Shrill cries, succeeding one another in quick succession, ending in a prolonged shout, proceed from the outer exit of the gallery that opens upon the court-yard of the large building.
The final whoop, caught up by the cliffs of the Tyuonyi, echoes and re-echoes, a prolonged howl dying out in a wail. Men's voices, hoarse and untrained, are now heard chanting in rhythmic and monotonous chorus. They approach slowly, moving with measured regularity; and now strange figures begin to emerge from the passage-way, and as they file into the court-yard the chant grows louder and louder. A refrain--
"Ho-ā-ā! Heiti-na! Ho-ā-ā! Heiti-na!"
breaks clearly and distinctly upon the ear, mingled with the discordant rumblings of a drum. The fantastic procession advances, forming a double column, composed of men and women side by side. The former are stamping and the latter tripping lightly, but all are keeping time. They certainly present a weird appearance, tricked out in their gaudy apparel and ornamented with flashy trinkets. The hair of the men is worn loose; tufts of green and yellow feathers flutter over the forehead, while around their necks and dangling over their naked chests are seen strings of porcupine quills, shell beads, turquoises, bright pebbles, feldspar, apatite,--anything in short that glitters and shines. Bunches of similar material glisten in their ears. Fastened about the waist, and reaching as low as the knee, a rude
kilt-like garment composed of white cotton cloth or of deerskin hangs and flaps. It is ornamented with an embroidery of red and black threads, and quills of the porcupine. Below the knee, garters of buckskin, tinged red and yellow, form a fringe to which are attached tortoise-shell rattles and bunches of elk-hoofs. The ankles are encased with strips of the white and black fur of the skunk, and from the waist a fox-skin hangs, fastened to the back and reaching almost as far as the heel. Each man carries a tuft of hawk's feathers in his left hand, while the right grasps a rattle fashioned from a gourd and filled with pebbles.
The women wear their ordinary dress, emphasized however with a profusion of necklaces, wristbands, and ear pendants, while in each hand is borne a bunch of pine twigs wagging from side to side as they move. But by far the most striking feature of their costume is their headdress. It consists of a piece of buffalo-hide scraped and flattened like a board, about fifteen inches long and seven inches wide., one end of which is cut square. The other terminates in what resembles a triple turret, squarely notched. This is painted green, and decorated with symbolic figures in red and yellow. White feathers flutter from each of the three turret-shaped projections, and this peculiar headgear is held in place by strips of buckskin attached to the squared end, and knotted about meshes of the dark, streaming hair.
The faces of both sexes are generously daubed with white clay, in addition to which the men have their naked chests, upper arms, and hands also decorated with stripes and blotches of the same substance.
The procession is a long one; couple follows couple, the men gravely stamping, the women gracefully tripping. At the head are the tallest and most robust youths, the best
developed and most buxom girls. Following these, the dancers are less and less carefully assorted and matched, while boys and old women, little girls and old men, bring up the rear.
As the last couple emerges, the chorus bursts out in full force, the choristers themselves issuing from the dark passage-way. These are twelve in number, all men, dressed or undressed as each one's fancy dictates, their faces whitened like the dancers. Their rude chant or rhythmic shouting is in the minor key. They advance in a body, keeping time with their feet, gesticulating in a manner intended to convey the meaning of their song. In their midst goes the drum-beater, an aged man adorned with an eagle's feather behind each ear. Like the rest, his face is daubed with white paint; his drum, which he thumps incessantly with a single stick, being manufactured from a hollow tree. Both ends of it are covered with rawhide, and the whole instrument is painted yellow. We recognize easily in this musician the head of the Koshare, Shyuote's late tormentor.
At no great distance from the exit, the chorus comes to a halt, but the singing, gesticulation and beating of the drum proceed. The dancers meanwhile move about the whole court to the same step, but the couples separate and change places; man steps beside man, woman joins woman, all turning and passing each other, suggesting by their movements the flexures of a closely folded ribbon. The couples then re-form, the double rank strings out as at first, tramping and tripping in a wide circle to the rhythm and measure of the monotonous music.
This solemn perambulation and primitive concert is witnessed by numerous interested spectators, and listened to by a large and attentive audience. The Rito's entire population is assembled, eagerly, at times almost devoutly, gazing and listening. The assemblage crowds the roofs
and lines the walls below, all confusedly gathered together. There is every imaginable posture, costume, or lack of costume,--men, women, children clothed in bright wraps or embroidered skins, scantily covered with dirty rags, or rejoicing in the freedom of undress. The several roofs of the large house, rising in successive terraces three stories high, form an irregular amphitheatre filled with humanity of all sizes, shapes, ages, clothing, in glaring contrast with one another. In the arena formed by the court-yard, form and colour intermingle with more order and regularity; and at the same time greater brilliancy is exhibited. The fantastic headdresses of the women nod and vibrate like waving plants of Indian corn; the lustrous hair and the gaudy costumes glisten and sparkle in the sunlight, fox pelts wag back and forth, plumes and feathers flit and dance, the monotonous chanting, the dull thumping and drumming rise into the deep blue sky, re-echoing from the towering cliffs, whose pinnacles look down upon the weird scene from heights far above the uppermost tier of spectators.
