances on which pictographs are made may be divided into—

I. The human body.
II. Natural objects other than the human body.
III. Artificial objects.


Markings on human bodies are—(1) Those expressed by painting or such coloration as is not permanent. It has been found convenient to treat this topic under the heading of “Significance of Colors,” Chap. XVIII, Sec. 3. (2) Those of intended permanence upon the skin, generally called tattoo, but including scarification. This enormous and involved topic is discussed, so far as space allows, under the heading of “Totems, Titles, and Names,” Chapter XIII, Sec. 3, where it seems to be most convenient in the general arrangement of this work. Though logically it might have been divided among several of the headings, that course would have involved much repetition or cross reference.


Other natural objects may be divided into—(1) Stone; (2) bone; (3) skins; (4) feathers and quills; (5) gourds; (6) shells; (7) earth and sand; (8) copper; (9) wood.


This caption comprises the pictographs upon stone surfaces or tablets which are not of the dimensions or in the position to be included under the heading of petroglyphs, as elsewhere defined. Accounts, with and without illustrations, have been published of several engraved tablets, regarding which there has been much discussion, and some examples appear, infra, under the appropriate heading. (See Chapter XXII, Sec. 1.) Other examples, in which the genuine aboriginal character of the work is undisputed, appear in the present work, and a large number of other engraved and incised stone objects could be referred to, some of which are in the possession of the Bureau of Ethnology, unpublished,[206] others being figured in its several reports. It is sufficient now for illustration of this subject to refer to the account accompanying Pl. LI, infra, describing and copying the Thruston tablet, which is, perhaps, the most interesting of any pictograph on stone yet discovered, the genuineness of which as Indian work has not been called in question.


For instances of the use of bone, several Alaskan and Eskimo carvings figured in this work may be referred to, e. g., Figs. 334, 459-462, 534, 703, 704, 742, 771, 844, and 1228.

Fig. 157.—Comanche drawing on shoulder-blade.

Fig. 157, copied from Schoolcraft (e), is taken from the shoulder-blade of a buffalo found on the plains in the Comanche country of Texas. He says:

It is a symbol showing the strife for the buffalo existing between the Indian and white races. The Indian (1) presented on horseback, protected by his ornamented shield and armed with a lance, (2) kills a Spaniard (3) after a circuitous chase (6), the latter being armed with a gun. His companion (4), armed with a lance, shares the same fate.

It may be questioned whether Mr. Schoolcraft was not too active in the search for symbols in his explanation of (6) as a circuitous chase. The device is either a lasso or a lariat, and relates to the possession or attempt to take possession of the buffalo. The design (5), however, well expresses ideographically the fact that the buffalo at the time was in contention, and therefore was the property half of the Indians and half of the whites.


A large number of pictographs upon the hides of animals are mentioned in the present paper. Pl. XX, with its description in the Dakota[207] Winter Counts, infra, Chap, X, Sec. 2, is one instance. Rawhide drum-heads are also used to paint upon, as by the shamans of the Ojibwa.

The use of robes made of the hides of buffalo and other large animals, painted with biographic, shamanistic, and other devices, is also mentioned in various parts of this work. A description of very early observation is now introduced, taken from John Ribault in Hakluyt (a).

The king gaue our Captaine at his departure a plume or fanne of Hernshawes feathers died in red, and a basket made of Palmeboughes after the Indian fashion, and wrought very artificially and a great skinne painted and drawen throughout with the pictures of diuers wilde beasts so liuely drawen and pourtrayed, that nothing lacked but life.

With the American use of pictographic robes may be compared the following account of the same use by Australian natives by Dr. Richard Andree (b).

The inner side of the opossum skins worn by the blacks is also often ornamented with figures. They scratch lines into the skin, which afterward are rubbed over with fat and charcoal.


Edward M. Kern, in Schoolcraft (f), reports that the Sacramento tribes of California were very expert in weaving blankets of feathers, many of them having beautiful figures worked upon them.

The feather work in Mexico, Central America, and the Hawaiian Islands is well known, often having designs properly to be considered among pictographs, though in modern times not often passing beyond ornamentation.

Worsnop (op. cit.) mentions that on grand occasions of the “Mindarie” (i. e., peace festival) the Australian natives decorate the bodies, face, legs, and feet with the down of wild fowl, stuck on with their own blood. The ceremony of taking the blood is very painful, yet they stand it without a murmur. It takes five or six men four to five hours to decorate one man. The blood is put on the body wet and the down stuck on the blood, showing, when finished, outlines of man’s head, face, feet, snakes, emu, fish, trees, birds, and other outlines representing the moon, stars, sun, and Aurora Australis, the whole meaning that they are at peace with the world.

Mr. David Boyle (a) gives an account of a piece of porcupine quill work, with an illustration, a part of which is copied in Fig. 158.

Fig. 158.—Quill pictograph.

Among the lost or almost lost arts of the Canadian Indians is that of employing porcupine quills as in the illustration. Partly on account of scarcity of material, but chiefly, it is likely, from change of habits and of taste, there are comparatively few Indian women now living who attempt to produce any fabric of this kind. * * *

The central figure is meant to represent the eagle or great thunder-bird, the belief in which is, or was, widely spread among the Indians over the northern part of this continent. * * *

This beautiful piece of quill work was produced from Ek-wah-satch, who resides at Baptiste lake. He informed me that it had belonged to his grandfather, who resided near Georgian bay.


See also Fig. 685 for another illustration of pictographic work by colored porcupine quills.


After gourds have dried the contents are removed and small pebbles or bones placed in the empty vessel. Handles are sometimes attached. They serve as rattles in dances and in religious and shamanistic rites. The representations of natural or mythical objects, connected with the ceremonies, for which the owner may have special reverence are often depicted upon their outer surfaces. This custom prevails among the Pueblos generally, and also among many other tribes, notably those of the Siouan linguistic stock.

Fig. 159 is a drawing of the Sci-Manzi or “Mescal Woman” of the Kiowa as it appears on a sacred gourd rattle in the mescal ceremony of that tribe, and was procured with full explanations in the winter of 1890-’91 by Mr. James Mooney of the Bureau of Ethnology.

Fig. 159.—Pictograph on gourd.

It shows the rude semblance of a woman, with divergent rays about her head, a fan in her left hand, and a star under her feet.

The peculiarity of the drawing is its hermeneutic character, which is rarely ascertained by actual evidence as existing among the North American Indians. It has a double meaning, and while apparently only a fantastic figure of a woman, it conveys also to the minds of the initiated a symbolic representation of the interior of the sacred mescal lodge. Turning the rattle with the handle toward the east, the lines forming the halo about the head of the figure represent the circle of devotees within the lodge. The head itself, with the spots for eyes and mouth, represents the large consecrated mescal which is placed upon a crescent-shaped mound of earth in the center of the lodge, this mound being represented in the figure by a broad, curving line, painted yellow, forming the curve of the shoulders. Below this is a smaller crescent curve, the original surface of the gourd, which symbolizes the smaller crescent mound of ashes built up within the crescent of earth as the ceremony progresses. The horns of both crescents point toward the[209] door of the lodge on the east side which, in the figure, is toward the feet. In the chest of the body is a round globule painted red, emblematic of the fire within the horns of the crescent in the lodge. The lower part of the body is green, symbolic of the eastern ocean beyond which dwells the mescal woman who is the ruling spirit or divinity to whom prayers are addressed in the ceremony, and the star under her feet is the morning star which heralds her approach. In her left hand is a device representing the fan of eagle feathers used to shield the eyes from the glare of the fire during the ceremony.


The admirable and well illustrated paper, Art in Shell of the Ancient Americans, by Mr. W. H. Holmes, in the Second Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology, and a similar paper, Burial Mounds of the Northern Section of the United States, by Prof. Cyrus Thomas, in the Fifth Annual Report of the same Bureau, render unnecessary present extended discussion under this head.

One example, however, which is unique in character and of established authenticity, is presented here as Pl. XV.


Dr. Edward B. Tylor (a) gives a description of the mantle copied upon that plate, which is condensed as follows:

Among specimens illustrative of native North American arts, as yet untouched by European influence, is the deerskin mantle ornamented with shellwork, recorded to have belonged to the Virginian chief, Powhatan. Of the group of Virginian mantles in Tradescant’s collection there only now remains this shell embroidered one. It is entered as follows in the MS. catalogue of the Ashmolean Museum, in the handwriting of the keeper, Dr. Plot, the well-known antiquary, about 1685: “205 Basilica Powhatan Regis Virginiani vestis, duabus cervorum cutibus consuta, et nummis indicis vulgo cori’s dictis splendidè exornata.” He had at first written “Roanoke,” but struck his pen through this word, and wrote “cori’s” (i. e. cowries) above, thus by no means improving the accuracy of his description.

The mantle measures about 2.2m in length by 1.6m in width. The two deerskins forming it are joined down the middle; no hair remains. The ornamental design consists of an upright human figure in the middle; divided by the seam; a pair of animals; 32 spirally-formed rounds (2 in the lowest line have lost their shells) and the remains of some work in the right lower corner. The marks where shellwork has come away plainly show the hind legs and tapering tails of both animals. It is uncertain whether the two quadrupeds represent in the conventional manner of picture-writing some real animal of the region, or some mythical composite creature such as other Algonquin tribes are apt to figure. The decorative shellwork is of a kind well known in North America. The shells used are Marginella; so far as Mr. Edgar A. Smith is able to identify them in their present weathered state, M. nivosa. They have been prepared for fastening on, in two different ways, which may be distinguished in the plate. In the animals and rounds, the shells have been perforated by grinding on one side, so that a sinew thread can be passed through the hole thus made and the mouth. In the man, the shells are ground away and rounded off at both ends into beads looking roughly ball-like at a distance.

The artistic skill of the North American Indians was not, as a rule, directed to represent the forms of animals with such accuracy as to allow of their identification as portraitures. Instead of attempting[210] such accuracy they generally selected some prominent feature such as the claws of the bear, which were drawn with exaggeration, or the tail of the mountain lion which was portrayed of abnormal length over the animal’s back. Those animals were, therefore, recognized by those selected features in much the same manner as if there had been a written legend—“this is a bear” or “a mountain lion,” the want of iconographic accuracy being admitted. In the animals represented on the mantle no such indicating feature is obvious, and the general resemblance to the marten is the only guide to identification.

The habitat of the marten does not include Virginia as a whole, but the animal is found in the elevated regions of that state. This local infrequency is not, however, of much significance. If regarded as a clan totem, as is probable, it may well be that the clan of Powhatan was connected with the clans of the more northern Algonquian tribes among whom the marten frequently appears as a clan totem. What is generally termed the Powhatan confederacy was a union, not apparently ancient, of a large number of tribal divisions or villages, and it is not known to which clan (probably extending through many of these tribal divisions) the head chief Powhatan belonged. There is almost nothing on record of the clan system of those Virginian Indians, but it is supposed to be similar to that of the northern and eastern members of the same linguistic family, among whom the marten clan was and still is found.

The topic of wampum which, considered as to its material, belongs to the division of shellwork, is with regard to the purposes of the present paper, discussed under the head of “Mnemonic,” Chap. IX, Sec. 3.


The highly important work, The Mountain Chant, a Navajo Ceremony, in the Fifth Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology, by Dr. Washington Matthews, U. S. Army, and that of Mr. James Stevenson, Ceremonial of Hasjelti Dailjis and Mythical Sand Painting of the Navajo Indians, in the Eighth Annual Report of that Bureau, give accounts of most interesting sand paintings by the Navajo Indians, which were before unknown. These paintings were made upon the surface of the earth by means of sand, ashes, and powdered vegetable and mineral matter of various colors. They were highly elaborate, and were fashioned with care and ceremony immediately preceding the observance of specific rites, at the close of which they were obliterated with great nicety. The subject is further discussed by Dr. W. H. Corbusier, U. S. Army, in the present paper (see Chap. XIV, Sec. 5).

Mr. Frank Hamilton Cushing, of the Bureau of Ethnology, kindly contributes the following remarks with special reference to the Zuñi:

A study of characteristic features in these so-called sand pictures of the Navajos would seem to indicate a Pueblo origin of the art, this notwithstanding the fact that it is to-day more highly developed or at least more extensively practiced amongst the Navajos than now, or perhaps ever, amongst the Pueblos. When, during my first[211] sojourn with the Zuñi, I found this art practice in vogue among the tribal priest magicians and members of cult societies, I named it dry or powder painting. I could see at a glance that this custom of powder painting had resulted from the effort to transfer from a vertical, smooth, and stable surface, which could be painted on, to a horizontal and unstable surface, unsuited to like treatment, such symbolic and sacramental pictographs as are painted on the walls of the kivas, temporarily, as appurtenances to the dramaturgic ceremonials of the cult societies, and as supposed aids to the magical incantations and formulæ of all the monthly, semiannual, and quadrennial observances and fasts of the tribal priests; sometimes, also, in the curative or “Betterment” ceremonials of these priests. It is noteworthy that, with the exception of the invariable “Earth terrace,” “Pathway of (earth) life,” and a few other conventional symbols of mortal or earthly things (nearly always made of scattered prayer meal), powder painting is resorted to amongst the Zuñi only in ceremonials pertaining to all the regions or inclusive of the lower region. In such cases paintings typical of the North, West, South, and East are made on the four corresponding walls of the kiva, whilst the lower region is represented by appropriately powder or paint colored sand on the floor, and the upper region either by paintings on the walls near the ceiling or on stretched skins suspended from the latter. Thus the origin of the practice of floor powder painting may be seen to have resulted from the effort to represent with more dramatic appropriateness or exactness the lower as well as the other sacramental regions, and to have been incident to the growth from the quaternary of the sextenary or septenary system of world division so characteristic of Pueblo culture. Hence it is that I attribute the art of powder or sand painting to the Pueblos, and believe that it was introduced both by imitation and by the adoption of Pueblo men amongst the Navajos. Its greater prevalence amongst them to-day is simply due to the fact that having, as a rule, no suitable vertical or wall surfaces for pictorial treatment, all their larger ceremonial paintings have to be made on the ground, and can only or best be made, of course, by this means alone.

It is proper to add, as having a not inconsiderable bearing on the absence generally of screen or skin painting among the Navajos, that, with the Pueblos at least, these pictures are—must be—only temporary; for they are supposed to be spiritually shadowed, so to say, or breathed upon by the gods or god animals they represent, during the appealing incantations or calls of the rites; hence the paint substance of which they are composed is in a way incarnate, and at the end of the ceremonial must be killed and disposed of as dead if evil, eaten as medicine if good.

Further light is thrown on this practice of the Zuñi in making use of these suppositively vivified paintings by their kindred practice of painting not only fetiches of stone, etc., and sometimes of larger idols, then of washing the paint off for use as above described, but also of powder painting in relief; that is, of modeling effigies in sand, sometimes huge in size, of hero or animal gods, sacramental mountains, etc., powder painting them in common with the rest of the pictures, and afterwards removing the paint for medicinal or further ceremonial use.

The construction of the effigies in high relief last above mentioned should be compared with the effigy mounds mentioned below in this section.

In connection with the ceremonial use, for temporary dry painting on the ground, of colored earth and sand and also that of sacred corn meal, a remarkable parallel is found in India. Mr. Edward Carpenter (a) mentions that the Devadásis, who are popularly called Nautch girls, as a part of their duty, ornament the floor of the Hindu temples with quaint figures drawn in rice flour.


The well known mounds or tumuli more or less distinctly representing animal forms and sometimes called effigy mounds, found chiefly in Wisconsin and Illinois, come in this category, but it is not possible to properly discuss them and also give space to the many other topics in this paper, the facts and authorities upon which are less known or less accessible. A large amount of information is published by Rev. S. D. Peet (a). Other articles are by Mr. T. H. Lewis in Science, September 7, 1888, and No. 318, 1889. One upon the Serpent mound of Ohio, by Prof. F. W. Putnam (a), is of special interest. It may be suggested as a summation that there is not sufficient evidence of the erection of this class of effigy mounds merely for burial purposes. They seldom exceeded 6 feet in height and varied in expanse from 30 to 300 feet. The animals most frequently recognizable in the constructions are lizards, birds, and several more or less distinct quadrupeds; serpents and turtles also are identified. The species of fauna represented are those now or lately found in the same region. There is a strong probability that the forms of the mounds in question were determined by totemic superstitions or tribal habitudes.

In England the pictographs styled “turf monuments” are sometimes made by cutting the natural turf and filling with chalk the part of the surface thus laid bare. Sometimes the color depends wholly upon the limestone, granite, or other rock exposed by removing the turf. Rev. W. C. Plenderleath (a) gives a full account of this variety of pictograph.


This is the only metal on which it is probable that the North American Indians made designs. To present comparisons of pictures by other peoples on that or other metals or alloys would be to enter into a field, the most interesting part of which is classed as numismatic, and which would be a departure from the present heading. That virgin copper was used for diverse purposes, generally ornamental, by the North American Indians, is now established, and there is a presentation of the subject in Prof. Cyrus Thomas’s (a) Burial Mounds. The most distinct and at the same time surprising account of a true pictographic record on copper is given by W. W. Warren (a), an excellent authority, and is condensed as follows:

The Ojibwa of the Crane family hold in their possession a circular plate of virgin copper, on which are rudely marked indentations and hieroglyphics denoting the number of generations of the family who have passed away since they first pitched their lodges at Shang-a-waum-ik-ong and took possession of the adjacent country, including the island of La Pointe.

When I witnessed this curious family register in 1843 it was exhibited to my father. The old chief kept it carefully buried in the ground and seldom displayed it. On this occasion he brought it to view only at the entreaty of my mother whose maternal uncle he was.

On this plate of copper were marked eight deep indentations, denoting the number of his ancestors who had passed away since they first lighted their fire at Shang-a-waum-ik-ong. They had all lived to a good old age.


By the rude figure of a man with a hat on its head, placed opposite one of these indentations, was denoted the period when the white race first made its appearance among them. This mark occurred in the third generation, leaving five generations which had passed away since that important era in their history.

Mr. I. W. Powell (a), Indian superintendent, in the report of the deputy superintendent-general of Indian affairs of Canada for 1879, gives an account of some tribes of the northwest coast, especially the Indians called in the report Newittees, a tribe now known as the Naqómqilis of the Wakashan family, who treasure pieces of copper peculiarly shaped and marked. The shape is that of one face of a truncated pyramid with the base upward. In the broad end appear marks resembling the holes for eyes and mouth, which are common in masks of the human face. The narrower end has a rough resemblance to an ornamental collar. These copper articles were made by the Indians originally from the native copper, and in 1879 a few were held by the chiefs who used them for presentation at the potlaches or donation feasts. The value which is attached to these small pieces of copper, which are intrinsically worthless, is astounding. For one of them 1,200 blankets were paid, which would at the time and place represent $1,800. Sometimes a chief in presenting one of them, in order to show his utter disregard of wealth, would break it into three or four pieces and give them away, each fragment being perhaps repurchased at an exorbitant sum. This competition in extravagance for display, under the guise of charity and humility, has had parallels in the silver-brick and flour-barrel auctions in parts of the United States, when the actors were white citizens. Apart from such public exhibitions, the copper tokens seem to partake of the natures both of fiat money and of talismans.


This division comprises:

(1) The living tree, of the use of which for pictographic purposes there are many descriptions and illustrations in this paper. In addition to them may be noted the remark made by Bishop De Schweinitz (a) in the Life and Times of Zeisberger, that in 1750 there were numerous tree carvings at a place on the eastern shore of Cayuga lake, the meaning of which was known to and interpreted by the Cayuga Indians.

This mode of record or notice is so readily suggested that it is found throughout the world, e. g., the “hieroglyph” in New Guinea, described by D’Albertis (a), being a drawing in black on a white tree.

(2) Bark.—The Abnaki and Ojibwa have been and yet continue to be in the habit of incising pictographic characters and mnemonic marks upon birch bark. Many descriptions and illustrations of this style are given in this paper, and admirable colored illustrations of it also appear in Pl. XIX of the Seventh Ann. Rept. Bureau of Ethnology. The lines appear sometimes to have been traced on the inner surface of young bark with a sharply pointed instrument, probably bone, but in other examples the drawings are made by simple puncturing. The[214] strips of bark, varying from an inch to several feet in length, roll up after drying, and are by heating straightened out for examination.

Another mode of drawing on birch bark which appears to be peculiar to the Abnaki is by scratching the exterior surface, thus displaying a difference in color between the outermost and the second layer of the rind, which difference forms the figure. The lower character in Pl. XVI shows this mode of picturing. It is an exact copy of part of an old bark record made by the Abnaki of Maine.

They also use the mode of incision, many examples of which appear in the present work, but their mode of scratching produced a much more picturesque effect, as is shown also in Fig. 659, than the mere linear drawing.

(3) Manufactured wood.—The Indians of the northwest coast generally employ wood as the material on which their pictographs are to be made. Totem posts, boats, boat paddles, the boards constituting the front wall of a house, and wooden masks, are among the objects used.

Many drawings among the Indians of the interior parts of the United States are also found upon pipestems made of wood, usually ash. Among the Arikara boat paddles are used upon which marks of personal distinction are reproduced, as shown in Fig. 578.

Mortuary records are also drawn upon slabs of wood. (See Figs. 728 and 729). Mnemonic devices, notices of departure, distress, etc., are also drawn upon slips of wood.

The examples of the use of wood for pictographs which are illustrated and described in this paper are too numerous for recapitulation; to them, however, may be added the following from Wilkes’s (a) Exploring Expedition, referring to Fig. 160.

Fig. 160.—Pictographs on wood, Washington.

Near an encampment on Chickeeles river, near Puget Sound, Washington, were found some rudely carved painted planks, of which Mr. Eld made a drawing. These planks were placed upright and nothing could be learned of their origin. The colors were exceedingly bright, of a kind of red pigment.

Mr. James O. Pattie (a) gives an account of a wooden passport given to him in 1824 by a Pawnee chief. He describes it, without illustration, as a small piece of wood curiously painted with characters something like “hieroglyphics.” The chief told Mr. Pattie’s party if they saw any of his warriors to give them the stick, in which case they would be kindly treated, which promise was fulfilled a few days later when the party met a large band of the same tribe on the warpath.



Artificial objects may be classified, so far as is important for the present work, into, I, fictile fabrics and, II, textile fabrics.


A large number of articles of pottery bearing pictographs are figured in the illustrated collections by Mr. James Stevenson in the Second Annual Report, and by Mr. Stevenson and Mr. William H. Holmes in the Third Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology. Pipes on which totemic designs and property marks appear are also common.

The art of pottery was at first limited to vessel-making. In the earlier stages of culture, vases were confined to simple use as receptacles, but as culture ripened they were advanced to ceremonial and religious offices and received devices and representations in color and in relief connected with the cult to which they were devoted. Among some tribes large burial vases were fashioned to contain or cover the dead. An infinite variety of objects, such as pipes, whistles, rattles, toys, beads, trowels, calendars, masks, and figurines, were made of pottery. Clays of varying degrees of purity were used, and sometimes these were tempered with powdered quartz, shell, or like materials. The vessels were frequently built by coiling. The surface was smoothed by the hands or the modeling implement or was polished with a stone or other smoothing tool. Much attention was given to surface embellishment. The finger nails and various pointed tools were used to scarify and indent, and elaborate figures and designs were incised. Stamps with systematically worked designs were sometimes applied to the soft clay. Cords and woven fabrics were also employed to give diversity to the surface. With the more advanced tribes, though these simple processes were still resorted to, engraving, modeling in relief and in the round, and painting in colors were employed.


Textile fabrics include those products of art in which the elements of their construction are filamental and mainly combined by using their flexibility. The processes employed are called wattling, interlacing, plaiting, netting, weaving, sewing, and embroidery. The materials generally used by primitive people were pliable vegetal growths, such as twigs, leaves, roots, canes, rushes, and grasses, and the hair, quills, feathers, and tendons of animals.

Unlike works in stone and clay, textile articles are seldom long preserved. Still, from historic accounts and a study of the many beautiful articles produced by existing Indian tribes, a fair knowledge of the range and general character of native fabrics may be obtained. In many cases buried articles of that character have been preserved by the impregnation of the engirding earths with preservative salts, and[216] also some fabrics which had been wrapped about buried utensils, or ornaments of copper remained without serious decay. Charring has also been a means of preserving cloth, and much has been learned of the weaving done by ancient workers through impressions upon pottery which had been made by applying the texture while the clay was still soft. The weaving appliances were simple, but the results in plain and figured fabrics, in tapestry, in lace-like embroideries, and in feather-work are admirable.

This subject is discussed by Mr. W. H. Holmes in his paper, A Study of the Textile Art, etc., in the Sixth Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology, in a manner so comprehensive as to embrace the field of pictography in its relation to woven articles.

Several examples of this application also appear in the present work. See Figs. 821, 976 and 1167. In addition the following are now presented.


