Passing Into Womanhood

Howard Terpning
Limited Edition Print
Giclée Paper
26.75 W x 28 H inches
Limited Edition of 650, and Artists Proofs

Category:

Artwork Description

When a girl reached puberty, it was a Cheyenne custom to go through this ritual of purification and education. The ceremonial rites of initiating a girl into womanhood were usually performed by her grandmother. First the girl unbraided her hair and bathed her body. Then her whole body was covered with sacred red earth. Following these preparations, she gathered a robe around herself and knelt down near the fire. Her grandmother would use a forked stick to remove a coal from the fire and place it in front of the girl.

The grandmother would then sprinkle sweet grass, juniper needles and white sage over the coal to create smoke. The girl would bend over the coal, holding her robe open around it so the rising smoke from the incense would pass about and over her body. That would purify her. The young Cheyenne and her grandmother would then go to a smaller lodge and remain there for four days while the girl learned the ways of Cheyenne conduct for women. From that point on, she was of marriageable age.