Artifact of the Week History

Artifact of the Week

1987.001.084

Diagonal twined and coiled Snake Dance wall hanging basket with butterfly iconography

Rabbitbrush, sumac, natural dyes

ca. 1900, North America

The Hopi are a sovereign nation in Northeastern Arizona and have lived in the same area for thousands of years (and hold the record for the longest authenticated history of occupation in an area of the United States). The Snake Dance is an bi-annual religious ceremony that is celebrated in August or early September for sixteen days.  It is thought that the dance originated as a water ceremony, as snakes were the guardians of springs. In modern times, it has become a ceremony for the snakes to carry the prayers for rain to the underworld and ancestors.

This traditional basket hanging was identified on its tag as a Snake Dance artifact, while we are not sure that is correct, it is most definitely Hopi and depicts the traditional iconography of a butterfly and could possibly be attributed to the Butterfly Clan dance, which is a two day ceremony for young people celebrated during the late summer or early fall.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s