ITEM: Vintage Sterling Silver Solid Jester The Clown Kachina Dancer Pendant.
COMPOSITION: Sterling Silver.
CONDITION: Estate Item, excellent.
WEIGHT: 11.7 Grams.
MEASUREMENT: 1 3/8" length
Marks: 925, hallmarked ?
COMMENTS: Recently purchased from a local estate Sterling Silver Solid Jester The Clown Kachina dancer pendant. Crafted in sterling silver. The Kachina spirits dance and sing in ancient rituals. They also provide gifts. The prayers of the Hopi people for sun and rain, good harvest and successful hunting are conveyed through these ceremonies.
Ceremonies continue until mid-July, and then the Kachina spirits return to their mountains for a well-earned rest. This is celebrated with the Going Home Ceremony, called the Ninman. The spirits will be back in December.
The Kachina dolls meanings represent various deities, animals, ancestors or natural elements. Before each dance, Hopi men carve Kachina dolls from cottonwood. Each doll depicts a particular spirit that will participate in the dance.
There are over 200 different Kachina spirits honored in these ceremonies. Kachina dolls are given to Hopi girls so they will remember the Kachina spirits and come to understand their role in Hopi Life.
Following the ceremony, the Kachina dolls are displayed on the walls of the pueblo. They help village children to learn about the characteristics of each Kachina spirit.
No word exists in the Hopi language that denotes “religion,” but this is the English word that comes closest to expressing the importance of ritual in Hopi life.
Hopi clowns are an integral part of Hopi Kachina ceremonials where they participate in sacred rituals as well as unique clown performances—some with direct contact with the spectators. The clown's performance centers on humor and entertainment, but also they monitor the assembled crowd and provide policing activities over both the Kachina performers and the audience. Mockery is a tool used to warn spectators of non-Hopi behavior, and generally long remembered by the recipient of clown attention.
The clown personages play dual roles. Their prominent role is to amuse the audience during the extended periods of the outdoor celebrations and Kachina Dances where they perform as jesters or circus clowns. Their more subtle and sacred role is in the Hopis’ ritual performances. The sacred functions of the clowns are relatively private, if not held secret by the Hopi, and as a result have received less public exposure. When observing the preparations taking place in a Kiva of a number of ‘’Pai’yakyamu’’ clowns getting ready for their ceremonial performance, Alexander Stephen was told, “We Koyala [Koshari] are the fathers of all Kachina.”
The Hopi have four groups of clowns, some are sacred. Adding to the difficulty in identifying and classifying these groups, there are a number of kachinas whose actions are identified as clown antics. Barton Wright’s Clowns of the Hopi identifies, classifies, and illustrates the extensive array of clown personages.
Hopi ceremonies developed over centuries to express the spiritual aspects Hopi life. This gentle people have preserved their cultural heritage despite hardships and the misguided efforts of the United States government to “assimilate” them into the “mainstream.” As children learn the Kachina dolls meanings, they develop an understanding of Hopi ritual. Respect for all living things and for the Creator are at the center of Hopi spiritual life. Leave a Reply
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