This shield, 23 inches in diameter, is a splendid Sioux shield dating from about 1860. The central feature is a horned thunderbird separating the star-studded night sky below from the day sky above. A rainbow arches across the top of the shield’s edge. The symbolism of the thunderbird evokes the strikes of lightning so important to shattering the enemy. The two skies and the rainbow draw upon the power of the thunderbird to change the bright day into a dark storm and to turn a sky full of hail and lightning into peaceful calm. In other words, the painting calls upon bullets and arrows to be rendered harmless by altering them into the opposite of their present form. The central pendant is a personal medicine of eagle feathers and horse hair that asks those animals to help the shield bearer with their special abilities.
From the front, only the shield cover of buckskin is visible. Although normally the cover (or covers) can be removed to reveal a shield with different power symbols and decorations, this cover is securely tied to the shield. It would be nice to know what the shield itself looks like.
Illustrated in Spirits in the Art, by James A. Hanson pg 189.