Sacred-Texts  Native American  Zuñi Religion  Bunzel Index 



From the Forty-seventh Annual Report of the Bureau of Americam Ethnology, 1929-1930, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C. All page references are to the original.

{p. 473}


The Zuñi tribe numbered in 1928 approximately 1,900 individuals, settled in the desert of western New Mexico on land which the nation had already inhabited for many centuries prior to the advent of the Spaniards in 1540. The reservation which they now hold under Government protection is a strip of land roughly following the course of the Zuñi River from its headwaters near the Continental Divide southwest to a point some miles east of the Arizona border. The general conformation of the land is a high, broad valley dropping sharply from northeast to southwest. The upper end of the valley is hemmed in by rugged mountains of red and white sandstone, cut by deep canyons densely forested. Toward the west the country lies open. The average altitude of the valley is about 6,000 feet.

The Zuñi River which drains this country is a permanent stream, which, however, varies greatly in volume of water. For the greater part of the year it is a thin trickle threading its devious way through broad, glistening mud flats. During the summer season this trickle may be transformed within a few moments into a raging torrent that inundates the mud flats and frequently overflows the containing banks. These sudden floods, caused by cloud-bursts in the eastern mountains, generally subside within a few hours, although the stream frequently runs high for two or three days during the spring freshets, when the river is said to be impassable for days at a time. The valley is traversed also by numerous arroyos filled with rushing water in times of flood, but otherwise quite dry. In all the surrounding mountains are numerous permanent springs of sweet water.

The mountains and canyons of the east, well watered by virtue of their nearness to the divide, are covered with thick forests of conifers. The and plains of the west sustain only a meager covering of sage, greasewood, yucca, and small cacti, with occasional poplar and cottonwood trees near springs and along watercourses.

The high altitude and excessive aridity produce a healthy and invigorating climate. There are great seasonal and daily fluctuations in temperature. There are summers of blazing noons (110° F. is by no

{p. 474}

means unusual) and cool, almost, chilly, nights. In winter, especially in December, the nights are bitter cold, the days, for the most part, mild and sunny.

There are two periods of precipitation--in summer from July to September, and in winter from December to March. The summer rains begin early in July, increasing in intensity as the season advances. The rainy season ends about September 15. In summer the sun rises every day in an unclouded sky of brilliant blue. By noon this blue dome begins to fill with great puffs of white cumulus clouds, increasing in density, with heavy black clouds along the southern horizon. The late afternoon is generally marked by sudden and violent showers of short duration. These showers, which are very local, can literally be seen stalking out of the southeast just before sunset. The storms increase in frequency, intensity, and duration toward the close of the rainy season. The most destructive rains occur in September.

The winter precipitation starts with light snowfalls early in December. December is a month of low temperatures and frequent snow falls. After the New Year the temperature moderates, but the weather continues very inclement, snow and rain alternating. There is a great deal of fog and continuous downpours of cold rain.

The spring months are marked by high winds of prevailing westerly direction. These winds from the open desert are laden with fine sand and cause untold discomfort. The sand storms of May, striking the young corn, are especially destructive.


The Zuñis have been agriculturists for many centuries. Since very early prehistoric time they have raised maize, beans, and squash by a system of dry cultivation.[1] From the first Spanish settlers they obtained the seeds of wheat. This, however, could be grown only specially favored localities which could be irrigated by hand from large, permanently flowing springs. Recently, in 1909, the waters one fork of the Zuñi River have been impounded behind a dam built by the United States Government. From this reservoir sufficient water is drawn to irrigate a strip of land on the north bank of river, immediately adjacent to the village. This strip, approximately 1 mile wide and 6 miles long, is well suited for the cultivation of wheat and alfalfa. Maize is still raised by old methods of dry farming on sandy fields lying at a considerable distance from the village, mainly situated on the south bank.

From the Spaniards, also, the Zuñis got their first sheep. They now own large and profitable herds. These are kept in remote parts

[1. Zuñi agricultural methods are admirably described in Cushing's Zuñi Breadstuffs, Indian Notes Monographs, Museum of the American Indian, vol. Viii, pp. 157 ff.]

{p. 475}

of the reservation. The wealthiest herders even rent land in surrounding townships. Rabbits are still hunted, primarily for sport, but the deer and antelope, once important items in Zuñi economy, have vanished from the mountains. Sheep, furthermore, are the chief source of negotiable wealth. The sale of wool in June and of lambs in October provides the herders with a considerable cash income for the purchase of luxuries of white manufacture. They have, also, horses derived from the same source and a few cattle, but the land is not suitable for cattle breeding. Cattle are not milked and are used for meat only. Some women have a few pigs and chickens. The labor of agriculture and herding is done entirely by the men.

Herding, of course, is an all-year-round occupation, at which men take turns, groups of brothers herding their sheep together and taking turns in watching them. A man with his own herd usually goes three times a year, for a month at a time, unless he is wealthy enough to pay some one to do this for him. All men who own sheep spend lambing time with their herds to see that all lambs are properly earmarked. At this time the sheep are herded at permanent camps, and the women also go out there. Lambing occurs in April and is followed immediately by shearing. Sheep dipping takes a few weeks for everyone in midsummer.

The first agricultural work of the season is early plowing and the planting of wheat in February or March. In March the irrigation ditches are cleaned. Corn must not be planted until after certain ceremonies held about the time of the vernal equinox, and frequently it is delayed until after wool-sell. The cornfields are plowed over, but the actual planting is done with the digging stick. The early summer, after the return from sheep camp and after the summer solstice ceremonies, is spent hoeing and irrigating. There is an alfalfa crop in June and another in August. There may be another in November, but this is not usually harvested. The horses are turned into the unharvested field for winter pasture. The wheat harvest begins in August and continues until all is in, which may not be until November. The wheat is cut with a sickle, threshed by horses, and winnowed by hand on primitive outdoor threshing floors.

Peaches, squash, and melons ripen in August and must be harvested before the frosts, which may occur at this altitude any time after the end of August. There is a spell of heavy rain in September which interrupts outdoor work. The first green corn is ready for eating in August, but the general corn harvest does not take place until November. This is the last agricultural work, except for a few people who do a little fall plowing. The months from November

{p. 476}

until March, free of agricultural work, are given over to the great ceremonies--the Ca?lako, the winter solstice ceremonies, society initiations, the winter katcinas, and sometimes the general tribal initiation.

The 1,900 inhabitants live, for the most part, in Zuñi proper and its immediate vicinity. There are, however, three large farming villages and one small one, which are occupied for varying periods during the summer months. Even those families that make homes there permanently return to Zuñi after harvest time for the period of the great ceremonies in December and January.

None of the farming villages have any civil or religious organization of their own, nor are any religious ceremonies performed a of them, except when a dance set from one of the kivas is invited to dance there during the summer.

Despite modern expansion[2] the main village still remains a whose physical compactness is reflected in an intricate and closely knit social organization.

There are households, kinship groups, clans, tribal and special secret societies, and cult groups. A man must belong to serve these groups, and the number to which he may potentially belong almost unlimited. There is no exclusive membership. He is born into a certain household, and his kinship and clan affiliations are thus fixed, unless altered by adoption. At puberty he is initiated into one of the six dance groups that comprise the male tribal society. He may, through sickness, be conscripted into one of the medicine societies; if he takes a scalp he must join the warriors society; and if connected with a sacerdotal household he may be called upon to join one of the priesthoods.

These groups all have their joint activities and a great part of a man's time is spent in participation in these activities. His economic activities are all bound up with the household, a communal unit to which he has certain obligations. His ordinary social contacts are all predetermined by his family and clan affiliations. Religious participation is confined to attendance at the ceremonies of those groups with which he is identified. In fact, the only sphere in which he acts as an individual rather than as a member of a group is that of sex. A man's courtship and marriage are matters of individual choice. In the bid for attention they suffer from being entirely divorced from group activity. At Zuñi no action that is entirely personal and individual receives more than passing interest. Births, deaths, and initiations figure largely in local gossip-marriages do not. It is curious to note that among the culturally related Hopi, where a marriage is the occasion for elaborate gift exchanges between the

[2 Population movements in and out of the town are analyzed by Kroeber in his 'Zuñi Kin and Clan, pp. 120, 198.]

{p. 477}

clans of the bride and groom, weddings are one of the most frequent topics of conversation.

The economic unit is the household, whose nature and methods of function illustrate admirably certain very fundamental Zuñi attitudes. The household is a group of variable composition, consisting theoretically of a maternal family; that is, a woman and her husband, her daughters with their husbands and children. To this permanent population is added a fluctuating group of miscellaneous male relatives of the maternal line-the unmarried, widowed, divorced, and those rendered homeless by passing domestic storms. This group occupies a single house consisting of several connecting rooms. There is a single kitchen drawing upon a common storehouse. The household owns certain cultivated fields which can not be alienated. In addition, the various male members individually own certain fields--generally fields recently brought under cultivation--which remain their own after they have severed connection with the household. However, all fields, whether collectively or individually owned, are cultivated by the cooperative labor of the entire male population of the household. The products go into the common storeroom to become the collective property of the women of the household. The women draw on the common stores for daily food and trade the surplus for other commodities. Sheep are owned individually by men but are herded cooperatively by groups of male kindred. When the profits of the shearing are divided a man is expected out of these to provide clothing for himself, his wife and children, including children by previous marriages, and his mother and unmarried sisters, in case they are not otherwise provided for.

Personal relations within the household are characterized by the same lack of individual authority and responsibility that marks the economic arrangements. The household has no authoritative head to enforce any kind of discipline. There is no final arbiter in disputes; no open conflict. Ordinarily the female contingent of blood relatives presents a united front. A man finding himself out of harmony with the group may withdraw quietly whenever he chooses and ally himself with another group. With his departure obligations cease, and his successor fathers his children. Diffusion of authority and responsibility is especially marked in the treatment of children.

The tribe is divided into 13 matrilineal exogamous clans, varying greatly in size from the Yellowwood, consisting of two male members, and which will therefore become extinct with the present generation, to the large so-called Dogwood (Pi?tcikwe) clan, which comprises several hundreds of individuals. The kinship system follows, in the main, the Crow multiple clan system, all members of one's own clan being designated by classificatory terms. There are different terms for classificatory relatives of the father's clan, Adoption is frequent,

{p. 478}

and the usual terms are applied to adoptive relatives. The terms are stretched to include also all affinal relatives. There is no avoidance and no joking relations. There is some indication of a joking relationship between a man and women of his father's clan, especially his father's blood sister, who is also his most important ceremonial relative. A woman has important ceremonial obligations to her brother's children, especially his male children, and in most cases she is compensated for her services. The clan as such has no social or political functions, although each individual feels his closest ties to be with members of his clan, upon whom he calls for assistance in any large enterprise, such as harvest, housebuilding, initiations, etc. His closest ties, naturally, are with blood kin, especially the maternal household in which he was born.

Each male is initiated at puberty into the katcina or mask dance society, which thereby assumes the rôle of a tribal cult, in distinction to other ceremonial groups of more restricted membership. Other ceremonial groups are the 12 medicine societies composed of medicine men and those whom they have cured, the war society, the rain priesthoods, and innumerable minor cults, consisting in the main of members of maternal households to whom are intrusted the care of various objects of fetishistic power. Most men of advanced age are affiliated with several of these groups.

The real political authority of the tribe is vested in the council of priests, consisting of three members of the chief priesthood and the heads of the three other priesthoods. The head of the hierarchy is the head of the chief priesthood--the house chief (k^?a'kwemosi), p?ekwin, who is priest of the sun and keeper of the calendar, is, as his name indicates, a sort of talking chief for the priesthood. Two bow priests, members of the war society, act as messengers and the executive arm of the priesthood. The heads of the katcina society are called on in an advisory capacity in matters relating to their province. The principal matters to come before the council for decision are the appointment of civil officers, choice of the impersonators of the gods at the annual festival, the insertion of important ceremonies, such as the tribal initiation, into the regular calendar, the discussion of what action should be taken in cases of calamity, such as earthquakes and drought, the determination of tribal policy in new contingencies such questions as whether automobiles are fire, and should therefore be taboo during the winter solstice. The maintenance of these policies is the duty of the bow priests and the secular officers.