Some of the California tribes are expert workers in grass and roots in the manufacture of baskets, upon which designs other than for mere ornamentation are frequently worked. The Yokuts, at Tule river Agency, in the southeastern part of the State, sometimes incorporate various human forms in which the arms are suspended at the sides of the body with the hands directed outward to either side. Above the head is a heavy horizontal line.

Fig. 161.—Haida basketry hat.

The following is extracted from Prof. O. T. Mason’s (a) paper on basket work, describing Fig. 161:

a is a rain hat of twined basketry in spruce root from Haida Indians. This figure is the upper view and shows the ornamentation in red and black paint. The device in this instance is the epitomized form of a bird, perhaps a duck. Omitting the red cross on the top the beak, jaws, and nostrils are shown; the eyes at the sides near the top, and just behind them the ears. The wings, feet, and tail, inclosing a human face, are shown on the margin. The Haida, as well as other coast Indians from Cape Flattery to Mount Saint Elias, cover everything of use with totemic devices in painting and carving.

b shows the conical shape of a. The painted ornamentation on these hats is laid on in black and red in the conventional manner of ornamentation in vogue among the Haidas and used in the reproduction of their various totems on all of their houses, wood and slate carvings, and implements.

Fig. 162.—Tsimshian blanket.

Mr. Niblack (b) says, describing Fig. 162:

The Chilkat and cedar-bark blankets are important factors in all ceremonial dances and functions. Other forms of ceremonial blankets or mantles are made from Hudson Bay Company blankets, with totemic figures worked on them in a variety of ways. The usual method is to cut out the totemic figure in red cloth and sew it on to the garment (ornamenting it with borders of beads and buttons) by the method known as appliqué work; another method is to sew pieces of bright abalone or pearl shell or pearl buttons on to the garment in the totemic patterns. The illustration is a drawing of a vestment which hangs down the back, representing the totem or crest of the wearer.

This specimen is mentioned as the workmanship of the Tsimshian Indians, at Point Simpson, British Columbia, and represents the halibut.



So far as appears on ancient pictographic works the kind of instruments and materials with which they were made can be inferred only from its aspect, though microscopic examination and chemical analysis have sometimes been successfully applied. A few examples relating to the topic are given as follows, though other descriptions appear elsewhere in this treatise.


This title, as here used, is intended to include cutting, pecking, scratching, and rubbing. The Hidatsa, when scratching upon stone or rocks, as well as upon pieces of wood, employ a sharply pointed piece of hard stone, usually a fragment of quartz. The present writer successfully imitated the Micmac scratchings at Kejimkoojik lake, Nova Scotia, by using a stone arrow point upon the slate rocks.

The bow-drill was largely used by the Innuit of Alaska in carving bone and ivory. Their present method of cutting figures and other characters is by a small steel blade, thick, though sharply pointed, resembling a graver.

Many petroglyphs, e. g., those at Conowingo, Maryland, at Machiasport, Maine, and in Owens valley, California, present every evidence of having been deepened if not altogether fashioned by rubbing, either with a piece of wood and sand or with pointed stone.

To incise or indent lines upon birch bark the Ojibwa, Ottawa, and other Algonquian tribes used a sharply pointed piece of bone, though they now prefer an iron nail. Examples of scratching upon the outer surface of bark are mentioned elsewhere.

Several examples of producing characters on stone by pecking with another stone are mentioned in this paper, and Mr. J. D. McGuire (a), of Ellicott City, Maryland, has been remarkably successful in forming petroglyphs with the ordinary Indian stone hammer. Some of the results established by him are published in The American Anthropologist.



Drawings upon small slabs of wood, found among the Ojibwa, were made with a piece of red-hot wire or thin iron rod hammered to a point. Such figures are blackened by being burned in.

When in haste or when better materials are not at hand, the Hidatsa sometimes drew upon a piece of wood or the shoulder-blade of a buffalo with a piece of charcoal from the fire or with a piece of red chalk or red ocher, with which nearly every warrior is at all times supplied.

Mr. A. W. Howitt, in Manuscript Notes on Australian Pictographs, says:

Not having any process such as is used by some of the savage tribes to soften skins, the harshness of these rugs is remedied by marking upon them lines and patterns, which being partly cut through the skin give to it a certain amount of suppleness. In former times, before the white man enabled the black fellow to supplement his meager stock of implements with those of civilization, a Kumai made use of the sharp edge of a mussel shell (unio) to cut these patterns. At the present time the sharpened edge of the bowl of a metal spoon is used, partly because it forms a convenient instrument, partly, perhaps, because its bowl bears a resemblance in shape to the familiar ancestral tool.


Painting upon robes or skins is executed by means of thin strips of wood or sometimes of bone. Tufts of antelope hair are also used, by tying them to sticks to make a brush, but this is evidently a modern innovation. Pieces of wood, one end of which is chewed so as to produce a loose fibrous brush, are also used at times, as has been specially observed among the Teton Dakota.

The Hidatsa and other Northwest Indians usually employ a piece of buffalo rib or a piece of hard wood having an elliptical form. This is dipped in a solution of glue, with or without color, and a tracing is made, which is subsequently filled up and deepened by a repetition of the process with the same or a stronger solution of the color.

Of late years in the United States colors of civilized manufacture are readily obtained by the Indians for painting and decoration. Frequently, however, when the colors of commerce can not be obtained, the aboriginal colors are still prepared and used. The ferruginous clays of various shades of brown, red, and yellow occur in nature so widely distributed that these are the most common and leading tints. Black is generally prepared by grinding fragments of charcoal into a very fine powder. Among some tribes, as has also been found in some of the “ancient” pottery from the Arizona ruins, clay had evidently been mixed with charcoal to give better body. The black color made by some of the Innuit tribes is made with blood and charcoal intimately[220] mixed, which is afterwards applied to incisions in ivory, bone, and wood.

Among the Dakota, colors for dyeing porcupine quills were obtained chiefly from plants. The vegetable colors, being soluble, penetrate the substance of the quills more evenly and beautifully than the mineral colors of eastern manufacture.

The black color of some of the Pueblo pottery is obtained by a special burning with pulverized manure, into which the vessel is placed as it is cooling after the first baking. The coloring matter—soot produced by smoke—is absorbed into the pores of the vessel, and does not wear off as readily as when colors are applied to the surface by brushes.

In decorating skins or robes the Arikara Indians boil the tail of the beaver, thus obtaining a viscous fluid which is thin glue. The figures are first drawn in outline with a piece of beef-rib, or some other flat bone, the edge only being used after having been dipped into the liquor. The various pigments to be employed in the drawing are then mixed with some of the same liquid, in separate vessels, when the various colors are applied to the objects by means of a sharpened piece of wood or bone. The colored mixture adheres firmly to the original tracing in glue.

When similar colors are to be applied to wood, the surface is frequently pecked or slightly incised to receive the color more readily.

Jacques Cartier, in Hakluyt (b), reports the Indian women of the Bay of Chaleur as smearing the face with coal dust and grease.

A small pouch, discovered on the Yellowstone river in 1873, which had been dropped by some fleeing hostile Sioux, contained several fragments of black micaceous iron. The latter had almost the appearance and consistence of graphite, so soft and black was the result upon rubbing with it. It had evidently been used for decorating the face as war-paint.

Mr. Wm. H. Dall (a), treating of the remains found in the mammalian layers in the Amakuak cave, Unalaska, remarks:

In the remains of a woman’s work-basket, found in the uppermost layer in a cave, were bits of this resin [from the bark of pine or spruce driftwood], evidently carefully treasured, with a little birch-bark case (the bark also derived from drift logs) containing pieces of soft hematite, graphite, and blue carbonate of copper, with which the ancient seamstress ornamented her handiwork.

The same author reports (f):

The coloration of wooden articles with native pigments is of ancient origin, but all the more elaborate instances that have come to my knowledge bore marks of comparatively recent origin. The pigments used were blue carbonates of iron and copper; the green fungus, or peziza, found in decayed birch and alder wood; hematite and red chalk; white infusorial or chalky earth; black charcoal, graphite, and micaceous ore of iron. A species of red was sometimes derived from pine bark or the cambium of the ground willow.

Stephen Powers (a) states that the Shastika women “smear their faces all over daily with choke-cherry juice, which gives them a bloody, corsair aspect.”


Mr. A. S. Gatschet, of the Bureau of Ethnology, reports that the Klamaths of southwestern Oregon employ a black color, lgú, made of burnt plum seeds and bulrushes, which is applied to the cheeks in the form of small round spots. This is used during dances. Red paint, for the face and body, is prepared from a resin exuding from the spruce tree, pánam. A yellow mineral paint is also employed, consisting probably of ocher or ferruginous clay. He also says that the Klamath spál, yellow mineral paint, is of light yellow color, but turns red when burned, after which it is applied in making small round dots upon the face. The white infusorial clay is applied in the form of stripes or streaks over the body. The Klamaths use charcoal, lgúm, in tattooing.

Mud and white clay were used by the Winnebago for the decoration of the human body and of horses. Some of the California Indians in the vicinity of Tulare river used a white coloring matter, consisting of infusorial earth, obtained there. The tribes at and near the geysers north of San Francisco bay procured vermilion from croppings of cinnabar. The same report is made with probability of truth concerning the Indians at the present site of the New Almaden mines, where tribes of the Mutsun formerly lived. Some of the black coloring matter of pictographs in Santa Barbara, California, proved on analysis to be a hydrous oxide of manganese. The Mojave pigments are ocher, clay, and charcoal mingled with oil.

Rev. J. Owen Dorsey, of the Bureau of Ethnology, reports regarding the Osage that one of their modes of obtaining black color for the face was by burning a quantity of small willows. When these were charred they were broken in small pieces and placed in pans, with a little water in each. The hands were then dipped into the pan and rubbed together and finally rubbed over the parts to be colored.

Dr. Hoffman reports that among the Hualpai, living on the western border of the Colorado plateau, Arizona, some persons appeared as if they had been tattooed in vertical bands from the forehead to the waist, but upon closer examination it was found that dark and light bands of the natural skin were produced in the following manner: When a deer or an antelope had been killed the blood was rubbed over the face and breast, after which the spread and curved fingers were scratched downward from the forehead over the face and breast, thus removing some of the blood; that remaining soon dried and gave the appearance of black stripes. The exposed portion of the skin retained the natural dark-tanned color, while that under the coating of coagulated blood became paler by being protected against the light and air. These persons did not wash off the marks and after a while the blood began to drop off by desquamation, leaving lighter spots and lines which for a week or two appear like tattoo marks. Similar streaks of blood have been held to have originated tattoo designs in several parts of the world to record success in hunting or in war, but such evolution does not appear to have resulted from the transient decoration in the case mentioned.


It is well known that the meal of maize called kunque is yet commonly used by the Zuñi for ceremonial coloration of their own persons and of objects used in their religious rites. Hoddentin is less familiarly known. It is the pollen of the tule, which is a variety of cat-tail rush growing in all the ponds of the southwestern parts of the United States. It is a yellow powder with which small buckskin bags are filled and those bags then attached to the belts of Apache warriors. They are also worn as amulets by members of the tribe. In dances for the cure of sickness the shaman applied the powder to the forehead of the patient, then to his breast in the figure of a cross; next he sprinkles it in a circle around his couch, then on the heads of the chanters and the assembled friends of the patient, and lastly upon his own head and into his own mouth.

Everard F. im Thurn (c) gives the following details concerning British Guiana:

The dyes used by the Indians to paint their own bodies, and occasionally to draw patterns on their implements, are red faroah, purple caraweera, blue-black lana, white felspathic clay and, though very rarely, a yellow vegetable dye of unknown origin.

Faroah is the deep red pulp around the seed of a shrub (Bixa orellana) which grows wild on the banks of some of the rivers, and is cultivated by the Indians in their clearings. It is mixed with a large quantity of oil. When it is to be used either a mass of it is taken in the palm of the hand and rubbed over the skin or other surface to be painted, or a pattern of fine lines is drawn with it by means of a stick used as a pencil.

Caraweera is a somewhat similar dye, of a more purplish red, and by no means so commonly used. It is prepared from the leaves of a yellow-flowered bignonia (B. chicka) together with some other unimportant ingredients. The dried leaves are boiled. The pot is then taken from the fire and the contents being poured into bowls are allowed to subside. The clear water left at the top is poured away and the sediment is of a beautiful purple color.

Lana is the juice of the fruit of a small tree (Genipa americana) with which without further preparation, blue-black lines are drawn in patterns, or large surfaces are stained on the skin. The dye thus applied is for about a week indelible.

Paul Marcoy (a), in Travels in South America, says the Passés, Yuris, Barrés and Chumanas of Brazil, employ a decoction of indigo or genipa in tattooing.

F. S. Moreat, M. D., in Jour. Roy. Geog. Soc., XXXII, 1862, p. 125, says that the Andaman Islanders rubbed earth on the top of the head, probably for the purpose of ornamentation.

Dr. Richard Andree (b) says:

Long before Europeans came to Australia, the Australian blacks knew a kind of pictorial representation, exhibiting scenes from their life, illustrating it with great fidelity to nature. An interesting specimen of that kind was found on a piece of bark that had served as cover of a hut on Lake Tyrrell. The black who produced this picture had had intercourse with white people, but had had no instruction whatever in drawing. The bark was blackened by smoke on the inside, and on this blackened surface the native drew the figures with his thumb nail.



This is the most obvious and probably was the earliest use to which picture-writing was applied. The contrivance of drawing the representations of objects, to fix in the memory either the objects themselves or the concepts, facts, or other matters connected with them, is practiced early by human individuals and is found among peoples the most ancient historically or in the horizons of culture. After the adoption of the characters for purely mnemonic purposes, those at first intended to be iconographic often became converted into ideographic, emblematic, or symbolic designs, and perhaps in time so greatly conventionalized that the images of the things designed could no longer be perceived by the imagination alone.

It is believed, however, that this form and use of picturing were preceded by the use of material objects which afterwards were reproduced graphically in paintings, cuttings, and carvings. In the present paper many examples appear of objects known to have been so used, the graphic representations of which, made with the same purpose, are explained by knowledge of the fact. Other instances are mentioned as connected with the evolution of pictographs, and they possibly may interpret some forms of the latter which are not yet understood.

This chapter is divided into (1) knotted cords and objects tied; (2) notched or marked sticks; (3) wampum; (4) order of songs; (5) traditions; (6) treaties; (7) appointment; (8) numeration; (9) accounting.


Dr. Hoffman reports a device among the Indians formerly inhabiting the mountain valleys north of Los Angeles, California, who brought or sent to the settlements blankets, skins, and robes for sale. The man trusted to transport and sell those articles was provided with a number of strings made of some flexible vegetable fiber, one string for each class of goods, which were attached to his belt. Every one confiding an article to the agent fixed the price, and when he disposed of it a single knot was tied to the proper cord for each real received, or a double knot for each peso. Thus any particular string indicated the kind of goods sold, as well as the whole sum realized for them, which was distributed according to the account among the former owners of the goods.


Mr. George Turner (a) says that among the South Sea Islanders tying a number of knots in a piece of cord was a common way of noting and remembering things in the absence of a written language.

A peculiar and ingenious mode of expressing thoughts without pronouncing or writing them in language is still met with among the Indian shepherds in the Peruvian Cordilleras, though it is practiced merely in the accounts of the flocks. This system consists of a peculiar intertwining of various strings into a net-like braidwork, and the diverse modes of tying these strings form the record, the knots and loops signifying definite ideas and their combination the connection of these ideas. This system of mnemonic device, which was practiced by the ancient Peruvians, was called quipu, and, though a similar knot-writing is found in China, Tartary, eastern Asia, on many islands of the Pacific, and even in some parts of Africa, yet in Peru, at the time of the Incas, it was so elaborately developed as to permit its employment for official statistics of the government. Of course, as this writing gave no picture of a word and did not suggest sounds, but, like the notched stick, merely recalled ideas already existing, the writing could be understood by those only who possessed the key to it; but it is noteworthy that when the Jesuit missions began their work in Peru they were able to use the quipus for the purpose of making the Indians learn Latin prayers by heart.

A more detailed account of the ancient quipu is extracted from Dr. von Tschudi’s Travels in Peru (a) with condensation as follows:

This method consisted in the dexterous intertwining of knots on strings, so as to render them auxiliaries to the memory. The instrument was composed of one thick head or top string, to which, at certain distances, thinner ones were fastened. The top string was much thicker than these pendent strings and consisted of two doubly twisted threads, over which two single threads were wound. The branches, or pendent strings, were fastened to the top ones by a single loop; the knots were made in the pendent strings and were either single or manifold. The length of the strings was various. The transverse or top string often measures several yards, and sometimes only a foot; the branches are seldom more than 2 feet long, and in general they are much shorter.

The strings were often of different colors, each having its own particular signification. The color for soldiers was red; for gold, yellow; for silver, white; for corn, green, etc. The quipu was especially employed for numerical and statistical tables; each single knot representing ten; each double knot stood for one hundred; each triple knot for one thousand, etc.; two single knots standing together made twenty; and two double knots, two hundred.

In this manner the ancient Peruvians kept the accounts of their army. On one string were numbered the soldiers armed with slings; on another the spearmen; on a third, those who carried clubs, etc. In the same manner the military reports were prepared. In every town some expert men were appointed to tie the knots of the quipu and to explain them. These men were called quipucamayocuna (literally, officers of the knots.) The appointed officers required great dexterity in unriddling the meaning of the knots. It, however, seldom happened that they had to read a quipu without some verbal commentary. Something was always required to be added if the quipu came from a distant province, to explain whether it related to the numbering of the population, to tributes, or to war, etc. This method of calculation[225] is still practiced by the shepherds of Puna. On the first branch or string they usually place the number of the bulls; on the second, that of the cows, the latter being classed into those which were milked and those which were not milked; on the next string were numbered the calves according to their ages and sizes. Then came the sheep, in several subdivisions. Next followed the number of foxes killed, the quantity of salt consumed, and, finally, the cattle that had been slaughtered. Other quipus showed the produce of the herds in milk, cheese, wool, etc. Each list was distinguished by a particular color or by some peculiarity in the twisting of the string.

Other accounts tell that the descendants of the Quiches still use the quipu, perhaps as modified by themselves, for numeration. They pierce beans and hang them by different colored strings, each of which represents one of the column places used in decimal arithmetic. A green string signifies 1,000; a red one, 100; a yellow, 10, and a white refers to the 9 smaller digits. Thus if 7 beans are on a green, 2 on a red, 8 on a yellow, and 6 on a white string, and the whole tied together, the bundle expresses the number 7,286.

Before the time of their acquaintance with the quipus, the Peruvians used in the same way pebbles or maize-beans of various colors. The same practice was known in Europe in the prehistoric period. The habit of many persons in civilized countries to tie a knot in the handkerchief to recall an idea or fact to mind is a familiar example to show how naturally the action would suggest itself for the purpose, and perhaps indicates the inheritance of the practice.


Dr. Andree (b) gives an illustration of a quipu (here reproduced as part of Pl. XVI), which he represents as taken from Perez, and states that the drawing was made soon after the exhuming of the object from an ancient Peruvian grave.

Capt. Bourke (a) gives descriptions and illustrations of varieties of the izze-kloth or medicine cord of the Apache. A condensed extract of his remarks is as follows:

These cords, in their perfection, are decorated with beads and shells strung along at intervals, with pieces of the sacred green chalchihuitl, which has had such a mysterious ascendancy over the minds of the American Indians—Aztec, Peruvian, Quiche, as well as the more savage tribes like the Apache and Navajo; with petrified wood, rock crystal, eagle down, claws of the hawk or eaglet, claws of the bear, rattle of the rattlesnake, buckskin bags of hoddentin, circles of buckskin in which are inclosed pieces of twigs and branches of trees which have been struck by lightning, small fragments of the abalone shell from the Pacific coast, and much other sacred paraphernalia of a similar kind.

That the use of these cords was reserved for the most sacred and important occasions I soon learned. They were not to be seen on occasions of no moment, but the dances for war, medicine, and summoning the spirits at once brought them out, and every medicine man of any consequence would appear with one hanging from his right shoulder over his left hip.

These cords will protect a man while on the warpath, and many of the Apache believe firmly that a bullet will have no effect upon the warrior wearing one of them. This is not their only virtue by any means; the wearer can tell who has stolen ponies or other property from him or from his friends, can help the crops, and cure the sick. If the circle attached to one of these cords is placed upon the head it will at once relieve any ache, while the cross attached to another prevents the[226] wearer from going astray, no matter where he may be; in other words, it has some connection with cross-trails and the four cardinal points, to which the Apache pay the strictest attention.

I was at first inclined to associate these cords with the quipus of the Peruvians and also with the wampum of the aborigines of the Atlantic coast, and investigation only confirms this first suspicion.

The praying beads of the Buddhists and of many Oriental peoples, who have used them from high antiquity, are closely allied to the quipu. They are more familiar now in the shape of the rosaries of Roman Catholics. In the absence of manufactured articles, arranged on wires, the necessary materials were easily procured. Berries, nuts, pease, or beans strung in any manner answered the purpose. The abacus of the Chinese and Greeks was connected in origin with the same device.

E. F. im Thurn (d) says of the Nikari-Karu Indians of Guiana:

At last, after four days’ stay, we got off. The two or three people from Euwari-manakuroo who came with us gave their wives knotted strings of quippus, each knot representing one of the days they expected to be away, and the whole string thus forming a calendar to be used by the wives until the return of their husbands.

That the general idea or invention for mnemonic purposes appearing in the quipu was actually used pictorially is indicated in the illustrations of the sculptures of Santa Lucia Cosumalhuapa in Guatemala given by Dr. S. Habel (b). Upon these he remarks:

It has been frequently affirmed that the aborigines of America had nowhere arisen high enough in civilization to have characters for writing and numeral signs, but the sculptures of Santa Lucia exhibit signs which indicate a kind of cipher-writing higher in form than mere hieroglyphics. From the mouth of most of the human beings, living or dead, emanates a staff, variously bent, to the sides of which nodes are attached. These nodes are of different sizes and shapes, and variously distributed on the sides of the staff, either singly or in twos and threes, the last named either separated or in shape of a trefoil. This manner of writing not only indicates that the person is speaking or praying, but also indicates the very words, the contents of the speech or prayer. It is quite certain that each staff, as bent and ornamented, stood for a well-known petition, which the priest could read as easily as those acquainted with a cipher dispatch can know its purport. Further, one may be allowed to conjecture that the various curves of the staves served the purpose of strength and rhythm, just as the poet chooses his various meters for the same purpose.

The following notices of the ancient mnemonic use of knotted cords and of its survival in various parts of the world are extracted from the essay of Prof. Terrien de Lacouperie (d):

The Yang tung, south of Khoten, and consequently north of Tibet, who first communicated with China in A. D. 641, had no written characters. They only cut notches in sticks and tied knots in strings for records.

The Bratyki and Buriats of Siberia are credited with the use of knotted cords.

The Japanese are also reputed to have employed knots on strings or bind-weeds for records.

The Li of Hainan, being unacquainted with writing, use knotted cords or notched sticks in place of bonds or agreements.

In the first half of the present century cord records were still generally used in the Indian archipelago and Polynesia proper. The tax-gatherers in the island of Hawaii by this means kept accounts of all the articles collected by them from the inhabitants. A rope 400 fathoms long was used as a revenue book. It was divided[227] into numerous portions corresponding to the various districts of the island; the portions were under the care of the tax-gatherers, who, with the aid of loops, knots, and tufts of different shapes, colors, and sizes, were enabled to keep an accurate account of the hogs, pigs, and pieces of sandal wood, etc., at which each person was taxed.

In Timor island, according to the Chinese records in 1618, the people had no writing. When they wanted to record something they did it with flat stones, and a thousand stones were represented by a string.

Knotted cords were originally used in Tibet, but we have no information about their system of using them. The bare statement comes from the Chinese annals.

The following statement regarding the same use by the Chinese is made by Ernest Faber (a). He says: “In the highest antiquity, government was carried on successfully by the use of knotted cords to preserve the memory of things. In subsequent ages, the sages substituted for these written characters. By means of these the doings of all the officers could be regulated and the affairs of all the people accurately examined.”


The use of notches for mere numeration was frequent, but there are also instances of their special significance.

The Dakotas, Hidatsa, and Shoshoni have been observed to note the number of days during which they journeyed from one place to another by cutting lines or notches upon a stick.

The coup sticks carried by Dakota warriors often bear a number of small notches, which refer to the number of the victims hit with the stick after they had been wounded or killed.

The young men and boys of the several tribes at Fort Berthold, Dakota, frequently carry a stick, upon which they cut a notch for every bird killed during a single expedition.

