Sacred Texts  Native American  Southwest  Index  Previous  Next 


My informant's father was chief of Koshari, and he told members that when he died he wanted his oldest son to take his place.

When the time came, the Koshari told his mother that they wanted him. His mother told him there was no way out of it, since his father had wished him to take his place. So he consented, and his mother told the Koshari head man. When the Koshari had a meeting, they came after him. He was taken to the haima kaach (the kiva used by the Koshari as a meeting place). So the head Koshari told the young man and the four other initiates to come and make prayer sticks, as it was time for the Country Chief to have his doings. It was time for the ceremony when the warriors renew the scalps. It was customary

p. 113

to initiate the Koshari at this ceremony. (Nowadays they catch them temporarily for any ceremony. 32 My informant's initiation was the last one.)

The, old Koshari had sticks they were going to make prayer sticks of, pins for women's skirts (pl. 13, fig. 1). Each Koshari was to make four extra--four for the women to dance with and four to pray with, so they had to make a great many. They also made cigarettes of corn husks with each set of pins. The old men were present while they were making these.

They stayed in the kiva 4 days. On the fourth day, in the morning, they set up the altar with two honani, many stuffed wrens (shuti), and mocking birds with one grain of corn inside for the heart. There were different kinds of herbs and medicines, also some flints and a stone fetich in human form with cotton all around the face. This represented the mother of the Koshari.

The ceremony started with a song. At a certain place in the song, they all chewed herbs and spat into a pot which contained the white clay they were to use as paint. They had to sing four songs during this. Then one got up and mixed the paint--clay, herbs, saliva, etc. The initiates stripped and started to sing again, and at another point in the song, the old men painted them and fixed them up like Koshari. It took quite a while to paint them. After it was finished the old men fixed and painted themselves.

They had a square medicine bowl. They started a song to make medicine and they started to mix medicine. Everyone was chewing herbs and spitting in the bowl at the proper times.

When it came time, one of the old members took a dish, urinated in it and mixed this with the medicine; another put phlegm from his nose in it, and the woman who was a Koshari pulled out some pubic hair and threw it in. After all this was mixed the head man took some in his mouth and spat it over all the other Koshari, then the initiates did the same, then everyone took a drink of the medicine from a shell. (After drinking the medicine, four drinks each from the shell, they were full fledged koshari.) Then the initiates stood in a row at the foot of the ladder. The head man said, "Follow me, we are going to call the people in the kiva tonight." Then the head man prayed and made the trail of corn meal out to the ladder. He asked the power of the real Koshari to be with all of them so they would not be injured in any way and would have the wit of the real Koshari.

Two initiates paired off in one direction; two, in another. The leader led them up. He started quick, three steps at a time. When h' got on the roof, he gave a yell and jumped up making a noise. Then they went down the outside ladder. At the bottom they lined

p. 114

up and started to sing. (Some are dirty songs, some are really comical.) They made a round of all the streets singing. Then they came into the plaza dancing (i. e., acting as if they were dancing). When the song and dance was finished they gave, a yell and scattered out, going from house to house telling the people to meet in the Mauharo Kai.

The ceremony took all day. It was about sundown when they finished the round of the houses. Then they returned to the kiva and got about half undressed. The leader told them to go back to their houses and get haati (sweet meal) in a bowl and bring it back and pass it to the leader, who would mix it in a large bowl with water. He would mix some of the medicine with each batch. A lot had to be made as many people were to be present.

It is customary for people to gather a little after sundown. The leader asks if they are all in. Koshari are in full costume. The medicine food is mixed in another room (not the kiva) with a stick made of cactus used as a torch so, as the medicine is passed around, they can see in the dark. Then another Koshari lights a long cigarette made of reed stuffed with tobacco and with honey on the end. This is handed to the first one in the row. This is a special Koshari cigarette. When you have taken a puff, it means you are bound to the Koshari and must do as they wish. Two bowls of food are passed around, and a lot of cigarettes. Each member smokes one. During the ceremonial period one cannot make a cigarette of his own.

Following this, the ceremony of the scalp dance is held.

During the 8 days before the ceremony is over, the initiates are instructed what to do. Before going out, all the stuffed wrens from the altar are put in bags and a bag is hung around the neck of each Koshari, the badge of Koshari. The wren is worn only during the ceremony. These wren and mocking bird skins mean you will have the power of chattering and talking like these birds.


112:28 Informant's note: The hair is tied in between, with a cotton string. Cf. hair frame of Hopi maiden.

112:29 Included in this plate are "prayer sticks in the form of pins (otsatiatni) for fastening a woman's mantle. These prayer sticks are made and deposited by Koshari." (Cf. Parsons, 1918 a, pl. 3).

112:30 First Mesa Hopi say to their children, "The crows are coming wearing yellow stockings," which means there is to be a kachina dance.--E. C. P. No connection is made between crows and kachina among eastern Keres.--L. A. W.

112:31 Cf. White, 1932, pp. 97-101.

113:32 see White, 1942.

Next: Bibliography