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 Museum Explorer

Warfare in
the Americas

Rawhide shield

Diameter: 58.000 cm

AOA 5202

Rawhide shield

From: the American West, North America (Pawnee)
Date: early 19th century AD

Plains Indians used shields made from skin taken from the thick, tough neck of the buffalo, to help protect them when they fought. The designs that they painted onto the shields gave them extra protection, as they asked for the help of certain spirits who would look after them in battle.

This shield was used by a Plains Indian warrior on horseback. His design probably has the sun and the moon in the centre. The pointed shapes at the sides may be buffalo horns, showing respect for the animal that Plains Indians depended on.