The priests do not act in secular affairs, being too sacred to contaminate themselves with dispute or wrangling. Crime and warfare are the concerns of the bow priests. Civil law and relations with aliens, especially the United States Government, are delegated to the secular officers appointed by the council.

{p. 479}

The only crime that is recognized is witchcraft. An accusation of having caused death by sorcery may be brought by the relatives of the deceased. The bow priests examine the accused and review the evidence. If found guilty in former days the accused was hung by his wrists and subjected to other forms of torture until he confessed. If the confession was of such a nature as to vitiate his power by revealing its source, a common Zuñi idea, he might be released at the discretion of the bow priests, or he might be executed. Public torture and execution of witches has been stopped by Government authorities but convicted witches may be done away with secretly unless they escape to other villages.

Revelation of the secrets of the katcina cult to the uninitiated is a crime against the gods and is punishable by death by decapitation. Punishment is meted out by masked impersonators of the gods, appointed by the heads of the katcina society. No such executions have taken place within the memory of living men, but they figure prominently in folklore, and the authority and readiness of the priests so to act is never questioned in Zuñi. Flogging by masked impersonators has recently been substituted for execution. During one of the writer's visits katcinas were summoned to administer punishment to a youth found guilty of selling a mask. The accused escaped so the katcinas whipped all men in the kivas for purification.

Crimes of personal violence are rare, but such as do occur are considered matters for private adjustment, either with or without the help of the civil officers. Murder by overt means, not sorcery, bodily injury, rape, and theft axe settled by property payments by the family of the guilty man to the family of the one who has been wronged. These payments are made promptly and quietly by the guilty man's relatives, since they are likely to fare worse in the hands of the officers than in those of private individuals. Adultery is not a crime. Along with stinginess and ill temper it is a frequent source of domestic infelicity and divorce, but is never regarded as a violation of rights. Sexual jealousy is no justification for violence.

The chief duties of the officers (governor, lieutenant governor, and eight tenientes) are the adjudication of civil suits, such as boundaries, water rights, inheritance, restitution for loss or injury to livestock, management of cooperative enterprises of a nonreligious character, such as road building, cleaning of irrigation ditches, execution of Government ordinances regarding registration, schooling, etc., and all manner of negotiation with outside powers. Because of the increasingly diversified contacts with whites, the office of governor is becoming more and more exacting and influential, although it still lacks prestige in native opinion. The civil officers hold office at the pleasure of the priests and may be removed by them at any time and for any cause. The office is not one that is sought, since the

{p. 480}

settlement of disputes must inevitably be a source of grievance to someone, and the thing that a Zuñi will avoid above anything else is giving offense.

In all social relations, whether within the family group or outside, the most honored personality traits are a pleasing address, a yielding disposition, and a generous heart. All the sterner virtues--initiative, ambition, an uncompromising sense of honor and justice, intense personal loyalties--not only are not admired but are heartily deplored. The woman who cleaves to her husband through misfortune and family quarrels, the man who speaks his mind where flattery would be much more comfortable, the man, above all, who thirsts for power or knowledge, who wishes to be, as they scornfully phrase it, "a leader of his people," receives nothing but censure and will very likely be persecuted for sorcery.

A characterization intended to convey the highest praise was the following: "Yes, ------ is a nice polite man. No one ever hears anything from him. He never gets into trouble. He's Badger clan and Muhekwe kiva and be always dances in the summer dances." The informant could be eloquent enough when she wished to detract.

No single fact gives a better index to Zuñi temperament than that suicide is absolutely unknown among them, and the very idea is so remote from their habits of thought that it arouses only laughter.


In so far as the culture of any people is an integrated and harmonious whole, it shows in all its phases the same character and individuality. At Zuñi the same ceremonious collectivism that characterizes social activities is the essence also of all religious participation. The relation between man and the supernatural is as free of tragic intensity as the relation of man to man. The supernatural, conceived always as a collectivity, a multiple manifestation of the divine essence, is approached by the collective force of the people in a series of great public and esoteric rituals whose richness, variety, and beauty have attracted the attention of poets and artists of all countries. Nowhere in the New World, except in the ancient civilizations of Mexico and Yucatan, has ceremonialism been more highly developed, and nowhere, including these civilizations, has it gone so far toward taming man's frenzy. In Zuñi, as in all the pueblos, religion spreads wide. It pervades all activities, and its very pervasiveness and the rich and harmonious forms in which it is externalized compensate the student of religion for the lack of intensity of that feeling. For although the Zuñi may be called one of the most thoroughly religious peoples of the world, in all the enormous mass of rituals there is no single bit of religious feeling equal in intensity and exaltation to the usual vision quest of the North American Indian.

{p. 481}



According to Zuñi belief, man has a spiritual substance, a soul (tse?makwin, thoughts, from tse?ma, to think, ponder). This is associated with the head, the heart, and the breath. The head is the seat of skill and intelligence, but the heart is the seat of the emotions and of profound thought. "I shall take it to my heart" means I shall ponder it carefully, and remember it long. The word for life is t?ek?ohanan:e, literally daylight. The breath is the symbol of life. It also is the means by which spiritual substances communicate and the seat of power or mana. Inhaling is an act of ritual blessing. One inhales from all sacred objects to derive benefit from their mana. At the end of any prayer or chant all present inhale; holding their folded hand before their nostrils, in order to partake of the sacred essence of prayer.[3] The feather is the pictorial representation of the breath. Death occurs when "the heart wears out." When a person is very sick his heart is wearing out. "Medicine men can fix it up when they come to cure, and it will go for a while, but sooner or later you will have to get a new one." Getting a new heart is the first rite in society initiations.[4]

Dreams are believed to be of supernatural causation, and foretell the future if one can properly interpret them. Certain persons in particular are believed to "dream true." Dreams of the dead are believed to be visitations of the dead, and are always portents of death. Visual and auditory hallucinations are believed to be similarly caused. "Bad dreams," a term which includes hallucinations, is a disease of supernatural origin, as opposed to bodily disease, which is caused by witchcraft. There are special rituals for curing "bad dreams," to which we shall allude frequently in the following pages.

In rare instances the soul can leave the body and return to it again. This occurs during sickness and is a matter of great seriousness. A friend has reported such an experience as follows:

"When I was sick of the measles I was very sick. On the third day I didn't know anything. Maybe I fainted or maybe I really died[5] and came back. I never believed that could happen, but it really did, because when I came back the room was going round and round and there was a little light coming through the window, although there was a bright light in the room. While I was dead I dreamed I was going toward the west." The narrative goes on to describe her encounter with her dead grandfather and unknown dead women, her "aunts."

[3 See texts for symbolism of breath as the seat of sacred power.

4 Texts, p. 802.

3 The two words are the same in Zuñi (acek^ä).]

{p. 482}

"I was so happy to see my grandfather. Since then I've never worried about dying, even when I was very sick, because I saw all these dead people and saw that they were still living the way we do." After this experience the girl was initiated into a medicine society,[6] to "save her life," because her people (i. e., the dead) had asked her for feathers.

Visual and auditory hallucinations are caused by supernaturals. They are regarded as omens of death. The most common hallucinations of this type are the apparent movement of sacred objects on an altar--especially masks.

Death is usually caused by witchcraft. The usual method of the sorcerer is to shoot foreign bodies into his victim. But other more indirect methods may be used. Sorcery, however, is never practiced openly as in Oceania. No one admits having sorcery, and everyone suspects others very vaguely. Suspicion of sorcery subjects a person to social ostracism, but a death caused by sorcery is an occasion for formal interference on the part of the authorities. There is considerable internal and comparative evidence in the body of witchcraft belief and practice to indicate that their present great development is post-Hispanic, and that the belief in less specific supernatural causation is earlier and more aboriginal.

Considerable confusion exists in the Zuñi mind concerning the fate of the soul after death. General folk belief has it that for four days after death it remains in Zuñi, causing great inconvenience, and, indeed, danger, to survivors, and on the fourth day departs for Katcina Village (kolhuwala:wa)[7] in the west. However, various cult groups hold beliefs at variance with this. Dead medicine men, probably not all members of medicine societies, but those who possess the ultimate powers of "calling the bear," join the beast priests at Cipapolima in the east.[8] The name Cipapolima is undoubtedly related to the Keresan shipapu, the place of emergence and the destination of the dead. The word shipapu is not known at Zuñi, but wenima (Keresan wenimatse) is sometimes used esoterically in songs for Kolhuwala:wa. When the priests invoke the uwanami in prayer they also call by name deceased members of their order,[9] indicating that deceased priests join the uwanami at the four oceans of the world.

Corpses are prepared for burial according to the ceremonial affiliations of the deceased. All are clothed in everyday clothing, men in white cotton shirts and trousers, women in calico dresses and black woolen blanket dresses. In addition, each wears the characteristic garment of his group: male members of societies the hand-woven

[6 See pp. 528, 791.

7 See text of origin myth, p. 574.

8 See prayer of medicine man, pp. 804, 829, 831.

9 Stevenson, p. 175, substantiated by further information.]

{p. 483}

loin cloth which constitutes their ceremonial costume, officers of the Katcina society the white embroidered kilt and embroidered blanket of the katcinas and, possibly, masks.[10] Priests, curiously enough, are adorned for burial with the face paint and headdress of warriors.[11]

Infants were formerly buried within the houses, as was common in almost all prehistoric villages; because "they thought they would have no place to go," and so they "wanted them around the house." Most people admitted that there was some doubt whether the uninitiated, for example women, are admitted to Kolhuwala:wa, although folk tales frequently allude to their going there to join their husbands.

The rôle of the dead in the religious life is described below (p. 509). At this point it need only be said that they are the bestowers of all blessings, and are identified especially with rain. If rain falls the fourth day following the death of a noted man it is usually thought of as his rain, and is a source of consolation to the bereaved. The worship of the dead is the foundation of all Zuñi ritual. The dead form part of the great spiritual essence of the universe, but they are the part which is nearest and most intimate.


To the Zuñi the whole world appears animate. Not only are night and day, wind, clouds, and trees possessed of personality, but even articles of human manufacture, such as houses, pots, and clothing, are alive and sentient. All matter has its inseparable spiritual essence. For the most part this spiritual aspect of things is vague and impersonal. Although all objects are called ho?i, "living person, " in a figurative sense, they are not definitely anthropomorphic; they have consciousness but they do not possess human faculties. To all these beings is applied the term k^?äpin ho?i "raw person"; man, on the other hand, is a "cooked" person.

Prayers are full of description of natural phenomena in anthropomorphic guise. I quote some of the most striking:

When our sun father
Goes in to sit down at his ancient place,
And our night fathers,
Our mothers,
Night priests,
Raise their dark curtain over their ancient place......

That our earth mother may wrap herself
In a fourfold robe of white meal;
That she may be covered with frost flowers;
That yonder on all the mossy mountains,
The forests may huddle together with the cold;

[10. Hodge is the authority for this statement.

11. Stevenson describes, pp. 315-317, the burial of Naiuchi, priest of the Bow and also head of Eagle clan priesthood. However, the Onawa priesthood use the same face paint and headdress in interring their dead.]

{p. 484}

That their arms may be broken by the snow,
In order that the land may be thus,
I have made my prayer sticks into living beings.

Following wherever the roads of the rain makers come out,
May the ice blanket spread out,
May the ice blanket cover the country;
All over the land
May the flesh of our earth mother
Crack open from the cold;
That your thoughts may bend to this,
That your words may be to this end;
For this with prayers I send you forth.

When our earth mother is replete with living waters,
When spring comes,
The source of our flesh,
All the different hinds of corn,
We shall lay to rest in the ground.
With their earth mother's living waters,
They will be made into new beings.
Coming out standing into the daylight
Of their sun father,
Calling for rain,
To all sides they will stretch out their hands.
Then from wherever the rain makers stay quietly
They will send forth their misty breath;
Their massed clouds filled with water will come out to sit down with us;
Far from their homes,
With outstretched hands of water they will embrace the corn,
Stepping down to caress them with their fresh waters,
With their fine rain caressing the earth,
With their heavy rain caressing the earth,
And yonder, wherever the roads of the rain makers come forth,
Torrents will rush forth,
Silt will rush forth,
Mountains will be washed out,
Logs will be washed down,
Yonder all the mossy mountains
Will drip with water.
The clay-lined hollows of our earth mother
Will overflow with water,
From all the lakes
Will rise the cries of the children of the rain makers,
In all the lakes
There will be joyous dancing
Desiring that it should be thus,
I send forth my prayers.