In Seaver’s (a) life of Mary Jemison it is set forth that the war chief in each tribe of Iroquois keeps a war-post, in order to commemorate great events and preserve the chronology of them. This post is a peeled stick of timber 10 or 12 feet high, and is erected in the village. For a campaign they make, or rather the chief makes, a perpendicular red mark about 3 inches long and half an inch wide. On the opposite side from this, for a scalp taken, they make a red cross, thus Greek cross On another side, for a prisoner taken alive, they make a red cross in this manner saltire with dot with a head or dot, and by placing these significant signs in so conspicuous a situation they are enabled to ascertain with great certainty the time and circumstances of past events.

It is suggested that the device first mentioned represents the scalp severed and lifted from the head, and that the second refers to the[228] manner in which the prisoners were secured at night, pegged and tied in the style called spread-eagle.

Rev. Richard Taylor (a) notes that the Maori had neither the quipus nor wampum, but only a board shaped like a saw, which was called “he rakau wakapa-paranga,” or genealogical board. It was, in fact, a tally, having a notch for each name, and a blank space to denote where the male line failed and was succeeded by that of the female; youths were taught their genealogies by repeating the names of each ancestor to whom the notches referred.

It is supposed that the use by bakers of notched sticks or tallies, as they are called, still exists in some civilized regions, and there is an interesting history connected with the same wooden tallies, which until lately were used in the accounts of the exchequer of Great Britain. They also appear more recently and in a different use as the Khe-mou circulated by Tartar chiefs to designate the number of men and horses required to be furnished by each camp.


Fig. 163.—Wampum strings.

Prof. Robert E. C. Stearns (a) says that wampum consisted of beads of two principal colors having a cylindrical form, a quarter of an inch, more or less, in length, the diameter or thickness being usually about half the length. The color of the wampum determined its value. The term wampum, wampon, or wampom, and wampum-peege was apparently applied to these beads when strung or otherwise connected, fastened, or woven together. The illustration given by him is now reproduced as Fig. 163.

In the Jesuit Relations, 1656, p. 3, the first present of an Iroquois chief to Jesuit missionaries at a council is described. This was a great figure of the sun, made of 6,000 beads of wampum, which explained to them that the darkness shall not influence them in the councils and the sun shall enlighten them even in the depth of night.

Among the Iroquoian and Algonquian tribes wampum belts were generally used to record treaties. Mr. John Long (a) describes one of them:

The wampum belts given to Sir William Johnson, of immortal Indian memory, were in several rows, black on each side and white in the middle; the white being placed in the center was to express peace and that the path between them was fair and open. In the center of the belt was a figure of a diamond made of white wampum, which the Indians call the council fire.


In the Jesuit Relations, 1642, p. 53, it is said that among the northern Algonquins a present to deliver a prisoner consisted of three strings of wampum to break the three bonds by which he was supposed to be tied, one around the legs, one around the arms, and the third around the middle.

In the same Relations, 1653, p. 19, is a good example of messages attached to separate presents of wampum, etc. This was at a council in 1653 at the Huron town, 2 leagues from Quebec:

The first was given to dry the tears which are usually shed at the news of brave warriors massacred in combat.

The second served as an agreeable drink, as an antidote to whatever bitterness might remain in the heart of the French on account of the death of their people.

The third was to furnish a piece of bark or a covering for the dead, lest the sight of them should renew the old strife.

The fourth was to inter them and to tread well the earth upon their graves, in order that nothing should ever come forth from their tombs which could grieve their friends and cause the spirit of revenge to arise in their minds.

The fifth was to serve as a wrapping to pack up the arms which were henceforth not to be touched.

The sixth was to cleanse the river, soiled with so much blood.

The last, to exhort the Hurons to agree to what Onontio, the great captain of the French, should decide upon touching the peace.

As a rule there was no intrinsic significance in a wampum belt, or collar, as the French sometimes called it. It was not understood except by the memory of those to whom and by whom it was delivered. This is well expressed in a dialogue reported by Capt. de Lamothe Cadillac (a) in 1703:

[Council of Hurons at Fort Ponchartrain, June 3, 1703.]

Quarante-Sols. I come on my way to tell you what I propose to do at Montreal. Here is a collar which has been sent to us by the Iroquois, and which the Ottawas have brought to us; we do not know what it signifies.

M. de Lamothe. How have you received this collar without knowing the purpose for which it was sent you?

Quarante-Sols. It has already been long since we received it. I was not there, and our old men have forgotten what it said.

M. de Lamothe. Your old men are not regarded as children to have such a short memory.

Quarante-Sols. We do not accept this collar; but we are going to take it to Sonnontouan [the Seneca town] to find out what it means; because it is a serious matter not to respond to a collar; it is the custom among us. The Ottawas can tell you what it is, because our people have forgotten it.

M. de Lamothe. The Ottawas will reply that having received it you should remember it, but since this collar is dumb and has lost its speech I am obliged to be silent myself.

In the Diary of the Siege of Detroit (a) it is narrated that after receiving a belt of wampum from the commanding officer the Pottawatomi chief called it the officer’s “mouth,” and said that those to whom it was sent would believe it when “they saw his mouth.”

But wampum designs, besides being mere credentials, and thus like the Australian message sticks, and also mnemonic, became, to some[230] extent, conventional. The predominance of white beads indicated peace, and purple or violet meant war.

On the authority of Sir Daniel Wilson (a) a string of black wampum sent round the settlement is still among the Indians of the Six Nations the notice of the death of a chief.

The Iroquois belts had an arrangement of wampum to signify the lakes, rivers, mountains, valleys, portages, and falls along the path of trail between them and the Algonkins, who were parties to their treaty in 1653.

On the authority of a manuscript letter from St. Ange to D’Abbadie, September 9, 1764, quoted by Parkman (a), Pontiac’s great wampum belt was 6 feet long, 4 inches wide, and was wrought from end to end with the symbols of tribes and villages, 47 in number, which were leagued with him.

In addition to becoming conventional the designs in wampum, perhaps from expertness in their workmanship, exhibited ideographs in their later development, of which the following description, taken from Rev. Peter Jones’s (a), “History of the Ojebway Indians” is an instance:

Johnson then explained the emblems contained in the wampum belt brought by Yellowhead, which, he said, they acknowledged to be the acts of their fathers. Firstly, the council fire at the Sault Ste. Marie has no emblem, because then the council was held. Secondly, the council fire at Mamtoulni has the emblem of a beautiful white fish; this signifies purity, or a clean white heart—that all our hearts ought to be white toward each other. Thirdly, the emblem of a beaver, placed at an island on Penetanguishew bay, denotes wisdom—that all the acts of our fathers were done in wisdom. Fourthly, the emblem of a white deer, placed at Lake Simcoe, signified superiority; the dish and ladles at the same place indicated abundance of game and food. Fifthly, the eagle perched on a tall pine tree at the Credit denotes watching, and swiftness in conveying messages. The eagle was to watch all the council fires between the Six Nations and the Ojebways, and being far-sighted, he might, in the event of anything happening, communicate the tidings to the distant tribes. Sixthly, the sun was hung up in the center of the belt to show that their acts were done in the face of the sun, by whom they swore that they would forever after observe the treaties made between the two parties.


In the same work, p. 119, is a description of a wampum belt that recorded the first treaty between the Ojibwa and the Six Nations of the Iroquois confederacy. It has the figure of a dish or bowl at its middle to represent that the Ojibwa and the Six Nations were all to eat out of the same dish, meaning, ideographically, that all the game in the region should be for their common use.

Fig. 164.—Penn wampum belt.

Mr. W. H. Holmes (c) gives an illustration of the well-known Penn wampum belt, reproduced here as Fig. 164, with remarks condensed as follows:

It is believed to be the original belt delivered by the Leni-Lenape sachems to William Penn at the celebrated treaty under the elm tree at Schackamaxon in 1682. Up to the year 1857 this belt remained in the keeping of the Penn family. In March, 1857, it was presented to the Pennsylvania Historical Society by Granville John Penn, a great-grandson of William Penn. Mr. Penn, in his speech on this occasion, states that there can be no doubt that this is the identical belt used at the treaty, and presents his views in the following language:

“In the first place, its dimensions are greater than of those used on more ordinary occasions, of which we have one still in our possession—this belt being composed of 18 strings of wampum, which is a proof that it was the record of some very important negotiation. In the next place, in the center of the belt, which is of white wampum, are delineated in dark-colored beads, in a rude, but graphic style, two figures—that of an Indian grasping with the hand of friendship the hand of a man evidently intended to be represented in the European costume wearing a hat, which can only be interpreted as having reference to the treaty of peace and friendship which was then concluded between William Penn and the Indians, and recorded by them in their own simple but descriptive mode of expressing their meaning by the employment of hieroglyphics.”


The Indian songs or, more accurately, chants, with which pictography is connected, have been preserved in their integrity by the use of pictured characters. They are in general connected with religious ceremonies, and are chiefly used in the initiation of neophytes to secret religious orders. Some of them, however, are used in social meetings or ceremonies of cult societies, though the distinction between social or any other general associations and those to be classified as religious is not easily defined. Religion was the real life of the tribes, permeating all their activities and institutions.

The words of these songs are invariable, even to the extent that by their use for generations many of them have become archaic and form no part of the colloquial language. Indeed, they are not always understood by the best of the shaman songsters, which fact recalls the oriental memorization of the Veda ritual through generations by the priests, who thus, without intent, preserved a language. The sounds were memorized, although the characters designating or, more correctly, recalling them, were not representations of sound, but of idea.

Practically, the words—or sounds, understood or not, which passed[232] for words—as well as the notes, were memorized by the singers, and their memory, or that of the shaman, who acted as leader or conductor or precentor, was assisted by the charts. Exoteric interpretation of any ideographic and not merely conventional or purely arbitrary characters in the chart, which may be compared for indistinctness with the translated libretto of operas, may suggest the general subject-matter, perhaps the general course, of the chant, but can not indicate the exact words, or, indeed, any words, of the language chanted.

A simple mode of explaining the amount of symbolism necessarily contained in the charts of the order of songs is by likening them to the illustrated songs and ballads lately published in popular magazines, where every stanza has at least one appropriate illustration. Let it be supposed that the text was obliterated forever, indeed, the art of reading lost, the illustrations remaining, as also the memory to some persons of the words of the ballad. The illustrations, kept in their original order, would always supply the order of the stanzas and also the particular subject-matter of each particular stanza, and that subject-matter would be a reminder of the words. This is what the rolls of birchbark supply to the initiated Ojibwa. Schoolcraft pretended that there is intrinsic symbolism in the characters employed, which might imply that the words of the chants were rather interpretations of those characters than that the latter were reminders of the words. But only after the vocables of the actual songs and chants have been learned can the mnemonic characters be clearly understood. Doubtless the more ideographic and the less arbitrary the characters the more readily can they be learned and retained in the memory, and during the long period of the practical use of the mnemonic devices many exhibiting ideography and symbolism have been invented or selected.


The ceremonial songs represented pictorially in Pl. XVII, A, B, C, and D, were obtained from Ojibwa shamans at White Earth, Minnesota, by Dr. Hoffman, and pertain to the ceremony of initiating new members into the Midē' wiwin or Grand Medicine Society. The language, now omitted, differs to some extent from that now spoken. The songs and ritual are transmitted from generation to generation, and although an Indian who now receives admission into the society may compose his own songs for use in connection with his profession, he will not adopt the modern Ojibwa words, but employs the archaic whenever practicable. To change the ancient forms would cause loss of power in the charms which such songs are alleged to possess.

The translation of the songs was given by the Ojibwa singers, while the remarks in smaller type further elucidate the meaning of the phrases, as afterwards explained by the shaman.

The characters were all drawn upon birch bark, as is usual with the “medicine songs” of the Ojibwa, and the words suggested by the incisions were chanted. The incompleteness of some of the phrases was accounted for by the shaman by the fact that they are gradually[233] being forgotten. The ceremonies are now of infrequent occurrence, which tends to substantiate this assertion.

One song, as presented on a single piece of birch bark, really consists of as many songs as there are mnemonic characters. Each phrase, corresponding to a character, is repeated a number of times; the greater the number of repetitions the greater will be the power of inspiration in the singer. One song or phrase may, therefore, extend over a period of from two to ten or more minutes.

The song covers much more time when dancing accompanies it, as is the case with the first one presented below. The dancing generally commences after a pause, designated by a single vertical bar.

The following characters are taken from A, Pl. XVII, and are here reproduced separately to facilitate explanation:

The earth, spirit that I am, I take medicine out of the earth.

The upper figure represents the arm reaching down toward the earth, searching for hidden remedies.

(Because of) a spirit that I am, my son.

The headless human figure emerging from the circle is a mysterious being, representing the power possessed by the speaker. He addresses a younger and less experienced Midē' or shaman.

Bar or rest.

The vertical line denotes a slight pause in the song, after which the chant is renewed, accompanied by dancing.

They have pity on me, that is why they call us to the Grand Medicine.

The inner circle represents the speaker’s heart; the outer circle, the gathering place for shamans, while the short lines indicate the directions from which the shamans come together.

I want to see you, medicine man.

The figure of a head is represented with lines running downward (and forward) from the eyes, donating sight. The speaker is looking for the shaman, spoken to, to make his appearance within the sacred structure where the Midē' ceremonies are to take place.

My body is a spirit.

The character is intended to represent the body of a bear, with a line across the body, signifying one of the most powerful of the sacred Man'idōs or spirits, of the Midē' wiwin or “Grand Medicine Society.”

You would [know] it, it being a spirit.

The figure of a head is shown with lines extending both upward and downward from the ears, denoting a knowledge of things in realm of the Man'idōs above, and of the secrets of the earth beneath.


As I am dressed, I am.

The otter is emerging from the sacred Midē' inclosure; the otter typifies the sacred Man'idō who received instruction for the people from Mi'nabō'zho, the intermediary between the “Great Spirit” and the Ânîshinâbeg.

That is what ails me, I fear my Midē' brothers.

The arm reaching into a circle denotes the power of obtaining mysterious influence from Kítschi Man'idō, but the relation between the pictograph and the phrase is obscure; unless the speaker fears such power as possessed by others.

The following is the order of another Midē' song. The general style of the original resembles the specific class of songs which are used when digging medicines, i. e., plants or roots. The song is shown in Pl. XVII, B as the character appears on the bark.

As I arise from [slumber].

The speaker is shown as emerging from a double circle, his sleeping place.

What have I unearthed?

The speaker has discovered a bear Man'idō, as shown by the two hands grasping that animal by the back.

Down is the bear.

The bear is said to have his legs cut off, by the outline of the Midē' structure, signifying he has become helpless because he is under the influence of the shamans.

Big, I am big.

The speaker is great in his own estimation; his power of obtaining gifts from superior beings is shown by the arm reaching for an object received from above; he has furthermore overcome the bear Man'idō and can employ it to advantage.

You encourage me.

Two arms are shown extended toward a circle containing spots of mī'gis, or sacred shells. The arms represent the assistance of friends of the speaker encouraging him with their assistance.


I can alight in the medicine pole.

The eagle or thunder-bird is perched upon the medicine pole erected near the shamans’ sacred structure. The speaker professes to have the power of flight equal to the thunder-bird, that he may transport himself to any desired locality.

The following is another example of a pictured Midē' song, and is represented in Pl. XVII, C.

I know you are a spirit.

The figure is represented as having waving lines extending from the eyes downward toward the earth, and indicating search for secrets hidden beneath the surface of the earth. The hands extending upward indicate the person claims supernatural powers by which he is recognized as “equal to a spirit.”

I lied to my son.

The signification of the phrase could not be explained by the informant, especially its relation to the character, which is an arm, reaching beyond the sky for power from Ki'tshi Man'idō. The waving line upon the arm denotes mysterious power.

Spirit I am, the wolf.

The speaker terms himself a wolf spirit, possessing peculiar power. The animal as drawn has a line across the body signifying its spirit character.

At last I become a spirit.

The circle denotes the spot occupied by the speaker; his hands extended are directed toward the source of his powers.

I give you the mī'gis.

The upper character represents the arm reaching down giving a sacred shell, the mī'gis, the sacred emblem of the “Grand Medicine Society.” The “giving of the mī'gis” signifies its “being shot” into the body of a new member of the society to give him life and the power of communing with spirits, or Man'idōs.

You are speaking to me.

An arm is extended toward a circle containing a smaller one, the latter representing the spot occupied by Midē' friends.


The characters next explained are taken from the last line, D, of the series given in Pl. XVII. The speaker appears to have great faith in his own powers as a Midē'.

Spirit I am, I enter.

The otter, which Man'idō, the speaker, professes to represent, is entering the sacred structure of Midē' lodge.

Midē' friends, do you hear me?

The circles denote the locality where the Midē' are supposed to be congregated. The waving lines signify hearing, when, as in this case, attached to the ears.

The first time I heard you.

The speaker asserts that he heard the voices of the Man'idōs when he went through his first initiation into the society. He is still represented as the otter.

The spirit, he does hear (?)

The interpretation is vague, but could not be otherwise explained. The lines from the ears denote hearing.

They, the Midē' friends, have paid enough.

The arm in the attitude of giving, to Ki'tshi Man'idō, signifies that the Midē' have made presents of sufficient value to be enabled to possess the secrets, which they received in return.

They have pity on me, the chief Midē'.

The arms of Ki'tshi Man'idō are extended to the Midē' lodge, giving assistance as besought.

The song mnemonically represented in Pl. XVIII A (reproduced from Pl. X A. of the Seventh Ann. Rep. Bur. of Ethn.) is sung by the Ojibwa preceptor who has been instructing the candidate for initiation. It praises the preceptor’s efforts and the character of the knowledge he has imparted. Its delivery is made to extend over as much time as possible.


The mnemonic characters were drawn by Sikas'sigĕ, and are a copy of an old birchbark scroll, which has for many years been in his possession,[237] and which was a transcript of one in the possession of his father Baiédzĭk, one of the leading Midē' at Mille Lacs, Minnesota.

My arm is almost pulled out with digging medicine. It is full of medicine.

The short zigzag lines signifying magic influence, erroneously designated “medicine.”

Almost crying because the medicine is lost.

The lines extending downward from the eye signify weeping; the circle beneath the figure, the place where the “medicine” is supposed to exist. The idea of “lost” signifies that some information has been forgotten through death of those who possessed it.

Yes, there is much medicine you may cry for.

Refers to that which is yet to be taught.

Yes, I see there is plenty of it.

The Midē' has knowledge of more than he has imparted, but reserves that knowledge for a future time. The lines of “sight” run to various medicines which he perceives or knows of.


When I come out the sky becomes clear.

When the otter-skin Midē' sack is produced the sky becomes clear, so that the ceremonies may proceed.

The spirit has given me power to see.

The Midē' sits on a mountain the better to commune with the good Man'idō.

I brought the medicine to bring life.

The Midē' Man'idō, the Thunderer, after bringing some of the plants—by causing the rains to fall—returns to the sky. The short line represents part of the circular line usually employed to designate the imaginary vault of the sky.

I too, see how much there is.

His power elevates the Midē' to the rank of a Man'idō, from whose position he perceives many secrets hidden in the earth.


I am going to the medicine lodge.

The vertical, left-hand figure denotes a leg going toward the Midē'wigân.

I take life from the sky.

The Midē' is enabled to reach into the sky and to obtain from Ki'tshi Man'idō' the means of prolonging life. The circle at the top denotes the sacred migis or shell.

Let us talk to one another.

The circles denote the places of the speaker (Midē') and the hearer (Ki'tshi Man'idō), the short lines signifying magic influences, the Midē' occupying the left hand and smaller seat.

The spirit is in my body, my friend.

The mī'gis, given by Ki'tshi Man'idō, is in contact with the Midē'’s body, and he is possessed of life and power.

In the order of song, Pl. XVIII, B, reproduced from Pl. IX, C, of the Seventh Ann. Rep. of the Bureau of Ethnology, the preceptor appears to feel satisfied that the candidate is prepared to receive the initiation, and therefore tells him that the Midē' Man'idō announces to him the assurance. The preceptor therefore encourages his pupil with promises of the fulfillment of his highest desires:

I hear the spirit speaking to us.

The Midē'-singer is of superior power, as designated by the horns and pointer upon his head. The lines from the ears indicate hearing.

I am going into the medicine lodge.

The Midē'wigân is shown with a line through it, to signify that the preceptor is going through it in imagination, as in the initiation.

I am taking (gathering) medicine to make me live.

The disks indicate the sacred objects sought for, which are successively obtained by the speaker, who represents the officiating shaman.


I give you medicine, and a lodge, also.

The Midē', as the personator of Makwá Man'idō, is empowered to offer this privilege to the candidate.

I am flying into my lodge.

Represents the thunder-bird, a deity flying into the arch of the sky, the abode of spirits or Man'idōs. The short lines cutting the curve are spirit lines.

The spirit has dropped medicine from the sky where we can get it.

The line from the sky, diverging to various points, indicates that the sacred objects fall in scattered places.

I have the medicine in my heart.

The singer’s heart is filled with knowledge relating to sacred objects from the earth.

The song depicted in Pl. XVIII C, was drawn by “Little Frenchman,” an Ojibwa Midē' of the first degree, who reproduced it from a bark record belonging to his preceptor. “Little Frenchman” had not yet received instruction in these characters, and consequently could not sing the songs, but from his familiarity with mnemonic delineations of the order of the Grand Medicine of ideas he was able to give an outline of the signification of the figures and the phraseology which they suggested to his mind. In the following description the first line pertaining to a character is the objective description, the second being the explanation.

It is furthermore to be remarked that in this chart and the one following the interpretation of characters begins at the right hand instead of the left, contrary to rule. The song is reproduced from. Pl. XXII, A, of the Seventh Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology:

From the place where I sit.

A man, seated and talking or singing.


The big tree in the middle of the earth.

Tree; inclosure represents the world as visible from a given spot of observation—horizon.

I will float down the fast running stream.

Stream of water; the spots indicate progress of traveler, and may be rude indications of canoes or equally rude foot tracks, the usual pictograph for traveling.

The place that is feared I inhabit; the swift running stream.

A spirit surrounded by a line indicating the shore.

You who speak to me.

Two spirits communing.

I have long horns.

Horned water monster.

Rest; dancing begins with next character.

I, observing, follow your example.

Man listening to water monster (spirit).

You are my body; you see anybody; you see my nails are worn off in grasping the stone (from which medicine is taken).

Bear, with claws, scratching; depression shown by line under claws, where scratching has been done.

You (i. e., the spirits who are there), to whom I am speaking.

Spirit panther.


I am floating down smoothly.

Spirit otter, swimming; outer lines are river banks.


I have finished my drum.

Spirit holding drum; sound ascending.

My body is like unto you.

This is the mī'gis shell—the special symbol of the Midē' wiwin.

Hear me, thou, who art talking to me.

Listening, and wanting others (spirits) to hear.

See what I am taking.

Spirit (Midē') taking “medicine root.”

See me whose head is out of the water.

Otters, two spirits, the left-hand one being the “speaker.”

The Midē' song, Pl. XVIII, D, was also copied by “Little Frenchman” upon birchbark, from one in the possession of his preceptor, but upon which he had not yet received careful instruction; hence the incompleteness of some of his interpretations. It is reproduced from Pl. XXII, B, of the Seventh Ann. Rep. Bureau of Ethnology.

I am sitting down with my pipe.

Man sitting, holding a pipe. He has been called upon to “make medicine.” The short lines beneath the body represent that he is seated. He holds a filled pipe which he is not yet smoking.

I, me the spirit, the spirit of the owl.

Owl, held by Midē'; arm above bird. This character appears upon the Grand Medicine chart from Red Lake, as passing from the midē' lodge to the ghost lodge.


It stands, that which I am going after.

Tree; showing tracks made by bear spirit. The speaker terms himself equal with this spirit and represents himself seeking remedies.

I, who fly.

Medicine bag, flying. The figure is that of the thunder bird (eagle) whose skin was used for a bag. The trees beneath show the bird to have ascended beyond their tops.

Kibinan is what I use—the magic arrow.

An arrow, held by hand.

I am coming to the earth.

Otter spirit. Circle denotes the surrounding sky in which is the spirit. The earth is shown by the horizontal line above which is the Indian hut. The speaker likens himself to the otter spirit who first received the rites of the Midē' initiation.

I am feeling for it.

Man (spirit) seeking for hidden medicine. The circle represents a hole in the earth.

I am talking to it.

Medicine bag made of an owl skin is held by shaman; latter is talking to the magic elements contained therein.

They are sitting in a circle (“around in a row”).

Midē' lodge; Midē' sitting around. The crosses represent the persons present.

You who are newly hung, and you who have reached half, and you who are now full.

Full moon, one half, and quarter moon.

I am going for my dish.

Footprints leading to dish (ghost society dish). The circular objects here each denotes a “feast,” usually represented by a “dish.”

I go through the medicine lodge.

Grand medicine lodge; tracks leading through it. The speaker, after having prepared a feast, is entitled to enter for initiation.


Let us commune with one another.

Two men conversing; two Midē'.


