Ornamentation of masks.
—The secret of the changing personality of the performer is to be found in the ornamentation and the features applied to the masks. In the simpler forms the masks are constant, but they are always renovated before each dance and often are given a new character. The paint is scraped off and the appendages removed, new colors are applied, and snouts, eartabs, and ornaments are put on in conformity with what is prescribed by the dance to be performed and at the direction of the priest in charge of the ceremony.
The eyes of the mask are made by applying perforated leather circles (pl. 4), stuffed rims of leather or cloth, bulging wooden spheres, or cotton-stuffed knobs of deerskin (pl. 14). Mouths are made of jagged pieces of leather painted to suggest teeth, or braided cornhusk outlined with leather or fur. Snouts and beaks are made of corncobs or the round bodies or curved necks of gourds (pl. 13), or flat, round, or shaped pieces of wood or cottonwood root, all variously trimmed, cut, and painted to suggest
teeth and lips. Snouts are often hollow, and this forms a resonance chamber for the actor, who as a kachina must voice no earthly sound. They may also be hinged to open and shut with a great clacking noise (pl. 7). Eartabs (pl. 4) are curved or square, large or small, of leather or wood. Their place is often taken by elaborate blossoms of colored yarn (pl. 9) or closed buds of painted wood edged with horsehair. Animal horns are pierced and fastened to the top of the mask, or imitation horns of the mountain sheep are ingeniously molded from deerskin (pl. 15); often substituted for horns are two matching gourd necks (pl. 35), or two slit ones, or two shaped strips of wood. The visors of the mask stand upright from the crown, or encircle the entire mask, or merely extend from side to side. They may be formed from crude strips of yucca bound together with braids of yucca cord, or from neatly wound sections of coiled basketry filled with kaolin and painted as a part of the mask (pl. 15).
Several masks have large terraced or scalloped tablets set upright over a helmet. A square opening is cut into the lower edge and this permits the tablet to fit down over the mask and be tied in place at the top and sides. These tablets are decorated with different painted designs and with ornaments of fluttering feathers and waving grasses (pl. 16).
Wooden ornaments are also used to enhance the decorative features of masks. Carved sticks are set vertically in the top, or zigzag strips, cut and painted to represent lightning, are fastened at the sides or upright at the back. The tops of the masks are covered with goatskin, horsehair, and various furs to simulate hair; evergreen to represent everlasting life; and raw cotton to suggest snow. The crown may be encircled with fillets of yucca leaves (pl. 24), twisted cornhusk, or spruce twigs.
Feather ornaments are numerous and are made in many different sizes, shapes, and combinations. Single tail feathers may be thrust through eartabs or tied upright at the back or sides, and downy white eagle feathers may wave from tablet points, visor rims, or topknots. One mask has eagle's down attached to the eartabs (pl. 15) so that the kachina may hear well;
"just as the downy feathers move in the slightest wind, so he can hear the smallest sound." Long tail feathers are shaped into high, open fans standing upright at the back, or marching across the top from ear to ear, or forming a crest from front to back. Sheaves of feathers of various sizes, bound to a stick with wrappings of cotton cord, are sometimes fastened in a horizontal position at the top of the mask. One such sheaf is seen on the Salimapiya (pl. 5) as a special badge to denote the office of the wearer. Long, bright, parrot feathers, iridescent duck feathers, and gray-brown feathers of the sandhill crane are wound to a stick of sagebrush because "sagebrush is hard to get through and they want the Salimapiya to look dangerous." Sometimes the head of a duck is mounted on the end of the stick. A similar ornament, utilizing the wing feathers of the eagle combined with white downy eagle and iridescent duck feathers fastened to a thin reed, is the "great feather" badge of the bow priest at Zuñi. This is worn by warrior impersonators, and the direction in which the tips of the feathers point is believed to be prophetic. If they point backward the god will come in peace, but if they point forward he will come in a hostile mood. Other sheaflike ornaments are made of different feather combinations and tied upright at the side of a mask or at the back.
Very long feathers which project in opposite directions may be bound together in the center by their quill ends, and the joining covered by a bunch or topknot of small feathers. Or long feathers may be made to point at right angles to each other in four directions and the ends, curving upward, tipped with eagle's down. There are many loose pompons of small feathers (pl. 17), eagle's down, or the limber ends of larger feathers. Whenever the last-named are used, the ribs are slit and trimmed in order to make them quiver and dance in the breeze, or when the wearer moves in his routine dance pattern. These pompons are useful as topknots or as side or back ornaments, from which may rise a single feather or a gracefully fashioned sheaf.
Occasionally a crown of tall feathers, eagle or turkey, stands upright
from the fillet of cornhusk about the upper edge of the mask, or a horizontal stick (p1. 3) with a series of feathers projecting at an angie may be worn forward from the center of the head, giving to the wearer a pompous and regal mien.
Occult symmetry is skillfully handled by the artistic Indian craftsman. For example, he places a long, pointed blue horn with a single fringe of black horsehair on one side of a mask, and balances it with a round, flat eartab of white broken by a horizontal black line, the whole completely surrounded by heavy fringes of horsehair in gleaming black. By carrying the black horizontal line of the ear across the mask to the eye, he is able to offset the simple square of the other eye, the blank space of vertical white, and the horizontal length and accent of color in the horn (pl. 3). The Indian uses the pointed bud of the Jimson weed (Datura stramonium ) in the same manner. It sticks out on one side of a mask surrounded by red, dyed horsehair and is balanced by the heavily accented vertical line of two tall eagle feathers tied to the other side (p1. 13). Rarely, this symmetry is achieved by the use of color alone.
