Saturday, August 29, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
With evidence of temples, possible sacrifice, and feasting we can only wonder what they actually believed. Like the Anazazi their structures show evidence of a keen and exact knowledge of celestial events and seasonal markers. They were hunters and gatherers who developed cultivated crops and a highly stratified society. Whatever their actual beliefs, it is clear that they had a powerful ruling class, highly developed understanding of math and astronomy, exquisite craftsmanship and a rich ceremonial life.
Southern Ohio, 200 B.C. - A.D. 500
Thursday, August 20, 2009
The undulating serpent winds back and forth for more than eight hundred feet ending with a triple-coiled tail. The neck of the serpent is stretched out ending with a wide-open mouth surrounding a 120-foot-long hollow oval feature thought to be an egg. This oval-to-head area of the serpent is aligned to the summer solstice sunset. The Serpent Mound's coils are aligned to winter and summer solstices and spring and Autumnal equinoxes.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
The legend of Tsagaglalal, “She Who Watches” begins before Coyote came up the river and changed things. At that time a woman lived in a great house where the village of Nixluidix was later built. She was chief of the entire region. Then Coyote came up the river and warned her, “Soon the World will change”. Then he turned her into a rock. He said, “You shall stay here and watch over the people who live here.”
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
This week I am distracted with plans for a family road trip to eastern Washington for my nephew's wedding. Heading to that desert country on the Columbia river reminds me of one of my favorite exhibits at the Museum of Art WSU where I worked while earning my MFA. The show was called A Song to the Creator: Traditional Arts of Native Women of the Plateau and featured historic as well as contemporary work by Native Women from the region. Contemporary native women artists came and gave demonstrations. I spoke with one of the beadwork artists, she told me, "Everything I make is a prayer". It made me feel wistfully as if I'd been born into the wrong culture. I want to look more deeply into spiritual expression through art in native cultures but for now will leave you with these moccasins and a Yakima color guide.
Red means East, where the sun rises, brings wisdom
Yellow means South, sun shines all the time, where the sun lives
Black means West, where darkness and death live, where the sun sleeps
White means North, where snow is all the time; winter, white and cold
Blue means Sky, where the great spirit lives
Brown means Earth
Green means green things grow on the earth.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Navajo sand paintings are called, "The place where the Gods come and go". Sitting on the sand painting while the Singer chants a corresponding song helps the person in need of healing absorb power from the spirits who will absorb the illness. Once the sand painting has been used in a healing ceremony it contains the illness and must be destroyed. For some ceremonies a new sand painting is made each day for a number of days.
Like the Katsina dolls, the sand painting is sacred and can not be produced commercially as art but alternative designs with purposeful mistakes are created for sale as contemporary works of art.