That our earth mother
May wear a fourfold green robe,
Full of moss,
Full of flowers,
Full of pollen,
That the land may be thus
I have made you into living beings.

{p. 485}

That yonder in all our water-filled fields
The source of our flesh,
All the different kinds of corn
May stand up all about,
That, nourishing themselves with fresh water,
Clasping their children in their arms,
They may rear their young,
So that we may bring them into our houses,
Thinking of them toward whom our thoughts bend--
Desiring this, I send you forth with prayers.

Yonder on all sides coming to the forests,
And to some fortunate one
Offering prayer meal,
Crushed shell,
Corn pollen,
We broke off the straight young shoots.
From where they had stood quietly
Holding their long life;
Holding their old age,
Holding their waters,
We made them come forth,
We brought them hither.
This many days
Yonder in our houses
With us, their children,
They stayed.
And now this day,
With our warm human hands
We took hold of them.

With eagle's wing,
And with the striped cloud wings of all the birds of summer,
With these four times wrapping our plume wands
(We make them into living beings)
With our mother, cotton woman,
Even a roughly spun cotton thread,
A soiled cotton thread,
With this four times encircling them
And tying it about their bodies
And with a water bringing hair feather,
We made our plume wands into living beings.
With the flesh of our mother,
Clay woman,
Four times clothing our plume wands with flesh,
We made them into living beings.
Holding them fast,
We made them our representatives in prayer.

From wherever my children have built their shelters,
May their roads come in safety.
May the forests
And the brush
Stretch out their water-filled arms

{p. 486}

And shield their hearts;
May their roads come in safety,
May their roads be fulfilled.

Of this animate universe man is an integral part. The beings about him are neither friendly nor hostile. In so far as all are harmonious parts of the whole, the surrounding forces sustain and preserve humanity in the status quo.

Among these vague impersonal forces are certain clearly defined individuals and classes of beings who definitely influence human affairs. These are such beings as the sun, the earth, the corn, prey animals, and the gods of war. These are called a:'wona:wi'lona[12] "the ones who hold our roads." They, too, belong to man's world, and have no animus against man. But in as much as they may withhold their gifts, their assistance must be secured by offerings, prayers, and magical practices.

The sense of conflict as the basic principle of life does not dominate, man's relation to the universe any more than it dominates man's relation to man. The Promethean theme--man's tragic and heroic struggle against the gods--has no place in Zuñi philosophic speculation. Nor have any of the other concepts of cosmic conflicts which have always absorbed the interest of Asiatic and European philosophers and mystics, the antithesis between good and evil, or between matter and spirit. There is no Satan in Zuñi ideology, and no Christ.

The world, then, is as it is, and man's plan in it is what it is. Day follows night and the cycles of the years complete themselves. In the spring the corn is planted, and if all goes well the young stalks grow to maturity and fulfill themselves. They are cut down to serve man for food, but their seeds remain against another planting. So man, too, has his days and his destined place in life. His road may be long or short, but in time it is fulfilled and be passes on to fill another rôle in the cosmic scheme. He, too, leaves his seed behind him. Man dies but mankind remains. This is the way of life; the whole literature of prayer shows no questioning of these fundamental premises. This is not resignation, the subordination of desire to a stronger force, but the sense of man's oneness with the universe. The conditions controlling human affairs are no more moral issues than those, like the blueness of the sky, to which we may well be indifferent. It is a remarkably realistic view of the universe. It is an attitude singularly free from terror, guilt, and mystery. The

[12. This term Mrs. Stevenson erroneously interprets as referring to a bisexual deity; creator and ruler of the universe. The term is never used in this sense, nor was I able to find any trace of such a concept among them. The confusion seems to be due to the fact that the missionaries have hit upon this term as the nearest equivalent to "God." The Zuñis, accordingly, always translate the term "God." When asked if a:wonawi'lona is man or woman they say, "Both, of course," since it refers to a great class of supernaturals. The following texts show that the term is applied to any being addressed in prayer.]

{p. 487}

Zuñi feels great awe of the supernatural, and definitely fears certain beings in his pantheon-the recently dead, the Koyemci, certain "dangerous" katcinas, but this is quite different from the cosmic terror that crushes many primitive and civilized peoples.


The cosmology of the Zuñis is extremely fragmentary. The earth is circular in shape and is surrounded on all sides by ocean. Under the earth is a system of covered waterways all connecting ultimately with the surrounding oceans. Springs and lakes, which are always regarded as sacred, are the openings to this system. On the shores of the encircling ocean live the Uwanami or rain makers.[13] They have villages in the four world quarters. The underground waters are the home of Kolowisi, the horned serpent.

Within the earth are the four enclosed caves which the people occupied before coming out into this world-the four wombs of earth mother. The sky (a?po?yan:e, stone cover), solid in substance, rests upon the earth like an inverted bowl. The sun has two houses, in the earth and in the sky. In the morning he "comes out standing to his sacred place"; in the evening he "goes in to sit down at his other sacred place." The sun also travels north and south, reaching his "left hand" (i.e., southernmost) sacred place at the winter solsticial rising. The change in the length of days passes unnoticed.[14]

The moon is reborn each month and in 14 days reaches maturity; after that her life wanes. These are, in general, inauspicious days. Children born while the moon is waning are unlikely to live long.

The stars are fixed in the sky cover. The most prominent feature of the night heavens is the milky way, frequently mentioned in myth and song and figuring prominently in religious art. Some of the stars and constellations are named and recognized--the morning star (Venus or Jupiter) (moyatcunlhana, great star), Ursa Major (kwililekä, the seven), Orion's belt (ipi?lakä, the row), the Pleiades (k?upa:kwe, seed stars). No observations are made of the positions of the stars and movements of the planets. All calendrical computations are made on the basis of the movements of the sun and the moon.

Clouds and rain are the attributes of all the supernaturals, especially the Uwanami and the katcinas. Wind and snow are associated with the War Gods. Windstorms during ceremonies are due to incontinence or other malfeasance on the part of participants or to sorcery on the part of some jealous or envious outsider. The whirlwind appears in folklore, but not in ritual. All natural phenomena are personalized, and tales are told of them. But they are not therefore necessarily a:wona:wi'lona.

[13. See P. 513.

14. See p. 534 for more detailed account of the calendrical system.]

{p. 488}

There is little speculative interest in the origin and early history of the world, animate and inanimate, although there is great interest in the early history of mankind, and the origin of laws, customs, and rituals. Zuñi myth and ritual contain innumerable expressions of what Haeberlin calls the "idea of fertilization," [15] but to the Zuñis these are unrelated episodes--they do not view them as parts of a great cosmological concept. There are many tales of a maiden being impregnated by the sun or the rain; the sun is called "father," the earth "mother"; and the people are believed to have originated within the earth in the fourth "womb."[16] Yet the general concept of the sexuality of the universe as the source of life, which is found all about them, most fully developed among the Omaha and the Yuman tribes, and in attenuated form among the Hopi, is not known at Zuñi. Cushing records the myth of the sky cohabiting with the earth to produce life, indicating that the notion was current in that day. It has completely vanished at the present time. I have recorded Zuñi creation myths from priests and laymen, in secular and ritualistic form, and all commence the same way, nor do the Zuñis recognize in these myths the implications of profounder cosmological concepts.[17] They are not interested in cosmology or metaphysics. It is interesting in this connection to note the extreme paucity of etiological tales as compared with other North American mythologies.

There was, however, a mythic age, "when the earth was soft," during which things now impossible took place. During this time animals could become human, and humans could change into animals. During this period also the katcinas came in person to the villages. It was at this time that customs originated and took form. Then the earth hardened; things assumed their permanent form and have since remained unchanged.[18]



Man is not lord of the universe. The forests and fields have not been given him to despoil. He is equal in the world with the rabbit and the deer and the young corn plant. They must be approached circumspectly if they are to be persuaded to lay down their lives for man's pleasure or necessity. Therefore the deer is stalked ritualistically; he is enticed with sacred esoteric songs, he is killed in a prescribed manner, and when brought to the house is received as an

[15. Haeberlin, The idea of fertilization in the culture of the Pueblo Indians. M.A.A.A., vol. III, no. l.

16 .The word t?ehulikwin is used for womb, but also for any dark enclosed place. It means literally "inside space."

17. Text in ritualistic form, p. 549.

18. Many tales open, "Long ago when the earth was soft."]

{p. 489}

honored guest and sent away with rich gifts to tell others of his tribe that he was well treated in his father's house.

So, too, the great divinity, the sun, and all the lesser divinities, the katcinas, the rain makers, the beast gods, the war gods, and the ancients, must be reminded that man is dependent upon their generosity; and that they, in turn, derive sustenance and joy from man's companionship. The myth of man's beginnings opens as follows: "Indeed, it has come to pass. In this world was no one. Each day the sun came out. Each day he went in. In the morning no one gave him prayer meal. No one gave him prayer sticks. It was a lonely place. He said to his two children, 'You will go into the fourth womb. Your fathers, your mothers... you will bring out into the daylight of your sun father. . . .'"

For all techniques for coping with the spiritual essence of things the Zuñi have the general term t?ewusu, "religion." This concept embraces all rituals from the casual gesture of offering meal to a dead bird to the most highly elaborated ceremony, any sanctified custom, any urgent request. The basic element seems to be a request, explicitly stated or merely implied, for aid or succor, bolstered by an action or complex of actions that is automatically effectual. Practically all the techniques employed by primitive or civilized man to influence the supernatural are known at Zuñi--fetishism imitative magic, incantation, and formulæ figure largely in ritual while the more personal approaches of prayer (which in Zuñi, however, is largely formulistic), purification, abstinence, and sacrifice are also conspicuous. The weighting is on the side of the mechanistic techniques which are highly developed. The personal techniques appear always in their milder and more ritualized forms. Prayer is but slightly removed from formula and incantation, only very moderate forms of abstinence are practiced, and these are rigidly circumscribed; sacrifice is never more than the offering of a pinch of corn meal and a prayer stick. One of the important means of achieving rapport with the spirit world, intoxication, is unknown in Zuñi or the other pueblos. Intoxication has been important in the religions of Mexico, and the peyote cult has recently spread to all tribes of the plains and the plateau, but it has never been adopted in the pueblos, except at Taos. On the plains early Indian tribes without drugs produced the same sense of heightened and unearthly experience by means of self-torture and the most rigorous abstinence. The Zuñis use narcotic and vision-producing drugs, the Jamestown weed (datura) and the mysterious tenatsali, but for such prosaic purposes as to discover lost property or the author of sorcery. Although they employ many of the ritualistic forms used throughout North America, such as fasting and purging

{p. 490}

before ceremonies, these are used for an entirely different purpose and with different effects.


A large part of Zuñi ceremony centers about the veneration of sacred objects. Some of these, like the fetishes of the rain priests, are of indescribable sanctity, and in them rests the whole welfare of the people. At the other end of the scale are little pebbles, of which almost every man possesses several, which he may have found in the mountains and to which, because of their peculiar form and color, he imputes magical properties. To all such objects are made periodic offerings of corn meal, and at stated times they are removed from their usual resting places and honored. Zuñi fetishes are themselves powerful, and offerings are made to them directly, but they are also the means of reaching still more powerful supernaturals. The important objects of this type are the fetishes (eto:we) of the priests, and their accompanying objects; masks, both tribal and personal; the altars of the medicine societies; stone images of the Beast Gods, whether owned by groups or individuals; the feathered ears of corn (mi:we) given to members of higher orders of societies at their initiation; personal fetishes or amulets of all sorts. Medicine, paint, feathers, and all other items in the regalia of the katcinas, are more or less sacred.

The eto:we of the priests correspond to the medicine bundles of other North American tribes. They consist of the eto:we proper, bundles of plugged reeds filled with seeds or water containing miniature frogs, according to Stevenson (Zuñi Indians, p. 163), pots of sacred black paint, and a miscellaneous assortment of obsidian knives and arrow points, "thunder stones," polished round stones that are rolled over the floor during their ceremonies, rattles of olivella shells and sometimes mi:we like those of society members. These objects are believed to have been brought by the Zuñi from the lowest of the four worlds where they had their origin and are called tcimi-k^?äpkoa, "the ones that were at the first beginning." They are kept in sealed jars in houses where they are believed to have rested since the settlement of the village. They are "fed" regularly at each meal by some woman of the house where they are kept, and are removed only for the retreats held in their honor. (See below, cult of the Unawami, for brief account of these ceremonies. For the location of these eto:we, the membership of the priesthoods and the order of retreats, see Stevenson, Zuñi Indians, p. 163 ff., and Kroeber, Zuñi Kin and Clan, p. 165 ff.) All altars are called teckwin:e, a name derived from the stem teckwi- meaning sacred or taboo.