Unsymmetrical patterns, however, are not the usual forms. Bisymmetrical design is more common and can be seen in painted features or applied appendages. Variety is often obtained by the interchange of colors in exact space relations, as in the Humis mask, on one side of which the large, turquoise blue square is outlined in black and earth red while on the other the earth-red square is outlined in black and turquoise (pl. 16).
Small decorative designs painted on the masks may have a definite symbolic relation to the characterization. An example is the black chevron of the birds of prey (p1. 24) or the spots of color on the Zuñi Fire God. However, these designs are ordinarily nothing more than decorative pictures of rain, clouds, lightning, corn, frogs and tadpoles, bird tracks, feathers, or any number of other things executed in stylized form on pottery and altar slats as well as on masks. All these painted forms have their origin in the dependence of the Indian on the natural elements,
sunshine and rain, for the germination and maturity of the corn and other vegetation. In some way each design is concerned with the constantly revolving pattern of life and the symbolism connected with it; the general and not the specific need is stressed.
On the masks of individual gods certain designs appear as marks of decoration and association rather than as symbols of characterization and identification. Often butterflies, frogs, dragonflies, and flowers are painted on the blank spaces just to make them pretty.
Noticeably ingenious and original is the manner in which the lower edge of the helmet mask is handled. Seldom is the appearance crude or unfinished. The desired elaboration is often accomplished by the use of those animal pelts which are plentiful, especially gray fox (pl. 29), coyote, mountain lion, rabbit, and goat; or great collars of evergreen (pl. 17) or feathers (pls. 5, 24) are used, which are effective but more difficult to construct. Occasionally a scarf of dark, native cloth, or an embroidered dance kilt is draped over the shoulders and fastened in front. A collar characteristic of Zuñi is a large roll of leather stuffed and painted either in a solid color or in black and white stripes (pl. 3). This same identifying feature is displayed on many Hopi masks the origin of which can be traced directly to Zuñi.
Sometimes the horsehair beard is used on the helmet mask; it then hangs down over the collar (pl. 35). On this kind of beard as used by the Hopi and the Zuñi are found horizontal strips of kaolin or eagle's down, stuck in place with yucca gum. Jemez displays beards of the hair of buffalo and bear, the latter with the center stained red.
It is among the Hopi and the Zuñi that the craftsmanship and artistry of the Pueblo masks reach their highest development. Masks made in the villages of the Rio Grande are, by contrast, primitive, and lack variety.
The Indians hold in great reverence a certain type of sacred mask which, they believe, have been given them by the supernaturals. This
mask is owned by a clan and is handed down from one generation to another. To the household which keeps it, it is supposed to bring a sacerdotal distinction because of its power, and an eminence because of their knowledge of the secret rituals which concern it. Such masks are stored in sealed jars and are very carefully handled. They are considered 'dangerous' and must not be touched by those who are not in possession of their secrets. Although the masks may be renovated and redecorated, the individual characters which they depict are believed never to change.
Another type of mask is made for an individual and is owned exclusively by him. At Zuñi it is thought of as "his personal fetish so long as he lives, and is his guarantee of status after death." Whenever a dance is performed, these masks are redecorated and made over into the likenesses of other supernaturals. In order that he may be able to take part in whatever dance is being performed, a man of standing owns several of these masks, one of each form. The masks are made by the priest, usually the kiva head, and his assistant, and they are made inside the kiva, where all their work is done. After the first ceremonial appearance of the mask, it may be taken home by its owner, and thenceforward it becomes his most prized possession. It is always treated with reverence and is kept in secret in the back room of his home. It is put on and taken off with the left hand only. If it needs to be renovated, he carries it to the kiva and does the work there.
There are two other masks, and they go a step beyond the scope of normal impersonation, becoming doubly effective because of their great stature and impressive bearing.
At Zuñi there are six Shalako who are believed to be the messengers of the gods (pl. 7). They appear for the one great ceremony, the culminating event in the annual cycle of rites observed by the kachina priests. This occurs shortly after the winter solstice. Each of these giant figures is ten feet high. His huge blue mask, scaled to his size, has a long, hinged snout which clacks and clatters when operated by strings controlled by
the wearer. The great, bulging, black and white eyes stare unblinkingly at the world. On each side of the mask is a long blue horn tipped with a downy red feather. A large fan-shaped crest of eagle feathers spans the head, and standing upright behind it is a sheaf of brilliant orange macaw feathers combined with downy white eagle feathers. The wig is of shiny black horsehair banged at the forehead, bobbed at the sides, and hanging down at the back with three puffs of eagle's down at intervals. The body, made on a series of hoops, is covered with two of the white ceremonial robes, a skirt and a mantle. A white embroidered kilt covers the top section, and two foxskins encircle the 'throat' below the ruff of glossy ravens' feathers. The tails of the foxskins serve as 'arms.' "The effigy worn by the Shalako is so ingeniously arranged that the wearer has only to step under the hoopskirt structure and carry it by a slender pole, which is supported by a piece of leather attached to the belt. The top of the blanket skirt has a triangular opening through which the bearer of the effigy sees."
This same Shalako figure has been introduced from Zuñi to the Hopi. It is possible that the more ingenious western artists went further and produced a goddess who accompanied the Shalako god. In the Laboratory of Anthropology at Santa Fe there is a fine example of an antique head with the elaborate headdress of such a female effigy (pl. 18). This head was no doubt carried above an impersonator and dressed in a feather robe with a white ceremonial mantle about its 'shoulders; and adorned with many strings of beads about its 'neck'. "The tablet represents terraced rain clouds ... the object with bifid tips on each side of the tablet represents the squash blossom, symbolic of maidens' hair dress. Across the forehead is a symbol of an ear of corn, with two feathers attached to each end. ... There are imitation flowers made of wood represented in the hair." Each part of the tablet is separate, and it is either pegged to the main form or tied together with thongs.