Sunday, November 16, 2014
Recent Hopi Pigements II
Weather: Very cold Thursday morning, then rain yesterday in the night and early this morning; later the temperature dropped and snow fell.
What’s blooming: Tansy, purple asters; globe willows turning yellow; next year’s buds visible on peach.
Animal sightings: Mice trying to get into house; chickadees.
Weekly update: Alexander Stephen was told the yellow ochre the Hopi used for prayer sticks and their bodies in the 1890s came from the base of a pool under a spring in Grand Canyon near the salt deposits. A trip to the salt lands was part of male initiation activities. The initiated also made other trips west when necessary.
Men sometimes mixed the yellow pigment with water that had boiled squash.
Women used rabbit bush flowers for yellow for their baskets. Stephen saw Ericameria nauseosa used by men associated with one kiva. They boiled the flowers with fibrous alunogen or sandy gypsum. Both minerals were found on mesa cliffs in the region; the first is found near coal deposits.
Black could come from several sources, but Stephen observed, coal, charcoal, soot and corn smut were not interchangeable. They were "used separately for different occasions." To get black for weaving, men mixed seeds from sunflower plants they cultivated with roasted piñon gum and boiled sumac twigs.
For baskets, Whiting says women used Helianthus petiolaris seeds and purple corn for deep purples, and darkened them with piñon gum. Stephen saw men use purple corn with the greasy, salty clay used to cook potatoes. They strained the dyed water through sumac berries. Black and purple could both be used to represent Above.
Red was the most variable, as it had been in the earlier murals at Awátovi. As mentioned in the post for 28 June 2009 on Maltese Cross, red fades without the right alloy or mordant. It took centuries for European glass makers to produce a decent red.
Whiting said there was no satisfactory, natural source for basketry. At best, a pink could be produced from a winged pigweed, Cycloloma atriplicifolium. Men sometimes used white corn meal with an aniline dye on the body of a Kachina dancer.
Hematite still was used, usually mixed with white corn meal or bean meal. Stephen reported some came from Shushtuban Tukwi, a mountain some 15 to 20 miles southwest of Walpi. They also took some pigment from the ruins of Kautaktipu in the foothills of the western valley. He observed there was "a great deal of iron ochre and selenite" gypsum mixed in the shale near the coal deposits.
Stephen was told red was the color of warriors. Its ritual import no doubt dated back before the drought of the late 1200s, when ceramics were black, white and red. In addition to the usual red ochres, the Hopi had two special reds.
One was a glistening, red, sky stone applied to prayer sticks at the winter solstice in 1892. Stephen thought the shiny hematite might have had a meteoric origin, but was told it came from a mining town north of San Carlos, which, by road today, lies 244 miles away in Apache territory to the south. The Captain Jack claim contains specularite and magnetite in limestone with evidence of past mining activity.
The other was vermillion, which both women and young men used to adorn themselves. It had attracted the interest of the Spanish, who thought it was cinnabar. The mercuric sulphide was critical to processing silver ore. They asked so many questions, Stephen was told the pigment came to be called Spanish red, Kas’til shü’ta. Natives no longer gave details about it.
When Americans penetrated the west after the discovery of silver in Colorado, in 1864, they too searched for mercury. Jacob Vernon Hamblin was a Mormon who settled in Kanab, Utah, in 1869. From there, he and his son, Lyman, explored the Colorado River and proselytized the Navajo.
Lyman was given a sample of the red pigment by the Pai Utes, who had received it from the Shivwits Utes who lived north of the Canyon. He told an aide to John Wesley Powell, who was exploring the area in the 1870s. It looked so much like cinnabar, Frederick Dellenbaugh tracked the source to a cave in Grand Canyon "in a side gulch about three thousand feet down the side of the Canyon, and two thousand feet above the river."
The Hopi reservation was created in 1882, that of the Havasupai in Grand Canyon in 1880. The new boundaries and the privatization of land between, no doubt, altered the ways the Hopi could travel outside their prescribed area. That change, in turn, probably was altering relationships between the two groups in the 1890s.