The mnemonic order of song, Pl. XIX a, is another example from Red Lake, prepared by the Ojibwa last mentioned:

“Carved images.”

Carved images. These represent the speaker to say that he prepares fetishes for hunting, love, etc.

I am holding my grand medicine sack.

Man holding “medicine bag.”

“Wants a woman.” [No interpretation was ventured by “Little Frenchman.”]

Hear me, great spirit.

Lines from the ears, to denote hearing.

I am about to climb.

Medicine tree at grand lodge. The marks on either side are bear tracks, the footprints of the bear spirit—the speaker representing him.

I am entering the grand medicine lodge.

The Midē'wigân, showing footprints of the bear Man'idō which are simulated by the boastful shaman.

I am making my tracks on the road.

Footprints on the path.

I am resting at my home.

Human figure, with “voice” issuing—singing.

Pl. XIX b is a similar song, also made by “Little Frenchman,” and relates to magic remedies and his powers of incantation:

The stars.

Stars, preceded by a mark of rest or beginning. It may be noticed that one star has eight and the other six rays, showing that their number is not significant.


The wolf that runs.

Wolf; the banded tail distinguishes it from the otter.

See me what I have; what I have (goods given in the midē' wigwân).

Man holding bow.

See what I am about to do.

Arm, holding a gun.

The house of the beaver.

Beaver, in his house.

I, who make a noise.

A frog, croaking, shown by “voice” lines.

My white hair.

Head with hair. The signification of white hair is great age, though there is no way to ascertain this without oral statement by the singer.

The house of the otter.

Otter in his burrow.

Hear me, you, to whom I am talking.

Mī'gis, spoken to by man, lines showing hearing. The sacred emblem of the Midē'wiwin is implored for aid in carrying out a desired scheme.

I stoop as I walk.

An old man. Age is denoted by the act of walking with a staff.

I stand by the tree.

Standing near medicine tree. The speaker knows of valued remedies which he desires to dispose of for payment.

I am raising a rock.

Man with stone for Midē' lodge. Carrying stone to Midē' lodge, against which to place a patient.


I am holding my pail.

Vessel of medicine; arm reaching down to it.

My arrow point is of iron, and about to kill a male bear.

Bear, above arrow. Bow—lower character.

I am about to speak to the sky.

Speaking to the “sky.” Power of communing with the Great Spirit, Ki'tshi Man'idō'.

I am about to depart; I will liken myself to a bear.

Bear, tracks and path.

I am walking on the hard sand beach.

Body of water, and lynx. The ellipse denotes a lake.

Another song of a similar character, reproduced from birchbark on Pl. XIX c, is explained below. It was also made by “Little Frenchman,” and relates to the searching for and preparation of objects used in sorcery.

It is fiery, that which I give you.

Vessel, with flames on top. Contains strong water wi-bīn', a magical decoction.

It is growing, the tree.

Midē'wigân, with trees growing around it at four corners.

I cover the earth with my length.

Snakes; guardians of the first degree.

The bear is contained within me.

Bear spirit within the man—i. e., the speaker. This indicates that he possesses the power of the Bear Man'idō, one of the most powerful of the guardians of the Midē' society.

He has Man'idō (spirit) in his mouth.

Possessing the power of curing by “sucking” bad spirits from patient’s body. This is the practice of the lower shamans, known as Jēs'sakkīd'.


The hawk genus et sp.

Ki-ni-en', the hawk from which “medicine” is obtained.

I, who am about to talk.

Head of man; lines from mouth denote speech.

The interpretation now again proceeds from right to left.

I am about to walk.

Bear spirit, talking. The lines upon the back indicate his spirit character.

I am crawling away.

Mī'gis shell. The sacred emblem of the Midē' society.


From this, I wish to be able to walk.

Taking “medicine” trail (behind man). The speaker is addressing a Man'idō which he holds.

I am being called to go there.

Sacred lodges, with spirits within.

I am going.

Footprints, leading toward a wigwam.


The Ojibwa chart, used in the “Song for the Metai, or for Medicine Hunting,” is taken from Tanner’s (a) Narrative and reproduced in Fig. 165. It should be noted that the Metai of Tanner’s interpretation, which follows, is the same as the Midē' in the foregoing interpretations:

Fig. 165.—Song for Medicine Hunting.

a. Now I hear it, my friends of the Metai, who are sitting about me.

This and the three following are sung by the principal chief of the[247] Metai, to the beat of his bwoin ah-keek, or drum. The line from the sides of the head of the figure indicate hearing.

b. Who makes this river flow? The Spirit, he makes this river flow.

The second figure is intended to represent a river, and a beaver swimming down it.

c. Look at me well, my friends; examine me, and let us understand that we are all companions.

This translation is by no means literal. The words express the boastful claims of a man who sets himself up for the best and most skillful in the fraternity.

d. Who maketh to walk about, the social people? A bird maketh to walk about the social people.

By the bird the medicine man means himself; he says that his voice has called the people together. Weej-huh nish-a-nauba, or weeja-nish-a-nau-ba seems to have the first syllable from the verb which means to accompany. The two lines drawn across, between this figure and the next, indicate that here the dancing is to commence.

e. I fly about and if anywhere I see an animal, I can shoot him.

This figure of a bird (probably an eagle or hawk) seems intended to indicate the wakefulness of the senses and the activity required to insure success in hunting. The figure of the moose which immediately follows, reminding the singer of the cunning and extreme shyness of that animal, the most difficult of all to kill.

f. I shoot your heart; I hit your heart, oh, animal—your heart—I hit your heart.

This apostrophe is mere boasting and is sung with much gesticulation and grimace.

g. I make myself look like fire.


This is a medicine man disguised in the skin of a bear. The small parallelogram under the bear signifies fire, and the shamans, by some composition of gunpowder, or other means, contrive to give the appearance of fire to the mouth and eyes of the bear skin, in which they go about the village late at night, bent on deeds of mischief, oftentimes of blood. We learn how mischievous are these superstitions when we are informed that they are the principal men of the Metai, who thus wander about the villages in the disguise of a bear, to wreak their hatred on a sleeping rival or their malice on an unsuspecting adversary. But the customs of the Indians require of anyone who may see a medicine man on one of these excursions to take his life immediately, and whoever does so is accounted guiltless.

h. I am able to call water from above, from beneath, and from around.

Here the medicine man boasts of his power over the elements, and his ability to do injury or benefit. The segment of a circle with dots in it represents water and the two short lines touching the head of the figure indicate that he can draw it to him.

i. I cause to look like the dead, a man I did.

I cause to look like the dead, a woman I did.

I cause to look like the dead, a child I did.

The lines drawn across the face of this figure indicate poverty, distress, and sickness; the person is supposed to have suffered from the displeasure of the medicine man. Such is the religion of the Indians. Its boast is to put into the hands of the devout supernatural means by which he may wreak vengeance on his enemies whether weak or powerful, whether they be found among the foes of his tribe or the people of his own village. This Metai, so much valued and revered by them, seems to be only the instrument in the hands of the crafty for keeping in subjection the weak and the credulous, which may readily be supposed to be the greater part of the people.

k. I am such, I am such, my friends; any animal, any animal, my friends, I hit him right, my friends.

This boast of certain success in hunting is another method by which he hopes to elevate himself in the estimation of his hearers. Having told them he has the power to put them all to death, he goes on to speak of his infallible success in hunting, which will always enable him to be a valuable friend to such as are careful to secure his good will.

The following chart for the “Song for beaver hunting and the Metai,” is taken from the same author, loc. cit., and reproduced in Fig. 166, with interpretations as follows:

Fig. 166.—Song for beaver hunting.

a. I sit down in the lodge of the Metai, the lodge of the Spirit.

This figure is intended to represent the area of the Metai-we-gaun, or medicine lodge, which is called also the lodge of the Man'idō, and two men have taken their seats in it. The matter of the song seems to be merely introductory.


b. Two days must you sit fast, my friend; four days must you sit fast, my friend.

The two perpendicular lines on the breast of this figure are read ne-o-gone (two days), but are understood to mean two years; so of the four lines drawn obliquely across the legs, these are four years. The heart must be given to this business for two years, and the constrained attitude of the legs indicates the rigid attention and serious consideration which the subject requires.

c. Throw off, woman, thy garments, throw off.

The power of their medicines and the incantations of the Metai are not confined in their effect to animals of the chase, to the lives and health of men; they control also the minds of all and overcome the modesty as well as the antipathies of women. The Indians firmly believe that many a woman who has been unsuccessfully solicited by a man is not only by the power of the Metai made to yield, but even in a state of madness to tear off her garments and pursue after the man she before despised. These charms have greater power than those in the times of superstition among the English, ascribed to the fairies, and they need not, like the plant used by Puck, be applied to the person of the unfortunate being who is to be transformed; they operate at a distance through the medium of the Miz-zin-ne-neens.

d. Who makes the people walk about? It is I that calls you.

This is in praise of the virtue of hospitality, that man being most esteemed among them who most frequently calls his neighbors to his feast.

e. Anything I can shoot with it (this medicine) even a dog, I can kill with it.

f. I shoot thy heart, man, thy heart.

He means, perhaps, a buck moose by the word e-nah-ne-wah, or man.

g. I can kill a white loon, I can kill.

The white loon (rara avis nigroque similimo cygno) is certainly a rare and most difficult bird to kill; so we may infer that this boaster can kill anything, which is the amount of the meaning intended in that[250] part of his song recorded by the five last figures. Success in hunting they look upon as a virtue of a higher character, if we may judge from this song, than the patience under suffering or the rakishness among women, or even the hospitality recommended in the former part.

h. My friends——

There seems to be an attempt to delineate a man sitting with his hands raised to address his friends; but the remainder of his speech is not remembered. This is sufficient to show that the meaning of the characters in this kind of picture writing is not well settled and requires a traditional interpretation to render it intelligible.

i. I open my wolf skin and the death struggle must follow.

This is a wolf skin used as a medicine bag and he boasts that whenever he opens it something must die in consequence.

Tanner’s Narrative (b) says of musical notation drawn on bark by Ojibwas:

Many of these songs are noted down by a method probably peculiar to the Indians, on birch bark, or small flat pieces of wood: the ideas being conveyed by emblematic figures, somewhat like those * * * used in communicating ordinary information.

Rev. P. J. De Smet (a) gives an account of the mnemonic order of songs among the Kickapoo and Pottawatomi. He describes a stick 1½ inches broad and 8 or 10 long, upon which are arbitrary characters which they follow with the finger in singing the prayers, etc. There are five classes of these characters. The first represents the heart, the second heart and flesh (chair), the third life, the fourth their names, and the fifth their families.

A. W. Howitt (b) says:

The makers of the Australian songs, or of the combined songs and dances are the poets or bards of the tribe and are held in great esteem. Their names are known to the neighboring peoples, and their songs are carried from tribe to tribe until the very meaning of the words is lost as well as the original source of the song.

Such an instance is a song which was accompanied by a carved stick painted red, which was held by the chief singer. This traveled down the Murray river from some unknown source. The same song, accompanied by such a stick, also came into Gippsland many years ago from Melbourne and may even have been the above mentioned one on its return.


Even since the Columbian discovery some tribes have employed devices yet ruder than the rudest pictorial attempt as markers for the memory. An account of one of these is given in E. Winslow’s Relation (A. D. 1624), Col. Mass. Hist. Soc., 2d series, IX, 1822, p. 99, as follows:

Instead of records and chronicles they take this course: Where any remarkable act is done, in memory of it, either in the place or by some pathway near adjoining, they make a round hole in the ground about a foot deep and as much over, which, when others passing by behold, they inquire the cause and occasion of the same, which, being once known, they are careful to acquaint all men as occasion serveth therewith. And lest such holes should be filled or grown over by any accident, as[251] men pass by they will often renew the same, by which means many things of great antiquity are fresh in memory. So that as a man traveleth, if he can understand his guide, his journey will be the less tedious by reason of the many historical discourses which will be related unto him.

In connection with this section students may usefully consult Dr. Brinton’s (f) Lenâpé and their Legends.

As an example of a chart used in the exact repetition of traditions, Fig. 167 is presented with the following explanation by Rev. J. Owen Dorsey:

Fig. 167.—Osage chart.

The chart accompanies a tradition chanted by members of a secret society of the Osage tribe. It was drawn by an Osage, Red Corn.

The tree at the top represents the tree of life. By this flows a river. The tree and the river are described later in the degrees. When a woman is initiated she is required by the head of her gens to take four sips of water (symbolizing the river), then he rubs cedar on the palms of his hands, with which he rubs her from head to foot. If she belongs to a gens on the left side of a tribal circle, her chief begins on the left side of her head, making three passes, and pronouncing the sacred name three times. Then he repeats the process from her forehead down; then on the right side of her head; then at the back of her head; four times three times, or twelve passes in all.

Beneath the river are the following objects: The Watse ʇuʞa, male slaying animal (?), or morning star, which is a red star. 2. Six stars called the “Elm rod” by the white people in the Indian territory. 3. The evening star. 4. The little star. Beneath these are the moon, seven stars, and sun. Under the seven stars are the peace pipe and war hatchet; the latter is close to the sun, and the former and the moon are on the same side of the chart. Four parallel lines extending across the chart, represent four heavens or upper worlds through which the ancestors of the Tsiↄu people passed before they came to this earth. The lowest heaven rests on an oak tree; the ends of the others appear to be supported by pillars or ladders. The tradition begins below the lowest heaven, on the left side of the chart, under the peace pipe. Each space on the pillar corresponds with a line of the chant; and each stanza (at the opening of the tradition) contains four lines. The first stanza precedes the arrival of the first heaven, pointing to a time when the children of the “former end” of the race were without human bodies as well as human souls. The bird hovering over the arch denotes an advance in the condition of the people; then they had human souls in the bodies of birds. Then followed the progress from the fourth to the first heaven, followed by the descent to earth. The ascent to four heavens and the descent to three, makes up the number seven.

When they alighted, it was on a beautiful day when the earth was covered with luxuriant vegetation. From that time the paths of the Osages separated; some marched on the right, being the war gentes, while those on the left were peace gentes, including the Tsiↄu, whose chart this is.


Then the Tsiↄu met the black bear, called in the tradition Káxe-wáhü-san' (Crow-bone-white), in the distance. He offered to become their messenger, so they sent him to the different stars for aid. According to the chart he went to them in the following order: Morning star, sun, moon, seven stars, evening star, little star.

Then the black bear went to the Waↄiñʞa-ↄüʇse, a female red bird sitting on her nest. This grandmother granted his request. She gave them human bodies, making them out of her own body.

The earth lodge at the end of the chart denotes the village of the Hañʞa uta¢anʇsi, who were a very warlike people. Buffalo skulls were on the tops of the lodges, and the bones of the animals on which they subsisted whitened on the ground. The very air was rendered offensive by the decaying bodies and offal.

The whole of the chart was used mnemonically. Parts of it, such as the four heavens and ladders, were tattooed on the throat and chest of the old men belonging to the order.

The tradition relating to Minabō'zho and the sacred objects received from Kítshi Man'idō is illustrated in Fig. 168, which, represents a copy (one-third original size) of the record preserved at White Earth. This record is read from left to right and is, briefly, as follows:

Fig. 168.—Midē' record.

a represents Minabō'zho, who says of the adjoining characters representing the members of the Midéwin: “They are the ones, they are the ones who put into my heart the life.” Minabō'zho holds in his left hand the sacred medicine bag.

b and c represent the drummers; at the sound of the drum everybody rises and becomes inspired, because the Great Spirit is then present in the lodge.

d denotes that women also have the privilege of becoming members of the Midéwin. This figure holds a snake-skin “medicine bag” in her left hand.

e represents the tortoise, the good spirit, who was the giver of some of the sacred objects used in the rite.

f the bear, also a benevolent spirit, but not held in so great veneration as the tortoise. His tracks are visible in the lodge.

g the sacred medicine bag, Biń-ji-gú-sân, which contains life and can be used by the Midē' to prolong the life of a sick person.

h represents a dog given by the spirits to Minabō'zho as a companion.

Fig. 169 gives copies, one-third actual size, of two records in possession of different Midē' at Red lake. The characters are almost identical, and one record appears to have been copied from the other. The lower figure, however, contains an additional character. The following is an[253] incomplete interpretation of the characters, the letters applying equally to both:

Fig. 169.—Midē' records.

a, Esh'gibŏ'ga, the great uncle of the Unish'-in-ab'-aig, the receiver of the Midéwin.

b, the drum and drumsticks.

c, a bar or rest, observed while chanting the words pertaining to the records.

d, the bin'-ji-gu'-sân, or sacred medicine bag. It consists of an otter skin, and is the mī'gis, or sacred symbol of the midē'wigân' or grand medicine lodge.

e, a Midē' shaman, the one who holds the mī'gis while chanting the Midē' song in the grand medicine lodge, f. He is inspired, as indicated by the line extending from the heart to the mouth.

f, representation of the grand medicine lodge. This character, with slight addition, is usually employed by the southern division of the Ojibwa to denote the lodge of a jĕssakkī'd, and is ordinarily termed a “jugglery.”

g, a woman, and signifies that women may also be admitted to the midē'wigân', shown in the preceding character.

h, a pause or rest in the chant.

i, the sacred snake-skin bag, having the power of giving life through its skin. This power is indicated by the lines radiating from the head and the back of the snake.

j represents a woman.

k, another illustration of the mī'gis, represented by the sacred otter.

l denotes a woman who is inspired, as shown by the line extending from the heart to the mouth in the lower chart, and simply showing the heart in the upper. In the latter she is also empowered to cure with magic plants.

m represents a Midē' shaman, but no explanation was obtained of the special character delineated.


Fig. 170.—Minabozho.

In Fig. 170 is presented a variant of the characters shown in a of Fig. 169. The fact that this denotes the power to cure by the use of plants would appear to indicate an older and more appropriate form than the delineation of the bow and arrow, as well as being more in keeping with the general rendering of the tradition.

Fig. 171, two-thirds real size, is a reproduction, introduced here for comparison and explanation, of a record illustrating the alleged power of a Midē'.

Fig. 171.—Midē' practicing incantation.

a, the author, is the Midē', who was called upon to take a man’s life at a distant camp. The line extending from the Midē' to i, explained below, signifies that his power extended to at least that distance.

b, an assistant Midē'.

c, d, e, and f represent the four degrees of the Midéwin, of which both shamans are members. The degrees are also indicated by the vertical lines above each lodge character.

g is the drum used in the ceremony.

h is an outline of the victim. A human figure is drawn upon a piece of birchbark, over which the incantations are made, and, to insure the death of the subject, a small spot of red paint is rubbed upon the breast and a sharp instrument thrust into it.

i, the outer line represents a lake, while the inner one is an island, upon which the victim resides.

The ceremony indicated in the above description actually occurred at White Earth during the autumn of 1884, and, by a coincidence, the Indian “conjured” died the following spring of pneumonia resulting from cold contracted during the winter. This was considered as the result of the Midē'’s power, and naturally secured for him many new adherents and believers.

Fig. 172.—Jĕssakkī'd curing a woman.

Fig. 172 represents a jĕssakkī'd, named Ne-wik'-ki, curing a sick woman by sucking the demon through a bone tube. It is introduced here for comparison, though equally appropriate to Chap. XIV, sec. 3. The left-hand character represents the Midē' holding a rattle in his hand. Around his head is an additional circle, denoting quantity (literally, more than an ordinary amount of knowledge), the short line projecting to the right therefrom indicating the tube used. The right-hand character is the patient operated upon.


The juggling trick of removing disease by sucking it through tubes is performed by the Midē' after fasting and is accompanied with many ceremonies.


Sikas'sigé, one of the officiating priests of the Midē' society of the Ojibwa at White Earth, Minnesota, gives the following explanation of Fig. 173, which is a reduced copy of a pictorial representation of a tradition explaining the origin of the Indians:

Fig. 173.—Origin of the Indians.

In the beginning, Ki'tshi Man'idō—Dzhe Man'idō, a—made the Midē' Man'idōs. He first created two men, b and c, and two women, d and e, but they had no power of thought or reason. Then Dzhe Man'idō made them reasoning beings. He then took them in his hands so that they should multiply; he paired them, and from this sprung the Indians. Then, when there were people, he placed them upon the earth; but he soon observed that they were subject to sickness, misery, and death, and that unless he provided them with the sacred medicine they would soon become extinct.

Between the position occupied by Dzhe Man'idō and the earth were four lesser spirits, f, g, h, and i, with whom Dzhe Man'idō decided to commune, and to impart the mysteries by which the Indians could be benefited; so he first spoke to a spirit at f, and told him all he had to say, who in turn communicated the same information to g, and he in turn to h, who also communed with i. Then they all met in council and determined to call in the four wind gods at j, k, l, and m. After consulting as to what would be best for the comfort and welfare of the Indians, these spirits agreed to ask Dzhe Man'idō to communicate the mystery of the sacred medicine to the people.

Dzhe Man'idō then went to the Sun Spirit (o) and asked him to go to the earth and instruct the people as had been decided upon by the council. The Sun Spirit, in the form of a little boy, went to the earth and lived with a woman (p) who had a little boy of her own.

This family went away in the autumn to hunt, and during the winter this woman’s son died. The parents were so much distressed that they decided to return to the village and bury the body there; so they made preparations to return, and as they traveled along they would each evening erect several poles upon which the body was placed to prevent the wild beasts from devouring it. When the dead boy was thus hanging upon the poles the adopted child—who was the Sun Spirit—would play about the camp and amuse himself, and finally told his adopted father he pitied him, and his mother, for their sorrow. The adopted son said he could bring his dead brother to life, whereupon the parents expressed great surprise and desired to know how that could be accomplished.

The adopted boy then had the party hasten to the village, when he said, “Get the women to make a wig'iwam of bark (q), put the dead boy in a covering of birch bark and place the body on the ground in the middle of the wig'iwam.” On the next morning, when this had been done, the family and friends went into this lodge and seated themselves around the corpse.

After they had all been sitting quietly for some time they saw, through the doorway, the approach of a bear (r), which gradually came toward the wig'iwam, entered it, and placed itself before the dead body, and said hŭ', hŭ', hŭ', hŭ', when he passed around it toward the left side, with a trembling motion, and as he did so the body began quivering, which increased as the bear continued, until he had passed around four times, when the body came to life and stood up. Then the bear called to the[256] father, who was sitting in the distant right-hand corner of the wig'iwam, and addressed to him the following words:

Nōs | Ka-wi'-na | ni'-shi-nâ'-bi | wis'-si | a-ya'wi-an' | man'-i-do | nin-gi'-sis.
My father | is not | an Indian | not | you are | a spirit | son.

Be-mai'-a-mi'-nik | ni'-dzhi | man'-i-do | mi'-a-zhi'-gwa | tshi-gi'-a-we-an'.
Insomuch | my fellow | spirit | now | as you are.

Nōs | a-zhi'-gwa | a-se'-ma | tshi-a'-to-yek'. | Â'-mi-kun'-dem | mi-e'-ta
My father | now | tobacco | you shall put. | He speaks of | only

a-wi-dink' | dzhi-gŏsh'-kwi-tōt' | wen'-dzhi-bĭ-mâ'-di-zid'-o-ma' | a-ga'-wa
once | to be able to do it | why he shall live here | now

bi-mâ'-di-zid'-mi-o-ma'; | ni'-dzhi | man'-i-do | mi'-a-zhi'-gwa | tshi-gi'-we-an'.
that he scarcely lives; | my fellow | spirit | now I shall go | home.

The little bear boy (r) was the one who did this. He then remained among the Indians (s) and taught them the mysteries of the Grand Medicine (t), and after he had finished he told his adopted father that as his mission had been fulfilled, that he was to return to his kindred spirits, the Indians would have no need to fear sickness, as they now possessed the Grand Medicine which would assist them to live. He also said that his spirit could bring a body to life but once, and he would now return to the sun from which they would feel his influence.

This is called Kwi'-wi-sĕns' wed-di'-shi-tshi' ge'-wi-nĭp'—“Little boy, his work.”

From subsequent information it was learned that the line (w) denotes the earth, and that, being considered as one step in the course of initiation into the Midē'wiwin, three others must be taken before a candidate can be admitted. These steps, or rests, as they are denominated, are typified by four distinct gifts of goods, which must be remitted to the Midē' priests before the ceremony can take place.

The characters s and t are repetitions of the figures alluded to in the tradition (q and r) to signify that the candidate must personate the Makwa' Man'idō—bear spirit—when entering the Midē'wiwin (t); t is the Midē' Man'idō, as Ki'tshi Man'idō is termed by the Midē' priests. The device of horns, attached to the head, is a common symbol of superior power, found in connection with the figures of human and divine forms in many Midē' songs and other mnemonic records; v represents the earth’s surface, similar to that designated as w. w, x, y, and z represent the four degrees of the grand medicine.


