Ceremonial Powamu, Hopi
Among the Hopi the calendric cycle of ceremonies includes a series of extended festivals, each made up of kiva rites, prayers, and dances. The festivals differ upon the three mesas; certain interpretations of costume and ritual appear to have occurred independently in each village.
Throughout a period of sixteen to twenty days of the second moon after the winter solstice, Powamu, the bean-planting ceremony, celebrates the return of the kachinas, who have been away from Hopiland since July. This festival also involves the exorcism of evil spirits from youth and man, and is appropriately placed in our month of February to denote the purification and renovation of the earth for future planting.
The Powamu ceremony is one of the most important and interesting festivals held on the Hopi mesa, and because it is the occasion of the advent of the supernaturals, many masked figures 'visit' the pueblo. Ordinarily, the commencement of a ceremony is proclaimed from the housetops, but for Powamu a messenger is sent from kiva to kiva to announce quietly and formally that the festival is soon to begin—a procedure required by a convention that no kachina names are spoken in public. During the next few days, prayer sticks are made for placing at various shrines, and the painting and renovation of masks begins. The masks are brought out of their storage jars, the old paint is scraped off, new colors are applied, designs are painted on, and the proper feather ornaments are assembled. In the evenings dance groups from the various kivas make the rounds and entertain audiences in each ceremonial chamber. Fewkes describes such a festival as follows: "On every evening from the opening to the close of the festival there were dances, unmasked and masked, in all the kivas of the East Mesa. ... The unmasked dances of the katcinas in the kivas are called by the same names as when masks are worn. Some of them are in the nature of rehearsals. When the dances take place in the public plaza, all the paraphernalia are ordinarily worn, but the dances without masks in the kiva are supposed to be equally efficacious."
Early in the festival, beans and corn are planted in basins of sand in all the kivas. The seeds are then forced to germinate by frequent watering and continuous heat. The fire beneath the hatchway is kept burning day and night, and a straw mat placed over the opening retains the heat, making the room a "veritable hot house."
One morning, just as the eastern sky reddens with the dawn, Ahül, the Sun Kachina (pl. 29), comes up the trail, with his great circular mask radiating eagle feathers like the rays of the sun. He is accompanied by the kachina chief. In the capacity of leader of the returning kachinas, the
former visits each kiva, bestowing prayers and blessings and presenting gifts of corn and bean sprouts to the kiva groups in retreat.
At Walpi this character wears around his waist an embroidered dance kilt painted with a turquoise blue border and held in place by a brocaded sash over which is looped a red woven belt. A pendent foxskin is behind. His feet are covered with blue and red dance moccasins, and the leggings have a row of shell tinklers down the sides. Woven red garters band the knees, and blue yarn is tied around each wrist. In one hand he carries a squirrelskin bag of meal, a bundle of bean and corn sprouts, a chief's insigne, and a small slat of wood dentate at each end. In the other hand is a tall staff, the top decorated with eagle feathers and horsehair, while an ear of corn and a crook are attached midway. His discoidal face mask has a buckskin head covering at the back and a foxskin collar. The disk is divided horizontally in half. In the lower part, which is painted black, there is a protruding beak, above which is painted a black triangle. The upper half is divided vertically by a black line; the left side is yellow, the right side green. Both areas are covered with small black crosses. Around the upper side is a periphery of long eagle feathers and red horsehair, held in place by a braid of cornhusk.
The corresponding character at Oraibi (pl. 30) is called the Aholi, and is thus described by H. P. Voth: "The Aholi paints his body as follows: Both upper arms, the sternum, abdomen, back and legs down to the knees, bright red. The left shoulder and breast, right arm and lower part of the right leg, and a narrow band or ring above the right knee and a similar band below the left knee, yellow. The right shoulder and breast, lower arm, lower part of left leg and a band above the left and one below the right knee, blue.... The Aholi is dressed in the regular katcina kilt and sash, a woman's sash [red woven belt] and moccasins. Over the shoulders he wears an old [antique] blanket made of native cotton cloth on which are drawn designs of clouds and other unidentified objects. In the center is a large drawing of the mythical being that has been observed on dif-
ferent ceremonial objects. The head is human, the body that of a large bird. ... In the right hand the Aholi holds a stick, to the upper end of which six makwanpis[*] are attached.... The mask of the Aholi is also rather plain. It is made of yucca leaves and covered with native cotton cloth. To the lower edge is tied a foxskin, while to the apex are fastened a number of feathers of various kinds and to the sides a blossom symbol."
