Lakota Sioux Polychrome Courting Flute From the Collection of Marvin L. Lince, Oregon

carved with the head of a crane and detailed with openwork and spiral carved bands; stylized bird saddle covers tone hole and is affixed using cotton cord embellished with brass beads; a hoop woven with hide mesh hangs from the open mouth of the crane by a twisted hide thong; flute body painted in blue, red, green, and purple, length 31.75 in.
late 19th century

Accompanying flute is a handwritten note: Flute / John R. Colhoff Pine Ridge, S.D./  This is a real Sioux Love Flute made by John Colhoff and used by him, he was very gifted player.  The flute is made of cedar to give it a good tone./ Very fine and old  / 1918.

Census records show that John R. Colhoff was born between 1877-1880 and noted as living on Pine Ridge Reservation in 1890.

Courting flutes with avian characteristics stem from the Siouan legend of a woodpecker teaching a hunter how to make a flute from the branch of a cedar tree.  Once the hunter made the flute, he used it to captivate his lover.  Flutes carved with long necks and open-beaked birds can be found within the collections of the American Museum of Natural History (
Cat. No. 50.1/ 518); National Museum of the American Indian (Cat. No. 10/9295); and the National Music Museum, University of South Dakota (Cat. No. NMM 4050).

Provenance:From the Collection of Marvin L. Lince, Oregon

Estimate: $6,500 - $8,500
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium


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