Winter 2007–2008

Introductory Image

Paul Kane, Child in the Process of Having Its Head Flattened, 1847. During a journey through the Canadian west, the Irish-Canadian painter Paul Kane documented the practice of head-flattening among certain tribes. Mothers, he observed, carry their infants on a stiff board with a smooth piece of bark tightly strapped to their foreheads. After a period of eight to twelve months, the skull assumes the form of a wedge, with a steeply sloping forehead. It is, he writes, “from amongst the round heads the Flatheads take their slaves, … the flat head being considered as the distinguishing mark of freedom.” Courtesy Stark Museum of Art, Orange, Texas
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