Thursday, July 8, 2010


This is coolbert:

"Worn by European military in the 18th century, gorgets were brought to North America and given to Native leaders as a sign of their rank."

From my previous blog entry on the Seminole Wars, I have included an image of Osceola. The most famous leader and commander of the Indian nation from that conflict. A man betrayed in a craven manner, the carrying of a white flag of truce not honored.


Notice in that image of Osceola the metal pendants hanging from his neck.


Normally the gorget is associated with the military officer of the black powder era, in the European or American tradition.

A remnant symbol of the armor that the knight "of yore" would wear into battle. The gorget, a remnant armor, symbolic of authority, nobility, the OFFICER CLASS!

"During the 18th and early 19th centuries, crescent-shaped gorgets of silver or silver gilt were worn by officers in most European armies, both as a badge of rank and an indication that they were on duty. These last survivals of armour were much smaller (usually about three to four inches in width) than their Medieval predecessors and were suspended by chains or ribbons"

"from the 18th century onwards, the gorget became primarily ornamental, serving only as a symbolic accessory on military uniforms"

Here with an image illustrative of how the gorget was worn by an European or American colonial military officer of the period.

"Colonel George Washington wore a gorget as part of his uniform in the French and Indian War, which symbolized his commission as an officer in the Virginia Regiment."

George Washington as a young man, a colonel and commander of the colonial Virginia Regiment during the French and Indian War. The gorget hanging from his neck worn symbolic of his rank, authority, "nobility", an OFFICER in command.

And here with a modern wearing of the gorget, a complete surprise to me! The gorget worn in some circumstances as a badge, an indication of military authority! In this particular case, a Finnish soldier, a non-commissioned officer, evidently in charge-of-quarters, the most senior soldier on duty at that given moment.

"A Finnish conscript as a duty NCO, wearing a gold-coloured gorget."

My original perception was - - that the depiction of Osceola - - painted by an American artist, was a "stylized" work of art. NOT a true representation, the artist showing Osceola in a manner for commercial consumption. The gorgets as worn by Osceola placed there to "symbolize" the fact that this man [Osceola] was a war chief, a leader, a man of authority.

BUT NO! I am incorrect.

The gorget was a popular item worn by the American Indians of the "civilized" nations [Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw]. And Seminole TOO! Worn in the same manner would a military officer of the European or American tradition, to signify rank, authority, leadership. As recognized by both American Indians and others as meaning such!!

"the eighteenth-century gorgets and medallions symbolized the cross-cultural alliance between negotiating parties of two different cultures. Native American leaders and diplomats wore the British gorgets as symbols of status and power in the context of foreign relationships."

It seems that all representations of Osceola show the man wearing gorgets. Osceola sat for American painters no less than three times, so highly was the man esteemed!

And how is this for synchronicity? ONLY several days ago, the Chicago Tribune carries an article about the current President of Elmhurst College, Alan Ray. A Cherokee, a man having a degree of authority within the Indian nation, AND WEARING CEREMONIAL GORGETS, A SYMBOL OF HIS [RAY] LEADERSHIP ROLE!!

The old ways are not forgotten and sometimes are the best ways too!!


1 comment:

Sgt. Kurtz, USMC said...

chief Osceola was not Seminole, he was Creek. He did fight in the Seminole wars, but the gorget he wears was a gift item used as a friendly trade gesture between European Commanders and tribal leaders in the 17 and early 1800s. This originally was to protect knights in battle from knife or sword slashes, the same function as Pre-contact Indian chokers, or the US Marine Collars (ie. term leather necks). My information comes from being a US Marine, speaking to the 4th great grandson of chief Osceola and a minor in US Military History. Hope this helps.