Sunday, May 2, 2010

Rain Dancer Kachinas, Back from Zuni, Part 3

Photography of ceremonial events is strictly prohibited, but I wanted to give a visual representation of the colorful rain dancers. The ceremonial dance group consisted of about 40 very similarly outfitted rain dancers interspersed among them were about 10 entertaining mud men Kachinas. There were 4 corn maiden Kachina girls and one singularly unique fellow who appeared to have a leadership role as chief or priest. There were a couple of Kachinas on the drum but they mostly escaped my view. The percussion instrumentation provided a pleasant accompaniment to the chant of the rain dancers. The mud men were well done and variety in size from normal to very obese. The rain dancers were much more uniform in size. It was their costumes that fascinated me. They each looked like they might have just stepped out of a Hollywood make-up room; yes, they were expertly goomed. They had collars leggings of recently harvested evergreen fern uniformly cut like a fresh hair trim. They wore decorative loin cloths, head masks with prominent snouts as in the representative picture, moccasins,macaw feather accents, and they were rump-draped with coyote and fox pelts. I was particularly interested in their jewelry which showed the biggest variation. They wore beads, and turquoise necklaces, ketohs (bow guards), and sterling silver bracelets.

At one point all but mud men left the arena. They then played some type of game with a small sac they kicked around. They humorously wrestled and pushed about. The crowd laughed, but it the small boy who cackled in merriment that accented the performance for me.

When the Kachinas returned they brought in large baskets filled with goods. They began throwing Frisbees, plastic kool-aide drinks, packed Ramen noodles, fruits, candy, saltine crackers, frisbees, and much more high up to the encircled crowd. I ended up with an apple and orange which I prompted gave to the teen boy beside me.

I wanted to get a representation of a good Rain Dancer Kachina. Ruddell pointed me to the home of a notable Kachina maker within the plaza, but I didn't find it practical to seek him out at that hour or to find him the next morning. The image you see here, is a two dimensional plywood cut out 1/2 home to Gallup from Zuni. Joe has a whole series of faux-Kachinas lined up next to his place. Joe Milo's is another classic. Stop in to see him if you ever travel the highway that connects Galup and Zuni.