This image is one of the very few watercolors that Miller inscribed with a date. Its stained and flaked surface suggest the kind of wear expected on a field sketch. However, it is painted on a thin tissue mounted to a heavier surface, which might indicate that it was a later tracing of an earlier field sketch (hence the dates 1837 and 1838, see CR# 459 for another example of an image painted on tissue and mounted on heavier paper). It is clearly related in style, palette, materials, and condition to the portrait sketches Shim-a-co-che (CR# 299) and Aricara [sic] Woman (CR# 301). Like the other two, it is painted in thick, reddish brown pigment, with carefully articulated eyes, shiny hair, and cross-hatching. Each subject wears a far-away, dreamy gaze. Painted in similar shades of red, brown, and gray, each also includes opaque white pigment that has turned black.
As with the other two, Miller includes specific, if cursorily rendered details of costume and accoutrements. Here he renders a particularly fine blue and black striped hair bow in Ma-wo-ma’s hair. Similar hair bows can be found in George Catlin and Karl Bodmer’s watercolors depicting Crow men, such as Catlin’s Bi-éets-ee-cure, Very Sweet Man, 1832, and Bodmer’s Yellow Feather and Flying War Eagle, c. 1841. According to John Ewers, the hair bow was a recent invention made of hide, Venetian glass beads, and Pacific coast shell, and was fashionable on the Plains in the mid-nineteenth century.
LL: [illeg.] M/1837 & 8/ 1837—.UL: X LR: AJM./Ma-wo-ma/Little Chief Middle Right: [illeg.]/ Ballities[?]UR: Rocky Mountains/ No. 4
The artist; [?]; Thomas Gilcrease, Tulsa, OK; present owner by gift