Among those looking on we may recognize some of our acquaintances. Seated upon one of the terraces, his chin resting on his hand, is Topanashka, who looks down upon the actors with a grave, cold, seemingly indifferent gaze. Say Koitza stands in the doorway of her dwelling, her wan face wearing an immobile expression. Her little girl, elegantly arrayed in a breechclout and turquoise necklace, clings to her mother's wrap with one hand while the other disappears in her gaping mouth. The child is half afraid, half curious; and has an anxious, troubled look. Shyuote, however, evinces no sign of embarrassment or humility. Planted solidly on his feet, with legs well apart and both arms arched, he gapes and stares at everybody and everything, occasionally fixing his glance upon the resplendent
sky overhead. In vain we search for Zashue and his elder son, Okoya.
The mass of spectators--hundreds are here already and more are coming constantly--do not content themselves with devout and reverent admiration. Criticism is going on, and it is exercised with the most unlimited freedom. Should any one attract attention to himself, either by the perfection or imperfection of his dress measured by the standard of the critic, he is not only mentioned by name and his garb audibly criticised, but pointed at approvingly or derisively. The men are made the butt of their own sex among the audience; while the women praise or depreciate, according as the occasion may seem to require, the female members of the procession. Frequently, when the costume of some dusky beauty in the arena is the object of publicly expressed admiration, some other within hearing may be seen casting a covert glance of disappointment at her own less successful apparel. Or she fixes her eyes upon her gorgeous necklace with evident gratification, satisfied that her own get-up is handsomer than the one that the others so much admire, while she soothes her injured vanity with haughty contempt for the taste of those who see so much in her rival to admire.
The beat of the drum ceases, the wild song is hushed, and the dancers break rank, seeking rest. They collect in groups or mingle with the bystanders, chatting, laughing, panting. Their violent exercise has played sad havoc with the paint upon their faces and bodies, rendering them less fantastic but more ludicrous. The drummer occasionally raps his instrument to satisfy himself that it is in order, otherwise there is a lull of which all avail themselves to take part in the general conversation. Children resume their sports in the court-yard.
Suddenly loud peals of laughter are heard on every side,
and all eyes turn simultaneously toward the passage-way whence are issuing half a dozen strange-looking creatures. They do not walk into the polygon, but rather tumble into it, running, hopping, stumbling, cutting capers, like a troop of clumsy, ill-trained clowns. When they have reached the centre of the open space, laughter becomes louder and more boisterous all around. Such expressions of mirth do not merely signify amusement, but are meant as demonstrations of applause. The Indian does not applaud by clapping his hands or stamping his feet, but evinces his approbation by laughter and smirks.
The appearance of the six men who have just tumbled into the arena is not merely strange, it is positively disgusting. They are covered with white paint, and with the exception of tattered breechclouts are absolutely naked. Their mouths and eyes are encircled with black rings; their hair is gathered in knots upon the tops of their heads, from which rise bunches of corn husks; a string of deer-hoofs dangles from each wrist; fragments of fossil wood hang from the loins; and to the knees are fastened tortoise-shells. Nothing is worn with a view to ornament. These seeming monstrosities, frightful in their ugliness, move about quite nimbly, and are boldly impudent to a degree approaching sublimity. Notwithstanding their uncouth figures and mountebank tricks their movements at times are undoubtedly graceful, and they appear to exercise a certain authority over the entire pageant.
White is the symbolic paint of the Koshare; hence all the actors who have performed their several parts, including the coarse jesters, make up and represent the society of the Delight Makers, whose office it is to open the ayash tyucotz. The association whose name has been selected as the title of our story is now before us fully represented, arrayed in its appropriate dress and engaged in the discharge of some
of its official duties. The clowns, too, the most agile and sprightly, in a word the most amusing of the company, are only an exaggeration of the rest, whose joint task it is to diffuse mirth, joy, buoyancy, delight, throughout the whole tribe. The jesters are also the heralds and marshals of the celebration. They gather together in the centre of the court and carry on a boisterous conversation accompanied with extravagant gestures. No one interrupts their noisy garrulity, but the entire assemblage listens eagerly, hailing their clumsy attempts at a joke and their coarse sallies of wit with shrieks of laughter. Their jests are necessarily of the coarsest; nevertheless excellent local hits are made and satiric personalities of considerable pungency are not infrequently indulged in. One of the clowns has tumbled down; he lies on his back, feet in the air; another takes hold of his legs and drags him around in the dust. The peals of laughter that greet this effort give testimony to the estimation in which it is held by the lookers-on. If one of the spectators has the misfortune to display immoderate enthusiasm, forthwith he is made the target of merciless jeering. One of the merrymakers goes up to him and mimics his manner and actions in the crudest possible way. The people on the terraced, roofs exhibit their joy by showering down corn-cakes from their perches, which the performers greedily devour. These things are delightful according to Indian notions, and are well fitted to show how much of a child he still is,--a child, however, it must be remembered, endowed with the physical strength, passions, and appetites of adult mankind.
