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tained in the Eleventh Census of the United States, 1893, follows:
“The 'snake deity' is the 'water god' of the Moquis. With them the snake lives in the earth and under the water, and glides over either with equal ease.
He is mysterious to them, and from his likeness to the lightning in the heavens they associate him with that phenomenon, and, not being able to separate or define the objective from the subjective, the two are to them identical. To the Moquis’ mind lightning is the snake's tail striking the clouds, and thunder the report of the blow; rain is the
; effect, so the conclusion is natural that they should believe in him as being the most potent intermediator of all animal life that they could have between themselves and their principal deity.
“Irrigation or rain is what the Moqui country most needs. There is water, but it is so
, scarce and so difficult to obtain that the Moquis are obliged to go long distances for it, and so it becomes almost a luxury.
“The snake dance of the Moqui Indians is to propitiate the water god or snake deity, whose name is Ba-ho-la-con-gua, and to invoke his aid in securing more water, that their fields may be made productive. It is a novel exhibition of religious zeal and remarkable for its quick changes. Its chorus chants are weird incantations, thrilling and exciting both spectators and celebrants.
“The religious ceremonies prior to the public exhibitions of the dance occupy eight days; they are held in the snake keva, or estufa, and are of a secret nature, although a few white men have been permitted to witness them. The dance is the closing scene of these long secret invocations, and its performance occupies but a short time, not more than thirty-five to forty minutes.
“The day preceding the snake dance the antelope order holds a dance, in which the snake order participates (the snakes are left out). The antelope order, which ranks next to that of the snake order, assists in the snake dance. The day before these singular final ceremonies the men of the antelope order prepare many little prayer sticks called ba-hoos (the ba-hoo is a small stick, to which, at one end, is attached one or more small light feathers, and symbolizes a prayer), which they give to the men of the snake order, who, on the morning of their dance, go out from the pueblo and distribute them at all the springs. When these prayer sticks have been placed at the different springs or holes the men race back to the keva at Walpi, on the mesa where the snake dance is to be held. The principal race is from Weepo (onion springs), at the north of Walpi, some four miles, down through the desert to the south end of the mesa, then up the difficult trails into the pueblo. It is a most exciting scene, and in this running great endurance is exhibited, for the men have fasted for four days previous, partaking of nothing but a decoction prepared by the chief or priestess of the order as an antidote for the rattlesnake bite in case any may be bitten during the ceremonies. This antidote is known only to the chief priest and the priestess and the secret is only imparted to their successors when they are obliged by age and infirmity to relinquish the functions of their office. The snake dance, which is the conclusion of the eight days' ceremony before mentioned, takes place at Walpi every two years, in the middle of August, late in the afternoon. The day is appointed by the chief priest. This year (1891), the dance occurred on August 21, about 5 o'clock p. m., and lasted only thirty-five minutes. The men of the snake order, of course, were in the estufa in training for the four days before the dance.
“For the ceremonies of the snake dance the pueblo is thoroughly cleaned, and quantities of melons, peaches, and other eatables are placed about in ollas and dishes. Piki, or corn bread of many colors, is plentiful, and the evidences of a feast are on every hand. These people, although poor, remain hospitable; not having mixed much with white people, they have not as yet become selfish and unduly mercenary, and all visitors are welcome to eat. The number of visitors increases yearly, however, and pretty soon the hospitality of the Moquis will be put to full test.
“On the afternoon of the dance, and long before the appearance of the actors, the Indians gathered on the housetops of the pueblo of Walpi, which overlook the court, and sacred rock, all gaily dressed in bright colored blankets, ribbons and feathers. Some young Indians climbed to the top of the sacred rock, with the aid of a lariat, from which a better view could
be had. Two or three cowboys, with strong Saxon faces, and other visitors from the settlements and large cities in the east were there, conspicuous by their modest attire and small numbers. The Indians gather from all the other pueblos of the Moqui group and a few from Acoma, Laguna and Zuni. Altogether there must have been five hundred people present, including, of course, the Navajos and whites, and General A. McD. McCook, commanding the district of Arizona, and staff; also Dr. Washington Matthews, the eminent ethnologist, and Special Agent John Donaldson.
“There was a murmur of expectancy, when all looked toward the southern part of the inclosure and saw emerging through the narrow street the men of the antelope order dressed in short white cotton kilts, or skirts, with flowing sashes of the same material, all embroidered with curious designs in red, yellow, and green, the hair, worn loose, flowing down the back, with tufts of feathers, selected from the eagle's breast, tied at the top of their heads, from which tufts, falling down over their raven hair, were two tail feathers of the eagle; earrings, bracelets, and strings of beads, worn according to fancy, and heavily fringed moccasins and anklets completed the costume, while their faces were grotesquely painted in white, yellow, green, and black, resembling much their wooden gods in the disposition of the colors. The general arrangement was picturesque.
“There were seventeen men of the antelope order who assisted those of the snake order in their dance. The snake order numbered thirty
seven, a majority of whom were young men, a few were quite old, and three were boys recently initiated, the youngest not more than five years of age. The antelope order was headed by an important looking personage dressed differently from the rest. He was the principal priest of his order, and in addition to the white cotton ceremonial kilt and girdle, feathers, fringed moccasins, and beads, he wore a coil of blue yarn over the right shoulder down to the left hip, a garland of cottonwood branches in leaf around his head and a similar one about the loins, and anklets and armlets of the same. He carried a bowl of sacred water in his left hand; in his right hand he held three eagle feathers, which he used in sprinkling the water over the space about the sacred rock where the dancers were to hold their unusual ceremony; he paid particular attention to the bosky where the snakes had been placed. A man of the antelope order brought the snakes from the snake estufa in a gunny sack and placed them in the bosky (bosque) about fifteen minutes before the dance began; they were sprinkled with sacred meal by the priest before leaving the estufa. The snakes had been in the estufa for three or four days. The Indians catch the snakes by going into the desert, beginning about a week before the dance, in parties of two, who carry a bag of leather or cloth; one of the men carries a bag of sacred meal and one of them a bahoo. The rattlesnake and other snakes crawl into the chilldill-ghizze bush, known as the ‘hiding bush,' by the Navajos.