An occasion of the ceremony most dreaded, especially by the young, is the advent of the monsters, the Natackas. These are horrible creatures who threaten and frighten those who have misbehaved at any time during the year. They are the bogeymen of all little Hopi children. They make two visits, the first early in Powamu, when they come to demand food which will be collected on their second visit, which is on the last day. The night before each visit, they are announced by a loud dialogue in which they demand to see the children. The kiva chief replies that they must wait because everyone is at home asleep. The following day they parade through the streets, threatening the villagers, and frightening the children and accusing them of their misdeeds. The food, or spoils, is gathered up by one or two Hehea (pl. 4) who accompany the Natackas.
The Natacka Mother (pl. 31), impersonated by a man, wears a woman's dark dress. A white brocaded sash is wrapped twice around the body so that the many-hued ends meet and fall at angles down the front, making a brilliant herringbone of color. The sash is held in place by a red woven belt. A maiden's blanket, woven of native white cotton with red and blue borders, is thrown about the shoulders. The feet and legs are covered with soft white wrapped leggings, and the hands are whitened. A supple foxskin collar hides the lower edge of a helmet mask which has on its face an inane expression; the character is supposedly stupid. Black human hair, twisted into rolls, hangs down on each side like the Hopi matron's coiffure. A thin red horsehair fringe veils the face, and a topknot of squaretipped turkey feathers flutters from the apex.
The Natacka Daughter (pl. 32), smaller and more active, also appears in a dark dress, a red belt, and white wrapped moccasins. Over her shoulders like a cape she wears a streaked buckskin mantle. Her unpleasant face mask has round green eyes and a straight mouth edged in red, with jagged teeth. A black horsehair beard hangs beneath. The real hair of the boy who is impersonating the character hangs loose, and at the front is smeared with white clay. The Natacka Daughter is supposed to be disreputable and slovenly. On her back she carries a basket by means of a cord passed over her head. This is to contain the food as it is gathered by the Heheas.
The male Natackas (pl. 33) wear light shirts, dark trousers, and redbrown buckskin leggings held up by red woven garters. Their feet are covered by ordinary moccasins. Soft buckskin mantles pass under the left arm and are fastened on the right shoulder, and the hands are whitened except where the paint is removed by drawing the fingers across their backs, leaving a definite design. The awe-inspiring helmet masks have large open snouts with pointed teeth. The bulging black and white eyes appear to spring away from their dark background, and the sharp feathertipped horns add to the frightening effect. A fan-shaped crest of eagle feathers, bristling with animosity, stands upright at the back, and a trifid design painted on the forehead suggests deep and scowling ill-humor.
During the several days of retreat the men make kachina dolls for the girls and miniature bows and arrows for the boys. These are given to the children at the last performance. The masks used in the night dances are always redecorated by day. On the day set aside for this purpose the women renovate the kiva by replastering the walls with a thin wash of adobe mud, thus keeping it fresh and clean.
Every four years, children between the ages of six and ten years are initiated into the kachina group at a rite which occurs during Powamu. This rite is observed in one of the kivas. Tümas, a kachina woman, and her two sons, the Black Tungwüp and the Blue Tungwüp, participate.
The masked figure of Tümas (pl. 34), impersonated by a man, wears a woman's dark dress, and a white plaited sash with a long fringe is knotted on the right side. A hand-woven white cotton mantle, embroidered with brilliantly colored borders, is thrown over the shoulders. Tümas carries a sheaf of long, dull green, yucca leaves. Her turquoise blue helmet mask has a double triangular face design in black, edged with white—an effective balance of dark, middle, and light values. On either side of this mask, tied in a vertical position, is an appendage of crisp black feathers—the entire wing of the impertinent crow. A topknot of gayly colored parrot feathers forms the apex of the mask.