Fig. 174 is copy of a birchbark record which was made to commemorate a treaty of peace between the Ojibwa and Assinaboin Indians. The drawing on bark was made by an Ojibwa chief at White Earth, Minnesota.


Fig. 174.—Record of treaty.

The figure on the left, holding a flag, represents the Ojibwa chief, while that on the right denotes the chief acting on the part of the Assinaboins. The latter holds in his left hand the pipe which was used in the preliminaries, and smoke is seen issuing from the mouth of the Assinaboin. He also holds in his right hand the drum used as an accompaniment to the songs.

The Ojibwa holds a flag used as an emblem of peace.

A considerable number of pictographic records of treaties are presented in different parts of the present work (see under the headings of Wampum, Chap. ix, Sec. 3; Notices, Chap. xi; History, Chap. xvi; Winter Counts, Chap. x, Sec. 2).


Le Page Du Pratz (b) says in describing the council of conspiracy which resulted in the Natchez war of 1729:

An aged councillor advised that after all the nations had been informed of the necessity of taking this violent action, each one should receive a bundle of sticks, all containing an equal number, and which were to mark the number of days to pass before that on which they were all to strike at once; that in order to guard against any mistake it would be necessary to take care to extract one stick every day and to break it and throw it away; a man of wisdom should be charged with this duty. All the old men approved of his advice and it was adopted.

Père Nicholas Perrot (a) says:

Celui qui, chez les Hurons, prenait la parole en cette circonstance, recevait un petit faisceau de pailles d’pied de long qui luy servoient comme de jetons, pour supputer les nombres et pour ayder la mémoire des assistans, les distribuant en divers lots, suyvant la diversité des choses. Dans l’Amérique du Sud, les Galibis de la rivière d’Amacourou et de l’Orénoque usaient du même procédé mnémotechnique, mais perfectionné. Le capitaine [Galibis] et moy, écrit le P. la Pierre (Voyage en terre-ferme et à la coste de Paria, p. 15 du Ms. orig.), eusmes un grand discours ... luy ayant demandé ce qu’il alloit faire à Barime, il me respondit qu’il alloit avertir tous les capitaines des aultres rivières, du jour qu’il en faudroit sortir pour aller donner l’attaque à leurs ennemis. Et, pour me faire comprendre la façon dont il s’y prenoit il me montra vingt petites buches liées ensemble qui se plient à la façon d’un rouleau. Les six premières estoient d’une couleur particulière; elles signifioent que, les six premiers jours, il falloit préparer du magnot [manioc] pour faire vivres. Les quatre suivantes estoient d’une aultre couleur pour marque qu’il falloit avertir les hommes. Les six d’aultre couleur et ainsi du reste, marquant par leur petites buches, faites en façon de paille, l’ordre que chaque capitaine doit faire observer à ses gens pour estre prest tous en mesme temps. La sortie devroit se faire dans vingt jours; car il n’y avoit que cest [vingt] petites buches.

Im Thurn (e) tells of the Indians of Guiana as follows:

When a paiwari feast is to be held, invitations are sent to the people of all neighboring settlements inhabited by Indians of the same tribe as the givers of the feast.[258] The latter prepare a number of strings, each of which is knotted as many times as there are days before the feast day. One of these strings is kept by the headman of the settlement where the feast is to be held; the others are distributed, one to the headman of each of the settlements from which guests are expected. Every day one of the knots, on each of the strings, is untied, and when the last has been untied guests and hosts know that the feast day has come.

Sometimes, instead of knots on a string, notches on a piece of wood are used. This system of knot-tying, the quippoo system of the Peruvians, which occurs in nearly identical form in all parts of the world, is not only used as in the above instance for calendar-keeping, but also to record items of any sort; for instance, if one Indian owes another a certain number of balls of cotton or other articles, debtor and creditor each has a corresponding string or stick, with knots or notches to the number of the owed article, and one or more of these is oblitered each time a payment is made until the debt is wiped out.

Darius (Herodot. IV, 98) did something of the kind when he took a thong and, tying sixty knots in it, gave it to the Ionian chiefs, that they might untie a knot every day and go back to their own land if he had not returned when all the knots were undone.

Champlain (a) describes a mode of preparation for battle among the Canadian Algonquins which partook of the nature of a military drill as well as of an appointment of rank and order. It is in its essentials mnemonic. He describes it as follows:

Les chefs prennent des bâtons de la longueur d’un pied autant en nombre qu’ils sont et signalent par d’autres un peu plus grands, leurs chefs; puis vont dans le bois et esplanadent une place de cinq ou six pieds en quarré où le chef comme Sergent Major, met par ordre tous ces bâtons comme bon luy semble; puis appelle tous ses compagnons, qui viennent tous armez, et leur monstre le rang et ordre qu’ils deuvont tenir lors qu’ils se battront avec leurs ennemis.

The author adds detail with regard to alignment, breaking ranks, and resumption of array.


D. W. Eakins, in Schoolcraft I, p. 273, describes the mnemonic numeration marks of the Muskoki thus:

Each perpendicular stroke stood for one, and each additional stroke marked an additional number. The ages of deceased persons or number of scalps taken by them, or war-parties which they have headed, are recorded on their grave-posts by this system of strokes. The sign of the cross represents ten. The dot and comma never stood as a sign for a day, or a moon, or a month, or a year. The chronological marks that were and are in present use are a small number of sticks made generally of cane. Another plan sometimes in use was to make small holes in a board, in which a peg was inserted to keep the days of the week.

Capt. Bourke (b) gives the following account of an attempt at compromise between the aboriginal method of numbering days, weeks, and months, and that of the civilized intruders to whose system the Indians found it necessary to conform.

The Apache scouts kept records of the time of their absence on campaign. There were several methods in vogue, the best being that of colored beads which were[259] strung on a string, six white ones to represent the days of the week, and one black, or other color, to stand for Sundays. This method gave rise to some confusion, because the Indians had been told that there were four weeks, or Sundays (“Domingos”), in each “Luna,” or moon, and yet they soon found that their own method of determining time by the appearance of the crescent moon was much the more satisfactory. Among the Zuñi I have seen little tally sticks with the marks for the days and months incised on the narrow edges, and among the Apache another method of indicating the flight of time by marking on a piece of paper along a horizontal line a number of circles or of straight lines across the horizontal datum line to represent the full days which had passed, a heavy straight line for each Sunday, and a small crescent for the beginning of each month.

It is not necessary to discuss the obvious method of repeating strokes, dots, knots, human heads or forms, weapons, and totemic designs, to designate the number of persons or articles referred to in the pictographs where they appear.


The Abnaki, in especial the Passamaquoddy division of the tribe in Maine, during late years have been engaged in civilized industries in which they have found it necessary to keep accounts. These are interesting as exhibiting the aboriginal use of ideographic devices which are only partially supplemented by the imitation of the symbols peculiar to European civilization. Several of these devices were procured by the present writer in 1888, and are illustrated and explained as follows:

A deer hunter brings 3 deerskins, for which he is allowed $2 each, making $6; 30 pounds of venison, at 10 cents per pound, making $3. In payment thereof he purchases 3 pounds of powder, at 40 cents per pound; 5 pounds of pork, at 10 cents per pound; and 2 gallons of molasses, at 50 cents per gallon. The debit foots $3.30, according to the[260] Indian account, but it seems on calculation to be 30 cents in excess, an overcharge, showing the advance in civilization of the Passamaquoddy trader.

Fig. 175.—Shop account.

The following explanation will serve to make intelligible the characters employed, which are reproduced in Fig. 175. The hunter is shown as the first character in line a, and that he is a deer-hunter is furthermore indicated by his having a skin-stretcher upon his back, as well as the figure of a deer at which he is shooting. The three skins referred to are shown stretched upon frames in line b, the total number being also indicated by the three vertical strokes, between which and the drying frames are two circles, each with a line across it, to denote dollars, the total sum of $6 being the last group of dollar marks on line b.

The 30 pounds of venison are represented in line c, the three crosses signifying 30, the T-shaped character designating a balance scale, synonymous with pound, while the venison is indicated by the drawing of the hind quarter or ham. The price is given by uniting the X, or numeral, and the T, or pound mark, making a total of $3 as completing the line c.

The line d refers to the purchase of 3 pounds of powder, as expressed by the three strokes, the T, or scale for pound, and the powder horn, the price of which is four Xs or 40 cents per pound, or T; and 3 pounds of powder, the next three vertical strokes succeeded by a number of spots to indicate grains of powder, which is noted as being 10 cents per pound, indicated by the cross and T, respectively. The next item, shown on line e, charges for 5 pounds of pork, the latter being indicated by the outline of a pig, the price being indicated by the X or 10, and T, scale or pound; then two short lines preceding one small oblong square or quart measure, indicates that 2 quarts of molasses, shown by the black spot, cost 5 crosses, or 50 cents per measure, the sum of the whole of the purchase being indicated by three rings with stems and three crosses, equivalent to $3.30.

Another Indian, whose occupation was to furnish basket wood, brought some to the trader for which he received credit to the amount of $1.15, taking in exchange therefor pork sufficient to equal the above amount.

Fig. 176.—Shop account.

In Fig. 176 the Indian is shown with a bundle of basket wood, the value of which is given in the next characters, consisting of a ring with[261] a line across to denote $1, a cross to represent 10 cents, and the five short vertical lines for an additional 5 cents, making a total of $1.15. The pork received from the trader is indicated by the outline of a pig, while the crossed lines to the right denotes that the “account” is canceled.

Another customer, as shown in Fig. 177, was an old woman, the descendent of an ancient name—one known before the coming of white people. She was therefore called the “Owl,” and is represented in the “account” given below. She had bought on credit 1 plug of smoking tobacco, designated by one vertical stroke for the quantity and an oblong square figure corresponding to the shape of the package, which was to be used for smoking, as indicated by the spiral lines to denote smoke. She had also purchased 2 quarts of kerosene oil, the quantity designated by the two strokes preceding the small squares to represent quart measures, and the liquid is indicated by the rude outline of a kerosene lamp. This is followed by two crosses, representing 20 cents, as the value of the amount of her purchases. This account was settled by giving one basket, as shown in the device nearly beneath the owl, half of which is marked with crossed lines, connected by a line of dots or dashes with the cancellation mark at the extreme right of the record.

Fig. 177.—Shop account.
Fig. 178.—Book account.

Another Passamaquoddy Indian, unable to read or write, carries on business and keeps his books according to a method of his own invention. One account is reproduced in Fig. 178. It is with a very slim Indian, as will be observed from the drawing, who carries on “trucking” and owns a horse, that animal being represented in outline and connected by lines with its owner. For services he was paid $5.45, which sum is shown in the lower line of characters by five dollar-marks—i. e., rings with strokes across them—4 crosses or numerals signifying 10 cents each, and five short vertical lines for 5 cents. The date is shown in the upper line of characters, the 4 short lines in front of the horse signifying 4, the oval figure next, to the right and intended for a circle, denoting the moon—i. e., the fourth moon, or April—while the 10 short strokes signify the tenth day of the month—i. e., he was paid $5.45 in full for services to April 10.

Fig. 179.—Book account.

Another account was with a young woman noted as very slim, and is shown in Fig. 179. The girl brought a basket to the store, for which[262] she was allowed 20 cents. She received credit for 10 cents on account of a plug of tobacco bought some time previously.

In the illustration the decidedly slim form of the girl is portrayed, her hands holding out the basket which she had made. The unattached cross signifies 10 cents, which she probably received in cash, while the other cross is connected by a dotted line with the piece of plug tobacco for which she had owed 10 cents. The attachment of the plug to the unpaid dime is amusingly ideographic.

Another Indian, descended from the prehistoric Indians, was called “Lox,” the evil or tricksy deity, appearing as an animal having a long body and tail and short legs, which is probably a wolverine, under which form Lox is generally depicted by the Passamaquoddy. His account with the trader is given in Fig. 180, and shows that he brought 1 dozen ax handles, for which he received $1.50.

Fig. 180.—Book account.

Beneath the figure of Lox are 2 axes, the 12 short lines denoting the number of handles delivered, while the dotted line to the right connects them with the amount received, which is designated by 1 one dollar mark and 5 crosses or dime marks.

Dr. Hoffman found in Los Angeles, California, a number of notched sticks, which had been invented and used by the Indians at the Mission of San Gabriel. They had chief herders, who had under their charge overseers of the several classes of laborers, herders, etc. The chief herder was supplied with a stick of hard wood, measuring about 1 inch in breadth and thickness and from 20 to 24 inches long. The corners were beveled at the handle. The general form of the stick is given in the upper character of Fig. 181, with the exception that the illustration is intentionally shortened so as to show both ends.

Fig. 181.—Notched sticks.


Upon each of the beveled surfaces on the handle are marks to indicate the kind of horned cattle referred to. The cross indicates that the corner of the stick upon which it is incised relates to heifers, each notch designating one head, the long transverse cut denoting ten, with an additional three cuts signifying that the herder has in charge thirteen heifers. Upon the next beveled edge appears an arrow-pointed mark, to denote in like manner which edge of the stick is to be notched for indicating the oxen. Upon the third beveled surface is one transverse cut for the record of the number of bulls in the herd, while upon the fourth bevel of the handle are two notches to note the number of cows.

The stick is notched at the end opposite the handle to signify that it refers only to horned cattle. That used to designate horses is sharpened from two sides only, so that the end is wedge-shaped, or exactly the reverse of the one first mentioned. The marks upon the handle would be the same, however, with this exception—that one cut would mean a stallion, two cuts a mare, the cross a gelding, and the arrow-shaped figure a colt. Sticks were also marked to denote the several kinds of stock and to record those which had been branded.

Another class of sticks were also used by the overseers, copies of which were likewise preserved by the laborers and herders, to keep an account of the number of days on which labor was performed, and to record the sums of money received by the workman.

The lower character of Fig. 181 represents a stick, upon the beveled edge of the handle of which is a cross to denote work. The short notches upon the corner of the stick denote days, each seventh day or week being designated by a cut extending across the stick.

Upon the opposite side of the handle is a circle or a circle with a cross within it to denote the number of reals paid, each real being indicated upon the edge of the stick by a notch, while each ten reals or peso is noted by making the cut all the way across that face of the stick.


Mr. Dall (a) says that the Innuit frequently keep accounts by tying knots in a string or notching a stick. Capt. Bourke (c) reports:

In the Mexican state of Sonora I was shown, some twenty years ago, a piece of buckskin, upon which certain Opata or Yaqui Indians—I forget exactly which tribe, but it matters very little, as they are both industrious and honest—had kept account of the days of their labor. There was a horizontal datum line as before, with complete circles to indicate full days and half circles to indicate half days, a long heavy black line for Sundays and holidays, and a crescent moon for each new month. These accounts had to be drawn up by the overseer or superintendent of the rancho at which the Indians were employed before the latter left for home each night.

Terrien de Lacouperie (e) says of the Sonthals of Bengal:

Their accounts are either notches on a stick, like those formerly used by the rustics for keeping scores at cricket matches in country villages in England, or knots on a piece of grass string, or a number of bits of straw tied together. I well remember my astonishment while trying my first case between a grasping Mahajun and a Sonthal when I ordered them to produce their accounts. * * * The Sonthal produced from his back hair, where it had been kept, I suppose, for ornament, a dirty bit of knotted grass string and threw it on the table, requesting the court to count that, as it had got too long for him. Each knot represented a rupee, a longer space between two knots represented the lapse of a year.

Many modes of accounting in a pictorial manner are noted in Europe and America among people classed as civilized. Some of these are very curious, but want of space prevents their recital here. A valuable description of the survival of the system in Brittany is given by M. Armand Landrin (a), translated and condensed as follows:

In the department of Finisterre the farmers, in keeping accounts, made bags of their old socks and coat sleeves, of different colors, each color representing one of the divisions of farm outlay or receipt, as cows, butter, milk, and corn. Each amount received was placed in coin in the appropriate bag. When any coins were taken out the same number of small stones or of peas or beans was put in to replace the coins. Other farmers substituted for the bags small sticks of different length and thickness in which they made cuts representing the receipts.

In the accounts with the laborers and farm hands the women were designated by the triangle, intended to represent the Breton head dress á grandes barbes. The kind of work performed was expressed by the tool connected with it, e. g., a horseshoe denoted the blacksmith, a scythe the mower, an ax the carpenter, a saddle the harness-maker, and a tub the cooper. The bill of a veterinary surgeon was rendered by drawing the figures of the several animals treated united in one group by a line.

Until quite recently the important accounts of the British exchequer were kept by wooden tallies, and some bakers in the United States yet persevere in keeping their accounts with their customers by duplicate tallies, one of which is rendered as a bill and is verified by the other.



It is not within the scope of the present work to examine the several systems of chronology of the American Indians, but only those pictorially exhibited. The Mexican system, much more scientific and more elaborate than that employed by the northern tribes, resembled it in the graphic record or detail of exhibit, and is highly interesting as compared with the Dakota Winter Counts. Although the principle of designating the years was wholly different, the mode of that designation was often similar, as is shown by collating the Codex Vaticanus and the Codex Telleriano Remensis with the Winter Counts of Lone Dog and Battiste Good, infra. It is also desirable to note the remarks of Prof. Brinton (e) with regard to the Chilan Balam. At the close of each of the Maya larger divisions of time (the so-called “Katum”), a “chilan” or inspired diviner uttered a prediction of the character of the year or epoch which was about to begin. This prophetic designation of the year was like a Zadkiel’s almanac, while the Dakotan method was a selection of the most important events of the past.


Dr. William H. Corbusier, surgeon, U. S. Army, gives the following information:

Fig. 182.—Device denoting succession of time. Dakota.

The Dakotas make use of the circle as the symbol of a cycle of time; a small one for a year and a large one for a longer period of time, as a life time, one old man. Also a round of lodges or a cycle of seventy years, as in Battiste Good’s Winter Count. The continuance of time is sometimes indicated by a line extending in a direction from right to left across the page when on paper, and the annual circles are suspended from the line at regular intervals by short lines, as in Fig. 182, upper character, and the ideograph for the year is placed beneath each one. At other times the line is not continuous, but is interrupted at regular intervals by the yearly circle, as in the lower character of Fig. 182.

Under other headings in this paper are presented graphic expressions for divisions of time—month, day, night, morning, noon, and evening. See, for some of them, Chap. XX, Sec. 2.



In the preliminary paper on “Pictographs of the North American Indians,” published in the Fourth Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology, 58 pages of text and 46 full-page plates were devoted to the winter counts of the Dakota Indians. The minute detail of explanation, the systematic comparison, and the synoptic presentation which seemed to be necessary need not now be repeated to establish the genuine character of the invention. This consisted in the use of events, which were in some degree historical, to form a system of chronology. The record of the events was only the device by which was accomplished the continuous designation of years, in the form of charts corresponding in part with the orderly arrangement of divisions of time termed calendars. It was first made public by the present writer in a paper entitled “A Calendar of the Dakota Nation,” which was issued in April, 1877, in Bulletin III, No. I, of the United States Geological and Geographical Survey. The title is now changed to that adopted by the Dakotas themselves, viz, Winter Counts—in the original, wan'iyetu wo'wapi.

The lithographed chart published with that paper, substantially the same as Pl. XX, Lone-Dog’s Winter Count, now much better presented than ever before, is the winter count used by, or at least known to, a large portion of the Dakota people, extending over the seventy-one years commencing with the winter of A. D. 1800-’01.


The copy from which the lithograph was taken is traced on a strip of cotton cloth, in size 1 yard square, which the characters almost entirely fill, and is painted in two colors, black and red, used in the original, of which it is a facsimile. The plate is a representation of the chart as it would appear on the buffalo robe. It was photographed from the copy on linen cloth, and not directly from the buffalo robe. It was painted on the robe by Lone-Dog, an Indian belonging to the Yanktonais tribe of the Dakotas, who in the autumn of 1876 was near Fort Peck, Montana. His Dakota name is given in the ordinary English literation as Shunka-ishnala, which words correspond nearly with the vocables in Riggs’s lexicon for dog-lone. Lone-Dog claimed that, with the counsel of the old men of his tribe, he decided upon some event or circumstance which should distinguish each year as it passed, and marked what was considered to be its appropriate symbol or device upon a buffalo robe kept for the purpose. The robe was at convenient times exhibited to other Indians of the tribe, who were thus taught the meaning and use of the signs as designating the several years.

It is not, however, supposed that Lone-Dog was of sufficient age in the year 1800 to enter upon the work. Either there was a predecessor from whom he received the earlier records or, when he had reached manhood,[267] he gathered the traditions from his elders and worked back, the object either then or before being to establish some system of chronology for the use of the tribe or more probably in the first instance for the use of his own band.

Present knowledge of the winter-count systems shows that Lone-Dog was not their originator. They were started, at the latest, before the present generation, and have been kept up by a number of independent recorders. The idea was one specially appropriate to the Indian genius, yet the peculiar mode of record was an invention, and it is not probably a very old invention, as it has not been used beyond a definite district and people. If an invention of that character had been of great antiquity it would probably have spread by intertribal channels beyond the bands or tribes of the Dakota, where alone the copies of such charts have been found and are understood.

The fact that Lone-Dog’s Winter Count, the only one known at the time of its first publication, begins at a date nearly coinciding with the first year of the present century, as it is called in the arbitrary computation that prevails among most of the civilized peoples, awakened a suspicion that it might be due to civilized intercourse and was not a mere coincidence. If the influence of missionaries or traders started any plan of chronology, it is remarkable that they did not suggest one in some manner resembling the system so long and widely used, and the only one they knew, of counting the numbers from an era, such as the birth of Christ, the Hegira, the Ab Urbe Conditâ, or the first Olympiad. But the chart shows nothing of this nature. The earliest character merely represents the killing of a small number of Dakotas by their enemies, an event neither so important nor interesting as many others of the seventy-one shown in the chart, more than one of which, indeed, might well have been selected as a notable fixed point before and after which simple arithmetical notation could have been used to mark the years. Instead of any plan that civilized advisers would naturally have introduced, the one actually adopted was to individualize each year by a specific recorded symbol. The ideographic record, being preserved and understood by many, could be used and referred to with ease and accuracy. Definite signs for the first appearance of the smallpox and for the first capture of wild horses were dates as satisfactory to the Dakota as the corresponding expressions A. D. 1802 and 1813 are to the Christian world, and far more certain than the chronology expressed in terms of A. M. and B. C. The arrangement of separate characters in an outward spiral starting from a central point is a clever expedient to dispense with the use of numbers for noting the years, yet allowing every date to be determined by counting backward or forward from any other known. The whole conception seems one strongly characteristic of the Indians, who in other instances have shown such expertness in ideography. The discovery of several other charts, which differ in their times of commencement and ending from[268] that of Lone-Dog and from each other, removed any inference arising from the above-mentioned coincidence in beginning with the present century. The following copies of charts, substantially the same as that of Lone-Dog, are now or have been in the possession of the present writer:

1. A chart made and kept by Bo-i'-de, The-Flame, a Dakota, who, in 1877, lived near Fort Sully, Dakota.

The facsimile copy is on a cotton cloth about a yard square and in black and red, thus far similar to the copy of Lone-Dog’s chart, but the arrangement is different. The character for the first year mentioned appears in the lower left-hand corner, and the record proceeds toward the right to the extremity of the cloth, then crossing toward the left and again toward the right at the edge of the cloth, and so throughout, in the style called boustrophedon. It thus answers the same purpose of orderly arrangement, allowing constant additions, like the more circular spiral of Lone-Dog. This record is for the years 1786-’87 to 1876-’77, thus commencing earlier and ending later than that of Lone-Dog.

2. A Minneconjou chief, The-Swan, kept another record on the dressed skin of an antelope or deer, claiming that it had been preserved in his family for seventy years.

The characters are arranged in a spiral similar to those in Lone-Dog’s chart, but more oblong in form. The course of the spiral is from left to right, not from right to left.

3. Another chart was kindly loaned to the writer by Bvt. Maj. Joseph Bush, captain Twenty-second U. S. Infantry. It was procured by him, in 1870 at the Cheyenne Agency. This copy is one yard by three-fourths of a yard, spiral, beginning in the center, from right to left. The figures are substantially the same as those in Lone-Dog’s chart, with which it coincides in time, except that it ends at 1869-’70, but the interpretation differs from that accompanying the latter in a few particulars.

4. The chart of Mato Sapa, Black-Bear. He was a Minneconjou warrior, residing in 1868 and 1869 on the Cheyenne Agency reservation, on the Missouri river, near the mouth of the Cheyenne river.

This copy is on a smaller scale than that of Lone-Dog, being a flat and elongated spiral, 2 feet 6 inches by 1 foot 6 inches. The spiral reads from right to left. This chart, which begins like that of Lone-Dog, ends with the years 1868-’69.

