« PrejšnjaNaprej »
It was believed that this hoddentin, scattered along the face of the heavens, formed the Milky Way. It was used to a very great extent in all their ceremonials.
Bourke, in the Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology, of the Smithsonian Institute, for the years 1887–88, gives a very elaborate and succinct account of some of the Apache Dances, their customs, etc., but confesses that he has been unable to obtain anything much as to their religious beliefs. They never scalped their enemies, and they buried their dead in the crevices of the rocks, far away from human eye.
Captain Bourke's description of the dances follows:
“The spirit dance is called "cha-ja-la.' I have seen this dance a number of times, but will confine my description to one seen at Fort Marion (St. Augustine, Fla.), in 1887, when the Chiricahua Apaches were confined there as prisoners. A great many of the band had been suffering from sickness of one kind or another and twenty-three of the children had died; as a consequence, the medicine-men were having the Cha-ja-la, which is entered into only upon the most solemn occasions, such as the setting out of a war party, the appearance of an epidemic, or something else of like portent. On the terreplein of the northwest bastion, Ramon, the old medicine-man, was violently beating upon a drum, which, as usual, had been improvised of a soaped rag drawn tightly over the mouth of an iron kettle, holding a little water.
“Although acting as master of ceremonies, Ramon was not painted or decorated in any way. Three other medicine-men were having the finishing touches put to their bodily decoration. They had an under-coating of greenish brown, and on each arm a yellow snake, the head toward the shoulder blade. The snake on the arm of one of the party was double-headed, or rather had a head at each extremity.
“Each had insignia in yellow on back and breast, but no two were exactly alike. One had on his breast a yellow bear, four inches long by three inches high, and on his back a kan of the same color and dimensions. A second had the same pattern of bear on his breast, but a zigzag for lightning on his back. The third had the zigzag on both back and breast. All wore kilts and moccasins.
“While the painting was going on Ramon thumped and sang with vigor to insure the medicinal potency of the pigments and the designs to which they were applied. Each held, one in each hand, two wands or swords of lathlike proportions, ornamented with snake-lightning in blue.
“The medicine-men emitted a peculiar whistling noise and bent slowly to the right, then to the left, then frontward, then backward, until the head in each case was level with the waist. Quickly they spun around in full circle on the left foot; back again in a reverse circle to the right; then they charged around the little group of tents in that bastion, making cuts and thrusts with their wands to drive the maleficent spirits away.
“It recalled to my mind the old myths of the angel with the flaming sword guarding the en
trance to Eden, or of St. Michael chasing the discomfited Lucifer down into the depths of Hell.
“These preliminaries occupied a few moments only; at the end of that time the medicine-men advanced to where a squaw was holding up to them a little baby sick in its cradle. The mother remained kneeling while the medicine-men frantically struck at, upon, around, and over the cradle with their wooden weapons.
“The baby was held so as successively to occupy each of the cardinal points and face each point directly opposite; first on the east side, facing the west; then the north side, facing the south; then the west side, facing the east; then the south side facing the north, and back to the original position. While at each position, each of the medicine-men in succession, after making all the passes and gestures described, seized the cradle in his hands, pressed it to his breast, and afterwards lifted it up to the sky, next to the earth, and lastly to the four cardinal points, all the time prancing, whistling, and snorting, the mother and her squaw friends adding to the dismal din by piercing shrieks and ululations.
“That ended the ceremonies for that night so far as the baby personally was concerned, but the medicine-men retired down to the parade and resumed their salutation, swinging, bending, and spinning with such violence that they resembled, in a faint way perhaps, the Dervishes of the East. The understanding was that the dance had to be kept up as long as there was any fuel unconsumed of the large pile provided; any other course would entail bad luck. It was continued for four nights, the colors and symbols upon the body varying from night to night.
“There were four medicine-men, three of whom were dancing and in conference with the spirits, and the fourth of whom was general superintendent of the whole dance, and the authority to whom the first three reported the result of their interviews with the ghostly powers.
“The mask and headdress of the first of the dancers, who seemed to be the leading one, was so elaborate that in the hurry and meager light supplied by the flickering fires it could not be portrayed. It was very much like that of number three, but so fully covered with the plumage of the eagle, hawk, and, apparently, the owl, that it was difficult to assert this positively. Each of these medicine-men had pieces of red flannel tied to his elbows and a stick about four feet long in each hand. Number one's mask was spotted black and white and shaped in front like the snout of a mountain lion. His back was painted with large arrow-heads in brown and white, which recalled the protecting arrows tightly bound to the backs of Zuni fetiches. Number two had on his back a figure in white, ending between the shoulders in a cross. Number three's back was simply whitened with clay.
“All these headdresses were made of slats of the Spanish bayonet, unpainted, excepting that on number two was a figure in black, which could not be made out, and that the horizontal crosspieces on number three were painted blue.
“The dominos or masks were of blackened buckskin, for the two fastened around the neck