Saturday, April 19, 2014

Hopi Arts and Culture

We began our second and final day with our guide, Gary Tso, who took us off first to see the work of a silversmith, Duane Tawahongva. It was a treat to see a man in his workshop creating before us a pendant made entirely by hand from scratch. Although we were in no way obligated to buy the piece, the theme, begun before Duane knew anything about us, was healing hands and that seemed just perfect as a gift to our daughter who works as an ICU Vet Tech. Interestingly enough, it turns out that Duane and I have a mutual acquaintance. A small world.

After that Gary took us out to see some petroglyphs on the First Mesa. Just to explain, these Hopi and Navajo lands are all on an extensive Black Mesa which subdivides down to three mesas that the Hopi occupy, you guessed it, First Mesa, Second Mesa, where we are staying, and Third Mesa. The site of the petroglyphs was an ancient marketplace that was on a trade route that extended up from South America all the way east to Florida, and the earliest signs of use in that place stretch back 1500 years.

Along the way Gary provided a running commentary that tied together creation myth, history and geography. He kept mentioning readings to further illuminate his points to the extent that I almost suggested that he publish a bibliography.

We’ve learned more than I can put into this narrative in our brief time here. The Hopi seem not just willing, but anxious, to share their culture and their personal narratives with visitors. It has been a gift to travel here and our lives will be enriched not just by the pottery and other objects we have acquired but by the experiences and stories that came with them. Anyone interested in native American culture will benefit from time spent here.

Gary, our guide, and Sharon

look carefully for the airplane-like image near the center. Gary said that it represents the flight of Halley's comet in 1066

The mythology on this female image is said to include human sacrifice and ritual cannibalism on the part of the early Hopi people.

The desert blooms in spring

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