5. A most important and interesting Winter Count is that made by Battiste Good, a Brulé Dakota, which was kindly contributed by Dr. William H. Corbusier, surgeon U. S. Army. It begins with peculiar cyclic devices from the year A. D. 900, and in thirteen figures embraces the time to A. D. 1700, all these devices being connected with myths, and some of them showing European influence. From 1700-’01 to 1879-’80 a separate character is given for each year, with its interpretation,[269] in much the same style as shown in the other charts mentioned. Several Indians and half-breeds said that this count formerly embraced about the same number of years as the others, but that Battiste Good gathered the names of many years from the old people and placed them in chronological order as far back as he was able to learn them.

Another Winter Count, communicated by Dr. Corbusier, is that in the possession of American-Horse, an Oglala Dakota, at the Pine Ridge agency in 1879, who asserted that his grandfather began it, and that it is the production of his grandfather, his father, and himself.

A third Winter Count is communicated by Dr. Corbusier as kept by Cloud-Shield. He was also an Oglala Dakota, at the Pine Ridge agency, but of a different band from American-Horse. The last two counts embrace nearly the same number of years, viz, from A. D. 1775 to 1878. Two dates belong to each figure, as a Dakota year covers a portion of two of the calendar years common to civilization.

Dr. Corbusier also saw copies of a fourth Winter Count, which was kept by White-Cow-Killer, at the Pine Ridge agency. He did not obtain a copy of it, but learned most of the names given to the winters.

With reference to all the Winter Counts and to the above remarks that a Dakota year covers a portion of two calendar years, the following explanation may be necessary: The Dakota count their years by winters (which is quite natural, that season in their high levels and latitudes practically lasting more than six months), and say a man is so many snows old, or that so many snow seasons have passed since an occurrence. They have no division of time into weeks, and their months are absolutely lunar, only twelve, however, being designated, which receive their names upon the recurrence of some prominent physical phenomenon. For example, the period partly embraced by February is called the “raccoon moon;” March, the “sore-eye moon;” and April, that “in which the geese lay eggs.” As the appearance of raccoons after hibernation, the causes inducing inflamed eyes, and oviposition by geese vary with the meteorological character of each year, and as the twelve lunations reckoned do not bring back the point in the season when counting commenced, there is often dispute in the Dakota tipis toward the end of winter as to the correct current date. In careful examination of the several counts it often is left in doubt whether the event occurred in the winter months or was selected in the months immediately before or in those immediately after the winter. No regularity or accuracy is noticed in these particulars.

In considering the extent to which Lone-Dog’s chart is understood and used, it may be mentioned that every intelligent Dakota of full years to whom the writer has shown it has known what it meant, and many of them knew a large part of the years portrayed. When there was less knowledge, there was the amount that may be likened to that of an uneducated person or a child who is examined about a map of the United States, which had been shown to him before, with some explanation[270] only partially apprehended or remembered. He would tell that it was a map of the United States; would probably be able to point out with some accuracy the state or city where he lived; perhaps the capital of the country; probably the names of the states of peculiar position or shape, such as Maine, Delaware, or Florida. So the Indian examined would often point out in Lone-Dog’s chart the year in which he was born, or that in which his father died, or in which there was some occurrence that had strongly impressed him, but which had no relation whatever to the significance of the character for the year in question. It had been pointed out to him before, and he had remembered it, while forgetting the remainder of the chart.

On comparing all the Winter Counts it is found that they often correspond, but sometimes differ. In a few instances the differences are in the succession of events, but they are usually due to an omission or to the selection of another event. When a year has the same name in all of them, the bands were probably encamped together, or else the event fixed upon was of general interest; and when the name is different the bands were scattered, or nothing of general interest occurred. Many of the recent events are fresh in the memory of the people, as the warriors who strive to make their exploits a part of the tribal traditions proclaim them on all occasions of ceremony, count their coups, as the performance is called. Declarations of this kind partake of the nature of affirmations made in the invoked presence of a supposed divinity. War shirts, on which scores of the enemies killed are kept, and which are carefully transmitted from generation to generation, help to refresh their memories in regard to some of the events.

The study of all the charts renders plain some points remaining in doubt while the Lone-Dog chart was the only example known. It became clear that there was no fixed or uniform mode of exhibiting the order of continuity of the year-characters. They were arranged spirally or lineally, or in serpentine curves, by boustrophedon or direct, starting backward from the last year shown or proceeding uniformly forward from the first year selected or remembered. Any mode that would accomplish the object of continuity with the means of regular addition seemed equally acceptable. So a theory advanced that there was some symbolism in the right-to-left circling of Lone-Dog’s chart was abandoned, especially when an obvious reproduction of that very chart was made by an Indian with the spiral reversed. It was also obvious that when copies were made, some of them probably from memory, there was no attempt at Chinese accuracy. It was enough to give the graphic or ideographic character, and frequently the character is better defined on one of the charts than on the others for the corresponding year. One interpretation would often throw light on the others. It also appeared that, while different events were selected by the recorders of the different systems, there was sometimes a selection of the same event for the same year and sometimes for the next, such[271] as would be natural in the progress of a famine or epidemic, or as an event gradually became known over a vast territory.

A test of the mode of selecting events for designating the Winter Counts may be found in a suggestion made by the present writer in his account of Lone-Dog’s chart, published in 1877, as follows:

The year 1876 has furnished good store of events for the recorder’s choice, and it will be interesting to learn whether he has selected as the distinguishing event the victory over Custer, or, as of still greater interest, the general seizure of ponies, whereat the tribes, imitating Rachel, weep and will not be comforted, because they are not.

It now appears that two of the Counts made for 1876 and observed by the writer several years later have selected the event of the seizure of the ponies, and that none of them make any allusion to the defeat of Custer.

After examination of all the charts it is obvious that the design is not narrative, that the noting of events is being subordinated to the marking of the years by them, and that the pictographic serial arrangements of sometimes trivial though generally notorious incidents having been selected with special adaptation for use as a calendar. That in a few instances small personal events, such as the birth of the recorder or the death of members of his family, are set forth, may be regarded as interpolations in or unauthorized additions to the charts. If they had exhibited a complete national or tribal history for the years embraced in them, their discovery would have been in some respects more valuable, but they are interesting to anthropologists because they show an attempt before unsuspected among the northern tribes of American Indians to form a system of chronology.

While, as before mentioned, it is not now necessary to recapitulate the large amount of matter before published concerning the Winter Counts of the Dakota, it has been decided to present in an abbreviated form the characters and interpretations of the Lone-Dog chart as being the system which was first discovered, and the publication of which occasioned the discovery of all the other charts mentioned. The Winter Count of Battiste Good has not hitherto been published, and it possesses special importance and interest apart from its chronology, for which reason it is inserted in the present paper, see infra.

The several charts of The-Flame, The-Swan, American-Horse, and Cloud-Shield, published in the Fourth Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology, are omitted, but selections from all of them are presented under the headings of Ideography, Tribal and Personal Designations, Religion, Customs, History, Biography, Conventionalizing, Comparison, and in short are interspersed through the present paper where they appropriately belong.

The reader of the Lone-Dog and Battiste Good charts may find it convenient to note the following brief account of the tribal names frequently mentioned:


The great linguistic stock or family which embraces not only the Sioux or Dakota proper, but the Missouri, Omaha, Ponka, Osage, Kansa, Oto, Assinaboin, Gros Ventre or Minnitari, Crow, Iowa, Mandan, and some others, has been frequently styled the Dakota family. Maj. J. W. Powell, the Director of the Bureau of Ethnology, from consideration of priority, has lately adopted the name Siouan for the family, and for the grand division of it popularly called Sioux has used the term Dakota, which the people claim for themselves.

The word “Dakota” is translated in Riggs’s dictionary of that language as “leagued” or “allied.” The title Sioux, which is indignantly repudiated by the people, is either the last syllable or the last two syllables, according to pronunciation, of “Nadowesioux,” which is the French plural of the Algonkin name for the Dakotas “Nadowessi,” “hated foe.” The Ojibwa called the Dakota “Nadowessi,” which is their word meaning rattlesnake, or, as others translate, adder, with a contemptuous or diminutive termination; the plural is Nadowessiwak or Nadawessyak. The French gave the name their own form of the plural and the voyagers and trappers cut it down to “Sioux.”

The more important of the tribes and organized bands into which the Dakotas are now divided, being the dislocated remains of the “Seven Great Council Fires,” are as follows:

Yankton and Yanktonai or Ihanktonwạn, both derived from a root meaning “at the end,” alluding to the former locality of their villages.

Sihasapa, or Blackfeet.

Ohenonpa, or Two-Kettles.

Itaziptco, Without Bow. The French equivalent Sans Arc is more commonly used.

Minneconjou, translated “Those who plant by the water,” the physical features of their old home.

Sitcangu, Burnt Hip or Brulé.

Santee, subdivided into Wahpeton, Men among Leaves, i. e., among forests, and Sisseton, Men of Prairie Marsh. Two other bands, now practically extinct, formerly belonged to the Santee, or as it is more correctly spelled, Isanti tribes, from the root “Issan,” knife. Their former territory furnished the material for stone knives, from the manufacture of which they were called the “knife people.”

Uncpapa, once the most warlike and probably the most powerful of all the bands, though not the largest.

Oglala. The meaning and derivation of this name and of Uncpapa have been the subjects of controversy.

Hale, Gallatin, and Riggs designate a “Titon tribe” as located west of the Missouri, and as much the largest division of the Dakotas, the latter authority subdividing into the Sichangu, Itazipcho, Sihasapa, Minneconjou, Ohenonpa, Oglala, and Huncpapa, seven of the tribes specified above, which he calls bands. “Titon,” (from the word tintan, meaning “at or on land without trees or prairie,”) was the name of a[273] tribal division, but it has become only an expression for all those tribes whose ranges are on the prairie, and thus it is a territorial and accidental, not a tribular distinction. One of the Dakotas at Fort Rice spoke to the present writer of the “hostiles” as “Titons,” with obviously the same idea of locality, “away on the prairie,” it being well known that they were a conglomeration from several tribes.


Fig. 183.

Fig. 183, 1800-’01.—Thirty Dakotas were killed by Crow Indians. The device consists of thirty parallel black lines in three columns, the outer lines being united. In this chart, such black lines always signify the death of Dakotas killed by their enemies.

The Absaroka or Crow tribe, although belonging to the Siouan family, has nearly always been at war with the Dakotas proper since the whites have had any knowledge of either. They are noted for the extraordinary length of their hair, which frequently distinguishes them in pictographs.

Fig. 184.

Fig. 184, 1801-’02.—Many died of smallpox. The smallpox broke out in the tribe. The device is the head and body of a man covered with red blotches. In this, as in all other cases where colors in this chart are mentioned, they will be found to correspond with Pl. XX, but not in that respect with the text figures, which have no coloration.

Fig. 185.

Fig. 185, 1802-’03.—A Dakota stole horses with shoes on, i. e., stole them either directly from the whites or from some other Indians who had before obtained them from whites, as the Indians never shoe their horses. The device is a horseshoe.

Fig. 186.

Fig. 186, 1803-’04.—They stole some “curly horses” from the Crows. Some of these horses are still on the plains, the hair growing in closely curling tufts. The device is a horse with black marks for the tufts. The Crows are known to have been early in the possession of horses.

Fig. 187.

Fig. 187, 1804-’05.—The Dakota had a calumet dance and then went to war. The device is a long pipestem, ornamented with feathers and streamers. The feathers are white, with black tips, evidently the tail feathers of the adult golden eagle (Aquila chrysaëtos), highly prized by the Plains Indians. The streamers anciently were colored strips of skin or flexible bark; now gayly colored strips of cloth are used. The word calumet is a corruption of the French chalumeau. Capt. Carver (c) in his Three Years Travels Through the Interior Parts of North America, after puzzling over the etymology of “calumet,” describes the pipe as “about 4 feet long, bowl of red marble, stem of[274] a light wood curiously painted with hieroglyphics in various colors and adorned with feathers. Every nation has a different method of decorating these pipes and can tell at once to what band it belongs. It is used as an introduction to all treaties, also as a flag of truce is among Europeans.” Among the Indian tribes generally the pipe, when presented or offered to a stranger or enemy, was the symbol of peace, yet when used ceremonially by members of the same tribe among themselves was virtually a token of impending war. For further remarks on this point see the year 1842-’43 of this Winter Count.

Fig. 188.

Fig. 188, 1805-’06.—The Crows killed eight Dakotas. Again the short parallel black lines, this time eight in number, united by a long stroke. The interpreter, Fielder, says that this character with black strokes is only used for grave marks.

Fig. 189.

Fig. 189, 1806-’07.—A Dakota killed an Arikara (Ree) as he was about to shoot an eagle. The sign gives the head and shoulders of a man with a red spot of blood on his neck, an arm being extended, with a line drawn to a golden eagle.

The drawing represents an Indian in the act of catching an eagle by the legs, as the Arikara were accustomed to catch eagles in their earth traps. These were holes to which the eagles were attracted by baits and in which the Indians were concealed. They rarely or never shot war eagles. The Arikara was shot in his trap just as he put his hand up to grasp the bird.

Fig. 190.

Fig. 190, 1807-’08.—Red-Coat, a chief, was killed. The figure shows the red coat pierced by two arrows, with blood dropping from the wounds.

Fig. 191.

Fig. 191, 1808-’09.—The Dakota who had killed the Ree shown in this record for 1806-’07 was himself killed by the Rees. He is represented running, and shot with two arrows, blood dripping. These two figures, taking in connection, afford a good illustration of the method pursued in the chart, which was not intended to be a continuous history, or even to record the most important event of each year, but to exhibit some one of special peculiarity. There was some incident about the one Ree who was shot when, in fancied security, he was bringing down an eagle, and whose death was avenged by his brethren the second year afterward. It would, indeed, have been impossible to have graphically distinguished the many battles, treaties, horse-stealings, big hunts, etc., so most of them were omitted and other events of greater individuality and better adapted for portrayal were taken for the year count, the criterion being not that they were of historic moment, but[275] that they were of general notoriety, or perhaps of special interest to the recorders.

Fig. 192.

Fig. 192, 1809-’10.—A chief, Little-Beaver, set fire to a trading store, and was killed. The character simply designates his name-totem. The other interpretations say that he was a white trapper, but probably he had gained a new name among the Indians.

Fig. 193.

Fig. 193, 1810-’11.—Black-Stone made medicine. The expression medicine is too common to be successfully eliminated, though it is altogether misleading. The “medicine men” have no connection with therapeutics, feel no pulses, and administer no drugs, or, if sometimes they direct the internal or external use of some secret preparation, it is as a part of superstitious ceremonies, and with main reliance upon those ceremonies. Their incantations are not only to drive away disease, but for many other purposes, such as to obtain success in war, avert calamity, and were very frequently used to bring within reach the buffalo, on which the Dakotas depended for food. The rites are those known as shamanism, noticeable in the ethnic periods of savagery and barbarism. In the ceremonial of “making medicine,” a buffalo head, and especially the head of an albino buffalo, held a prominent place among the plains tribes. Many references to this are to be found in the Prince of Wied’s Travels in the Interior of North America. Also see infra, Chap. XIV. The device in the chart is the man figure, with the head of an albino buffalo held over his own.

Fig. 194.

Fig. 194, 1811-’12.—The Dakota fought a battle with the Gros Ventres and killed a great many. Device, a circle inclosing three round objects with flat bases, resembling heads severed from trunks, which are too minute in this device for decision of objects represented; but they appear more distinct in the record for 1864-’65 as the heads of enemies slain in battle. In the sign language of the plains, the Dakota are denoted by drawing a hand across the throat, signifying that they cut the throats of their enemies. The Dakota count by the fingers, as is common to most peoples, but with a peculiarity of their own. When they have gone over the fingers and thumbs of both hands, one finger is temporarily turned down for one ten. At the end of the next ten another finger is turned, and so on to a hundred. Opawinge (Opawinxe), one hundred, is derived from pawinga (pawinxa), to go round in circles, to make gyrations, and contains the idea that the round of all the fingers has again been made for their respective tens. So the circle is never used for less than one hundred, but sometimes signifies an indefinite number greater than a hundred. The circle, in this instance, therefore, was at first believed to express the killing in battle of many enemies. But the other interpretations removed all symbolic character, leaving the circle simply as the rude[276] drawing of a dirt lodge to which the Gros Ventres were driven. The present writer, by no means devoted to symbolism, had supposed a legitimate symbol to be indicated, which supposition further information on the subject showed to be incorrect.

Fig. 195.

Fig. 195, 1812-’13.—Wild horses were first run and caught by the Dakotas. The device is a lasso. The date is of value, as showing when the herds of prairie horses, descended from those animals introduced by the Spaniards in Mexico, or those deposited by them on the shores of Texas and at other points, had multiplied so as to extend into the far northern regions. The Dakotas undoubtedly learned the use of the horse and perhaps also that of the lasso from southern tribes, with whom they were in contact; and it is noteworthy that notwithstanding the tenacity with which they generally adhere to ancient customs, in only two generations since they became familiar with the horse they had been so revolutionized in their habits as to be utterly helpless, both in war and the chase, when deprived of that animal.

Fig. 196.

Fig. 196, 1813-’14.—The whooping-cough was very prevalent and fatal. The sign is suggestive of a blast of air coughed out by the man-figure.

Fig. 197.
Fig. 198.

The interruption in the cough peculiar to the disease is more clearly delineated in the Winter Count of The-Flame for the same year, Fig. 197, and still better in The-Swan’s Winter Count, Fig. 198.

Fig. 199.

Fig. 199, 1814-’15.—A Dakota killed an Arapaho in his lodge. The device represents a tomahawk or battle-ax, the red being blood from the cleft skull.

Fig. 200.

Fig. 200, 1815-’16.—The Sans Arcs made the first attempt at a dirt lodge. This was at Peoria Bottom, Dakota. Crow-Feather was their chief, which fact, in the absence of the other charts, seemed to explain the fairly drawn feather of that bird protruding from the lodge top, but the figure must now be admitted to be a badly drawn bow, in allusion to the tribe Sans Arc, without, however, any sign of negation. As the interpreter explained the figure to be a crow feather and as Crow-Feather[277] actually was the chief, Lone-Dog’s chart with its interpretation may be independently correct.

Fig. 201.

Fig. 201, 1816-’17.—“Buffalo belly was plenty.” The device rudely portrays a side of buffalo.

Fig. 202.

Fig. 202, 1817-’18.—La Framboise, a Canadian, built a trading store with dry timber. The dryness is shown by the dead tree. La Framboise was an old trader among the Dakota, who once established himself in the Minnesota valley. His name is mentioned by various travelers.

Fig. 203.

Fig. 203, 1818-’19.—The measles broke out and many died. The device in the copy is the same as that for 1801-’02, relating to the smallpox, except a very slight difference in the red blotches; and, though Lone-Dog’s artistic skill might not have been sufficient to distinctly vary the appearance of the two patients, both diseases being eruptive, still it is one of the few serious defects in the chart that the sign for the two years is so nearly identical that, separated from the continuous record, there would be confusion between them. Treating the document as a mere aide-de-mémoire no inconvenience would arise, it probably being well known that the smallpox epidemic preceded that of the measles; but care is generally taken to make some, however minute, distinction between the characters. It is also to be noticed that the Indian diagnosis makes little distinction between smallpox and measles, so that no important pictographic variation could be expected. The head of this figure is clearly distinguished from that in 1801-’02.

Fig. 204.

Fig. 204, 1819-’20.—Another trading store was built, this time by Louis La Conte, at Fort Pierre, Dakota. His timber, as one of the Indians consulted especially mentioned, was rotten.

Fig. 205.

Fig. 205, 1820-’21.—The trader, La Conte, gave Two-Arrow a war dress for his bravery. So translated an interpreter, and the sign shows the two arrows as the warrior’s name-totem; likewise the gable of a house, which brings in the trader; also a long strip of black tipped with red streaming from the roof, which possibly may be the piece of parti-colored material out of which the dress was fashioned. This strip is not intended for sparks and[278] smoke, which at first sight was suggested, as in that case the red would have been nearest the roof instead of farthest from it.

Fig. 206.

Fig. 206, 1821-’22.—The character represents the falling to earth of a very brilliant meteor.

Fig. 207.

Fig. 207, 1822-’23.—Another trading house was built, which was by a white man called Big-Leggings, and was at the mouth of the Little Missouri or Bad river. The drawing is distinguishable from that for 1819-’20.

Fig. 208.

Fig. 208, 1823-’24.—White soldiers made their first appearance in the region. So said the interpreter, Clement, but from the unanimous interpretation of others the event portrayed is the attack of the United States forces accompanied by Dakotas upon the Arikara villages, the historic account of which is given in some detail in Chap. XVI, infra.

The device represents an Arickara palisaded village and attacking soldiers. Not only the remarkable character and triumphant result of this expedition, but the connection that the Dakotas themselves had with it, made it a natural subject for the year’s totem.

All the winter counts refer to this expedition.

Fig. 209.

Fig. 209, 1824-’25.—Swan, chief of the Two-Kettle tribe, had all of his horses killed. Device, a horse pierced by a lance, blood flowing from the wound.

Fig. 210.

Fig. 210, 1825-’26.—There was a remarkable flood in the Missouri river and a number of Indians were drowned. With some exercise of fancy the symbol may suggest heads appearing above a line of water, and this is more distinct in some of the other charts.

Fig. 211.

Fig. 211, 1826-’27.—“An Indian died of the dropsy.” So Basil Clement said. It was at first suggested that this circumstance was noted because the disease was so unusual in 1826 as to excite remark. Baron de La Hontan (c), a good authority concerning the Northwestern Indians before they had been greatly affected by intercourse with whites, specially mentions dropsy as one of the diseases unknown to them. Carver, op. cit., also states that this malady was extremely rare. The interpretations of other charts explained,[279] however, that some Dakotas on the warpath had nearly perished with hunger when they found and ate the rotting carcass of an old buffalo on which the wolves had been feeding. They were seized soon after with pains in the stomach, their abdomens swelled, and gas poured from the mouth. This disease is termed tympanites, the external appearance occasioned by it much resembling that of dropsy.

Fig. 212.

Fig. 212, 1827-’28.—Dead-Arm was stabbed with a knife or dirk by a Mandan. The illustration is quite graphic, showing the long-handled dirk in the bloody wound and withered arm.

Fig. 213.

Fig. 213, 1828-’29.—A white man named Shadran, who lately, as reported in 1877, was still living in the same neighborhood, built a dirt lodge. The hatted head appears under the roof. This name should probably be spelled Chadron, with whom Catlin hunted in 1832, in the region mentioned.

Fig. 214.

Fig. 214, 1829-’30.—A Yanktonai Dakota was killed by Bad-Arrow Indians.

The Bad-Arrow Indians is a translation of the Dakota name for a certain band of Blackfeet Indians.

Fig. 215.

Fig. 215, 1830-’31.—Bloody battle with the Crows, of whom it is said twenty-three were killed. Nothing in the sign denotes number, it being only a man figure with red or bloody body and red war bonnet.

Fig. 216.

Fig. 216, 1831-’32.—Le Beau, a white man, killed another named Kermel. Le Beau was still alive at Little Bend, 30 miles above Fort Sully, in 1877.

Fig. 217.

Fig. 217, 1832-’33.—Lone-Horn had his leg “killed,” as the interpretation gave it. The single horn is on the figure, and a leg is drawn up as if fractured or distorted, though not unlike the leg in the character for 1808-’09, where running is depicted.


Fig. 218.

Fig. 218, 1833-’34.—“The stars fell,” as the Indians all agreed. This was the great meteoric shower observed all over the United States on the night of November 12 of that year. In this chart the moon is black and the stars are red.

Fig. 219.

Fig. 219, 1834-’35.—The chief Medicine-Hide was killed. The device shows the body as bloody, but not the war bonnet, by which it is distinguished from the character for 1830-’31.

Fig. 220.

Fig. 220, 1835-’36.—Lame-Deer shot a Crow Indian with an arrow; drew it out and shot him again with the same arrow. The hand is drawing the arrow from the first wound. This is another instance of the principle on which events were selected. Many fights occurred of greater moment, but with no incident precisely like this. Lame-Deer was a distinguished chief among the hostiles in 1876. His camp of five hundred and ten lodges was surprised and destroyed by Gen. Miles, and four hundred and fifty horses, mules, and ponies were captured.

Fig. 221.

Fig. 221, 1836-’37.—Band’s-Father, chief of the Two Kettles, died. The device is nearly the same as that for 1816-’17, denoting plenty of buffalo belly.

Interpreter Fielder throws light on the subject by saying that this character was used to designate the year when The-Breast, father of The-Band, a Minneconjou, died. The-Band himself died in 1875, on Powder river. His name was O-ye-a-pee. The character was, therefore, the Buffalo-Breast, a personal name.

Fig. 222.

Fig. 222, 1837-’38.—Commemorates a remarkably successful hunt, in which it is said 100 elk were killed. The drawing of the elk is good enough to distinguish it from the other quadrupeds in this chart.

Fig. 223.