Masks are with few exceptions connected with the katcina cult. Some are, like the fetishes of the rain priests, "from the beginning"

{p. 491}

and are tribal property administered in trust by self-perpetuating cult groups. Other masks are individual property which are destroyed at the death of the owner. Like eto:we, masks are regularly fed.

The altars of the medicine societies consist of painted slat altars, a sort of reredos erected at certain of their ceremonies, stone images of the Beast Priests, tutelary gods of the medicine societies, and the same sort of miscellaneous collection of objects as are used on priests' altars. Furthermore, each member of the higher or curing orders of the medicine societies possesses a mi?le (plural miwe), an ear of corn wrapped in feathers which is his personal amulet, and is destroyed at his death. The miwe of members are placed on society altars during all ceremonies.

Some men always carry with them pieces of medicine roots or packages of red paint as amulets. Others possess collections of pebbles and sticks of black paint, from which they seek help in special emergencies, and which are honored with prayers and songs. Perfect ears of corn and ears with flattened ends are believed to have protective powers. One man sold to the writer a personal fetish, a "teckwin:e," together with the ritual and prayers connected with its use. The fetish consisted of four stones, two slender uprights about 2 inches long, one brown and one white, male and female, respectively, a curiously colored triangular stone about an inch long called the "heart" and another round stone called the "head." There was a ritual for setting them up, and prayers. The ritual was used at the winter solstice "or any time."

There also is the "Santu," a small St. Francis, inherited from early Franciscan padres, whom the Zuñis consider a Virgin, and who is besought at a special festival held in her honor, for the blessing of fertility.

The possession of a major fetish, such as eto:we or a mask, protects the house where it is kept; "it gives you something to pray for and makes the house valuable." But its possession may also be a source of danger, for if neglected or desecrated it may cause harm to its keeper. That is one of the reasons why priests endeavor to be exemplary in their conduct.


About each sacred object clusters a body of fixed ritual of magical purport. A large number of these magical practices might be classed as imitative magic. During the retreats of priests polished round stones are rolled across the floor to "call the thunder," for thunder is caused by the rain makers rolling the thunderstone in their ceremonial room. At many points in ceremonies tobacco smoke is blown to the six cardinal points "that the rain makers may not withhold their misty breath." There are innumerable rites of this kind. Among the most conspicuous are the presence on every altar of water

{p. 492}

from a sacred spring, "that the springs may always be full"; the sprinkling of water to induce rainfall; the blowing of smoke to produce clouds; the mixing of great bowls of yucca seeds to produce clouds; the rolling of the thunderstones (the Hopi device of stamping on boards, and the use of the "lightning stick" seem not to be employed at Zuñi); the planting of seeds in the floor of new houses to produce fertility; the conservation of ashes and sweepings in the house during the winter solstice ceremony and finally throwing them out with the prayer, "May you return as corn; may you return as meal"; the placing on winter solstice altars of ears of corn for plentiful crops; and of clay images of peaches, domestic animals, jewelry, and even money to secure increase; the presentation of dolls to pregnant women for safe delivery; the use of bear paws in medicine ceremonies "to call the bear"; and finally, the whole practice of masking in order to compel the presence of the supernaturals in their other bodies, i. e., as rain. The list might be greatly amplified. Many of these practices have been analyzed by Doctor Parsons, Increase by Magic, American Anthropologist, vol. 21, p. 203. There is a certain elasticity in these practices and new ones based on this principle may be readily introduced.

These techniques, despite their mechanistic character, belong distinctly to the realm of religion, since they require a special setting to be effective. The Zuñis use yucca root for washing the hair, and great bowls of the suds are mixed in much the same way they are on the priests' altars. But a woman does not bring rain every time she washes her hair, nor a man every time he smokes a cigarette. These everyday arts become magical techniques only when performed by special persons at stated times and places, in the presence of certain powerful fetishes and to the accompaniment of set prayers, songs, and other ritual acts. Sorcery consists largely in using these and other magical techniques outside of their legitimate settings.[19]

This brings us to another type of magical compulsion which is less apparent but perhaps more fundamental in the development of Pueblo ritual, which might be called, for lack of a better term, formulistic magic. This is the use of apparently irrelevant formulæ or actions to produce a desired result. The efficacy of the formula depends upon its absolutely correct repetition. Every word, gesture, bit of regalia is part of the charm. Hence, the great perturbation in Zuñi if a dancer appears wearing a feather from the shoulders instead of the breast of the eagle, if a single gesture before an altar is omitted, or if the words of a prayer are inverted. A very large part of Zuñi ritual is of this type; in fact all imitative magic has its secret formula

[19. A common type of love sorcery, practiced by men, is to get control of a woman's person by possessing oneself of a fragment of her clothing, a bit of the fringe of her shawl or belt, and carry it about constantly in the pocket or tied to the headband. Should this fail as a love charm, the sickness or death of the victim can be caused by exposing the fragments in a high windy place. Prayer sticks may also be used for sorcery.]

{p. 493}

to give it validity. These formulæ comprise the great mass of esoteric practice. To this category belong rituals for setting up and removing altars, prayer-stick making, all songs and dances, and most important of all, practically all of the so-called prayers.


Prayer in Zuñi is not a spontaneous outpouring of the heart. It is rather the repetition of a fixed formula. Only in such prayers as those accompanying individual offerings of corn meal and food is a certain amount of individual variation possible, and even here variation is restricted to the matter of abridgment or inclusiveness. The general form of the prayer, the phraseology and the nature of the request, conform strictly to types for other prayers. All more important prayers are fixed in content and form, and great importance is attached to their correct rendition. The rigidity increases in proportion to the importance of the occasion. The words of these prayers, like the fetishes themselves, are tcimik?^änapkoa, "according to the first beginning." That the desired undeviating repetition claimed for prayers is not always achieved is illustrated by a study of variants to be published in the Journal of American Folklore, which shows also the very narrow margin of variability. That a long prayer should have changed so little in the 50 agitated years since Cushing's time is really remarkable.

There are definite fixed rituals and prayers for every ceremonial occasion, and any moderately well-informed Zuñi can identify any of them even when removed from its proper setting. As a check upon informants I read all the prayers I had collected to another informant, a young woman who herself was not actively associated with any major cult, but who was generally well informed through her family connections. In every case she could identify the prayer after about five lines had been read. "It belongs to A:'ciwani--to P?ekwin. This is what he says when he first goes in in summer"; or "It is the prayer for planting prayer sticks. Anyone can use it." The same woman, however, asked me to copy down for her the prayers for offering the monthly prayer sticks, and for offering corn meal, so that she could learn them, for she knew no prayers for these occasions: "I never learned any prayer for the prayer sticks, and so I just put them down and sprinkle corn meal without saying anything. My husband belongs to a society and knows these prayers but he would not teach me his prayers. I would have to go to my 'father' (the man who initiated her) to learn them and I would have to give him a present for teaching me." This same woman could repeat long prayers when they occurred in tales, so it was not lack of knowledge.

This brings us to another important point, namely, that not only must a prayer be repeated verbatim to be effectual, but it must have

{p. 494}

been acquired by legitimate means. It must be learned according to definite technique from someone who has the right to use it, and it must be paid for. Otherwise "maybe you can say it but it won't mean anything, or maybe you'll forget it when the time comes to say it." Hence the confusion concerning just what is and what is not "esoteric" in Pueblo ritual. Knowledge of the details of "esoteric" ceremonies is widely diffused, but the power to perform any ceremony effectively is restricted. And since there is an indefined feeling that in teaching prayers, "giving them away," as the Zuñis say, the teacher loses some of the power over them, men are "stingy" with their religion.[20] Therefore a man who win tell readily enough a long difficult prayer that he has learned out of curiosity, or as an investment against the time when the present owner dies, will balk at telling a simple common little prayer for offering corn meal to the sun, which everyone knows, but which nevertheless "belongs" to him in a way that the other does not. Hence the paradoxical situation that the very last person to ask for an a:ciwani prayer is one of that group. This, incidentally, is one of the reasons why Christian missionaries are ludicrous in the eyes of Zuñis. "They throwaway their religion as if it weren't worth anything and expect us to believe it." Such conduct is not only ridiculous but irreverent.

There are other formulæ at Zuñi besides prayers and songs. Many ritualistic acts, such as offering corn meal or prayer sticks, are of this character. Once the writer caused considerable perturbation by sprinkling corn meal upon a Zuñi altar. "Because sprinkling corn meal is like a prayer; even if you don't say anything you are asking for good luck, and because you are strong when you go away you will take all our good luck with you to your country." Similarly no one at Zuñi would make me a prayer stick to offer with the offerings of my family at the solstice, although many connived at my acquiring prayer sticks for scientific purposes.


Singing and dancing by large groups hold an important place in public and secret rituals. Many ritual acts are accompanied by song. There are special song sequences for setting up and taking down altars, for mixing medicine water or soapsuds, for bathing the head at initiations, to accompany various acts of curing. These are all special songs of the curing societies. like prayers, they must be

[20. This was made painfully evident to the writer in the death of one of her best informants who, among other things, told her many prayers in text. During his last illness he related a dream which he believed portended death and remarked, " Yes, now I must die. I have given you all my religion and I have no way to protect myself." He died two days later. He was suspected of sorcery and his death was a source of general satisfaction. Another friend of the writer, a rain priest, who had always withheld esoteric information, remarked," Now your friend is dead. He gave away his religion as if it were of no value, and now he is dead." He was voicing public opinion.]

{p. 495}

learned ritualistically. They are in the nature of incantations; many of them are in foreign languages or have no intelligible words. In addition to these songs of the medicine societies, there are many individually owned songs of magical power, especially songs for planting, for "dancing the corn":[21] individual medicine songs, or songs associated with personal amulets. Certain women also have grinding songs in addition to the well-known songs of the men. These esoteric songs, especially those connected with curing, are very valuable. One man paid a pair of moccasins, a blanket, and a saddle for a song to be used as a love charm. The Great Fire Society has a song for delayed parturition but only two old men of the society know it and they are "stingy" with it. It is the knowledge of songs of this kind which makes the great medicine men of the tribe.

The more patent musical literature of the tribe is the large body of dance songs. These are of many kinds, the songs of the katcinas, the songs sung by the medicine societies for such katcinas as do not sing for themselves, the songs of the medicine societies for the general winter curing ceremonies, for initiations, and for special dances. Katcina songs differ rhythmically and melodically among themselves, those, say, of Kok?Okci are quite different from those of Hemucikwe, or the still more divergent Kumance, and all katcina songs are sharply differentiated from medicine songs. The songs of the various societies differ, and a man can usually classify any song he hears. With the exception of a few secret songs, all songs are songs of sequence, sung by groups, the leader holding the sequence.

Katcina songs are made new for each dance. Song making probably is usually the setting of new words to traditional melodies, according to fairly fixed patterns of structure. The dance step is a simple beating of time with the foot, the body movements being synchronized with the song rhythm. Rhythms are simple, but the melodic structure is subtle and complex. A fuller account of katcina dancing is given on page 896. Most katcinas use only rattles to accompany the song. One group uses a bundle drum, the Koyemci use a barrel drum, and one set uses the pottery drum of the medicine societies.

The dance songs of the societies are more vigorous in rhythm than those of the katcinas, and almost always employ the drum in addition to rattles. A chorus surrounding the drum sings for the dancers. The dance step also is more energetic. Sometimes choirs from the medicine societies sing for certain katcinas, and in that case the rhythm and dance step are those associated with society rather than katcina songs. The societies have song sequences for each of their ceremonies. Most of these are traditional in tune and words, but

[21. A ceremony performed by the women of each household at the winter solstice when the corn is taken out and "danced" so that it will not feel neglected during the ceremonial season.]