At the time Stephen was in Arizona, the Hopi were trading with the Havasupai. They traveled west to Cataract in the fall for buckskins. Stephen Hirst says, the Havasupai came east in February to exchange "baskets, buckskins, red paint, mescal, corn, salt, and shells" for "jewelry, blankets, pottery and horses." Their red was believed to have magical properties and was traded far to the east.
The vermillion-colored pigment probably came from a cave in Diamond Creek Canyon. George Billingsley noted, when that red claystone was mixed with deer tallow, it had protective properties against sunburn. An assay ordered by Dellenbaugh showed it was an "iron ochre," but the "greasiest, most penetrating stuff I ever saw."
White was taken for granted. Kaolin or white clay mixed with sand or gypsum was used on men’s bodies and as an undercoating on wood, as it has been centuries before on polychrome pottery. It wasn’t mentioned for weaving or basketry. Even if bleaching were possible, light colors weren’t practical.
The Hopi use of color does recognize the difference between the sacred and the profane, as it recognizes the differences between ceremonial blue and the colors found in nature.
Billingsley, George H. "Mining Activity in the Grand Canyon Area, Arizona," in D. P. Elston, G. H. Billingsley, and R. A. Young, Geology of Grand Canyon, Northern Arizona (With Colorado River Guides): Lee Ferry to Pierce Ferry, Arizona, 1989.
Dellenbaugh, Frederick Samuel. "Indian Red Paint," Masterkey 7:85-87:May 1933; quoted with additional comments in Watson Smith, Kiva Mural Decorations at Awatovi and Kawaika-a, 1952.
Hirst, Stephen. I Am the Grand Canyon: The Story of the Havasupai People, 2006.
Peterson, Jocelyn A. and Mark H. Hibpshman. Status of Mineral Resource Information for the San Carlos Indian Reservation, Arizona, 1981.
Stephen, Alexander. Notebooks, 1882-1894, edited as Hopi Journal, 1936, by Elsie Clews Parsons.
Whiting, Alfred F. Ethnobotany of the Hopi (1939).
Photographs: Local uses of pigments on Española shop signs painted directly on stucco; buildings with other surfaces have applied signs.
1. Boomerang thrift shop, Riverside Drive, Anna Dillane, owner; wisteria vine climbs the corner of the building and spreads along the roof; sign with store name is attached to the wall.
2. Same as #1; at the base of the wall, flamingos wander in the grass.
3. Hollywood Theater, Riverside Drive; mural dramatizing the business covers the front and entrance side of a converted house.
4. Los Compadres car wash, Chama-Los Alamos Highway. Paintings of a car being washed were on the west (street) and north sides; the name was painted on the south. After the business closed this summer, the walls were painted white.
5. Jessica’s Fashions, Riverside Drive, Andres Gallegos, contact. Someone added details to this sign and painted another on the front; the store was open a week ago Friday. Everything had been painted over last Sunday morning when I went to take a more recent picture.
6. Another Man’s Treasure thrift shop, Cook’s Bridge Road, Amanda Sena, owner. If a building is not actively being used, the paintings of a closed business may remain. This had been a day care center. When the current thrift shop opened, the owner painted her sign over the previous name and left the rest of the day care pictures. Most are from Winnie the Pooh; one is of Goofy.
7. The Water Store, Riverside Drive, Dyna Padilla, owner; small sign signifying the nature of the products sold.
8. Baila Conmigo dance studio, Chama-Los Alamos Highway, Juana Maria Duarte Ontiveros, instructor; detail with name exploits hopes.
9. Saints and Sinners bar and package liquor store, Riverside Drive, Dennis Salazar, owner; detail with name amplifies customer’s self image.
10. The Original Chimayo Trading Post, Riverside Drive, Leo Trujillo, owner; detail with name is Native sun symbol.
11. Pegasus Auto Sales, Riverside Drive. The simplest painted sign is a name with no adornments.
12. Lovin’ Oven doughnut shop, Riverside Drive, Alexandra Stone, contact. Where I grew up in Michigan in the 1950s, merchants did not paint the bricks of their stores. Instead they painted their windows using water-based paints. This one shows a pueblo bake-oven and a pueblo-style house frosted with snow.