The jesters scatter. One of their number runs up to Say Koitza, who shrinks at his approach. Nevertheless he plants himself squarely in front of her, bends his knees sidewise so, as to describe a lozenge with his legs, and thrusts out his tongue to its fullest possible extent. Upon this the woman laughs, for in the grimacing abomination she has discovered
her own husband, Zashue, who thus pleasantly makes himself known. The hit is simply magnificent in the judgment of his audience. Meanwhile one of his colleagues is astride a beam and endeavouring to crawl up it; a third is actually on the roof and scatters the shrieking girls everywhere by his impudent addresses; another bursts from a room on the ground-floor holding ears of corn in each hand, and throwing himself upon the earth begins to gnaw them as a dog would a bone, while one of his companions leaps on him, and together they give a faithful representation of two prairie wolves fighting over carrion. The greatest uproar prevails all about; the Koshare are outdoing themselves; they scatter delirious joy, pleasure, delight, broadcast among the people.
The rumblings of the drum are heard again; the men and women dancers take their places; once more the chorus surround the musicians. The clowns hush at once, and squat or lie down along the walls, sober and dignified. The strange corps de ballet re-forms in four lines, the second and third facing each other, and the first and fourth fronting in opposite directions; men and women alternate. Loud whoops and yells startle the air; the drum rolls and thunders; each dancer brandishes his rattle. Softly and gently, at first, the chant begins,--
"Ho-ā-ā, Heiti-na, Heiti-na."
Gradually it increases in power, the dancers marking time. Livelier become the motions, stronger and stronger the chanting, its text distinct and clearly enunciated,--
"Misho-homa Shi pap, Na-ya Hate Ma-a-a-se-ua
Shoto Ha-ya Ma-a-a-se-ua,
Nat-yu-o-o, Nat yu-o-o, Ma-a-a-se-ua,
Heiti-na, Heiti-na, Ho-ā-ā, Ho-ā-ā."
The dancers intermingle; those in the front shift to the rear rank; then all together utter a piercing shriek and dart
back to their former positions. The ceremony continues for upward of half an hour, during which the same words are sung, the same figures repeated. Then there is again a pause, and the actors disband to rest and recuperate. The clowns forget their dignity and set to work with redoubled energy, growing bolder and bolder. A party of them has penetrated into a ground-floor apartment, and are throwing the scanty furniture through the doorway. Now they spread robes and mats in the open court, lie down on them, crack jokes, and make faces at the audience. A specially gifted member of the fraternity hurries down a beam with a baby in his clutches, which he has powdered with ashes. He dances about with it, and exhibits the squalling brat in every attitude as a potential Koshare. The people scream and shout with unmixed pleasure. Now they point at a pair of monsters, one stamping and the other tripping daintily, who effectually mimic the late partners of the dance in the most heartless manner. Another of these hideous creatures is sitting down, his head covered with a dirty rag, staring, stuttering, and mumbling, like an imbecile. His pantomime is recognized at once as a cruel mimicry of the chief penitent while at prayer, and it is universally pronounced to be a superb performance. To the Koshare nothing is sacred; all things are permitted, so long as they contribute delight to the tribe.
Topanashka appeared to be lonesome in his exalted seat upon the roof. He arose quietly; and the by-standers made room for the tall man as with eyes fixed on an opposite terrace, he slowly descended and walked along the houses without deigning to take any notice of the gambols of the Koshare. He brushed past Say Koitza, and without looking at her or moving a feature muttered so that she alone could hear,--
"Watch, lest they discover the feathers."
Passing to the other side of the court he seated himself near a small, slender man, somewhat younger than himself. This was the tapop, or chief civil officer at the Rito.
The woman was greatly frightened by her father's words. It flashed upon her that should the Delight Makers raid her household and upset it, as they had others, the owl's feathers might be detected. In the troubled state of her mind she had failed to destroy or even remove them. Nevertheless, she could not immediately leave her post, through fear of awakening suspicion; she must wait until the dance should begin and the goblins become quiescent. Then? What then?
The feathers lay buried in the earthen floor of the inner room. Their removal must be accomplished with great care, in such a manner as to leave no signs of the earth having been recently disturbed. 1 There was no choice; they must be removed at all hazards. There would be ample time if she could only afterward obliterate all traces of her work. Luckily the kitchen was very dark, and the hearth covered with ashes. Water was there also, but she dare not use it lest the moistened spot betray her. Her mind was made up, however, and the attempt would be made as soon as the dance was renewed.
