SIA4111: The Kassley-Schaefer Birdman Tablet

Copyright:© Copyright 2013 Calvin J. Hamilton
Location:Collinsville, Illinois.

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This is a broken tablet found in a field in Monroe County, Illinois by Elizabeth Kassley. It has a horizontal rattlesnake-like tail element at the top. Beneath that is a human torso with five dots in the chest area and a fringe knee-length kilt-like garment below that with another dot. Extended to the right is a depicdtion of vertical feathers typically used to indicate a bird wing. The reverse side has a cross-hatched pattern similar to that seen on other stone tablets.

Bird-man symbolism of similar hawk or falcon dancers is common in Mississippian iconegraphy and can be seen on copper plaques, engraved shell cups, and other stone tablets. The meaning here is not clear with part of the left side and the head missing and the snake element in place of it, but raptorial birds are know to represent the "Upper World," humans "This World," and sankes the "Underworld." The Cross-hatching may also represent snake skin.

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