Description

    A HOPI SNAKE DANCE KILT AND PARAPHERNALIA
    c. 1890 the dance kilt, composed of canvas, painted in black and rust, with the undulating body of an avanyu, small sea shells and metal cones suspended from the hem; together with a pair of hide moccasins, decorated with red ochre and panels of fringe tied at the ankle; a single turtle shell leg rattle, trimmed with dew claws; a single arm band, composed of wood and hide; a single leg band, composed of hide with fringe; a hip bandolier, composed of long hide strips, painted with red ochre; and a group five shoulder bandoliers, most of hide, with shells attached

    Provenance:
    The Dr. Jack and Mary Ann Adams Collection

    Length of kilt: 50 inches

    The accessories in this collection pertain to the Hopi Snake Dance, an ancient, nine-day ritual performed with great solemnity and largely in secret by the Antelope and the Snake Clans of the Hopi people yet today. Snakes have long been revered as sacred beings, and particularly by the Hopi as emissaries to the Rain Powers. The Dance itself functions primarily as a prayer for rain. Many of these articles in this set can be seen worn by Snake Dancers in the historic photographs taken on the rare occasions when photography was occasionally allowed in the past. Red mineral or "earth" paint covers several of the articles; many American Indian groups recognize the color red to be favored by the spirits, to be the color that designates things for ceremonies, and / or that blesses or consecrates objects for ritual purposes. The salient item herewith is the canvas kilt with the serpent figure painted along its entire length. Its zigzag form resembles lightning, and therefore likely represents that aspect of rain-bearing summer thunderstorms. The pairs of white, transverse marks at intervals along the snake's body are understood to resemble the face painting of War Gods-protectors of and intercessors for the people. Likewise, the track-like motifs with three points painted in white represent the footprints of frogs, those archetypal water creatures. A single turtle shell leg rattle presses into use the spiritual essence of that being so closely associated with land and water-two elements so central to horticulture pursuits. Small shells suspended on fringes along the bottom margin of the kilt entreat yet another type of water creature. In like manner, shells are attached to the four of the five red-painted shoulder bandoliers. The "hip bandolier" consists of a band of tanned leather cut into narrow strips that conceivably correspond to the fringes of the "rain sashes" woven of white cotton cordage seen in other ceremonies. The unpainted zigzag upper margin of the hip bandolier likely symbolizes lightning- the ever-present image associated with rain per se. Two single moccasins are typical of the southwestern style-red-born uppers and extra thick white rawhide soles.
    Benson Lanford
    Ashland, OR
    May 2010




    Estimate: $3,000 - $5,000.

    Condition Report*:

    The kilt, in overall fair to good condition.   One area of loss, approx. 6" x 2", at the waist and a couple of small holes. Frayed edges.  Mottled surface with wear to pigments. Approx. one shell missing on the hem.  The moccasins, (not a pair) in overall excellent condition.  One with fringes possibly added later.  The turtle leg rattle, in very good condition.  Shell intact.  Possibly missing one dew claw.  Others with usual wear.  The arm band, in good condition.  One area of wood, approx. 3/4" in length, probably broken off.  Hide intact.  The leg band, in overall very good condition.  Hide with one small tear, otherwise fur and hide fringes intact.  The hip bandolier, in excellent condition.  One fringe with small area of possible loss.  Pigments with usual wear.  The shoulder bandoliers, in excellent condition.  One with hide strips that are possibly a later replacement.

    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Fees, Shipping, and Handling Description: Miscellaneous Collectibles, Small (view shipping information)

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    Auction Dates
    June, 2010
    12th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 0
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