Fig. 223, 1838-’39.—A dirt lodge was built for Iron-Horn. The other dirt lodge (1815-’16) has a mark of ownership, which this has not. A chief of the Minneconjous is mentioned in Gen. Harney’s report in 1856 under the name of The-One-Iron-Horn.

The word translated “iron” in this case and appearing thus several times in the charts does not always mean the metal of that name. According to Rev. J. Owen Dorsey it has a mystic significance, in some manner connected with water and with water spirits. In pictographs objects called iron are painted blue when that color can be obtained.


Fig. 224.

Fig. 224, 1839-’40.—The Dakotas killed an entire village of Snake or Shoshoni Indians. The character is the ordinary tipi pierced by arrows.

Fig. 225.

Fig. 225, 1840-’41.—The Dakotas made peace with the Cheyennes. The symbol of peace is the common one of the approaching hands of two persons. The different coloration of the two hands and arms shows that they belonged to two different persons, and in fact to different tribes. The mere unceremonial hand grasp or “shake” of friendship was not used by the Indians before it was introduced by Europeans.

Fig. 226.

Fig. 226, 1841-’42.—Feather-in-the-Ear stole 30 spotted ponies. The spots are shown red, distinguishing them from those of the curly horse in the character for 1803-’04.

A successful theft of horses, demanding skill, patience, and daring, is generally considered by the Plains Indians to be of equal merit with the taking of scalps. Indeed, the successful horse thief is more popular than a mere warrior, on account of the riches gained by the tribe, wealth until lately being generally estimated in ponies as the unit of value.

Fig. 227.

Fig. 227, 1842-’43.—One-Feather raised a large war party against the Crows. This chief is designated by his long solitary red eagle feather, and holds a pipe with black stem and red bowl, alluding to the usual ceremonies before starting on the warpath. For further information on this subject see Chap. XV. The Red-War-Eagle-Feather was at this time a chief of the Sans Arcs.

Fig. 228.

Fig. 228, 1843-’44.—The Sans Arcs made medicine to bring the buffalo. The medicine tent is denoted by a buffalo’s head drawn on it, which in this instance is not the head of an albino buffalo.

Fig. 229.

Fig. 229, 1844-’45.—The Minneconjous built a pine fort. Device, a pine tree connected with a tipi. Another account explains that they went to the woods and erected their tipis there as affording some protection from the unusually deep snow. This would account for the pine tree.


Fig. 230.

Fig. 230, 1845-’46.—Plenty of buffalo meat, which is represented as hung upon poles and trees to dry. This device has become the conventional sign for plenty and frequently appears in the several charts.

Fig. 231.

Fig. 231, 1846-’47.—Broken-Leg died. Rev. Dr. Williamson says he knew him. He was a Brulé. There is enough difference between this device and those for 1808-’09 and 1832-’33 to distinguish each.

Fig. 232.

Fig. 232, 1847-’48.—Two-Man was killed. His totem is drawn, two small man figures side by side. Another interpretation explains the figure as indicating twins.

Fig. 233.

Fig. 233, 1848-’49.—Humpback was killed. An ornamented lance pierces the distorted back. Other records name him Broken-Back. He was a distinguished chief of the Minneconjous.

Fig. 234.

Fig. 234, 1849-’50.—The Crows stole a large drove of horses (it is said eight hundred) from the Brulés. The circle is a design for a camp or corral from which a number of horse-tracks are departing.

Fig. 235.

Fig. 235, 1850-’51.—The character is a distinct drawing of a buffalo containing a human figure. Clément translated that “a buffalo cow was killed in that year and an old woman found in her belly;” also that all the Indians believed this. Good-Wood, examined through another interpreter, could or would give no explanation except that it was “about their religion.” The Dakotas have long believed in the appearance from time to time of a monstrous animal that swallows human beings. This superstition was perhaps suggested by the bones of mastodons, often found in the territory of those Indians; and, the buffalo being the largest living animal known to them, its name was given to the legendary monster, in which nomenclature they were not wholly wrong, as the horns of the fossil Bison latifrons are 10 feet in length.[283] Major Bush suggests that perhaps some old squaw left to die sought the carcass of a buffalo for shelter and then died. He has known this to occur.

Fig. 236.

Fig. 236, 1851-’52.—Peace with the Crows. Two Indians, with differing arrangement of hair, showing two tribes, are exchanging pipes for a peace smoke.

Fig. 237.

Fig. 237, 1852-’53.—The Nez Percés came to Lone-Horn’s lodge at midnight. The device shows an Indian touching with a pipe a tipi, the top of which is black or opaque, signifying night.

Touch-the-Clouds, a Minneconjou, son of Lone-Horn, when this chart was shown to him by the present writer, designated this character as being particularly known to him from the fact of its being his father’s lodge. He remembered all about it from talk in his family, and said it was the Nez Percés who came.

Fig. 238.

Fig. 238, 1853-’54.—Spanish blankets were first brought to the country. A fair drawing of one of those striped blankets is held out by a white trader.

Fig. 239.

Fig. 239, 1854-’55.—Brave-Bear was killed. His extended arms are ornamented with pendent stripes.

Fig. 240.

Fig. 240, 1855-’56—Gen. Harney, called by the Dakota Putinska (“white beard” or “white mustache”), made peace with a number of the tribes or bands of the Dakotas. The figure shows an officer in uniform shaking hands with an Indian.

Executive document No. 94, Thirty-fourth Congress, first session, Senate, contains the “minutes of a council held at Fort Pierre, Nebraska, on the 1st day of March, 1856, by Brevet Brig. Gen. William S. Harney, U. S. Army, commanding the Sioux expedition, with the delegations from nine of the bands of the Sioux, viz, the Two Kettle band, Lower Yankton, Uncpapas, Blackfeet Sioux, Minneconjous, Sans Arcs, Yanctonnais (two bands), Brulés of the Platte.”

Fig. 241.

Fig. 241, 1856-’57.—Four-Horn was made a calumet or medicine man.


A man with four horns holds out the same kind of ornamented pipestem shown in the character for 1804-’05, it being his badge of office. Four-Horn was one of the subchiefs of the Uncpapas, and was introduced to Gen. Harney at the council of 1856 by Bear-Rib, head chief of that tribe.

Interpreter Clément, in the spring of 1874, said that Four-Horn and Sitting-Bull were the same person, the name Sitting-Bull being given him after he was made a calumet man. No other authority tells this.

Fig. 242.

Fig. 242, 1857-’58.—The Dakotas killed a Crow squaw. She is pierced by four arrows, and the peace made with the Crows in 1851-’52 seems to have been short lived.

Fig. 243.

Fig. 243, 1858-’59.—Lone-Horn, whose solitary horn appears, made buffalo “medicine,” doubtless on account of the scarcity of that animal. Again the head of an albino bison. One-Horn, probably the same individual, is recorded as the head chief of the Minneconjous at this date.

Fig. 244.

Fig. 244, 1859-’60.—Big-Crow, a Dakota chief, was killed by the Crows. He had received his name from killing a Crow Indian of unusual size.

Fig. 245.

Fig. 245, 1860-’61.—Device, the head and neck of an elk, similar to that part of the animal for 1837-’38, with a line extending from its mouth, at the extremity of which is the albino buffalo head. “The elk made you understand the voice while he was walking.” The interpreter persisted in this oracular rendering. This device and its interpretation were unintelligible to the writer until examination of Gen. Harney’s report, above referred to, showed the name of a prominent chief of the Minneconjous set forth as “The Elk that Holloes Walking.” It then became probable that the device simply meant that the aforesaid chief made buffalo medicine, which conjecture, published in 1877, was verified by the other records subsequently discovered.

Interpreter A. Lavary said, in 1867, that The-Elk-that-Holloes-Walking, then chief of the Minneconjous, was then at Spotted-Tail’s camp. His father was Red-Fish. He was the elder brother of Lone-Horn. His name is given as A-hag-a-hoo-man-ie, translated The Elk’s Voice Walking; compounded of he-ha-ka, elk, and omani, walk; this according to Lavary’s literation. The correct literation of the Dakota word meaning elk is heqaka; voice, ho; and to walk, walking, mani.[285] Their compound would be heqaka-ho-mani, the translation being the same as above given.

Fig. 246.

Fig. 246, 1861-’62.—Buffalo were so plentiful that their tracks came close to the tipis. The cloven-hoof mark is cleverly distinguished from the tracks of horses in the character for 1849-’50.

Fig. 247.

Fig. 247, 1862-’63.—Red-Feather, a Minneconjou, was killed. His feather is shown entirely red, while the “one-feather” in 1842-’43 has a black tip.

It is to be noted that there is no allusion to the great Minnesota massacre, which commenced in August, 1862, and in which many of the Dakotas belonging to the tribes familiar with these charts were engaged. Little-Crow was the leader. He escaped to the British possessions, but was killed in July, 1863. Perhaps the reason of the omission of any character to designate the massacre was the terrible retribution that followed it.

Fig. 248.

Fig. 248, 1863-’64.—Eight Dakotas were killed. Again the short, parallel black lines united by a long stroke. In this year Sitting-Bull fought General Sully in the Black Hills.

Fig. 249.

Fig. 249, 1864-’65.—The Dakotas killed four Crows. Four of the same rounded objects, like severed heads, shown in 1825-’26, but these are bloody, thus distinguishing them from the cases of drowning.

Fig. 250.

Fig. 250, 1865-’66.—Many horses died for want of grass. The horse here drawn is sufficiently distinct from all others in the chart.

Fig. 251.

Fig. 251, 1866-’67.—Swan, father of Swan, chief of the Minneconjous in 1877, died. With the assistance of the name the object intended for his totem may be recognized as a swan swimming on the water.

Fig. 252.

Fig. 252, 1867-’68.—Many flags were given them by the Peace Commission. The flag refers to the visit of the Peace Commissioners, among whom were Generals Sherman, Terry, and other prominent military and civil officers. Their report appears in the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs for 1868. They met at Fort Leavenworth, August 13, 1867, and between August 30 and September 13 held councils with the various bands of the Dakota Indians at Forts Sully and Thompson, and also at[286] the Yankton, Ponka, and Santee reservations. These resulted in the Dakota treaty of 1868.

Fig. 253.

Fig. 253, 1868-’69.—Texas cattle were brought into the country. This was done by Mr. William A. Paxton, a well-known business man, resident in Dakota in 1877.

Fig. 254.

Fig. 254, 1869-’70.—An eclipse of the sun. This was the solar eclipse of August 7, 1869, which was central and total on a line drawn through the Dakota country. This device has been criticised because Indians generally believe an eclipse to be occasioned by a dragon or aerial monster swallowing the sun, and it is contended that they would so represent it. An answer is that the design is objectively good, the sun being painted black, as concealed, while the stars come out red, i. e., bright, and graphic illustration prevails throughout the charts where it is possible to employ it.

Dr. Washington Matthews, surgeon, U. S. Army, communicated the fact that the Dakotas had opportunities all over their country of receiving information about the real character of the eclipse. He was at Fort Rice during the eclipse and remembers that long before it occurred the officers, men, and citizens around the post told the Indians of the coming event and discussed it with them so much that they were on the tip-toe of expectancy when the day came. Two-Bears and his band were then encamped at Fort Rice, and he and several of his leading men watched the eclipse along with the whites and through their smoked glass, and then and there the phenomenon was thoroughly explained to them over and over again. There is no doubt that similar explanations were made at all the numerous posts and agencies along the river that day. The path of the eclipse coincided nearly with the course of the Missouri for over a thousand miles. The duration of totality at Fort Rice was nearly two minutes (1′ 48″).

Fig. 255.

Fig. 255, 1870-’71.—The Uncpapas had a battle with the Crows, the former losing, it is said, 14, and killing 29 out of 30 of the latter, though nothing appears to show those numbers. The central object is not a circle denoting multitude, but an irregularly rounded object, perhaps intended for one of the[287] wooden inclosures or forts frequently erected by the Indians, and especially the Crows. The Crow fort is shown as nearly surrounded, and bullets, not arrows or lances, are flying. This is the first instance in this chart in which any combat or killing is portrayed where guns explicitly appear to be used by Indians, though nothing in the chart is at variance with the fact that the Dakotas had for a number of years been familiar with firearms. The most recent indications of any weapon were those of the arrows piercing the Crow squaw in 1857-’58, and Brave-Bear in 1854-’55, while the last one before those was the lance used in 1848-’49, and those arms might well have been employed in all the cases selected, although rifles and muskets were common. There is an obvious practical difficulty in picturing, by a single character, killing with a bullet, not arising as to arrows, lances, dirks, and hatchets, all of which can be and are shown in the chart projecting from the wounds made by them. Other pictographs show battles in which bullets are denoted by continuous dotted lines, the spots at which they take effect being sometimes indicated, and the fact that they did hit the object aimed at is expressed by a specially invented symbol. It is, however, to be noted that the bloody wound on the Ree’s shoulder (1806-’07) is without any protruding weapon, as if made by a bullet.

More distinct information regarding this fight, the record of which concludes the original Lone-Dog chart, has been kindly communicated by Mr. Luther S. Kelly, of Garfield County, Colorado.

The war party of Uncpapas mentioned charged upon a small trading post for the Crows on the Upper Missouri river, at the mouth of Musselshell river. Usually this post was garrisoned by a few frontiersmen, but on that particular day there happened to be a considerable force of freighters and hunters. The Indians were afoot and, being concealed by the sage brush, got within shooting distance of the fort before being discovered. They were easily driven off, and going a short distance took shelter from the rain in a circular washout, not having any idea of being followed by the whites. Meanwhile the whites organized and followed. The surprise was complete, the leading white man only being killed. The Indians sang their song and made several breaks to escape, but were shot down as fast as they rose above the bank. Twenty-nine were killed.


Dr. William H. Corbusier, surgeon, U. S. Army, while stationed in 1879 and 1880 at Camp Sheridan, Nebraska, near the Pine Ridge Indian Agency, Dakota, obtained a copy of this Winter Count from its recorder Baptiste, commonly called Battiste Good, a Brulé Dakota, whose Dakotan name is given as Wa-po-ctan-xi, translated Brown-Hat. He was then living at the Rose Bud Agency, Dakota, and explained the meaning of the pictographs to the Rev. Wm. J. Cleveland, of the last named agency, who translated them into English.


The copy made by Battiste Good from his original record, of which it is said to be a facsimile, is painted in five colors besides black, in which the outlines are generally drawn, but with the exception of red blood-marks these colors do not often appear to be significant. This copy, which was kindly contributed by Dr. Corbusier, is made in an ordinary paper drawing-book, the last page of which contains the first record. This is represented in Fig. 256, and pictures what is supposed to be an introduction in the nature of a revelation. The next page, reading backwards and corresponding with Pl. XXI, is a pretended record of a cycle comprising the years (presumed to be in the Christian chronology) from 901 to 930. Eleven similar pages and cycles bring the record down to 1700. These pages are only interesting from the mythology and tradition referred to and suggested by them, and which must be garnered from the chaff of uncomprehended missionary teaching. From 1700 to 1880, when the record closes, each year, or rather winter, is represented by a special character according to the Dakota system above explained.

Battiste Good, by his own statement in the present record, was born in the year 1821-’22. Any careful examination of the figures as worked over by his own hand shows that he has received about enough education in English and in writing to induce him to make unnecessary additions and presumptuous emendations on the pictographs as he found them and as perhaps he originally kept and drew the more recent of them. He has written English words and Arabic numerals over and connected with the Dakota devices, and has left some figures in a state of mixture including the methods of modern civilization and the aboriginal system. To prevent the confusion to the reader which might result from Battiste’s meddlesome vanity, these interpolated marks are in general omitted from the plates and figures as now presented, but, as specimens of the kind and amount of interference referred to, the designs on the copy for the years 1700-’01, 1701-’02, and 1707-’08 are given below as furnished.

The facts stated to have occurred so long ago as the beginning of the last century can not often be verified, but those of later date given by Battiste are corroborated by other records in the strongest manner—that is, by independent devices which are not mere copies. Therefore, notwithstanding Battiste’s mythic cycles and English writing, the body of his record, which constitutes the true Winter Counts, must be regarded as genuine. He is simply the bad editor of a good work. But whether or not the events occurred as represented, the pictography is of unique interest. It may be remarked that Battiste’s record is better known among the Oglala and Brulé, and Lone-Dog’s Winter Count among the Minneconjou.

It should be noted that when allusions are made to coloration in Fig. 256, and in any one of the other figures in the text which illustrate this Winter Count, they must be understood as applicable to the original.[289] Pls. XXI, XXII, and XXIII are colored copies of those furnished by Battiste Good, reduced, however, in size.

Fig. 256.—Battiste Good’s Revelation.

Fig. 256 illustrates Battiste Good’s introduction. He is supposed to be narrating his own experience as follows: “In the year 1856, I went to the Black Hills and cried, and cried, and cried, and suddenly I saw a bird above me, which said: ‘Stop crying, I am a woman, but I will tell you something: My Great-Father, Father God, who made this place, gave it to me for a home and told me to watch over it. He put a blue sky over my head and gave me a blue flag to have with this beautiful green country. [Battiste has made the hill country, as well as the curve for sky and the flag, blue in his copy.] My Great-Father, Father God (or The Great-Father, God my Father) grew, and his flesh was part earth and part stone and part metal and part wood and part water; he took from them all and placed them here for me, and told me to watch over them. I am the Eagle-Woman who tell you this.[290] The whites know that there are four black flags of God; that is, four divisions of the earth. He first made the earth soft by wetting it, then cut it into four parts, one of which, containing the Black Hills, he gave to the Dakotas, and, because I am a woman, I shall not consent to the pouring of blood on this chief house (or dwelling place), i. e., the Black Hills. The time will come that you will remember my words; for after many years you shall grow up one with the white people.’ She then circled round and round and gradually passed out of my sight. I also saw prints of a man’s hands and horse’s hoofs on the rocks [here he brings in petroglyphs], and two thousand years, and one hundred millions of dollars ($100,000,000). I came away crying, as I had gone. I have told this to many Dakotas, and all agree that it meant that we were to seek and keep peace with the whites.”

(Note by Dr. Corbusier.—The Oglálas and Brulés say that they, with the rest of the Dakota nation, formerly lived far on the other side of the Missouri River. After they had moved to the river, they lived at first on its eastern banks, only crossing it to hunt. Some of the hunting parties that crossed at length wandered far off from the rest and, remaining away, became the westernmost bands.)



A 901-930. B 931-1000.

Pl. XXI A. The record shown by this figure dates from the appearance of The-Woman-from-Heaven, 901 A. D.; but the Dakotas were a people long before this. The circle of lodges represents a cycle of thirty years, from the year 901 to 930, and incloses the “legend” by which this period is known. All the tribes of the Dakota nation were encamped together, as was then their custom, when all at once a beautiful woman appeared to two young men. One of them said to the other, “Let us catch her and have her for our wife.” The other said, “No; she may be something wakan” (supernatural or sacred). Then the woman said to them, “I came from Heaven to teach the Dakotas how to live and what their future shall be.” She had what appeared to be snakes about her legs and waist, but which were really braids of grass. She said, “I give you this pipe; keep it always;” and with the pipe she gave them a small package, in which they found four grains of maize, one white, one black, one yellow, and one variegated. The pipe is above the buffalo. She said, “I am a buffalo, The White-Buffalo-Cow. I will spill my milk all over the earth, that the people may live.” She meant by her milk maize, which is seen in the picture dropping from her udders. The colored patches on the four sides of the circle are the four quarters of the heavens (the cardinal points of the compass). In front of the cow are yellow and red. She pointed in this direction and said, “When you see a yellowish (or brownish) cloud toward the north, that is my breath; rejoice at the sight of it, for you shall soon see buffalo. Red is the blood of the buffalo, and by that you shall live.” Pointing east [it will be noticed that Battiste has placed the east toward the top of the page], she said, “This pipe is related to the heavens, and you shall live with it.” The line running from the[291] pipe to the blue patch denotes the relation. The Dakotas have always supposed she meant by this that the blue smoke of the pipe was one with or nearly related to the blue sky; hence, on a clear day, before smoking, they often point the stem of the pipe upward, in remembrance of her words. Pointing south, she said, “Clouds of many colors may come up from the south, but look at the pipe and the blue sky and know that the clouds will soon pass away and all will become blue and clear again.” Pointing west, i. e., to the lowest part of the circle, she said, “When it shall be blue in the west, know that it is closely related to you through the pipe and the blue heavens, and by that you shall grow rich.” Then she stood up before them and said, “I am The White-Buffalo-Cow; my milk is of four kinds; I spill it on the earth that you may live by it. You shall call me Grandmother. If you young men will follow me over the hills you shall see my relatives.” She said this four times, each time stepping back from them a few feet, and after the fourth time, while they stood gazing at her, she mysteriously disappeared. [It is well known that four is the favorite or magic number among Indian tribes generally, and has reference to the four cardinal points.] The young men went over the hills in the direction she took and there found a large herd of buffalo.

(Note by Dr. Corbusier.—Mr. Cleveland states that he has heard several different versions of this tradition.)

The man who first told the people of the appearance of the woman is represented both inside and outside the circle. He was thirty years old at the time, and said that she came as narrated above, in July of the year of his birth. Outside of the circle, he is standing with a pipe in his hand; inside, he is squatting, and has his hands in the position for the gesture-sign for pipe. The elm tree and yucca, or Spanish bayonet, both shown above the tipis, indicate that in those days the Dakota obtained fire by rapidly revolving the end of a dry stalk of the yucca in a hole made in a rotten root of the elm. The people used the bow and stone-pointed arrows, which are shown on the right. From time immemorial they have kept large numbers of sticks, shown by the side of the pipe, each one about as thick and as long as a lead-pencil (sic), for the purpose of counting and keeping record of numbers, and they cut notches in larger sticks for the same purpose.

(Note by Dr. Corbusier.—They commonly resort to their fingers in counting, and the V of the Roman system of notation is seen in the outline of the thumb and index, when one hand is held up to express five, and the X in the crossed thumbs, when both hands are held up together to express ten.)

The bundle of these sticks drawn in connection with the ceremonial pipe suggests the idea of an official recorder.

Pl. XXI B, 931-1000. From the time the man represented in Pl. XXI A was seventy years of age, i. e., from the year 931, time is counted by cycles of seventy years until 1700. This figure illustrates the manner of killing buffalo before and after the appearance of The-Woman. When the[292] Dakotas had found the buffalo, they moved to the herd and corralled it by spreading their camps around it. The Man-Who-Dreamed-of-a-Wolf, seen at the upper part of the circle, with bow and arrow in hand, then shot the chief bull of the herd with his medicine or sacred arrow; at this, the women all cried out with joy, “He has killed the chief bull!” On hearing them shout the man with bow and arrow on the opposite side, The-Man-Who-Dreamed-of-the-Thunder-and-received-an-arrow-from-the-Thunder-Bird (wakinyan, accurately translated “the flying one”) shot a buffalo cow, and the women again shouted with joy. Then all the men began to shout, and they killed as many as they wished. The buffalo heads and the blood-stained tracks show what large numbers were killed. They cut off the head of the chief bull, and laid the pipe beside it until their work was done. They prayed to The-Woman to bless and help them as they were following her teachings. Having no iron or knives, they used sharp stones, and mussel shells, to skin and cut up the buffalo. They rubbed blood in the hides to soften and tan them. They had no horses, and had to pack everything on their own backs.

The cyclic characters that embrace the period from 1001 to 1140 illustrate nothing of interest not before presented. Slight distinction appears in the circles so that they can be identified, but without enough significance to merit reproduction.



A 1141-1210. B 1211-1280.

Pl. XXII A, 1141-1210. Among a herd of buffalo, surrounded at one time during this period, were some horses. The people all cried out, “there are big dogs with them,” having never seen horses before, hence the name for horse, sunka (dog) tanka (big), or sunka (dog) wakan (wonderful or mysterious). After killing all the buffalo they said “let us try and catch the big dogs;” so they cut a thong out of a hide with a sharp stone and with it caught eight, breaking the leg of one of them. All these years they used sharpened deer horn for awls, bone for needles, and made their lodges without the help of iron tools. [All other Dakota traditions yet reported in regard to the first capture of horses, place this important event at a much later period and long after horses were brought to America by the Spaniards. See this count for the year 1802-’03, and also Lone-Dog’s Winter Count for the same year.]

Pl. XXII B, 1211-1280. At one time during this period a war party of enemies concealed themselves among a herd of buffalo, which the Dakotas surrounded and killed before they discovered the enemy. No one knows what people, or how many they were; but the Dakotas killed them all. The red and black lodges indicate war, and that the Dakotas were successful.

The pages of the copy which embrace the period from 1281 to 1420 are omitted as valueless.



A 1421-1490. B 1631-1700.

Pl. XXIII A, 1421-1490. “Found horses among the buffalo again and caught six.” Five of the horses are represented by the hoof prints. The lasso or possibly the lariat is shown in use. The bundle of sticks is now in the recorder’s hands.