Singing and drumming are heard once more; the dancers fall into line; and when the chorus was shouting the second verse,--
"Na-ya, Ha-te Oyo-yā-uā,
and the jokers had dispersed, Say slowly retreated within the room, cowered down by the hearth, a sharp stone-splinter in her hand and her eyes fixed upon the door, watching lest anybody should appear. She listened with throbbing heart to discover whether there was any shuffling sound to betray the approach of one of the Koshare. She saw nothing, and no sound was heard except the beats of the drum and the monotonous rhythm,
Nat-yu-o-o, Nat-yu-o-o, Ma-a-a-se-e-e-ua."
The woman began to dig. She dug with feverish haste. The dance lacked interest for her; time and again had she witnessed it, and well knew the figures now being performed. She made the hole as small as possible, digging and digging, anxiously listening, eagerly looking up now and then at the doorway, and starting timidly at the least sound.
At last her instrument struck a resisting though elastic object; it was the feathers.
Cautiously she pulled, pulled them up until she had drawn them to the top of the hole, then peered about her, intently listening. Nothing! Outside the uproar went on, the chorus shouting at the top of their voices,--
Tu-ua Se-na-si Tyit-i-na,
[paragraph continues] Wrenching the bundle from its hiding-place, she concealed it in her bosom; then carefully replaced the earth and clay; put ashes on this, then clay; rubbed the latter with a stone; threw on more ashes and more clay; and finally stamped this with her feet,--all the while listening, and
glancing into the outer room. At last, when it seemed to her that the most rigid search could detect no trace of her labours, she brushed the ashes from her wrap and went out under the doorway again.
She appeared composed and more cheerful, but her heart was palpitating terribly; and at every pulsation she felt the dangerous bundle concealed beneath her clothing, and she tightened still more the belt encircling her waist.
The third act of the dance soon ended, and the jesters went to work once more,--women and girls now became the objects of their attentions. The screams and shrieks from the roof terraces when a Koshare is tearing about amongst the women, loud as they are, are drowned by the uproarious laughter of the men, who enjoy hugely the disgust and terror of the other sex.
From some of the houses the white painted horrors have taken out the grinding-slabs. Kneeling behind them, they heap dirt on their flat surfaces, moisten it with water, and grind the mud as the housewife does the corn, yelping and wailing the while in mimicry of the woman and her song while similarly engaged. The pranks of these fellows are simply silly and ugly; the folly borders on imbecility and the ugliness is disgusting, and yet nobody is shocked; everybody endures it and laughs.
Say Koitza herself enjoyed seeing her sex made a butt by coarse and vulgar satyrs. Suddenly two of the beasts stand before her, and one of them attempts an embrace. With a loud shriek she pushes him away, steps nimbly aside, and so saves the treacherous bundle front his grasp. Both the monsters storm into the. house, where a terrific uproar begins. Corn is thrown about, grinding-slabs are disturbed, pots and bowls, robes and mats, are dragged hither and thither; they thump, scratch, and pound every corner of her little house. Gasping for breath, quaking from terror and
distress, she leans against the wall, for in the fellow who sought to embrace her she recognizes Tyope.
All at once he darts out of the house, rushing past her with a large ear of corn in each hand which he forthwith hurls at the head of one of his comrades. This provokes intense merriment, increased still more by his lying down and rolling over several times. The climax of his humour is attained, and exhibits itself in his squatting on the ground close to one of the clay-grinding artists, where he begins to feed very eagerly upon the liquid mud, literally eating dirt. But a terrible weight has been lifted from the breast of the poor woman, for the dangerous man has, so she must conclude from his actions, discovered nothing.
Meanwhile the other Koshare had stepped out of the house with well-filled hands. Say is unconscious of his approach, and as he passes her he empties his treasures, fine ashes, upon her devoted head. So sudden is his disappearance and so loud the laughter which this display of subtle humour excites among the by-standers, that Say Koitza fails to recognize its author, Zashue, her own husband.
She feels much relieved, and her heart has grown light now that the immediate danger is past. And--intently she tries to catch her father's eye, but the old man is quietly seated and does not look toward her.
The drum beats to signal the close of the intermission. The clowns are becoming too impudent, too troublesome, so that an end must be made to their pranks. The society of the Koshare will appear now for the last time, as after the next dance they retire. While this is at its height, Topanashka rises and returns to his former place.
Walking slowly past his daughter, he looks at her. She meets his gaze cheerfully, and with a slight nod of approbation he moves onward.