{p. 496}

innovations in words are introduced in specified places. These innovations, as well as those of the katcina songs, are frequently social comment. The society choirs are led by the drummer who holds the sequence. He is a permanent officer of the society, although his office is not sacred like that of the medicine chief or fire maker.

The following partial list of the song cycles of the Great Fire Society is some index of the wealth of musical endowment at Zuñi:

Chief song cycle.[22] Dance songs used in general curing ceremonies in December. This contains 6 sequences containing, respectively, 29, 15, 16, 17, 14, and 31 songs.

Thunder songs. Twenty songs for the first dancing of katcinas at New Year.

Dancing songs (for the dancing of katcinas at the New Year). Seven sequences, the number of songs not known.

Katcina songs. For dancing of katcinas at winter dance series and at Ca?lako. Number of songs not known.

Medicine water songs. Eight songs for making medicine water; no drum.

Fire-making songs. Four songs used for making New Year fire; no drum.

Purificatory songs. Four songs for purification sung at the conclusion of dancing; no drum.

Storm-cloud songs. Twenty-two songs without drum sung for rain on first night of winter solstice. Very esoteric.

Songs of blessing. Sung for increase on eleventh night of winter solstice. Number not known, "a big bunch." Esoteric.

Dawn songs. "Two big bunches" sung at closing of meetings during solstice. Very esoteric. No drum; slow rhythm.

Prayer-stick songs. Four songs for blessing prayer stick bundle before planting. Very esoteric.

A number of special songs sung at the new year meeting: a "going out song, " a "coming-in song," a song calling by name the appointees to sacred offices, a song welcoming the New Year.

This does not include the songs of the special meetings of the society used at their public dance in January and February, individual curing ceremonies, and initiations. The informant died before the list was completed. Some of these songs are used only once a year or, like initiation songs, at intervals of several years, and their content and sequence must be kept by the drummer.

With the exception of a few lullabies and children's play songs, there is no secular music at Zuñi. The only work songs, those for the grinding of corn, are sacred, since everything connected with the handling of corn is sacred activity. There are two sequences of songs for ceremonial grinding; the most popular are the Flute songs,

[22. The sequences are all named.]

{p. 497}

taken out of the dance songs of the Corn dance and retaining the characteristic ritard at the close which is found in all dance songs. These songs are sung by men accompanied by drum. Women have songs which they use during summer when drumming is taboo.

Group dancing is regarded as a pleasurable activity, pleasing alike to gods and man. Joy is pleasing to the gods and sadness is a sin against them; therefore, for the common man dancing is the most readily accessible and effective form of worship. Usually it is a boy's first voluntary participation in ritual. He dances in mask before he learns the simplest prayer--some people never learn prayers--and long before he learns to make his own prayer sticks. The dance, particularly the masked dance, is preeminently the province of the young, although many men continue to dance in old age. The origin myth of katcina dancing stresses its pleasurable side. It relates that when the people first settled in villages and increased in number they did not know how to enjoy themselves.[23] So their priests made prayer sticks and sent them to their lost children who had been transformed into katcinas, and the katcinas came and danced for their people. But they were the dead, and so when they came someone died. Therefore the people were instructed to copy their masks and dance with them. "When you dance with them we shall come and stand before you," the katcinas promised, and also promised that it would not fail to rain. Katcina folklore abounds in tales of the devices used by katcinas to enable them to come to Itiwana to dance. There is no myth to explain the origin of unmasked dancing, but the same ideology of summoning the supernaturals in this manner is current. And during the winter solstice, when all the ritual groups are holding their ceremonies, the heads of households take six perfect ears of corn and hold them in a basket while they sing for them. This is called "dancing the corn," and is performed that the corn may not feel neglected during the ceremonial season.

The principal occasions for dancing are the series of summer and winter katcinas, the culminating ceremonies of the Ca?lako, the retreats of the medicine societies during the solstices, initiations, and the Scalp dance. Certain societies hold special ceremonies in which dancing by members and outsiders figures prominently, the winter ceremonies of the Wood Society and Big Fire Society; the Yaya, the dance of the Shuma?akwe. The so-called Corn dance and the Santu dance are other ceremonies in which dancing is conspicuous. In all these cases dancing accompanies less spectacular rites, usually extending over a longer period than the dance itself. Frequently the dance is subsidiary to these secret and potent rites. Usually it is the younger and less responsible members of the group who dance, the priests and leaders meanwhile remaining in retreat or sitting quietly behind

[23. See origin tale, p. 605.]

their altars. Even in katcina dances, where the dance itself is the essential rite, the pattern of dancing for the priests is preserved. In summer the katcina dances are held during the season when the priesthoods are in retreat, and the katcina group always dances in front of the house where the priests are "in."

In order for any rite to be efficacious the protagonist must "have a good heart," or, to use more familiar phraseology, he must be in a state of grace. Joy and freedom from care are the chief requirements of a state of grace, second only to physical purity. Therefore the custom of dancing for the priests while they are in retreat, and of various groups visiting to dance in one another's house during synchronous periods of retreat. During a katcina dance that lasted for several days a group of "little dancers"[24] came one night to dance in the kiva. "Because the dancers could not go home to their wives, and were lonely in the kiva. Therefore these others came to dance for them so that they should not be sad."

Connected psychologically as well as ceremonially with public dancing is the practice of clowning. There are organized groups of clowns who assist at all katcina dances and amuse the populace by obscene or satirical or childish pranks. There are masked and unmasked clowns; the masked clowns, the Koyemci,[25] are the most feared of all the katcinas. The Ne?we:kwe society also are clowns, and are regarded as the most powerful medicine men, and potential witches. They are famous for love magic.


Offerings of various kinds are included in all Zuñi rituals. The principal offerings to the supernaturals are food, tobacco, prayer meal (coarse cornmeal containing ground white shell and turquoise), and prayer sticks. The usual food offering consists of a bit of food from each dish that is set out, thrown into the fire or merely dropped on the floor with a brief, perfunctory prayer. The supernaturals nourish themselves on the spiritual essence of the food. All priests and the wives of priests make such an offering before eating of any dish. Also women in houses where fetishes are kept offer food in the fire before serving a meal. These offerings are more formal at quasi-ceremonial feasts, such as the feasts accompanying house building, harvest, etc. Men during participation in ceremonies also make offerings of food in the river, where it is readily accessible to the gods. Food offerings are made especially to the ancestors (a:lhacina:we) and the katcinas. On the day of the dead large quantities of food are sacrificed in the river and the fire (see p. 621).

[24. The "little dancers" are the children of the katcinas. One or a group may come to play pranks in connection with any katcina dance. They are impersonated by young boys.

25 For fuller accounts see p. 946, and Parsons, p. 229.]

{p. 499}

Meal is offered to the sun each morning by all men who hold any permanent or temporary sacerdotal position and by many other individuals, both men and women. Meal is sprinkled on prayer sticks when they are planted, and on masks, fetishes, and other sacred objects when they are taken out for use and when they are returned to their places. It is sprinkled upon katcinas by onlookers, and their leader sprinkles meal before them "to make their road." Handfuls of meal are thrown into the air through the kiva hatchway to welcome the new year. A bowl of corn meal stands on every society altar and everyone who enters the room to participate in the ceremony sprinkles corn meal on the altar before taking his place. In addition to the use of meal as an offering it is also used for delineation of sacred symbols. Every altar is set up upon a painting of white meal representing clouds, and from the center of this a line runs out toward the door of the room, or the foot of the ladder. This is the road of life and along it persons entering the room walk up to the altar. It is also the road by which the supernaturals enter. Colored sand paintings, similar in technique to those of the Navaho, are used in initiation ceremonies. A cross of corn meal marks the place prepared to receive a sacred object, corn meal is used to mark the walls of a house at its dedication, and marks of corn meal are made on the hatchway of the kivas to indicate the duration of a ceremony. Corn meal is rubbed on the head and face of the newborn and on the body of the dead. In short, there is no ceremonial occasion on which it is not used.

The most important and valuable gift to the gods is the prayer stick. This is a small stick, carefully smoothed and painted, to which various feathers are attached with cotton cord. The length and form of the stick, the wood of which it is made, the color of the pigment, and the feathers are all definitive of the character of the offering, and vary according to the beings to whom it is offered, the sacerdotal position of the giver, and the occasion upon which it is given.

The whole matter of the varieties and manufacture of prayer sticks is too complex to go into here. A few outstanding points can be mentioned. The wood most commonly used is the red willow. For certain occasions other shrubs are required. When wood for prayer sticks is gathered corn meal is offered to the shrub from which the twigs are cut. Only perfectly straight shoots are taken. Generally the bark is removed. There are four common prayer stick measures; from the tip of the middle finger to the base of the finger, to the center of the palm, to the wrist, to the inside of the elbow. Frequently faces are indicated by notching one side of the stick. The feathers are attached to the back of the stick and are thought of as constituting its clothing. The two upper feathers are the most

{p. 500}

important and characteristic. Usually they are from the turkey and eagle, respectively; or they may both be from the eagle. Feathers from the breast or back of the turkey are used on sticks for the ancestors and the katcinas, tail feathers of the turkey on certain sticks made by the a`ciwanii. Sticks for the sun, moon, and the Uwanami have a downy eagle feather in this position and the use of this feather entails particularly stringent taboos upon the giver. Sticks for the war gods, and for the katcina priests (the Ca?lako sticks) have an eagle tail feather in this position. The second feather is almost always one from the shoulders or back of the eagle. After this comes a duck feather, and feathers of the "summer birds," all the brightly colored birds: jay, red hawk, oriole, bluebird, humming bird, road runner, etc. Birds are snared or shot for their feathers, and the feathers are carefully kept, wrapped separately in paper and laid away in native wooden boxes with sliding covers. The feathers are attached with commercial cotton cord. The sticks are painted after the feathers are attached. The character and manufacture of the pigments are described in another place (p. 859). Most sticks are painted black, but those for the sun and moon are painted blue and yellow, respectively, and these colors have sex associations. Paired blue and yellow sticks are symbolic of fecundity.

The principal occasions upon which prayer sticks are offered by large groups of people are at the solstices. On these occasions persons of both sexes and all ages offer to the ancestors and to the sun (if male), or to the moon (if female). Furthermore, at the winter solstice all members of the katcina society make a second offering to the katcina and members of the medicine societies to the tutelary gods of their societies. At each full moon all members of societies offer to the ancestors, to the katcinas (if males) and to the tutelary gods of their societies. At the winter dances and at the end of Ca?lako each man makes a prayer stick for the katcinas, but does not himself plant it. Furthermore, a large part of the ritual of every ceremony concerns the making and offering of special types of prayer sticks by those participating. Prayer sticks are sometimes offered individually and sometimes the offerings of many persons are bundled together into a k^?ä-atcin:e which is deposited by someone delegated to plant it. Prayer sticks axe buried or deposited in corn fields, in the river mud, in shrines in the mountains, in springs, in excavations in or near the village.

Prayer sticks provide the clothing of the supernaturals. Just as the supernaturals nourish themselves on the spiritual essence of food offered in the fire or the river, they clothe themselves in the feathers of prayer sticks. This is especially true of the katcinas, whose beautiful feathers form their most conspicuous ornaments. (For a treatment of this idea in folklore, see the tale of Hetsitulu, p. 1048.)

{p. 501}

The offering of prayer sticks is one of the most important acts of Zuñi ritual and four days after making any offering of prayer sticks the giver must refrain from sexual intercourse, and from quarreling. There are additional restrictions connected with special offerings after the offering to the sun at the winter solstice one must eat no meat or anything cooked with grease for four days.[26] The same restriction applies to the a:ciwan:i after offerings to the uwanam:i, and to p?ekwin after his various offerings to the sun. Also to all novices, including boys initiated into the katcina society, after their initiation. (They plant prayer sticks as the final rite in the initiation.) [27] After the plantings of the Ca?lako party the members and their households must refrain from trade for four days. There is no restriction on work for wages. No one trades during the first four days of the winter solstice--many people do not trade for 10 days--and the households of priests do not trade while these priests are in retreat. The feeling about trading at these seasons seems to be that since these are periods of magical power, during which forthcoming events are preordained, if property passed out of one's hands during this time all one's wealth would soon melt away. Therefore, during these periods, necessities are purchased at the store on credit, but no payments are made.

