Articles of the Cheyenne features a Cheyenne warrior standing inside a teepee and holding a pipe axe. The man is surrounded by his “articles” of war, a fitting setting for a warrior of his status.
The pipe axe, held in his right hand, is an item of interesting and significant importance. This instrument demonstrates the duality of life as a warrior, that of both war and peace. This dichotomy represents the life of a warrior: When encountering a new person, he must determine, “Am I faced with a friend or foe?” Both fighting and smoking were considered to be sacred, in their own right.
Given the pipe axe’s multiple uses, it was a highly sought after item. The axe is a strongly forged piece of metal, obtained through trade or as a diplomatic gift, and is a powerful weapon on the battlefield. Prowess on the battlefield and ability to defend the tribe was of utmost importance to a warrior. The pipe portion, on the other hand, is a bowl from which the warrior can smoke tobacco, a symbol of friendship or reconciliation. A man could either dispatch his foe and have a smoke, or simply have a smoke with this newly gained friend.
Other details of the painting: On the wall of the teepee wall are the man’s medicine shield and medicine bundle. In his hand, he holds an intimidating spear in his left hand. He wears a “shirt wearer’s shirt”, a clothing item with locks of hair from either his tribe’s member or from scalps of his enemies. These two items again reinforce the dual-nature of the warrior.
Notice how the warrior stares straight at you, your eye guided to his face through the vertical spear. This composition is one of strength, one that emphasizes the stature and power of this seasoned warrior.