The dance is over, and the Koshare depart to scatter beyond the large house and to rest. On the disappearance of the last of their number, including the jesters, whoops and shouts fill the air again from without, and a second procession similar to the former marches into the courtyard. It is composed of different persons similarly costumed, except that their paint is bluish instead of white. No clowns accompany them. They go through a similar performance, and sing the same songs; but everything is done with gravity and even solemnity. This band is more numerous by at least ten couples, and as a consequence the spectacle is more striking on account of a greater variety of dress and finery. A tall, slender young man opens the march. It is Hayoue. His partner is a buxom lass from the Bear clan, Kohayo hanutsh, a strong, thick-waisted creature, not so good-looking for a girl as he is for a man, yet of such proportion and figure as strike the Indian fancy. They pay each other little attention. During the pauses each one follows his own bent, and when the time calls they meet again.
In an Indian dance there is no need of engaging partners, though it is not unusual for such as fancy one another to seize the opportunity of so doing. The mere fact of a certain boy stamping the earth beside a certain girl on a certain occasion, or a certain maiden tripping by the side of a particular youth, does not call for that active gossiping which would result if a couple were to dance with one another alone at one of our balls. A civilized ball is professedly for enjoyment alone; an Indian dance is a religious act, a public duty.
The society who are now exercising their calisthenics in the court has much similarity to the Koshare, yet their main functions are distinct. They are called the Cuirana.
If, during the conversation in which Topanashka in
formed his daughter as to the origin of the Koshare and the ideas underlying their rôle in Indian society, Say Koitza had inquired of him about the Cuirana he might have given her very similar information.
With this marked distinction, however, that whereas the former consider themselves summer people, the latter are regarded as winter men. While the Koshare are specially charged with the duty of furthering the ripening of the fruit, the Cuirana assist the sprouting of the seed.
The main work of the Koshare is therefore to be done in the summer and autumn, that of the Cuirana in the spring; and, moreover, while on certain occasions the latter are masters of ceremonies also, they never act as clowns or official jesters. Their special dance is never obscene, like that of the Delight Makers.
During their performance, therefore, the public did not exhibit the unbounded hilarity which marked that of their predecessors. The audience looked on quietly, and even with stolidity. There was nothing to excite laughter, and since the figures were slavish repetitions, it became monotonous. Some of the spectators withdrew to their houses, and those who remained belonged to the cliffs, whence they had come to witness the rite, as a serious and even sacred duty.
While the dance of, the Cuirana is in progress, two of the white painted clowns are standing outside of the big building, and at some distance from the new house of Yakka hanutsh, in earnest conversation. Heat and exercise have partially effaced the paint, so that the features of Tyope Tihua, and of Zashue, the husband of Say, can be easily recognized.
"I tell you, satyumishe," asserts the latter, "you are mistaken, or words have been spoken to you that are not true. This wife of mine is good. She has nothing to do with
evil, nor has she tampered with it. You have done her wrong, Tyope, and that is not right." His features, already distorted by the paint, took on an expression of anger.
The other responded hastily, "And I tell you, Zashue Tihua, that I saw your wife sitting by the hearth with Shotaye,"--his voice trembled at the mention of her name,--"and I heard when that mean, low aniehna"--his eyes flashed, giving a terrible expression to his already monstrously disfigured countenance spoke to the yellow corn!"
"Did you understand what she said?" Zashue interjected.
"No, but can any one ask aught of the yellow corn but evil? I know, too, that this shuatyam picked up the body of an owl on the mesa"--he pointed to the southern heights--"and carried its feathers back to her foul hole in the rocks."
"But you did not see Say with them?" Her husband looked in the eyes of the other inquiringly, and at the same time threateningly.
"That is the truth, but why does she go with the witch, and for what purpose does that female skunk need owl's plumage, if not to harm the tribe? She has done harm, too,"--he stamped his foot angrily,--"she is the cause of our having no rain last summer. She destroyed the maize-plant ere it could bring forth ears. She did it, and your wife helped her." Furious, and with flaming eyes, Tyope turned his head and stared into space.
"Are you sure that Shotaye has done this, and that it is not Pāyatyama's will?"
"Did we not fast and mortify ourselves while it was yet time, all of us from the Hotshanyi down to the youngest Koshare?" exclaimed Tyope. "Was it of any use? No, for that base woman had power over us in order to destroy the tribe."
"I am not defending her," Zashue muttered, "but it is not certain that she is guilty, nor is it proven that she is the cause of the hunger we suffered last winter."
His companion threw at him a glance of intense rage. The other's incredulity exasperated Tyope, but he suppressed his feeling and spoke in a quieter tone.
"Come, satyumishe, the Naua is expecting us, and in his presence we shall speak further. Our father is wise and will teach our hearts."
Say Koitza's husband stood motionless, looking away from his friend.
"Come," Tyope urged, placing his hand on the other's shoulder. Zashue at last turned around and reluctantly followed him. Both went toward the new estufa of the Maize clan.