Prayer sticks are especially male offerings. Although women frequently offer prayer sticks they never make them. Their male relatives (actual or ceremonial) make them for them. So also, although men offer food and corn meal, it is always prepared for them by the women. This division in ritual is a reflection of the general economic pattern, in which the females supply food and the males the clothing of the household. So also women furnish the food of the gods and men their clothing.


The special restrictions which follow the planting of prayer sticks is part of a general feeling of taboo directed toward all things sacred. The Zuñi word for taboo is teckwi. An altar is called teckwin:e (sacred thing); a person upon whom there is any ceremonial restraint also is teckwi. It is almost impossible to reduce the list of Zuñi taboos to any sort of system. Some of them seem even more fortuitous than their magical formulæ. Some prohibitions are dictated by fear or repulsion, some are designed to preserve the power and sanctity of rituals and objects, others are rites of purification, one at least is designed to provoke the pity of the gods, the vigil of the priests

[26. Except members of the ci?wana:kwe.

27. The restrictions on meat and grease, as well as salt and sugar, are observed after all prayer-stick plantings in other pueblos.]

{p. 502}

before the coming of the corn maids (see myth, p. 914). The following activities are all "teckwi" in Zuñi terminology:

Foods.--Members of the ci:wana:kwe society must not eat jack rabbit, nor a common purple-flowered herb. This is felt so strongly that a member of this society will not even touch a jack rabbit nor permit it to be brought into the house in which he lives. No Zuñi eats or touches meat or grease during the first four days of the winter Solstice;[28] priests refrain from eating meat and grease for 10 days, find during the periods of their retreat; p?ekwin does not eat meat and grease after offering prayer sticks to the sun; initiates do not eat meat for four days after their initiation; warriors who have taken a scalp do not eat meat, grease, salt, or any hot food for one year; mourners (especially widows and widowers) do not eat meat, salt, or hot foods for four days following a death.

Objects.--All sacred objects are taboo to all people who do not "belong" to them. The strength of this feeling varies according to the power of the fetish. No one would dare to touch one of the priest's fetishes except the chief of the priesthood, and no one will enter the room where it is kept except the chief priest and the female head of the house. This is true also of the permanent masks and society altars. When the people who keep one of the Ca?lako masks moved to a now house they called the head of the kiva whose mask they kept to transfer it, "because they were afraid to touch it." Corn fetishes, prayer sticks, ceremonial garments are all handled with great respect, and no more than necessary.[29]

Places.--The rooms where sacred things are kept are taboo to outsiders. All shrines are taboo except when visited officially. There is one War God shrine (co?lhuwayällakwi) which may be visited by those who wish to pray for good luck in war or gambling. Otherwise it is not permitted for individuals to visit shrines even for purposes of prayer.[30] Rooms where retreats or ceremonies are being hold, unless the ceremony is specifically public, are taboo to those not belonging to the ceremony. If any one crosses the threshold he is "caught," and must be initiated into the group, or where this is impossible (like meetings of the katcina priests), must be ceremonially whipped and make certain payments to his "father." Altars are always erected on the side of the room away from the door, "the valuable place." Strangers are always seated near the door, by the fireplace and away from the "valuable place." Mourners and warriors who have taken scalps sit "away from the fire."

[28. Certain exceptions to this rule are discussed on p. 623.

29. A good friend would not unwrap her mi?le for me to look at, although she permitted me to examine it when it had been taken out for a ceremony.

30. Mrs. Stevenson (Zuñi Indians, p. 154) gives a graphic description of the reluctance of her Zuñi guides to accompany her to k?olhuwala:wa:. The writer has had similar experiences with guides who showed her the location of shrines but themselves refused to approach them.]

{p. 503}

Sex taboos.--Sex relations are forbidden between members of the same clan or the same medicine society. Relations with members of the father's clan are frowned upon. A man may not have relations with the wife of a member of his kiva or medicine society (his brother's wife, hence his sister).[31] These are primarily social taboos but the punishment for them is of the same kind as punishment for breaking of strictly religious taboos.

Sex relations are taboo during the 10 days of the winter solstice, for four days following the planting of prayer sticks, and during participation in dances or other ceremonies.[32] Warriors who have taken a scalp must refrain from sexual intercourse for one year and must go through a ceremony of purification at the end of that time before they may again sleep with their wives.[33] The same rules apply to the widowed who wish to remarry.

Other tabooed activities.--Priests, and others holding temporary or permanent religious offices, must not engage in any quarrels or disputes with fellow tribesmen or outsiders. Hence, they are not appointed to civil offices. One must not quarrel for four days following planting of prayer sticks. Priests and appointees to religious office must not leave the Zuñi Valley during the terms of their office. (This is a taboo that is frequently broken to the distress of the orthodox.) This prohibition against going about may be an extension of the retreat to the daily life of those who are regarded as "working for their people all of the time." There are no taboos upon labor, except in the case of initiations, when the novice must do no work, and especially must lift no heavy weights during the four days between the ceremony at which he receives a new heart and his final initiation. No one must sleep during attendance at religious ceremonies, but there seems to be no restriction on conversation. There are certain ceremonies in which speech is forbidden to participants, especially the 24-hour vigil of the priests, while awaiting the arrival of the corn maids on the last day of the Ca?lako ceremonies. There are a number of special taboos relating to the wearing of masks a man while wearing a mask must not speak, he must not give anything away, he must not engage in any defiling activity. A man wearing a mask or katcina body paint is teckwi to others, and must not be touched, approached, or stared at. There are also special taboos concerning death, mourning, and the scalp dance which incorporates all the purificatory rites of mourning. For four days the widow or widower (also the scalper and the woman who has touched the scalp) must not approach the fire, must not touch or be touched by anyone, must not receive anything directly from the hand of another person, must not talk, and

[31. These are only the more important incest rules, a full discussion of which belongs to another place.

32. In many ceremonies this is extended to include touching, even accidentally, addressing, or even seeing a person of the opposite sex.

33. There is some confusion about the sexual taboos placed upon the woman who brings the scalp (see p. 674).]

{p. 504}

must sleep very little, if at all. The food and sex taboos observed at this period have already been mentioned. There are also special taboos relating to death by violence, by lightning, or away from home. There are no strictly religious taboos upon pregnant or menstruating women. There are, of course, many taboos that belong to the realm of folklore rather than that of religion.

To all of the foregoing prohibitions, as well as others not mentioned, the Zuñis apply the word teckwi, but it is obvious that they embrace many different attitudes toward the tabooed object or action. There are the taboos relating to death and mourning, sacred objects, places, and rites. In all these cases the prohibition rises out of the mingling of fear and reverence in the attitude toward the sacred. Fear is the predominant feeling actuating the rites for the dead, and the fear of the dead is extended to those intimately associated with him in life. Hence, the widow is untouchable during the period when the malice of the dead is active. Those who have killed an enemy in warfare are similarly threatened, since they have cut off a man before his time. In the taboos against touching sacred objects and trespassing on sacred places the feeling of fear is less apparent but none the less present, for sacred things are dangerous in proportion to their power. Whereas death is feared as the result of violating taboos of mourning, in the case of other violations the fear is vague and general, and the results of infringements are less clearly foreseen.

On the other hand, there are a number of personal restraints which are forms of abstinence rather than taboos. To this class belong the sex prohibitions, the prohibitions on certain kinds of foods at certain times, and the restrictions upon the activities of persons participating in ceremonies. The general purpose of all these restrictions is withdrawal. That they are not primarily purificatory is shown by the fact that in many cases they follow rather than precede the approach to the gods; as, for instance, the sexual taboos following the planting of prayer sticks. A man approaching the gods with a request cuts himself off from the world in order that he may concentrate all his thoughts upon wresting his desire from the supernatural. For this purpose all distracting activities are denied him.

Relations with women are forbidden, also trading, quarreling, moving about. The fullest expression of this spirit is the retreat which forms the basis of all important ceremonies. The retreat is practiced by many ceremonial groups, but the more important retreats are those of the priesthoods who "go in" in turn during the summer, and those of the medicine societies at the winter solstice and at initiations. The katcina priests hold retreats before the public ceremonies of the Ca?lako. Retreats are always practiced by groups. The individual retreat is not found at Zuñi. A retreat always is preceded by the making of prayer sticks. In the evening these are made into

{p. 505}

k^?aetcin:e (see p. 500) and planted somewhere outside the village. When the emissaries return, the group "goes in" in the house where their sacred possessions are kept. The men have brought their bedding to this house, for they are to sleep there during the period of the retreat. Usually the sacred things are taken out and an altar is set up. During the retreat the room containing the sacred objects is taboo to all outsiders. The men do not leave the room (except in the case of the medicine societies, where men may go out in the day time and eat at their homes). They sleep in the house of their retreat, and their meals are served by a woman of that house, the wives of the men contributing cooked food. There are frequent sessions of song, prayer, and meditation, especially at night. Retreats usually last four or eight days. The Koyemci (see p. 946) "go in" for 14 days, and brief retreats of one night are held by priests at the solstices and at other times. Retreats frequently end with a second prayer stick planting, with the usual restrictions on conduct for the four following days, which make of this period a modified form of retreat. The main priesthoods open their summer retreats with a period of strictest retreat. In addition to the usual restrictions they forego all animal food. On the fourth day they make a second offering of prayer sticks, and, although they remain in seclusion for four days longer, the food restriction is lifted. They do not plant prayer sticks again on coming out. The minor priesthoods disband on the fourth day, although they are still under restrictions. The bow priests, although they plant prayer sticks and are "in," do not remain in their house. The "poor man" who has planted prayer sticks is in much the same position as the bow priest. Although not confined to his house he is somewhat withdrawn from life and is "sacred."

Priests live always under certain restraints, and in this restriction of activity of certain individuals may be seen the germs of a monastic life. However, it is not the sexual prohibitions that are made lifelong for the holy men of Zuñi. Celibacy as a way of life is regarded with extreme disfavor by the community. Mrs. Stevenson states (Zuñi Indians) that p?ekwin although married is expected not to cohabit with his wife, but I could find no evidence that this is the case. He is expected to observe rigidly the long periods of sexual continence, which his elaborate ceremonies require, but continence at other times is not considered necessary or desirable.

There is, moreover, a marked difference in attitude between the Zuñi priest and the Christian or Buddhist monk. Zuñi ideology does not oppose matter and spirit as conflicting or mutually exclusive principles. The priest, therefore, does not renounce the world, the flesh, and the devil because the world and the flesh are evil. Rather he strips his life of trivial, irrelevant, and distracting matters in order

{p. 506}

to leave his mind free for his great work--the material and spiritual welfare of his people.[34]


In addition to these taboos and restrictions which may be regarded as secondarily purificatory there are also certain positive rites of purification. Among these bathing, especially bathing of the head, holds first place. Bathing of the head is obligatory before participation in any ceremony and usually at the conclusion of the ceremony. For important festivals everyone in the village bathes his head. The head of the newborn infant is bathed before he is presented to the sun. In most pueblos a name is given at this time, but not at Zuñi. Bathing of the head with name-giving forms the culminating rite of initiations; after important participations in masked ceremonies the head and body are bathed by paternal aunts. The purpose of ritual bathing after ceremonies is to make the participants safe for human contact. The ceremony at which the Koyemci are paid for their year's work by their paternal clan is called "washing." At this the head is bathed symbolically with water and corn meal. Curiously enough, the sweat bath is never used ritualistically at Zuñi, although it is used therapeutically and forms an important part of rituals of all surrounding tribes, including the Navaho and the ancient and modern peoples of Mexico. One ceremonial group (lhewe'kwe) bathes in the frozen river during its ceremonies. As in other North American tribes, purges and emetics. are used for ceremonial purification.

Ashes are used for purification after childbirth and at points in the ceremonies of medicine societies. Piñon gum is burned and the smoke inhaled as a rite of purification after a death in the household or as a protection against witches, whenever sorcery is suspected.

There is a special form of purification called "wiping off " (cuwaha) used in connection with war and healing. This consists of expectorating into cedar bark or corn husk (on a prayer stick in some cases of cures), waving the packet four times over the head in counterclockwise circuits and throwing it down, or, in the case of healing, taking it out toward the east to be buried.

During the initiations of boys into the katcina society property is destroyed for purification. Katcinas visit all the housetops in the village, and from each a bowl or basket is thrown down and destroyed. This also is called cuwaha.

