A defender of liberty, Teancum was also a proponent of early guerrilla warfare, often
employing a combination of brute force with stratagem in order to win battles against
the Lamanites. Teancum slew Amalickiah, evil king of the Lamanites, by piercing the
king with a javelin as he slept in his tent.
The Book of Mormon tells of a group of the sons of converted Lamanites. Because
of the many murders their fathers had committed before their conversions, they had
made a covenant never to take the sword again, even in self-defense. At a critical
time when their enemies were attacking them on all sides, the sons of these converts
made a commitment to fight for the liberty of their people and their country. “But
behold, it came to pass they had many sons, who had not entered into a covenant that
they would not take their weapons of war to defend themselves against their enemies;
therefore they did assemble themselves together at this time, as many as were able
to take up arms, and they called themselves Nephites.”
The next painting, HELAMAN LEADS AN ARMY OF 2060 AMMONITE YOUTH is one of the most
dramatic in the Book of Mormon. It is misleading that they should be called “stripling
soldiers.” They were not little boys, but young men who volunteered to go into battle.
They were strong and valiant, marching forth in the strength of the Lord. The book
speaks at some length of them as men of truth and soberness, “men who were true at
all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted.” Here the artist sought to express
their interior testimony of faith through picturing their physical strength.
There is in this picture something that skeptics will be quick to pounce upon—the
commonly accepted “scientific proof” that there were no horses in ancient America.
“Why, everybody knows the Spaniards brought the first horses,” they smartly point
out. But no matter what “science” may say, in direct confrontation stands the Book
of Mormon, which in several places makes clear mention of horses. Although the Book
of Mormon doesn’t expressly say that Helaman rode on horseback, the artist has taken
the liberty of showing him mounted. Since the book does speak elsewhere of these
animals and since I am somewhat known for my equine paintings, I could not resist
including in these 12 pictures at least one horse.
“After receiving a farewell and the shield of faith from their mothers, these young
Lamanite men turn in sequence to walk uprightly before God and march in harmony with
their fellows. Arches overhead reinforce the sense of their unity. Not having weapons
in their own convert families, each is ceremonially armed by the prophet Helaman.
“Another Lamanite shielded by great faith, Samuel is protected from arrows, spears,
and stones as he prophesies to the Nephites. Teichert visualizes the protective power
around Samuel as heavenly rays of light. An opposing, but lesser power as well as
a sense of motion is conveyed by the trail of light behind the spear. The flight
angles of the spear and arrow direct our eyes to the prophet’s right hand, which
is centerd in the embrasure. He has stretched forth his hand in an allusion to the
signs of the crucifixion in Christ’s hands. Delivering the signs of Christ’s coming
birth and death is part of Samuel’s mission, and he warns the Nephites that those
who do not repent will be destroyed when Christ dies. Teichert equates Samuel with
a noble savage coming out of the wild jungle adorned with earrings and a blanket,
his hair dressed in a braid.”