From this circular building faint sounds, as of a drum beaten by a weak or lazy hand, were issuing. The principal Koshare and the Naua had retired thither for recuperation after the dance. Although the old man was not of the cluster to whom the estufa belonged, he had obtained permission from Yakka hanutsh to use the room on this occasion as a meeting and dressing place for himself and his associates. The club-house of the Corn people thus served to-day a twofold purpose, and was used by two distinct groups of the inhabitants of the Rito.
At this hour the Koshare Naua was its sole occupant. He sat on the floor, holding the drum in his lap and touching the instrument lightly from time to time. His vacant gaze was fixed upon a small heap of dying embers, nearly in the centre of the room and beneath the hatchway. Occasionally he raised his head to glance at the wall opposite him. The interior of the estufa appeared quite different from what it did on the day when Shyuote's peep into it was so poorly rewarded. Its walls had been whitened,
and were in addition covered with strange-looking paintings. The floor was partly occupied by a remarkable display of equally strange objects.
The painting in front of which the old man sat, and at which he gazed from time to time, represented in the first place a green disk surrounded by short red rays, which three white squares, bordered with black, converted into something like the rude semblance of a human face. This disk stood for a picture of the sun. Below it was the symbol of the moon's white disk, encircled by a black and red ring, and provided also with square eyes and mouth. Still lower were painted two crosses, a red one and a white one, both with black border.
Above the sun there appeared a form intended to be human, painted in very gaudy colours. This was Pāyatyama, the sun-father. On each side of him rose a terraced pyramid painted green, and from the top of one of these pyramids to that of the other there spanned or stretched a tri-coloured arch, red, yellow, and blue, over the sun-father's head. On each side of sun and moon was the crudely executed picture of an animal,--the one on the right, being intended for a bear, painted green; the one on the left, for a panther, painted red. The heads of these beasts were turned toward the central figures. Still farther, beyond these beasts of prey, two gigantic green serpents with homed heads swept over the remainder of the wall, leaving but a narrow space facing the sun, where four maize-plants, two green ones and two of a reddish-brown hue, were painted.
Below the central figures and not quite reaching up to them, an arch of wood, painted green with a yellow middle stripe, was held aloft by two poles driven into the floor of the estufa. Under this arch stood a wooden screen, green and black with a yellow border at the bottom, while the
upper edge was carved into four terraced pyramids surmounted by as many black arches. Both right and left of the screen, pine-branches resembling Christmas-trees of to-day were stuck into the floor. This strange decoration expresses symbolically a meaning similar to that intended to be conveyed by the dance of the ayash tyucotz.
The sun-father, soaring above the sun, moon, and stars,--for the red cross is the star of morning, the white the evening star,--is surrounded by the symbols of the principal phenomena in nature that are regarded as essentially beneficent to mankind. Thus the terraced pyramids are the clouds, for the clouds appear to the Indian as staircases leading to heaven, and they in turn support the rainbow. The two principal beasts of prey, who feed upon game, like man, and whose strength, agility, and acute senses man hopes to acquire, are represented as the bear in the colour symbolic of the east, and the panther in that of the south. Farther away from the sun-father are the two monstrous water-snakes, genii of the fish-bearing and crop-irrigating water-courses. The sun-father stands surrounded by all these elements and beings; he fixes his blissful magic gaze upon the nourishing maize-plants, that they may grow and that their ripe fruit may sustain the tribe. Thus much for the allegory on the wall.
But in order that the wish and hope which this allegoric painting expresses on the part of man may become realized, invocation rises before the picture in the shape of the screen, denoting an altar on which the rainbow has again settled down as a messenger from above. Both are green, since it is summer; and the summer sun, or summer home of the sun-father, is green also, like the earth, covered with luxuriant vegetation.
Invocation alone does not suffice to incline the hearts of Those Above kindly toward mankind; gratitude is required
as an earnest of sincere worship. But this gratitude can be expressed by words as well as by deeds, and prayers must precede, accompany, or follow the offering. In front of the altar a row of bunches artistically composed of snow-white down are placed on the floor. Each of these delicate fabrics has sacred meal scattered about its base, and each of them symbolizes the soul of one household. They are what the Queres Indian calls the yaya, or mother, dedicated to the moon-mother, who specially protects every Indian home. All these stand below the altar in token of the many prayers that each household sends up to the moon, painted above, that the mother of all, who dwells in the silvery orb, may thank her husband in the sun for all the good received, and implore him to further shed his blessings on their children. Between these feather-bushes and the embers, a great number of other objects are placed,--fetiches of stone, animal figures, prayer-plumes, sacrificial bowls painted with symbolic devices and surmounted by terraced prongs, and wooden images of household gods decorated with feathers. Sacred meal is in or about all of them, and all stand for so many intercessors praying for the good of the people, giving thanks in the name of the people and offering their vows in token of gratitude.