Whipping, never used as a means of punishment, is reserved for purposes of purification. During initiations katcinas go about the village whipping everyone they meet unless they carry corn or water, "to take away the bad luck." People call upon the katcinas at other

[34. For a description of the priestly ideal, see texts, p. 666.]

{p. 507}

times to whip them to cure them of "bad dreams" (see p. 481). The whipping of the initiates is probably also purificatory.


A full ceremony at Zuñi utilizes all of the foregoing techniques. The usual ceremonial pattern is a retreat followed by a dance. Frequently the dance is public, the retreat, of course, always being secret. Sometimes, also, the dance is not performed by the same group that hold the core of the rite, but by some cooperating group or by an organized group of laymen (e. g., the dances by girls and youths during the scalp dance). The relative importance attached to the esoteric and the spectacular approaches varies among the different cults. The ceremonies of the katcina society are weighted on the side of the spectacular. In the summer katcina dances only the leaders offer prayer sticks and observe continence, and even for them there is no formal retreat. The priesthoods, on the other hand, concentrate on secret rites and dispense entirely with public dancing, unless some katcina group chooses to honor one of the priesthoods by dancing on its "middle day."

A retreat usually opens and closes with offerings of prayer sticks. Sometimes there is a public announcement of the opening of the ceremony such as the announcements by p?ekwin of the solstices, of the opening of the scalp dance, and the beginning of the Ca?lako festival. There is some kind of set-up of sacred objects--a formal altar, fetishes, masks, medicine water, etc.--and much of the ritual of the retreat is concerned with the manipulation of these objects. Those participating in the retreat practice various forms of abstinence. Sexual continence is always required. Sometimes there are taboos on certain foods or, rarely, on all food. There is a variable amount of seclusion. At intervals throughout the retreat there are recitals of prayers and songs. The rest of the time is spent preparing paraphernalia for the final dance, if there is to be one, rehearsing, and telling tales, especially the origin myths in the ritualistic forms appropriate to the particular ceremony. A great deal of instruction in ritualistic affairs is given during these retreats.

The form which the concluding ceremonies takes is subject to unlimited variation. Each ceremony has its characteristic features, of which the most conspicuous is always group dancing. Dancing always continues with brief intervals for many hours; the emotional effect is cumulative, although there is no definite climax. The dancing itself is always reduced to its barest essentials-the rhythmic repetitions of a single body movement. Although impersonation is common there is no dramatic representation. Whenever myth is suggested it is in a highly stylized and symbolic form. Great importance is attached to correctness and uniformity in costume and

{p. 508}

regalia, which are definitive for each dance. Dancing may be continuous, like the initiation dancing of the societies, or may be broken by intervals filled with clowning, jugglery, or other rituals, like the summer katcinas, or two or more groups may dance in turn.

Dancing is always semipublic. Sometimes, for example, the last right of the winter ceremony of the medicine societies, specially privileged outsiders (that is, outside the active group) may attend. Other dances are performed in lay houses or outdoors and are free to all who wish to come, including whites.

Despite the enormous complexity of Zuñi ceremonialism the elements of which it is built and the underlying patterns are comparatively simple. The ideology is difficult of comprehension because it is monistic, abstract, and impersonal where we tend to be dualistic, concrete, and personal, but the philosophical ideas in themselves are neither abstruse nor involved. So also the complexity of ritual is more apparent than real. All ceremonies have five principal aspects--the manipulation and veneration of sacrosanct objects; offerings; purification, abstinence, and seclusion; recitation of sacred formulæ; public celebration. Each of the five approaches is itself subject to little variation. The texts recorded in the following pages illustrate how little complexity has been introduced into prayer. Prayers may be long or short, condensed or expanded, but the content, outline, and phraseology are always the same. So, too, with other techniques. The complexity of Zuñi ritual is a complexity of organization rather than content. The baffling intricacy of ceremonies like the winter dance of the Wood Society and associated groups, and the initiation of boys into the Katcina society are due chiefly to two processes in organization: The diversification of function and the piling up and telescoping of distinct ceremonies. It is characteristic of Zuñi rituals that their different parts are not necessarily performed by the same individuals or the same groups. The group that makes offerings and goes into retreat may have no control of the sacred object in whose honor the retreat is being held. Everything connected with the handling of fetishistic objects may belong to a second group, while a third group holds the sacred words of the chants, and yet a fourth group manages the public ceremonies. Each of these groups has its own organization, mode of succession, and minor rituals, so that the complete picture of any major ceremony, such as the Ca?lako, with all its ramifications, gives an impression of bewildering and baffling complexity.

It is more difficult to uncover the ceremonial pattern in ceremonies which are the products of coalescence. The winter solstice ceremonies, thought of at Zuñi as a unit, are clearly a synchronization of independent cults. In other cases the essential separateness of parts of a ceremony is somewhat obscured. The dance of the Wood Society

{p. 509}

and other groups is undoubtedly an amalgamation of at least two factors: A snow-making ceremony comprising a retreat of the keepers of the "winter fetishes," with a dance in their honor, the muaiye, combined with a war ceremony of the bow priesthood in conjunction with the warlike societies. We are here not necessarily dealing with a historical process. The ceremony is certainly now conceived as a unit and may always have been as it is at present, although in view of the complex history of Zuñi as shown archaeologically there is no reason to doubt that any ceremony may have been derived from several diverse sources. But however diverse the sources, the resulting product has been well pruned to fit the Zuñi pattern.

The public rituals constitute the most important esthetic expression of the people. Not only are they "artistic" in the superficial sense, in that they embrace the types of behavior which we arbitrarily lump together as "the arts"--ornament, poetry, music, the dance--but they provide the satisfaction of the deeper esthetic drive. Zuñi children do not mind being whipped by the Sälimop?iya "because they are such pretty dancers." I have heard women say of the mourning ceremonies of the Ca?lako, "We all cry. It is so beautiful that our hearts hurt." I have watched the faces of old men as I read to them the texts of their prayers. Zuñi rituals have a style of their own that belongs to ritual as an art. They are ordered and formal; they are well designed; they begin in quietness and end in serenity. Their quality is gracious and benign. They have moments of splendor, but they are not gorgeous or "barbaric" or frenzied. All of Zuñi life is oriented about religious observance, and ritual has become the formal expression of Zuñi civilization. If Zuñi civilization can be said to have a style, that style is essentially the style of its rituals.


The basis upon which all Zuñi ceremonialism rests is the cult of a:'lhacina:we, the ancients or the ancestors. In their worship all participate, regardless of age, sex, or affiliation with special cults. Nor are the a:'lhacina:we ever omitted from the ceremonies devoted primarily to the worship of other beings. The special and characteristic offering to the a:'lhacina:we is food. At the great public ceremony devoted to them exclusively, Grandmothers' Day[35] (Catholic All Souls Day), the outstanding feature is the sacrifice of great quantities of food in the fire and the river. They receive other offerings, too-prayer meal, smoke, and, of course, prayer sticks. The prayer stick for a:'lhacina:we is a small stick painted black, the principal feather being from the back of the turkey. Offerings of food to a:'lhacina:we form a

[35. See p. 621.]

{p. 510}

conspicuous part of all public ceremonies, and no prayer omits to mention them. So pervasive is this cult of the ancestors that other classes of beings (the katcinas, for instance) tend to merge their identity in them.

The a:'lhacina:we are, in Zuñi terminology, a:'wona:wi'lona, "the keepers of the roads"; that is, beings who guide, protect, nourish human life. They are, therefore, as a group, beneficent beings. They are identified with the greatest of all blessings in this and land, the clouds and the rain. In prayers they are referred to as "those who have attained the blessed place of waters," and when they return they come clothed in the rain. When, on summer afternoons, the great cumulus clouds pile up along the southern horizon, a Zuñi mother will point them out to her children, saying, "Look, there the grandfathers are coming!" However, this identification with the rain is not restricted to the a:'lhacina:we, but appears also in beliefs concerning other supernaturals, especially the U'wanam:i, the so-called rain makers, and the koko or masked gods or katcinas. Even the A'hayuta and the We:'ma:we walk in the rain. Rain is an attribute of divinity, and all the divine ones come clothed in waters. The dead are, in general, the bestowers of all blessings for which the Zuñis ask--life, old age, rain, seeds, wealth, power, fecundity, health, and general happiness.[36] Despite their prevailingly beneficent character, toward individual dead persons, and especially toward the recently dead, the attitude is strongly ambivalent, mingled of tender reverence and fear. This fear is not due to the evil nature of the dead, but to the fact that so long as they remember human life they will long for their dear ones left behind in this world. Therefore they come to trouble them in dreams and day dreams, until the living man sickens of grief and dies. Therefore the recent dead must be cut off. Their road is darkened with black corn meal, and they are implored, with offerings of corn meal and prayer sticks, not to trouble the living.

There is nothing esoteric in the worship of the ancestors. In this all individuals are on an equal footing and have direct access to the supernaturals without the mediation of priests. There are no fetishes or other permanently held paraphernalia used in their worship, nor are there special places sacred to them, unless perhaps the river bank, especially the point called Wide River, where offerings of food are customarily made. No man stands in any special relationship toward them. It is quite clear that there is no ancestor worship in the restricted meaning of the word. A man prays to the ancestors, not to his own ancestors. Certain groups of men have special relations to certain groups among the dead-priests invoke deceased priests, medicine men deceased medicine men, impersonators of the katcinas their predecessors in office, but never their progenitors as

[36. See texts, p. 611.]

{p. 511}

such. Such special relationships belong in the realm of special cult activities which will be considered.

Against this background general nonesoteric religious activities have developed a large number of esoteric cults, each devoted to the worship of special supernaturals or groups of supernaturals, and each having a priesthood, a body of secret ritual, permanent possessions of fetishistic power, special places of worship, and a calendrical cycle of ceremonies. I distinguish six major cults of this type, which might be named from the supernaturals toward whom their principal ceremonies are directed: 1, the cult of the Sun; 2, the cult of the Uwanami; 3, the cult of the katcinas; 4, the cult of the priests of the katcinas (a distinct but closely related Cult [37]); 5, the cult of the Gods of War; 6, the cult of the Beast Gods. The functions, activities, and personnel of these groups overlap and interweave in a bewildering intricacy that baffles analysis. The p?ekwin who is speaker of the sun is also priest; he has certain specifically priestly functions. Some activities belong to one, some to another, of his affiliations. This is true also of the bow priests, leaders of the war cult, who as guardians of secret rites are associated with fraternities; the fraternities or medicine societies, which are devoted primarily to the worship of the Beast Gods, gods of life, medicine, and witchcraft, have one ceremony devoted entirely to the invocation of the Uwanami. Some are of distinctly warlike character; others possess masks and take part in masked rituals. However, in spite of this interlocking, there is no difficulty in assigning any major ritualistic group in Zuñi to one or the other of these cults on the basis of supernatural sanction, method, and tangible possessions.


The sun is the source of all life. Indeed the word for life is t?ek?ohanan:e, daylight (t?e, time or space; k?ohana, white; n:e, nominal suffix). The sun is therefore "our father,"[18] in a very special sense, but not in the sense of progenitor. He is associated in worship with the moon, who is "our mother." However, life is not thought of as springing from the union of these two. The moon is "mother" by courtesy only. The animating female principle of the universe is the earth mother, but there is no cult of the earth.[39]

Each morning as the sun sends his first level beams striking across the houses his people come out to meet him with prayers and offerings. Men and women stand before their doors, facing the east,

[37. See p. 521.

38. "Father" in Zuñi is a term of respect applied to all supernaturals and to all human beings who have any claim to one's respect or affection.

39. The phallic element is not absent from the worship of the sun and moon. At the solstices adult males plant blue sticks to the sun, females yellow ones to the moon. The sticks planted in the Ca?lako homes, which are specifically for fecundity, are double; one stick is painted blue, the other yellow, and they are male and female, respectively. Like the sun prayer sticks, they are made with downy feathers of the eagle.]

{p. 512}

their hands full of corn meal which is offered to the sun, with prayers for long life. Every priest or appointee to ceremonial office and every man during the time he is engaged in any ceremony must observe this morning ritual. But many others, "poor people," never omit it, even on the most bitterly cold winter mornings.

