Early Civilization: An Introduction to Anthropology

By Alexander A. Goldenweiser | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII
ECONOMIC CONDITIONS AND INDUSTRY (Continued)

APPLIED KNOWLEDGE (Continued)

Hopi Pigments

Another example of applied experience and technical mastery is supplied by the Hopi handling of pigments. In their ceremonies the Hopi require a large set of colors, to which they ascribe symbolic significance. Colors are used for the costumes of the participants, the ceremonial paraphernalia, the bodily decoration of priests, and most of all, the designs in color on the sand and the painting of the katcinas, doll-like representations of supernatural beings.

Space does not permit to discuss here the elaborate and often beautiful designs made on the ground by permitting narrow streams of different colored sand to fall from the hand over the surface of the ground, thus forming designs.1

Stephen enumerates some thirty odd pigments used by the Hopi for these various purposes. One pigment known as "green bread" is prepared in the following way:

"About ten ounces of pinon gum is put in an earthern pot and set on the fire, a very little water being poured in to keep it from burning and it is then allowed to roast. A large basin is set conveniently with about a gallon of water in it, and over this basin a yucca sieve is laid, and in the sieve a quantity of horse hair, or shredded yucca fibre. After the gum has melted and boiled for about ten minutes it is poured upon the hair lying in the sieve and allowed to strain through into the water, where it accumulates in a white mass. The operator then puts about three ounces

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1
For illustrations of these sand designs see James Stevenson, "Navajo Ceremonial of Hasjelti Dailjis," Bureau of Ethnology, Eighth Report, plates CXX to CXXIII.

-150-

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