Similar to this estufa of the Corn clan are to-day all the other estufas on the Tyuonyi. They contain similar pictures, and similar objects are grouped on the floors in front of them. Before the altars the swan-white mother-souls glisten and flutter. The estufas are without human occupants, their entrances alone are watched by old men or women outside to prevent the work of invocation and gratitude performed inside by symbolic advocates from being desecrated by rude or thoughtless intruders.
While this work is going on thus silently and without direct intervention of man, man himself performs a similar
duty in the open air through the ceremonies of the great dance.
In this dance the Koshare came first, for their request was one of immediate importance. That the fruit may ripen is the object of their sacramental performances,--"even the fruit in woman's womb," Topanashka had explained. To this end man must contribute with delight and work with love. Whoever mourns or harbours ill-will cannot expect his task to prosper. In this manner even the obscene performances of the Koshare are symbolic, and their part in the great dance is above all an invocation.
Next the Cuirana came. Their labours are over; the germs which they were to protect with incantations have sprouted long ago, and the plants are ready for maturing. For these results of their work they give thanks to the sun-father,--thanks loud and emphatic, so that he may hear and see how grateful his children are. Their performance today is a testimonial of gratitude.
To close the dance, both societies will finally appear together, and with them representatives of the tribe at large. All together they will go through the same succession of ceremonies, in token that all acquiesce in the sentiments of the Koshare and the Cuirana,--that each individual for himself and in behalf of all the others joins in giving thanks for the past and praying for the future.
This is the signification of the ayash tyucotz when performed about the time of the summer solstice. However clumsy and meaningless it may seem, it is still a solemn performance. It gives public expression, under very strange forms, to the idea that has found its most perfect utterance in the German philosopher's 1 definition of "abject reliance upon God;" whereas in its lowest form it is still "a vague and awful feeling about unity in the powers of nature, an
unconscious acknowledgment of the mysterious link connecting the material world with a realm beyond it."
Seated comfortably and alone, surrounded by the symbols of his creed, the old leader of the Koshare was tapping his drum and humming softly a prayer. On a sudden the hatchway above him became darkened, and as he looked up he saw the legs of a man appearing on the uppermost rounds of the ladder leading down into the subterranean chamber. As that man continued to descend, the body, and finally the head, of Tyope appeared. Then followed Zashue Tihua. When both men were below, they went to the nearest sacrificial bowl, each one took from it a pinch of yellow corn-meal and scattered it in front of the altar. Then they turned to the old man, but he did not take any notice of either of them. Tyope squatted by his side, while Zashue remained erect.
"Sa nashtio," began the former, "we have not found anything."
"There is nothing," added Zashue, rather excitedly; "my wife is innocent."
The Naua raised his eyes with an expression of astonishment and surprise, as if failing to understand.
"What is it that you have not found?" he asked, rather dreamily.
"No coco--" Tyope stopped and looked at the pictures on the wall. It is improper to mention the names of evil powers or agencies in presence of the symbols of Those Above. So he corrected himself and said,--
"Hapi?" the Naua inquired with a vacant stare, "what sort of hapi? Where did you look for them?" He bent his head, as if trying to remember.
"Hapi," exclaimed Tyope, "in the house of Say Koitza, this motātza's wife;" and he pointed at his companion.
"Yes, indeed;" the chief of the Koshare now recollected. "I know; I recollect well." His eyes suddenly brightened; they assumed an expression of cunning as well as of suspicion. His quick glance moved back and forth from one of his visitors to the other. "So you found nothing? Then there is nothing! You were right, Zashue; your wife is good." He gave a chuckle which he intended for a benevolent smile.
"See," Say's husband exclaimed, turning to Tyope; "the Naua believes as I do. My wife is no--" the evil word he suppressed in time. He stopped, biting his lips in embarrassment.
Tyope's features moved not. He spoke to the chief of the Delight Makers as quietly and calmly as possible,--
"I believe--as you do, nashtio; but while Say may be guiltless, Shotaye is not."
"Hush!" the Naua sternly interrupted; "think of those here." He pointed toward the symbols. "Don't you know that they must not hear the name of that woman?"
Tyope replied hastily, and eager to drown the reprimand his chief had given him,--
"What shall we do, Naua?"
The old man became impatient. "Don't you see that I am at work? I am busy. Those here," he again nodded at the idols, "leave me no peace. I must be with them until the last otshanyi begins. In three days we go to the kaaptsh,--you, he, all our brethren,--and then we may speak. Now leave me alone. Go! Leave me! Go! Go!" he cried, and waved his hand upward. He was not to be spoken to any longer; he began to beat his drum and took up the low chant again. Zashue hurriedly climbed out of the estufa, and Tyope followed with an angry face. When the latter was on the open ground again, Zashue stepped up to him and said in a very decided tone,--
"You see now, satyumishe, that Say is innocent. Hereafter, Tyope, leave her alone." Turning about, he walked toward the large house. Tyope cast after him a look less of anger than of bitter disappointment.
