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Kiowa Flute Player / Stephen Mopope


The painting depicts a Kiowa (Cáuigù)1 husband and wife at dusk, near their cold-weather home. We can tell that it is cold from their warm attire, and because the top of the tipi is darkened by smoke from a fire. The couple is preparing to end the day with prayer, and the man is playing a flute carved from wood, with a bird effigy perched between the lip plate and finger holes. The flute is adorned with thinly cut buckskin strips decorated with beads and tipped with feathers from the female northern flicker, sometimes called a yellowhammer.

The man wears a pair of eagle feathers on the crown of his head, and his braided hair is gathered into beadworked ties at the nape of his neck. His shirt, made of a deep navy-blue trade cloth, has brightly colored fabric details along the neckline and shoulder seams. A black and red blanket is wrapped around his waist, over the shirt. From his belt hangs a red wool breechcloth trimmed at the outer seams in a repetitive triangular pattern. His buckskin leggings are painted yellow and adorned with white beads and naturally dyed horsehair tufts. His moccasins are fully beaded, with a white background. The woman is wrapped warmly in a pink wool trade-cloth blanket that has been decorated with white medallions beaded with red four-pointed stars.

—Jordan Poorman Cocker, Henry Luce Foundation Curatorial Scholar for Indigenous Painting Collection Research, 2021

1 Cáuigù is the correct identity used by the Kiowa Tribe.

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Kiowa Flute Player
Stephen Mopope (Artist)
Native American; Kiowa
mid-20th century
tempera on paper
Portrait; one sided Primary: 0.249- 0.259 mm Secondary: 0.253- 0.263 mm Both supports are machine-made and have very similar weights and textures. The primary support is a mid-tone cream. The secondary support is a darker shade cream/light brown. The wire sides of both supports are facing up.
Object Type: 
Accession No: 
Previous Number(s): 
0227.128; 35988
Not On View

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