The Tungwüp (pl. 35), her two sons, act as floggers. They are often dressed in costumes exactly alike. Their bodies are covered with dull black paint, upon which appear occasional small circles of white kaolin, emphasized by fluffs of eagle down stuck to the centers. The forearms, chests, and lower legs are painted yellow, and white is applied to the hands and the bodies beneath the lower garments. An unusual form of kilt, consisting of a deep fringe of horsehair stained red, is worn around the waist and held in place by a leather belt of turquoise blue. This color combination is striking and effective, and the long strands of wiry horsehair fall in graceful shapes around the bare, painted legs of the dancer, who is in constant rhythmic agitation. The ends of the everpresent breechclout form a decorative part of this body covering. These are drawn out over the top of the kilt and belt, and hang in front and back like small, dark blue aprons, with cords of green and red yarn tracing a square in the lower section. Arm bands of turquoise blue leather, worn above the elbow, have tassels of green yarn and floating eagle feathers hanging from their outer sides. Strands of dark blue wool are tied below the knees, the loops swinging in front. Tortoise-shell rattles, hanging over the calf of each leg, emphasize every movement with sound. Red-brown moccasins are worn, with anklets of fringed red-brown deerskin, adding
a rich accent at the feet. In both hands are carried whips of lithe, tapering yucca leaves which are used in the initiation ceremonies.
The mask which accompanies this costume is a leather helmet painted shiny black. A long, black, curved horn of gourd, with traceries of turquoise blue, sticks out from either side. Eagle feathers, tied with the soft twist of native cotton cord, trail from the center of each horn. The eyes, which are bulging black and white wooden spheres, stare out of the flat brilliance of the surface. Across the lower edge of the masks is a leather strip forming a wide, many-toothed mouth with a border of red, from the bottom of which hangs a black horsehair beard striped with three horizontal bars of white paint. At the apex of the mask, extending backward, is a fan-shaped ornament of eagle feathers, the quill ends hidden by a brilliant topknot of parrot feathers. A glossy gray foxskin collar covers the neck space between mask and body.
When the characters of the two floggers differ, the second is represented by the Blue Tungwüp (pl. 36). His body, like that of the Oraibi Aholi, is painted in three colors: yellow on the left shoulder, the right forearm, and the left lower leg; blue on the right shoulder, the left forearm, and the right lower leg; and red on the torso, the upper arms, and the upper legs. The hands are white. Around the waist is the usual embroidered white kilt, many-colored brocaded sash, and red woven belt with a pendent foxskin. Red-brown moccasins with fringed anklets are on the feet, and strands of blue yarn are around the legs. Above the elbow are turquoise blue arm bands, and the costume is completed with a wristlet of yarn and a bow guard. He carries smooth, slender yucca leaves. The mask, similar to that of the Black Tungwüp, is painted turquoise blue with the same designs traced along the black horns, and the same eagle feathers and brilliant topknot.
Mr. Voth's description of the rites enables us to follow the ceremonial procedure on this day when the small neophytes are initiated into the secret cult of the Kachinas.
In the morning, colored sands are procured from the dry jars in the inner rooms of the chief's house, where treasures are carefully stored. A space about four feet square is cleared on the floor, and selected men, who know the ritual, begin the arduous process of creating a sand painting which is used only on this particular day and is destroyed before the sun dips below the blue outline of the San Francisco Peaks to the west. "They first sift a layer of common yellow sand on the floor, three-quarters to one inch thick. This is thinly covered with a layer of light brown ochre [and] on this field are then produced three figures," the flogging kachinas and their mother. On each side appear the Tungwüp, black figures with white arms and legs, red fringe kilts, and black heads with horns and feathers. In each hand are long yucca leaves. The central figure represents Tümas, and she is dressed in a black dress, white sash and mantle, and a blue head with side appendages and a white topknot. Over the field are spots of different colors which represent herbs and blossoms.
A second and smaller sand painting is made by the Powamu priest in the afternoon. It represents Shipapu, the place from which the human family is believed to have emerged. On an ocher background is described a square of different colors representing the four different quarters: yellow, north; blue-green, west; red, south; and white, east. Each side has, in directional color, a terraced figure which is said to "represent the blossoms of Shipapu." Lying on each side is an ear of corn and a celt or stone implement, both of which are colored to correspond to the direction, like the figures.
