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The Sign in the Fall / Stephen Mopope


The Sign in the Fall depicts a Kiowa (Cáuigù)1 husband and wife seated atop a hill witnessing a seasonal event. The man, with one arm around his wife, points to the sign mentioned in the title: the sun, low on the horizon, with rings. He wears an eagle feather on his braided scalp lock, which falls down his back, and his hair is parted and braided, with two beaded adornments tied to the braids at the nape of his neck. A bandolier consisting of two strands of mescal beans falls from his left shoulder, and a yellow medicine tie fastens the strands together; both of these objects relate to spiritual practices. He wears a red wool breechcloth with a beaded knife sheath on his belt, and his beaded, loom-worked garters are tied below the kneecap. His moccasins are painted and beaded. A hand-carved flute lies on the ground behind the couple.

The woman wears an intricately patterned breastplate of beads. The bodice and skirt of her dress are blue wool, with red wool sleeves and a green cloth apron; around her waist is a leather belt decorated with large silver conchas. She wears braintanned-hide leggings that have been beaded and painted yellow and green, with silver brads decorating the front of the leggings along the shin. She holds a fan of eagle-tail feathers, with red featherwork at the base.

While many Kiowa Style or Oklahoma Flatstyle paintings are devoid of background imagery, here artist Stephen Mopope chose to depict the sun and the slope of the landscape.

—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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The Sign in the Fall
Stephen Mopope (Artist)
Native American; Kiowa
mid-20th century
tempera on paper
Portrait; single-sided 0.285-0.295mm cream colored paper. Even distribution of fibers in transmitted light. Cut to size, deckled edge
Object Type: 
Accession No: 
Previous Number(s): 
0227.334; 29215
Not On View

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