Thursday, October 07, 2010

A Thousand Beautiful Things

Well, I didn't buy a thousand things but it was hard not to! There was so much art everywhere out west I just wanted to go wild. Alas, the reality of my bank account took hold and I was able to contain myself. Now, I know I preach all kinds of anti-materialism and anti-STUFF stuff but now, real art is another matter! lol! I did want to pick up a little something from most of the major sites we visited and sweet Capt. Jack bought me a couple of things also, so I have several nice objects to decorate my house with. I have been very conservative over the years about buying decorative stuff because I didn't want to fill the house I knew I was going to build with a bunch of junk that had no memories or meaning for me. I want to be able to look at most anything in my house and say, "oh yeah, I remember when I went to so and so and we did this and so on....."
The clay lizard I picked up at the Riverwalk in San Antonio. He's kinda kitschy but I like him. He is going to be displayed on the wall. The necklace and earrings were made by Navajo craftsmen and I got those in Taos and Santa Fe. Also, the bundle of sage and juniper which they use for smudging as a sort of purification ritual for your home. The small clay pot I bought from an old Navajo lady at one of the entrances to Canyon De Chelly. There are half a dozen Navajo that will set up at all the drives into the canyon and hawk their stuff to the Anglos. Now, one thing about getting in or around any of the reservation land is that the poverty that exists there is mind-boggling. The poorest I have ever seen here in the south still have way more than most you will see on a reservation. In the white man's eyes, these people have nothing. Less than nothing. And perhaps because since I was a small child I have felt for the gross injustice and cruelty these people have suffered over the centuries, I will buy any quality work from them that I can afford to. The lady told me her son made the pots; I don't know and it really didn't matter. They are handmade and I know she needed the money. It's not much but maybe it will help some and I know what it is like as a craft person trying to make a living.
The print is from the Grand Canyon. I really liked this lady's work. She also designs the t-shirt for Phantom Ranch, which is at the bottom of the canyon where you can spend the night. I think you can only get the t-shirt if you actually go down there.

Now, this, is my prized possession. This is Honan, the Badger and you can tell by the claw marks on his cheeks and his two, upright, feather ear spikes. He is an authentic, Hopi katsina. Most anywhere you go out west you will find Navajo kachina, even, to my great disappointment, at the gift shop at the Grand Canyon. See, the Navajo versions are counterfeits and I meant to spell that the way I did. 'Kachina' is just the corrupted Anglo pronunciation of the Hopi word 'katsina'. Katsina are not part of the Navajo belief system but they have no problem ripping off the dolls to make a buck. The Hopi however, still use the katsina in their everyday life, so they are not marketed to outsiders much. Often, if you want one, you must go to them. The dolls are simply a physical representation of the spirits that guide the Hopi way of life and are used to teach the children the lessons. For half of the year the spirits abide on top of the San Franciscan Mtns. near Flagstaff but for the other half, they come down and dwell among the Hopi on the Mesas, teaching them the way to live. The katsina appear during dances held monthly, sometimes weekly, during the spring and summer. Of course, they are the men of the village dressed up as the katsina but the men wear masks, so you are not sure who is who.
You can find the dolls in some knowledgeable shops sometimes, but you will pay A LOT of money for one there. Fortunately, as I said before, the Hopi are very friendly and gracious people and if you enter their land with respect and some knowledge of what you are looking for they will help you. Of course, they want to make some money but they appreciate someone who appreciates their work also. It also helps, if you are looking for a specific katsina, if you ask for it specifically by name. Like Honan or Kweo (the wolf). Honan the Badger is a healer and I became intrigued by him because there is a badger that lives near the road at the beginning of my driveway. Now, all my life I have lived in Alabama and have never seen a badger, until I moved here. I have only glimpsed him a few times, as they are quite fast, but I'm sure that is what he is. I have seen his striped face. The interesting thing is that this land I have is filled with medicinal plants of all kinds and the Hopi believe that the badger shows the people how to treat themselves because he digs in the ground and knows all the roots. I had a herbalist friend of mine visit a couple of years ago and he was astounded at the variety of helpful plants here in my valley. So, I thought Badger was an appropriate addition to my place.
And, if you are ever on Second Mesa on the Hopi reservation, stop in a little shop called Tsakurshovi and say 'hello' to Janice and Joseph, the owners. They have an amazing collection of katsina, many carved by Janice's nephew, and many other items and books and they will tell you all about the best local sights to see. They are an absolute fountain of information and hospitality.

*Annie Lennox


Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Thanks for showing the treasures you collected on your trip, Annie. you are so right when you said that getting something you can remember a trip by is more meaningful. We try to avoid tourist shops and prefer to visit crafts shops when we travel.

edifice rex said...

Hey Beatrice! yeah, I like to seek out the unusual mementos in traveling.

wolfek said...

Love the things you've shared from your trip.

edifice rex said...

Hey Wolfek, thanks!!

countrypeapie said...

beautiful, all! we smudge our place every now and again ~ i'm always afraid passersby will mistake the aroma for something less legal....