—Further degrees of stylization are seen in the Deer impersonations of Jemez, Zuñi, and Hopi, among those masked figures which appear with all the animals in the mixed dances. The simplest mask is seen at Jemez: a round green helmet of deerskin, with a flat top, from which deer horns are projected, as well as two pointed ears fashioned from leather. An evergreen collar is around the neck.
At Hopi the Deer dancer (pl. 28), like the Eagle dancer, has the usual brilliant body paint, the white embroidered ceremonial kilt, white sash with brocaded ends, red woven belt, and pendent foxskin. His moccasins are of red-brown deerskin, with ankle fringes of the same material. The mask is a turquoise blue helmet with a black center and rectangular, wide, black eyes. Around the top is a low visor made from slit yucca leaves and painted yellow and red. A long, flat, black snout projects in front. On each side are squash-blossom ornaments, made of yarn wound over little sticks and forming wide, flat cones. At the back, standing upright from a bunch of owl's feathers, are two tall eagle feathers. They represent a prayer for rain. The only elements remotely related to the deer are the two horns fastened to the top of the mask. Everything else has been exaggerated or bears relationship only to the stipulated pattern of ceremonial dress. This, although aesthetically satisfactory, destroys all illusion of realism. The Indian desired this of his masked figures; since they are supernatural, they should not appear like human beings.
In many villages the characters of the ceremonial dramas surrounding these gods are often similar. However, each pueblo prescribes its own rules for costume and action, so that they do not appear alike even when borrowed. The masked figure symbolizes, to the Indian, a kind and gentle people who are fond of singing and dancing and whose greatest concern is the welfare of the human race. That is why there is no feeling of terror for them; the kachinas inspire only respect and honor.
The number of masked impersonators is almost unlimited. New characters are added from year to year and ancient ones are often revived. Many characters are presented by groups to whom they were eventually handed down by clans now extinct. This assured to the favored pueblo, throughout many generations, the benefits of the power and goodness attributed to the kachinas thus bequeathed. Whenever the costume and distinctive traits of a character become defined, that character is handed down, together with whatever ritual and legend surround him. The knowledge of this mass of ritual and legend in all its complexity gave preëminence to the office of priest, for only through him could the information be perpetuated. There are both individual and group characterizations. The individual is the only one of his kind and he has a special part to play; the group consists of a large number, all alike and appearing together in dance and song. The size of the groups depends upon the number of men who are able to participate and who desire to do so.
A description of certain important and typical ceremonies may make clear the action as well as the appearance of some of the supernatural characters. They are representative of kachina types and illustrate the various methods by which characterization is obtained.