Elk Horn Quirt
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Plains Indian (Upper Missouri) Quirt

Plains Indian (Upper Missouri) Quirt

Upper Missouri Region

The quirt is a horn whip with a dual purpose. It was a whip used to speed up a horse or it was used in warfare to hit an enemy. Lashing an opponent with a quirt demonstrated greater bravery than shooting him.

It was made with the end tine of an elk rack which was removed and then had a hole drilled at the end in order to contain a hide strap that was pegged in place.

The lightning grooves etched into the horn were more than decorative. It was believed that a symbol on an object transferred a power to a happening. The lightning marks on the handle would symbolically cause the horse to run faster.

Lightning and its association to thunder were powerful forces to native people. The horse was thought to have a connection with the Thunderbeings due to its speed and the thunderous sound of its running.

On the back side of the exhibition war shirt, there is a row of ten quirts drawn on the lower left side and eight on the right. In a stylized fashion the wrist loop, elk horn and lash are shown. The interpretation refers to horses captured or given away.

Plains Indian (Upper Missouri) Quirt

 

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