Battiste’s pages which embrace the period from 1491 to 1630 are omitted for the same reason as before offered.

Pl. XXIII B, 1631-1700. This represents the first killing of buffalo on horseback. It was done in the year 1700, inside the circle of lodges pitched around the herd, by a man who was tied on a horse with thongs and who received the name of Hunts-inside-the-lodges. They had but one horse then, and they kept him a long time. Again the bundle of count-sticks is in the recorder’s hands.

This is the end of the obviously mythic part of the record, in which Battiste has made some historic errors. From this time forth each year is distinguished by a name, the explanation of which is in the realm of fact.

It must be again noted that when colors are referred to in the description of the text figures, the language (translated) used by Battiste is retained for the purpose of showing the coloration of the original and his interpretation of the colors, which are to be imagined, as they can not be reproduced by the process used.

Fig. 257.

Fig. 257, 1700-’01.—“The-two-killed-on-going-back-to-the-hunting-ground winter (or year).” Two Dakotas returned to the hunting ground, after the hunt one day, and were killed by enemies, of what tribe is unknown. The blood-stained arrow in the man’s side signifies killed; the numeral 2 over his head, the number killed; and, the buffalo heads, the carcass of a buffalo—which had been left behind because it was too poor to eat—together with the arrow pointing toward them, the hunting-ground. The dot under the figure 2, and many of the succeeding ones, signifies, That is it. This corresponds with some gesture signs for the same concept of declaration, in which the index finger held straight is thrust forward with emphasis and repeatedly as if always hitting the same point.

With regard to the numeral 2 over the head of the man see remarks, page 288.

Fig. 258.

Fig. 258, 1701-’02.—“The-three-killed-who-went-fishing winter.” The arrow pointing toward the 3, indicates that they were attacked; the arrow in the man’s arm, and the blood stain, that they were killed; the pole, line, and fish which the man is holding, their occupation at the time.

Fig. 259.

Fig. 259, 1702-’03.—“Camped-cutting-the-ice-through winter.” A long lake toward the east, near which the Dakotas were encamped, was frozen over, when they discovered about one thousand buffalo. They[294] secured them all by driving them on the ice, through which they broke, and in which they froze fast. Whenever the people wanted meat, they cut a buffalo out of the ice. In the figure, the wave lines represent the water of the lake; the straight lines, the shore; the blue lines outside the black ones, trees; the blue patches inside, the ice through which the heads of the buffalo are seen; the line across the middle, the direction in which they drove the buffalo. The supply of meat lasted one year. (Note by Dr. Corbusier.—The Apache of Arizona, the Ojibwa, and the Ottawa also represent water by means of waved lines.)

Fig. 260.

Fig. 260, 1703-’04—“The-burying winter,” or “Many-hole winter.”—They killed a great many buffalo during the summer, and, after drying the meat, stored it in pits for winter’s use. It lasted them all winter, and they found it all in good condition. The ring surrounding the buffalo head, in front of the lodge, represents a pit. The forked stick, which is the symbol for meat, marks the pit. [Other authorities suggest that the object called by Battiste a pit, which is more generally called “cache,” is a heap, and means many or much.]

Fig. 261.

Fig. 261, 1704-’05.—“Killed-fifteen-Pawnees-who-came-to-fight winter.” The Dakotas discovered a party of Pawnees coming to attack them. They met them and killed fifteen. In this chart the Pawnee of the Upper Missouri (Arikara or Ree), the Pawnee of Nebraska, and the Omaha are all depicted with legs which look like ears of corn, but an ear of corn is symbol for the Rees only. The Pawnee of Nebraska may be distinguished by a lock of hair at the back of the head; the Omaha, by a cropped head or absence of the scalp-lock. The absence of all signs denotes Dakota. Dr. W. Matthews, in Ethnography and Philology of the Hidatsa Indians, states that the Arikara separated from the Pawnee of the Platte valley more than a century ago. [To avoid confusion the literation of the tribal divisions as given by the translator of Battiste Good are retained, though not considered to be accurate.]

Fig. 262.

Fig. 262, 1705-’06.—“They-came-and-killed-seven-Dakotas winter.” It is not known what enemies killed them.

Fig. 263.


Fig. 263, 1706-’07.—“Killed-the-Gros-Ventre-with-snowshoes-on winter.” A Gros-Ventre (Hidatsa), while hunting buffalo on snowshoes, was chased by the Dakotas. He accidentally dropped a snowshoe, and, being then unable to get through the snow fast enough, they gained on him, wounded him in the leg, and then killed him. The Gros-Ventres and the Crows are tribes of the same nation, and are therefore both represented with striped or spotted hair, which denotes the red clay they apply to it.

Fig. 264.

Fig. 264, 1707-’08.—“Many-kettle winter.” A man—1 man—named Corn, killed (3) his wife, 1 woman, and ran off. He remained away for a year, and then came back, bringing three guns with him, and told the people that the English, who had given him these guns, which were the first known to the Dakotas, wanted him to bring his friends to see them. Fifteen of the people accordingly went with him, and when they returned brought home a lot of kettles or pots. These were the first they ever saw. Some numerical marks for reference and the written words in the above are retained as perhaps the worst specimens of Battiste’s mixture of civilized methods with the aboriginal system of pictography. See remarks above, page 288.

Fig. 265.

Fig. 265, 1708-’09.—“Brought-home-Omaha-horses winter.” The cropped head over the horse denotes Omaha.

Fig. 266.

Fig. 266, 1709-’10.—“Brought-home-Assiniboin-horses winter.” The Dakota sign for Assiniboin, or Hohe, which means the voice, or, as some say, the voice of the musk ox, is the outline of the vocal organs, as the Dakotas conceive them, and represents the upper lip and roof of the mouth, the tongue, the lower lip and chin, and the neck.

Fig. 267.

Fig. 267, 1710-’11.—“The-war-parties-met, or killed-three-on-each-side winter.” A war party of Assiniboins met one of Dakotas, and in the fight which ensued three were killed on each side.


Fig. 268.

Fig. 268, 1711-’12.—“Four-lodges-drowned winter.” When the thunders returned in the summer the Dakotas were still in their winter camp, on the bottom lands of a large creek. Heavy rains fell, which caused the creek to rise suddenly; the bottoms were flooded, and the occupants of four lodges were swept away and drowned. Water is represented by waved lines, as before. The lower part of the lodge is submerged. The human figure in the doorway of the lodge indicates how unconscious the inmates were of their peril.

Fig. 269.

Fig. 269, 1712-’13.—“Killed-the-Pawnee-who-was-eagle-hunting winter.” A Pawnee (Ree) was crouching in his eagle-trap, a hole in the ground covered with sticks and grass, when he was surprised and killed by the Dakotas. This event is substantially repeated in this count for the year 1806-’07.

Fig. 270.

Fig. 270, 1713-’14.—“Came-and-shot-them-in-the-lodge winter.” The Pawnee (Rees) came by night, and, drawing aside a tipi door, shot a sleeping man, and thus avenged the death of the eagle-hunter.

Fig. 271.

Fig. 271, 1714-’15.—“Came-to-attack-on-horseback-but-killed-nothing winter.” The horseman has a pine lance in his hand. It is not known what tribe came. (Note by Dr. Corbusier.—It is probable that horses were not numerous among any of the Indians yet, and that this mounted attack was the first one experienced by the Brulé.)

Fig. 272.

Fig. 272, 1715-’16.—“Came-and-attacked-on-horseback-and-stabbed-a-boy-near-the-lodge winter.” Eagle tail-feathers hang from the butt end of the lance.

Fig. 273.

Fig. 273, 1716-’17.—“Much-pemmican winter.” A year of peace and prosperity. Buffalo were plentiful all the fall and winter. Large quantities of pemmican (wasna) were made with dried meat and marrow. In front of the lodge is seen the backbone of a buffalo, the marrow of which is used in wasna; below this is the buffalo stomach, in which wasna is packed for preservation.

Fig. 274.

Fig. 274, 1717-’18.—“Brought-home-fifteen-Assiniboin-horses winter.” The sign for Assiniboin is above the horse.


Fig. 275.

Fig. 275, 1718-’19.—“Brought-home-Pawnee-horses winter.” The sign for Ree, i. e., an ear of corn, is in front of the horse.

Fig. 276.

Fig. 276, 1719-’20.—“Wore-snowshoes winter.” The snow was very deep, and the people hunted buffalo on snowshoes with excellent success.

Fig. 277.

Fig. 277, 1720-’21.—“Three-lodges-starved-to-death winter.” The bare ribs of the man denote starvation. [The gesture-sign for poor or lean indicates that the ribs are visible. In the Ojibwa and Ottawa pictographs lines across the chest denote starvation.]

Fig. 278.

Fig. 278, 1721-’22.—“Wore-snowshoes-and-dried-much-buffalo-meat winter.” It was even a better year for buffalo than 1719-’20.

Fig. 279.

Fig. 279, 1722-’23.—“Deep-snow-and-tops-of-lodges-only-visible winter.” The spots are intended for snow.


Fig. 280.

Fig. 280, 1723-’24.—“Many-drying-sticks-set-up winter.” They set up more than the usual number of sticks for scaffolds, etc., as they dried the buffalo heads, hides, and entrails, as well as the meat. This figure is repeated with differentiation for the year 1745-’46 in this chart.

Fig. 281.

Fig. 281, 1724-’25.—“Blackens-himself-died winter.” This man was in the habit of blacking his whole body with charcoal. He died of some kind of intestinal bend [sic] as is indicated by the stomach and intestines in front of him, which represent the bowels in violent commotion, or going round and round.

Fig. 282.

Fig. 282, 1725-’26.—“Brought-home-ten-Omaha-horses winter.” The sign for Omaha is the head, as before.

Fig. 283.

Fig. 283, 1726-’27.—“Killed-two-Pawnees-among-the-lodges winter.” The Pawnees (Rees) made an assault on the Dakota Village, and these two ran among the lodges without any arrows. The sign for Ree is, as usual, an ear of corn.

Fig. 284.

Fig. 284, 1727-’28.—“Killed-six-Assiniboins winter.” Two signs are given here for Assiniboin. There is some uncertainty as to whether they were Assiniboins or Arikaras, so the signs for both are given.

Fig. 285.

Fig. 285, 1728-’29.—“Brought-home-Gros-Ventre-horses winter.” A Gros Ventre head is shown in front of the horse.


Fig. 286.

Fig. 286, 1729-’30.—“Killed-the-Pawnees-camped-alone-with-their-wives winter.” Two Pawnees and their wives, who were hunting buffalo by themselves, and living in one lodge, were surprised and killed by a war party of Dakotas.

Fig. 287.

Fig. 287, 1730-’31.—“Came-from-opposite-ways-and-camped-together winter.” By a singular coincidence, two bands of Dakotas selected the same place for an encampment, and arrived there the same day. They had been separated a long time, and were wholly ignorant of each other’s movements. The caps of the tipis face one another.

Fig. 288.

Fig. 288, 1731-’32.—“Came-from-killing-one-Omaha-and-danced winter.” This is the customary feast at the return of a successful war party. The erect arrow may stand for “one,” and the Omaha is drawn at full length with his stiff short hair and painted cheeks.

Fig. 289.

Fig. 289, 1732-’33.—“Brought-home-Assiniboin-horses winter.” The sign for Assiniboin is as before, over the horse.

Fig. 290.

Fig. 290, 1733-’34.—“Killed-three-Assiniboins winter.” There is again uncertainty as to whether they were Assiniboins or Arikaras, and both signs are used.


Fig. 291.

Fig. 291, 1734-’35.—“Used-them-up-with-bellyache winter.” About fifty of the people died of an eruptive disease which was accompanied by pains in the bowels. The eruption is shown on the man in the figure. This was probably the first experience by the Dakotas of the smallpox, which has been so great a factor in the destruction of the Indians.

Fig. 292.

Fig. 292, 1735-’36.—“Followed-them-up-and-killed-five winter.” A war party of Dakotas were chased by some enemies, who killed five of them. The arrows flying from behind at the man indicate pursuit, and the number of the arrows, each with a bloody mark as if hitting, is five.

Fig. 293.

Fig. 293, 1736-’37.—“Brought-home-Pawnee-horses winter.” This date must be considered in connection with the figure in this record for 1802-’03. There is a distinction between the wild and the shod horses, but the difference in tribe is great. The ear of corn showing the husk is as common in this record for Pawnee as for Arikara.

Fig. 294.

Fig. 294, 1737-’38.—“Killed-seven-Assiniboins-bringing-them-to-a-stand-under-a-bank winter.” The daub, blue in the original, under the crouching figure, represents the bank.

Fig. 295.

Fig. 295, 1738-’39.—“The-four-who-went-on-the-war-path-starved-to-death winter.” Starvation is indicated as before.


Fig. 296.

Fig. 296, 1739-’40—“Found-many-horse winter.” The horses had thongs around their necks, and had evidently been lost by some other tribe. Hoof prints are represented above and below the horse, that is all around.

Fig. 297.

Fig. 297, 1740-’41.—“The-two-came-home-having-killed-an-enemy winter.” They took his entire scalp, and carried it home at the end of a pole. Only a part of the scalp is ordinarily taken, and that from the crown of the head.

Fig. 298.

Fig. 298, 1741-’42.—“Attacked-them-while-gathering-turnips winter.” Some women, who were digging turnips (pomme blanche) near the camp, were assaulted by a party of enemies, who, after knocking them down, ran off without doing them any further harm. A turnip, and the stick for digging it, are seen in front of the horseman.

Fig. 299.

Fig. 299, 1742-’43.—“Killed-them-on-the-way-home-from-the-hunt winter.” The men were out hunting, and about 100 of their enemies came on horseback to attack the camp, and had already surrounded it, when a woman poked her head out of a lodge and said, “They have all gone on the hunt. When I heard you, I thought they had come back.” She pointed toward the hunting-ground, and the enemies going in that direction, met the Dakotas, who killed many of them with their spears, and put the rest to flight. Hoof-prints surround the circle of lodges, and are on the trail to the hunting-ground.

Fig. 300.

Fig. 300, 1743-’44.—“The-Omahas-came-and-killed-them-in-the-night winter.” They wounded many, but killed only one. The Dakotas were all encamped together.


Fig. 301.

Fig. 301, 1744-’45.—“Brought-home-Omaha-horses winter.”

Fig. 302.

Fig. 302, 1745-’46.—“Many-drying-scaffolds winter.” It was even a better year for buffalo than 1723-’24.

Fig. 303.

Fig. 303, 1746-’47.—“Came-home-having-killed-one-Gros-Ventre winter.”

Fig. 304.

Fig. 304, 1747-’48.—“Froze-to-death-at-the-hunt winter.” The arrow pointing toward the buffalo head indicates they were hunting, and the crouching figure of the man, together with the snow above and below him, that he suffered severely from cold or froze to death.

Fig. 305.

Fig. 305, 1748-’49.—“Eat-frozen-fish winter.” They discovered large numbers of fish frozen in the ice, and subsisted on them all winter.

Fig. 306.

Fig. 306, 1749-’50.—“Many-hole-camp-winter.” The same explanation as for Fig. 260, for the year 1703-’04. The two figures are different in execution though the same in concept. There would, however, be little confusion in distinguishing two seasons of exceptional success in the hunt that were separated by forty-six years.

Fig. 307.

Fig. 307, 1750-’51.—“Killed-two-white-buffalo-cows winter.” (Note by Dr. Corbusier: Two white buffalo are so rarely killed one season that the event is considered worthy of record. Most Indians regard the albinos among animals with the greatest reverence. The Ojibwas, who look upon a black loon as the most worthless of birds regard a white one as sacred.)


Fig. 308.

Fig. 308, 1751-’52.—“Omahas-came-and-killed-two-in-the-lodge winter.” An Omaha war party surprised them in the night, shot into the lodge, wounding two, and then fled. The two shot died of their wounds.

Fig. 309.

Fig. 309, 1752-’53.—“Destroyed-three-lodges-of-Omahas winter.” The Dakotas went to retaliate on the Omahas, and finding three lodges of them killed them. It will be noticed that in this figure the sign for Omaha is connected with the lodge, and in the preceding figure with the arrow.

Fig. 310.

Fig. 310, 1753-’54.—“Killed-two-Assiniboins-on-the-hunt winter.”

Fig. 311.

Fig. 311, 1754-’55.—“Pawnees-shouted-over-the-people winter.” The Pawnees (Rees) came at night, and standing on a bluff overlooking the Dakota village shot into it with arrows, killing one man, and alarmed the entire village by their shouts.

Fig. 312.

Fig. 312, 1755-’56.—“Killed-two-Pawnees-at-the-hunt winter.” A war party of Dakotas surprised some Pawnee (Ree) hunters and killed two of them.

Fig. 313.

Fig. 313, 1756-’57.—“The-whole-people-were-pursued-and-two-killed winter.” A tribe, name unknown, attacked and routed the whole band. The man in the figure is retreating, as is shown by his attitude; the arrow on his bow points backward at the enemy, from whom he is retreating. The two blood-stained arrows in his body mark the number killed.


Fig. 314.

Fig. 314, 1757-’58.—“Went-on-the-warpath-on-horseback-to-camp-of-enemy-but-killed-nothing winter.” The lack of success may have been due to inexperience in mounted warfare as the Dakotas had probably for the first time secured a sufficient number of horses to mount a war party.

Fig. 315.

Fig. 315, 1758-’59.—“Killed-two-Omahas-who-came-to-the-camp-on-war-path winter.”

Fig. 316.

Fig. 316, 1759-’60.—“War-parties-met-and-killed-a-few-on-both-sides winter.” The attitude of the opposed figures of the Dakota and Gros Ventre and the footprints indicate that the parties met; the arrows in opposition, that they fought; and the blood-stained arrow in each man that some were killed on both sides.

Fig. 317.

Fig. 317, 1760-’61.—“Assiniboins-came-and-attacked-the-camp-again winter;” or “Assiniboins-shot-arrows-through-the-camp winter.”

Fig. 318.

Fig. 318, 1761-’62.—“Killed-six-Pawnees (Rees) winter.” Besides the arrow sticking in the body another is flying near the head of the man figure, who has the tribal marks for Pawnee or Ree, as used in this record.

Fig. 319.

Fig. 319, 1762-’63.—“The-people-were-burnt winter.” They were living somewhere east of their present country when a prairie fire destroyed[305] their entire village. Many of their children and a man and his wife, who were on foot some distance away from the village, were burned to death, as also were many of their horses. All the people that could get to a long lake, which was near by, saved themselves by jumping into it. Many of these were badly burned about the thighs and legs, and this circumstance gave rise to the name Sican-zhu, burnt thigh (or simply burnt as translated Brulé by the French), by which they have since been known, and also to the gesture sign, as follows: “Rub the upper and outer part of the right thigh in a small circle with the open right hand, fingers pointing downward.”

Fig. 320.

Fig. 320, 1763-’64.—“Many-sticks-for-drying-beef winter.” They dried so much meat that the village was crowded with drying poles and scaffolds.

Fig. 321.

Fig. 321, 1764-’65.—“Stole-their-horses-while-they-were-on-the-hunt winter.” A Dakota war party chanced to find a hunting party of Assiniboins asleep and stole twenty of their horses. It was storming at the time and horses had their packs on and were tied. The marks which might appear to represent a European saddle on the horse’s back denote a pack or load. Hunting is symbolized as before, by the buffalo head struck by an arrow.

Fig. 322.

Fig. 322, 1765-’66.—“Killed-a-war-party-of-four-Pawnees winter.” The four Pawnees (Rees) made an attack on the Dakota camp.

Fig. 323.

Fig. 323, 1766-’67.—“Brought-home-sixty-Assiniboin-horses (one spotted) winter.” They were all the horses the Assiniboins had and were on an island in the Missouri river, from which the Dakotas cleverly stole them during a snowstorm.


Fig. 324.

Fig. 324, 1767-’68.—“Went-out-to-ease-themselves-with-their-bows-on winter.” The Dakotas were in constant fear of an attack by enemies. When a man left his lodge after dark, even to answer the calls of nature, he carried his bows and arrows along with him and took good care not to go far away from the lodge. The squatting figure, etc., close to the lodge tells the story.

Fig. 325.

Fig. 325, 1768-’69.—“Two-horses-killed-something winter.” A man who had gone over a hill just out of the village was run down by two mounted enemies who drove their spears into him and left him for dead, one of them leaving his spear sticking in the man’s shoulder, as shown in the figure. He recovered, however. (Note by Dr. Corbusier: They frequently speak of persons who have been very ill and have recovered as dying and returning to life again, and have a gesture sign to express the idea.)

Fig. 326.

Fig. 326, 1769-’70.—“Attacked-the-camp-from-both-sides winter.” A mounted war party—tribe unknown—attacked the village on two sides, and on each side killed a woman. The footprints of the enemies’ horses and arrows on each side of the lodge, which represents the village, show the mode of attack.

Fig. 327.

Fig. 327, 1770-’71—“Came-and-killed-the-lodges winter.” The enemy came on horseback and assailed the Dakota lodges, which were pitched near together, spoiling some of them by cutting the hide coverings with their spears, but killing no one. They used spears only, but arrows are also depicted, as they symbolize attack. No blood is shown on the arrows, as only the lodges were “killed.”

Fig. 328.

Fig. 328, 1771-’72.—“Swam-after-the-buffalo winter.” In the spring the Dakotas secured a large supply of meat by swimming out and towing ashore buffalo that were floating past the village and which had fallen into the river on attempting to cross on the weak ice.


Fig. 329.

Fig. 329, 1772-’73.—“Killed-an-Assiniboin-and-his-wife winter.”

Fig. 330.

Fig. 330, 1773-’74.—“Killed-two-Pawnee-boys-while-playing winter.” A war party of Dakotas surprised two Pawnee (Ree) boys who were wrestling and killed them while they were on the ground.

Fig. 331.

Fig. 331, 1774-’75.—“Assiniboins-made-an-attack winter.” They were cowardly, however, and soon retreated. Perhaps the two arrows of the Assiniboins compared with the one arrow of the attacked Dakotas suggests the cowardice.

Fig. 332.

Fig. 332, 1775-’76.—“Assiniboins-went-home-and-came-back-mad-to-make-a-fresh-attack winter.” They were brave this time, being thoroughly aroused. They fought with bows and arrows only.

Fig. 333.

Fig. 333, 1776-’77.—“Killed-with-war-club-in-his-hand winter.” A Dakota war club is in the man’s hand and an enemy’s arrow is entering his body.

Fig. 334.

Fig. 334, 1777-’78.—“Spent-the-winter-in-no-particular-place winter.” They made no permanent camp, but wandered about from place to place.


Fig. 335.

Fig. 335, 1778-’79.—“Skinned-penis-used-in-the-game-of-haka winter.” A Dakota named as mentioned was killed in a fight with the Pawnees and his companions left his body where they supposed it would not be found, but the Pawnees found it and as it was frozen stiff they dragged it into their camp and played haka with it. The haka-stick which, in playing the game, they cast after a ring, is represented on the right of the man. This event marks 1777-’78 in the Winter Count of American-Horse and 1779-’80 in that of Cloud-Shield. The insult and disgrace made it remarkable.

Fig. 336.

Fig. 336, 1779-’80.—“Smallpox-used-them-up winter.” The eruption and pains in the stomach and bowels are shown as before.

Fig. 337.

Fig. 337, 1780-’81.—“Smallpox-used-them-up-again winter.” There is in this figure no sign for pain but the spots alone are shown. An attempt to discriminate and distinguish the year-devices is perceived.

Fig. 338.

Fig. 338, 1781-’82.—“Came-and-attacked-on-horseback-for-the-last-time winter.” The name of the tribe is not known, but it is the last time they ever attacked the Dakotas.


Fig. 339.

Fig. 339, 1782-’83.—“Killed-the-man-with-the-scarlet-blanket-on winter.” It is not known what tribe killed him.

Fig. 340.

Fig. 340, 1783-’84.—“Soldier-froze-to-death winter.” The falling snow and the man’s position with his legs drawn up to his abdomen, one hand in an armpit and the other in his mouth, are indicative of intense cold.

Fig. 341.

Fig. 341, 1784-’85.—“The-Oglala-took-the-cedar winter.” During a great feast an Oglala declared he was wakan and could draw a cedar tree out of the ground. He had previously fastened the middle of a stick to the lower end of a cedar with a piece of the elastic ligament from the neck of the buffalo and then planted the tree with the stick crosswise beneath it. He went to this tree, dug away a little earth from around it and pulled it partly out of the ground and let it spring back again, saying “the cedar I drew from the earth has gone home again.” After he had gone some young men dug up the tree and exposed the shallow trick.

Fig. 342.

Fig. 342, 1785-’86.—“The-Cheyennes-killed-Shadow’s-father winter.” The umbrella signifies, shadow; the arrow which touches it, attacked; the