Passing into Womanhood
A Limited Edition Print
by artist Howard Terpning
Published in 1992 Edition size:650
size: 30 7/8"w x 32.1/2"h.
Girls as well as boys had certain rites of passage into adulthood among the Plains Indians. The subject here is a young Cheyenne girl, undergoing a ceremony that heralds her coming into puberty. It was Cheyenne custom to announce to the camp the fact that the girl had reached that stage in life and perhaps to give away a horse in celebration. The ceremonial rites of initiating the girl into womanhood were usually performed by her grandmother.
The girl unbraided her hair and bathed. Afterward, older women painted her body with red. Then she gathered a robe around her and sat near a fire. Sweetgrass, juniper needles, and white sage were sprinkled on a coal set before her. She bent forward over the coal, holding her robe about it so that the rising smoke from the incense would pass about and over her body. Afterward she and her grandmother would leave the home lodge, and she would remain in a smaller one for four days.
From this time on, she no longer talked to her older brothers for fear it might potentially lead to incest. Her mother coached her on proper conduct, emphasizing the importance of chastity.
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