The last act of the great ceremony began. A tremendous shout sounded from the outer entrance to the gallery leading into the court-yard of the great house. The chant arose stronger and louder than ever before, and several drums rumbled at once. Again were the terraces filled with people, the walls below lined with spectators. Topanashka sat on the roof, cold and impassable. Say Koitza leaned in the doorway of her home, with a quiet, almost smiling, countenance.
A long array of couples, dressed as before but painted red, opened the procession; then came the Cuirana, and last the Koshare. Topanashka, arose and joined the dancers; the Tapop stood beside him, and both stamped along, keeping time as if they were young once more. The singers were reinforced by several aged men with snow-white hair, three of whom wore dark wraps, sleeveless and covered with red embroidery. These were the chief penitents; those without badges or distinctive dress, the principal shamans of the tribe. A thrill of excitement ran through the spectators; children on the roofs gathered in groups, moving in harmony with the strong rhythmic noise below. The jesters had become very quiet; they went about gravely keeping order, for the court was now filled with performers. The green headdresses waved like reeds before the wind, and the whole space looked like a rhythmically wafted cornfield. When the dancers were executing the beautiful figure of the planting of maize,--man and woman bending outward simultaneously, each one to his side, and all the rattles sounding as if upon command,--everything around was hushed; everybody
looked on in respectful silence, so correct were the motions, so well-timed and so impressive the sight. Say also felt genuine delight. She thought of times long past when she, too, had joined in the dance. Now, alas, she could not. With all the relief this day had brought her, there still remained a dull weight in her bosom, and an inner voice forbade her to mingle with those so sincerely engaged in rites of thanksgiving to the powers of good and happiness.
While she stood and gazed around, her attention was directed to a young couple passing in front of her. The handsome lad with the dark, streaming hair was Okoya, and she recognized him proudly as the best-looking youth on the ground, Hayoue perhaps excepted. But then, was not Hayoue, Okoya's father's brother? But who was the girl by Okoya's side? That slender figure of medium height, that earnest, thoughtful expression of the face, those lustrous eyes,--whose were they? The two were manifestly a handsome pair, and the longer she watched them the more she became satisfied that they were the prettiest couple in the dance. They were certainly well matched; her son's partner was the handsomest girl of the tribe; of this she was convinced, and she felt proud of it. Motherly pride caused her heart to flutter, and the instinct of woman made her eager to know who the maiden was who appeared such a fitting partner for her own good-looking son. Say Koitza determined to improve the first opportunity that might present itself for ascertaining who the girl was and where she belonged.
The day was drawing to a close, a day of joyful excitement for the people of the Tyuonyi. The dance terminated. As the sun went down the dancers crowded out of the passage-way; so did the visitors; it grew quieter and quieter on and about the large house. The swarm of people leaving it scattered toward the cliffs in little bands
and thin streams, separating and diverging from each other like the branches of an open fan. And yet, after night had come and the moon had risen in a cloudless sky, there was still bustle everywhere. Households ravaged by the visitations of the Koshare were being restored to order, the exhausted dancers were being feasted, and the estufas, were being cleared of everything bearing a sacred character. Young men and boys still loitered in groups, repeating with hoarse voices the songs and chants they had lately addressed to the ruler of day.
On the terrace roof of the home of Tyope's wife a young girl stood quite alone, gazing at that moon where the mother of all mankind, the Sanatyaya, is supposed to reside. It was Mitsha Koitza, who had just returned from the estufa of her clan with the mother-soul of her own home, and who still lingered here holding in her hands the cluster of snowy, delicate feathers. She thinks, while her nimble fingers play with it, of the young man who has been her partner the whole day, who has danced beside her so quiet, modest, and yet so handsome, and who once appeared to her on this same roof brave and resolute in her defence. While she thus stands, gazes, and dreams, a flake of down becomes detached and quivers upward into the calm, still air. Involuntarily the maiden fastens her glance on the plumelet, which flits upward and upward in the direction of the moon's silvery orb. Such a flitting and floating plume is the symbol of prayer. Mitsha's whole heart goes anxiously with the feather. It rises and rises, and at last disappears as if absorbed by moonlight. The features of the maiden, which till now have carried an anxious, pleading look, brighten with a soft and happy smile. The mother above has listened to her entreaty, for the symbol of her thoughts, the feather, has gone to rest on the bosom of her who watches over every house, who feels with every loving and praying heart.
138:1 It was natural for her to think of removing the feathers, as they would in all probability be looked for just where she had put them; that is, under the floor. Such was the case at Nambé in March, 1855, when owl's feathers were found buried at several places in the Pueblo. The result of the discovery at Nambé was the slaughter of three men and one woman for alleged witchcraft by the infuriated mob of Indians.