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Face Paint for Fancy Feather Dancing?

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  • Face Paint for Fancy Feather Dancing?

    I have been fancy feather dancing for almost a year now and I have never seen another fancy dancer wear face paint at a powwow. I would like to try face paint but is this acceptable at a powwow for my dance style? I have been to 6 powwows but I have never seen a fancy dancer in face paint, can anybody help me?

  • #2
    I have never seen this before. You might wanna read this about face paint go to for your info
    Last edited by White Powwow Dancer; 11-29-2012, 05:10 PM. Reason: face paint info for him.
    Asema Is Sacred
    Traditional Use, Not Misuse
    Wakan Tanka please have compassion on me.
    OK Niji we are running a train with red over yellow at this powwow.


    • #3
      Modern Face Paint

      Modern uses of face paint

      Today face paint is still used by many plains tribes for a variety of reasons. Many ceremonies, such as Sun Dance Ceremonies, Naming Ceremonies, Society Ceremonies, Healing Ceremonies, and ceremonies for returning veterans may involve the painting of faces in one form or another.

      Some designs and color patterns may be “owned” by individuals, families, clans or societies. In some tribes the rite to wear a design and color pattern may be handed down from one individual to a younger relative. For example, an old combat veteran, too feeble to dance at pow-wows anymore, could give his young grandson the rite to use his face paint pattern and colors when he dances.

      In some tribes, face paint patterns, face paint colors, the paint itself, and a possible set of protective prayers or songs, could be purchased from one individual by another. A young man might come up to an older man saying something like, “I remember you used to wear a particular pattern of paint when you danced. I would like to give you these gifts in exchange for the right to honor you by wearing your design when I dance.” It would then be said that he paid for the rite to wear a particular design and color pattern.

      Some modern traditional dancers are combat veterans who wear face paint that they wore while in combat, or in a dream related to their combat experience, or as a result of their combat experience.
      In both Ponca and the Osage Men’s Warrior Societies, it is common to see men wearing protective red paint at the corner of their eyes.

      For the Ponca Hethuska:

      “The common face paint design for a Straight Dancer is a red line extending back from the corner of each eye for about 2 inches.” (Howard, 1965, p. 65)

      Among the Osage Inlonschka:

      “In modern times Osages use very little face paint in the Inlonschka. Usually only a streak of red one finger wide is used from the edge of the eye to the earlobe, a pinch of red is placed on each earlobe.” (Callahan, 1990, p. 112)

      Often times among the Ponca and Osage, a boy or young man is usually painted for the first time by a relative when they are given their “Indian name”, or when they are brought into the dance circle for the first time. Depending upon their age, the individual applies it themselves from then on. This red protection paint is said to protect the Straight Dancers from harm while in the dance circle.

      Other southern plains tribes have similar variations of eye paint in different colors and different patterns such as in a “v” shape coming out from the corner of the eye, in a “v” shape with a center line or also known as a “crow’s foot” design, or a series of small dots.

      Lastly, whether you are a Northern Traditional Dancer, a Southern Straight Dancer, a Fancy Feather Dancer, a Chicken Dancer or a Grass Dancer, and you are considering wearing face paint, the first question you should ask yourself is “why”. Why should you be wearing it?

      It may be for protection; to honor someone else; to be part of your personal experiences as a veteran; or to follow the dictates of a dream or visionary experience; or to show family, clan or society ties. Once you have answered the why, then you can move on to the how and when.


      Brown, Joseph Epes. 1953. The Sacred Pipe: Black Elk’s Account of the Seven Rites of the Oglala Sioux, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, OK.

      Callahan, Alice a. 1990. The Osage Ceremonial Dance, Inlonschka, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, OK.

      Densmore, Frances. 1918. Teton Sioux Music, Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin No. 61, U.S. Government Printing Office, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

      Fletcher, Alice C. and Joseph Laflesche. 1911. The Omaha Tribe, Bureau of American Ethnology, 27th Annual Report 1905-06, U.S. Government Printing Office, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.

      Howard, Dr. James h. 1965. The Ponca Tribe, Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin No. 195, U.S. Government Printing Office, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

      Mails, Thomas E.1972. Mystic Warriors of the Plains, Doubleday, New York, NY.


      • #4
        “The common face paint design for a Straight Dancer is a red line extending back from the corner of each eye for about 2 inches.” (Howard, 1965, p. 65)...nice post


        • #5
          Originally posted by faizan33 View Post
          “The common face paint design for a Straight Dancer is a red line extending back from the corner of each eye for about 2 inches.” (Howard, 1965, p. 65)...nice post
          Hmmm...are you sure it's a straight line?

          Why must I feel like that..why must I chase the cat?

          "When I was young man I did some dumb things and the elders would talk to me. Sometimes I listened. Time went by and as I looked around...I was the elder".

          Mr. Rossie Freeman


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