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Monday, 29 April 2013

Native Portrait of Surviving Native North American Lion?

A Native painting made before the end of the Civil War in what is now the Southwestern part of the USA which possibly represents the Native Lion (Surviving La Brea Lion or Panthera leo atrox) is found at: SOURCE

Here is the painting:

San Ildefonso Pueblo Painting of Lion and Avanyu

 Tony Pena
  • Category: Paintings
  • Origin: San Ildefonso Pueblo
  • Medium: Watercolor on Paper
  • Size: 6-1/4" x 10-1/2" image; 15-1/2" x 19-5/8" framed
  • Item # 25276
  • Price: $1,500.00

The only reference I have found for San Ildefonso Pueblo artist Tony Pena is a Laura Gilpin photograph of him wrapped in the Chief White Antelope blanket that was found on the body of Chief White Antelope after the infamous Sand Creek Massacre in 1864. The blanket resides at the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe.
Tony Pena signatureThe Gilpin photograph is published in full color on the cover of Quiet Triumph, Forty Years with the Indian Arts Fund, Santa Fe. The booklet was published by Amon Carter Museum of Western Art, Fort Worth, in 1966, on the occasion of an exhibition of the collection of The Indian Arts Fund of the School for Advanced Research.
Pena is not listed in any of the standard reference books of Native American painters at my disposal. Antonio Pena, the husband of Juanita Pena, was a painter of her black-on-black pottery, and it is possible that this painting is by him as he signed his name as Tony on her pottery.
The subject matter of this painting is quite interesting in that it features a lion straddling an Avanyu (water serpent)—one creature being [presumably] native to New Mexico and the other certainly not native. I am aware of another painting by Tony Pena of a similar subject. Both paintings came from the collection of former Santa Fe resident and dealer Richard M. Howard.
The painting is signed Tony Pena in lower right but not dated. It is in original excellent condition and is beautifully matted and framed.
Provenance: ex. coll. Richard M. Howard, Santa Fe

  • Category: Paintings
  • Origin: San Ildefonso Pueblo
  • Medium: Watercolor on Paper
  • Size: 6-1/4" x 10-1/2" image; 15-1/2" x 19-5/8" framed
  • Item # 25276
  • Price: $1,500.00

I mention this because there are other more recent sightings in supposrt of such a creature as listed by Mark Hall, Loren Coleman (Mysterious America) and others.

Although this is interestng it is not strictly Cryptozoological, since the lion species is known to be still living in other parts of the world. Also, there is also rock art ( there are Petrogyphs) which may mean to show such an animal and I am told one of the names for it was "Buffalo Lynx" (or really big and robust kind of a lynx, in the Native conception)
--Best Wishes, Dale D.


  1. Wow, that is very interesting! I think it would be very awesome if the American Lion was still alive today.

    However, my definition of cryptozoology is a bit different from yours. I feel that undiscovered subspecies and maybe even different populations and races of animals should be considered cryptids. However, I would not consider color variants or genetic mutations, such as blue tigers or king cheetahs, cryptids.

    However, I do include new subspecies, races, and distinct populations of animals.

    1. Well, let's not argue the point. The proper procedure I believe is this: if you have an "unknown animal" and you can still identify its species, You do not have an unknown animal. If you have an uncaught and uncaptured animal that you believe to be an unknown or not currently representedsubspecies, then you still don't have anything different because you will have to have a specimen in hand to demonstrate that it IS a different subspecies with important divergences fro the main species. You will not really be able to say "We have a population of relict Panthera leo arox and we know they are not strayed captive African lions" until you have a specimen and you will be able to identify the specific anatomical differences characteristic to Atrox and not to lions in general...or else all you will have will still be a lion and undeterminable as anything more specific than that. And you basically cannot assume biogeography any more, that is one of the problems with the notion of using your standard catalogued subspecies to name uncaptured and unidentified specimens you might have reports of.


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