After the preparations have been made, a short kiva ritual is performed. The three impersonators then go to another room to put on their costumes. "By this time the children who are to be initiated begin to arrive. Each has a white corn ear and is accompanied by two persons, one male and one female, who may be either married or single. They are said to 'put in', i.e. to introduce or initiate the young into the katcina order.... When they arrive with their candidate they all sprinkle a pinch of corn
meal on the natsi[*] and, having descended the ladder, sprinkle meal also on the small sand mosaic; whereupon the candidate is requested to step into ... a yucca-leaf ring or wheel.[**] ... Two men, squatting on opposite sides, hold this ring and, when the candidate is standing in it, raise and lower it four times, expressing at the same time the wish that the [child] may grow up and live to an old age and always be happy. [The] candidate is then taken by his sponsor ... into the north part of the kiva; another one follows and so on until all have gone through the same performance." This is followed by the entrance of the Powamu priest, who comes down the ladder and takes his place on one side. As the God of Germination and Growth, he tells of his mythical wanderings and his final safe arrival in the pueblo. This long, rhythmic chant is full of the beauty and imagery of the Indian legends, colored by their aesthetic appreciation of nature. At its close he goes among the people, sprinkling the heads of the young candidates with 'medicine'. As he climbs the ladder to depart, four Mudheads appear and conduct a short ceremony at the small sand painting, using the objects which lie on each side in a ritualistic manner.
A sudden noise is heard above the hatchway. The great moment has arrived! Accompanied by loud hooting and the clatter of rattles, the two floggers and their mother descend the ladder. With Tümas near them, the Tungwüps take their positions on either side of the large sand painting. Throughout their part in the ceremony they keep up a continuous howling, grunting, rattling, and brandishing of yucca leaves. The candidate is placed on the sand painting and, if a boy, divested of his clothes; only the shawls of the little girls are removed. The candidate is then given four or five lashes by one of the Tungwüps, who relieve each other at the task of flogging, often exchanging their cudgels for new ones from the supply horne by Tümas. Many of the older people present their arms and legs for the beneficial blows. The flogging is performed for the purpose of purification, but it also suggests a punishment which may be meted
out to any initiate who betrays his knowledge of the secret rites and beliefs which are soon to become so important a part of his life. Now the initiate is to learn the supernatural myths, to dance when rain is needed, and to become powerful through the knowledge of prayer and rite by which the gods of his universe are approached.
The many kachinas who return to wander about the villages and dance on the days when no specific public rituals are scheduled, are not always the same from year to year. "Of the masked personations among the Hopi, some, as Tungwüp, Ahül, and Natacka, always appear in certain great ceremonies at stated times of the year. Others are sporadic, having no direct relation to any particular ceremony, and may be represented in any of the winter or summer months. They give variety to the annual dances, but are not regarded as essential to them, and merely to afford such variety many are revived after long disuse. Each year many katcinas may be added to any ceremony from the great amount of reserve material with which the Hopis are familiar." Dance societies from other pueblos send groups of their supernaturals to take part in the general celebration. The Mudheads are always present; they entertain with crude and often obscene play.
Dances are performed in all the kivas on the evening preceding the last day of the ceremony. This is the occasion upon which the newly initiated children learn, for the first time, that the kachina dancers whom they have been taught to regard as supernatural beings are only mortal Hopis. They sit with their mothers in the raised part of the kivas and watch the Powamu Kachinas dance. These kachinas wear no masks, a rare occurrence for a formal dance night and one due, no doubt, to the presence of the children. All the deities, both male and female, are impersonated by men. The bodies of the male dancers are painted in the customary bright colors: yellow on the left shoulder, the right forearm, and the left
lower leg; blue-green on the right shoulder, the left forearm, and the right lower leg; white on the hands and the body from waist to knee; and red on the remaining parts. There are the usual white embroidered kilt, brocaded sash, red woven belt, and pendent foxskin. There are leg bands of dark blue wool, and a turtle-shell rattle behind the right knee. The moccasins are blue and red with wound heelpieces. A bandoleer of red and blue wool hangs over the right shoulder, and many strings of beads are around the neck. The gourd rattle is carried in the right hand and a spruce branch in the left. The hair hangs free, topped with an ornament of three cornhusk flowers (fig. 14, p. 87), and the face is rubbed with corn meal, which is said to absorb the perspiration.
The manas, or Maidens, are actually young men, each dressed in a woman's dark dress, red woven belt, and a maiden's blanket with red and blue borders, and wearing wrapped moccasins on feet and legs. There are strings of beads around the neck, and pendants hang from the ears. The hair is done in whorls, and a cornhusk sunflower is fastened to the forelock. A sprig of spruce is carried in the left hand. The face and arms are painted white with kaolin.
At sunrise, on the last day, the sprouts of bean and corn, which had been planted early in the festival and forced to germinate by heating and watering, are tied into little bundles. Two men from each kiva, impersonating different kachinas, distribute them along with the kachina dolls and tiny bows and arrows which the men have made during the days of retreat. The bean sprouts are used as one of the dishes in the feast which terminates this long period of ceremony and festival.