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Sign Language Among North American Indians – Gender

This is sometimes expressed by different signs to distinguish the sex of animals, when the difference in appearance allows of such varied portraiture. An example is in the signs for the male and female buffalo, given by the Prince of Wied. The former is, “Place the tightly closed hands on both sides of the head, with the fingers forward;” the latter is, “Curve the two forefingers, place them on the sides of the head and move them several times.” The short stubby horns of the bull appear to be indicated, and the cow’s ears are seen moving, not being covered by the bull’s shock mane. Tribes in which the hair of the women is differently arranged from that of men often denote their females by corresponding gesture. In many cases the sex of animals is indicated by the addition of a generic sign for male or female.

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