The Moki snake dance: a popular account of that unparalleled dramatic pagan ceremony of the Pueblo Indians of Tusayan, Arizona, with incidental mention of their life and customs

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Passenger Department, Santa Fe Route, 1900 - Hopi Indians - 58 pages
 

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Page 16 - ... of the priests, and as the song rose again to the wild war-cry, these snakes were also plunged into the liquid and thrown upon the writhing mass which now occupied the place of the altar. Again and again this was repeated until all the snakes had been treated in the same way, and reptiles, fetishes, crooks, and sand were mixed together in one confused mass. As the excitement subsided and the snakes crawled to the corners of the kiva, seeking vainly for protection, they were again pushed back...
Page 14 - The Snake Priests, who stood by the snake jars which were in the east corner of the room, began to take out the reptiles, and stood holding several of them in their hands behind Su-pe-la, so that my attention was distracted by them.
Page 15 - ... the priests, and forcibly thrown across the room upon the sand mosaic, knocking down the crooks and other objects placed about it. As they fell on the sand picture three Snake priests stood in readiness, and while the reptiles squirmed about or coiled for defense, these men with their snake-whips brushed them back and forth in the sand of the altar. The excitement which accompanied this ceremony cannot be adequately described. The low song, breaking into piercing shrieks, the red-stained singers,...
Page 52 - To-ko-n^-bi, and Snake people from the under-world came from them, and went into the kiva(s), and ate only corn pollen for food, and on leaving were not seen again. Each of four evenings brought a new group of Snake people, and on the following morning they were found in the valleys, metamorphosed into reptiles of all kinds. On the ninth morning the...
Page 9 - ... snakes are large and showy, and impressive out of proportion to their harmfulness. When all the snakes have been duly danced around the ring, and the nerve tension is at its highest pitch, there is a pause; the old priest advances to an open place and sprinkles sacred meal on the ground, out lining a ring with the six compass points, while the snake priests gather around. At a given signal, the snakes are thrown on the meal drawing and a wild scramble for them ensues, amid a rain of spittle from...
Page 51 - The Snake Dance is an elaborate prayer for rain, in which the reptiles are gathered from the fields, intrusted with the prayers of the people, and then given their liberty, to bear these petitions to the divinities who can bring the blessings of copious rains to the parched and arid farms of the Hopis. It is, also, a dramatization of an ancient...
Page 51 - ... of copious rains to the parched and arid farms of the Hopis. It is also a dramatization of an ancient half-mythic, half-historic legend dealing with the origin and migration of the two fraternities which celebrate it, and by transmission through unnumbered generations of priests has become conventionalized to a degree, and possibly the actors themselves could not now explain the significance of every detail of the ritual.
Page 52 - And this was done, and at sunset a Snake house of meal was made by Ti-yo, and the snakes were laid within it, and all the people cast their prayer-meal upon them, and then the younger brothers carried them out to the valleys, and they returned to the Snake kiva of the under-world, bearing the petitions of all the people. 1 A Hopi bride remains within doors ders, a long girdle, and makes a pair of four days after marriage. The bridegroom woman's boots, which constitute the bridal After this both of...
Page 50 - So the birds that fly, the reptiles that creep, are made messengers to the great nature gods with petitions, and the different ancestors and people in the underworld are notified that the ceremony is going on that they too may give their aid. The amount of detail connected with the observance of one of the ceremonies is almost beyond belief, and being carried on in the dark kivas has rarely been witnessed by others than the initiated priests.
Page 7 - The costume of the priests of the sister society of Antelopes is gay in comparison with that of the Snake priests. Their bodies rubbed with red paint, their chins blackened and outlined with a white stripe, their dark red kilts and moccasins, their barbaric ornaments, give the Snake priests a most somber and diabolical appearance. Around the plaza, by a wider circuit than the Antelopes, they go striking the sipapu plank with the foot and fiercely leaping upon it with wild gestures. Four times the...

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