But the great ceremonies at which the sun father is honored are in the keeping of his special priest, whose title, p?ekwin, means, literally, speaking place. The p?ekwin is the most revered and the most holy man in Zuñi. Even in this society which diffuses power and responsibility until both become so tenuous as to be almost indiscernible, the p?ekwin is ultimately held responsible for the welfare of the community. He holds his power directly from the Sun Father, with whom he has a very special and intimate relationship. The p?ekwin performs many duties in no way connected with his office as priest of the sun. He is the active member of the priestly hierarchy and the officiating priest at all ceremonies at which the priests function jointly. It is he who sets up the altars for these ceremonies and even the altar for the scalp dance; it is he who meets the priests of the katcinas when they visit Zuñi and "makes their road"; it is he who installs new priests, including bow priests, and formally appoints to office the impersonators of the katcinas.

As priest of the sun he is the keeper of the calendar. He sets the dates for the solstices, from which all other ceremonies are dated. His calculations are based on observation of the sunrise in winter and the sunset in summer. These observations are made at shrines outside of the village. When the sun rises (or sets) behind certain landmarks, the date for the solstice is at hand. However, the calendar is disarranged by the desire to have the celebration of the solstice coincide with the full moon, and the p?ekwin is the subject of bitter criticism when the sun fails to oblige in this matter. It is at the solstices that the sun is celebrated with great public ceremonies. For some period before the p?ekwin observes fasts and continence and makes frequent offerings of prayer sticks to the sun and moon and the ancients. In winter the public ceremonies are opened by the p?ekwin's announcement made from the housetop at dawn. At this time he orders the people to make prayer sticks for their sun father and their moon mother.[40] For 10 days the p?ekwin "counts days" for his sun father. Then on the tenth day all people offer their prayer sticks to the sun or moon, along with others for the ancients, and special society offerings. The solstice ceremonies continue for 10 days longer, but the part of the sun in them is finished on the tenth day.

In summer the announcement by the p?ekwin takes place eight days before the planting, and the whole celebration is less elaborate.

[40. See texts, p. 636.]

{p. 513}

As in the winter, there are other ceremonies at this time but in different forms."

The p?ekwin has, furthermore, a great public ceremony, the lha:hewe or Corn Dance, which should be performed every fourth year in midsummer. It has not been performed for many years. This ceremony commemorates the departure of the corn maids and celebrates their return. It follows the usual ceremonial pattern of periods of retreat spent in preparation for the public ceremony of the last day. On this occasion the e'tone of the priests are exposed in public and there is dancing alternately by two groups of girls.

The writer has not seen this ceremony. It has not been held for many years, and very little is known about it save that "it belongs to p?ekwin." Since it is so peculiarly his dance we may assume that it is connected in some way with the worship of the sun, but what this connection is, toward what blessing it is directed, and what techniques it employs are by no means clear from the only description we have, and further information is lacking.


The U'wanami, a term generally translated rain makers,[42] are water spirits. They live in all the waters of the earth, the four encircling oceans and the underground waters to which springs are gateways. Cumulus clouds are their houses; mist is their breath. The frogs that sing from every puddle after the drenching summer rains are their children. The ripple marks along the edge of ditches washed out by heavy rains are their footprints.

The worship of the U'wanami is enormously elaborated and is in the hands of the priesthoods, of which there are 12.[43] Each priesthood contains from two to six members. Several have women associates. Membership, in the main, is hereditary within matrilineal family groups the family in whose house the fetish of the group is guarded. Each group operates with a fetish. These fetishes, the e'to:we, are the most sacrosanct objects of Zuñi worship. They were brought from the innermost depths of the earth at the time of the emergence and are kept in sealed jars, from which they are removed only for the few secret rites in which they are employed. In these e'to:we rest the power of the priests. (For description of e'to:we see Stevenson, p. 163 ff.) Besides the e'to:we various other objects are

[41. See p. 537.

42. The term rain maker is a very misleading one. In Zuñi thought all supernaturals are rain makers. The Uwanami are definitely associated with the six regions and are probably the Zuñi equivalent of the Keresan shiwana, or storm clouds. The bow priests of the Uwanami, K^älhawani, Tsik^ahaiya, Kopctaiya are associated with thunderstorms and sudden tempests. (See texts, p. 664.)

43. I have omitted the p?ekwin and the bow priests who occupy the fifth and sixth places in the order of retreats, because they are not, strictly speaking, priests, but function merely ex officio. They do not possess e'to:we. (See pp. 591, 592, 660.)]

{p. 514}

included in the sacred paraphernalia of the priests--pots of sacred black paint, round stones, "thunder stones," obsidian knives, and other objects, all of which were brought from the lower world. The e'to:we themselves are each in two parts, k^?ä'etow:e, water fetish, and tcu'e'to:we, corn fetish. The rain-making function is decidedly the more important.

In addition to the objects on the altar of their retreat, the chief priesthood is said to maintain a permanent altar in the fourth underground room of their house. In addition to the usual objects on priestly altars, this altar contains two columns of rock, one of crystal and one of turquoise, a heart-shaped rock which is "the heart of the world," with arteries reaching to the four cardinal points, and various prayer sticks, including two, male and female, which are "the life of the people." All objects on the altar, including the e'to:we, are, said to be petrified. This altar is the center of the world, the spot beneath the heart of k^?änastep?a when he stretched out his arms. Only the high priest himself has access to this chamber.[44]

The priests, as such, hold no public ceremonies, although their presence is necessary at many ceremonies of other groups. Their own ceremonies for the Uwanami are held in secret in the houses where their fetishes are kept.

At the winter solstice the priesthoods observe a one-night retreat. Following the planting of the prayer sticks to the sun is a taboo period of 10 days, during which many rites are celebrated. On the fifth or sixth night (depending on the phase of the moon) each priesthood goes into retreat in its ceremonial house. During the day the priests make prayer sticks for the U'wanami of the different directions. Before sunset these are deposited at a distant spring. When the messengers return from the spring the various sacred objects are removed from their jars and placed on a meal painting, along with cars of corn, clay models of peach trees, animals, even money, upon which the blessing of increase is invoked. All night prayers are chanted and songs sung. The ceremony ends at sunrise. This ceremony is repeated by all the priests in their respective houses at the two full moons following.

The great ceremonies of the priests occur after the summer solstice. At this time rain is urgently needed for the young corn plants just rising out of the ground. The rainy season starts about July 1. Should the rains be delayed beyond that date great hardship is suffered.

Four days following the summer planting of prayer sticks the priesthoods begin their great series of summer retreats which last from

[44. Information concerning this altar was secured from a fairly reliable informant who gained access to it and made a very remarkable painting of it. The author does not consider the information quite beyond question, but gives it for what it may be worth.]

{p. 515}

the end of June well into September; that is, throughout the whole rainy season. The four chief priesthoods, associated with the north, east,[45] south, and west, go in for eight days each. They are followed late in July by the p?ekwin and the Bow Priest, who go in for four days each, and later by the minor priesthoods ("darkness priests"), who also go in for four days each. As in the winter, the day preceding the retreat is spent in making prayer sticks, which are deposited in the afternoon at the same sacred spring. The altar is set up that night. Since the sole preoccupation is with rain magic, no corn or peach trees are used on the summer altar. For four days following the planting to the U'wanami, the supplicants refrain from eating meat or grease, in addition observing the usual requirements of continence and kindliness. Throughout this period they remain night and day in their ceremonial room. No outsider enters but the woman of the house who serves their meals. There are frequent sessions of prayer and song, especially during the hours between midnight and dawn. The U'wanami are invoked, and the deceased priests of the order are called upon by name. All are believed to be present. On the fourth day, at dawn, prayer sticks are offered to the ancients, and after that the minor priests are free, except for the restriction on sexual activity for four days following any offering of prayer sticks. The four principal priesthoods remain in seclusion for four days longer. At dawn on the eighth day they come out, and that same evening the set next in order goes in. (For order of retreats, see Stevenson, p. 180.)

The purpose of these retreats is to secure rain--immediate rain for the thirsting young plants. Should the days of any group fail to be blessed with rain it receives the censure of the community, and one of its members will surely be suspected of laxness in the observance of his duties.

The rain priests are, like the p?ekwin, holy men. They are expected to keep themselves aloof from worldly affairs. In former times they did no manual labor, but lived on contributions from the people, but this is no longer the case. The priest should be gentle, humble, and kind. Above all, he is supposed to eschew quarrels.

Associated in worship with the Uwanami is Kolowisi, the horned water serpent who inhabits springs and underground waters. With the characteristic Zuñi elasticity he is variously conceived as individual and multiple. One folk tale collected by the writer describes Kolowisi's village with all the serpents engaged in masked dances as at Kolhuwala:wa.

Kolowisi is the guardian of sacred springs and punishes trespassers, especially women. In an unpublished song recorded by Cushing,

[45. The usual cycle of north, west, south, east is reversed in this instance.]

{p. 516}

Kolowisi is associated with flood, although the familiar Hopi myth of Palulukong has not been recorded for Zuñi. He also figures in myths of magical impregnation. This is in harmony with his rôle in ritual where he appears at the initiation of small boys, a ceremony designed to impress the youngsters with the power of the katcinas. At this ceremony he vomits forth water and seeds which are given to the children to take home. The water is sprinkled on their corn, and the seed is used for planting.

The effigy of Kolowisi which is used at this ceremony[46] is kept by the Kolowisi priesthood, a group belonging to the Corn clan which stands ninth in the order of retreats according to Mrs. Stevenson (Zuñi Indians, pp. 167, 179). Although this group is invariably called the Kolowisi priesthood, the association with Kolowisi may well be secondary like the association of the priests of the west with the Koyemci masks, or of the twelfth priesthood with the K^ana:kwe.

The public ceremony of Kolowisi takes place in connection with the initiation of little boys.

The effigy of Kolowisi enters the village accompanied by the initiating katcinas at sunset on the eighth day of the ceremony.[47] He spends the night in Hek^apa:wa kiva where he is suckled by Ahe?a, the grandmother of the katcinas. The following morning the head of the serpent is thrust through the kiva wall, while the katcinas dance for him. In the afternoon he vomits water and corn, fertilizing talismans for the novices.


During their search for the middle the Zuñis had to ford a stream.[49] The first group of women to cross, seeing their children transformed in midstream into frogs and water snakes, became frightened and dropped them, and they escaped into the water. The bereaved mothers mourned for their lost children, so the twin heroes were sent to see what bad become of them. They found them in a house beneath the surface of Whispering Waters (hatin k^?ai'akwi). They had been transformed into the katcinas, beautiful with valuable beads and feathers and rich clothing. Here they spent their days singing and dancing in untroubled joyousness. The twin heroes reported what they had seen, and further decreed that thereafter the dead should come to this place to join the lost children.

The identification of the dead with the katcinas is not complete. When men offer prayer sticks, they offer to the ancients and to the

[46. Pictured in Stevenson, pls. xiii and xiv.

47. For abridged description of this ceremony, see p. 975. Fuller but incomplete account in Stevenson, pp. 65-102, the portion describing the part of the Kolowisi being found on pp. 94-96, 100, and 101.

48. Katcina is a Hopi word, which has become standardized in the literature of the pueblos. The Zuñi term is koko.

49. Origin myth, text, p. 595.]

{p. 517}

katcinas, and their sticks are different--those of the katcinas contain, in addition to the turkey feather, that of the duck, for the katcinas travel between their village and the village of their fathers in the form of ducks. There is great confusion in regard to the destination of the dead. Those who in life are intimately associated with the Beast Gods at death join them at, their home in Ci'papolima, in the east. There is some indication that the priests join the U'wanami. Only those who are intimately associated with the cult of the katcinas, that is, members of the kotikan:e (katcina society), and especially officers in this society and possessors of masks, can be sure of admission to the village of the katcinas. There seems to be no clear idea of what becomes of people without ceremonial affiliations--women and children, for instance.

The lost children pitied the loneliness of their people and came often to dance for them in their plazas and in houses prepared for their use. But after each visit they took someone with them (i. e., someone died). Therefore they decided no longer to come in person. So they instructed their people to copy their costume and headdresses and imitate their dances. Then they would be with them in spirit. (See text, p. 605.)

These dances, in which the katcinas are impersonated, are the most spectacular, perhaps the most beautiful, of all Zuñi ceremonies. Instituted according to tradition solely as a means of enjoyment, they have become the most potent of rain-making rites, for since the divine ones no longer come in the flesh, they come in their other bodies, that is, as rain. The mask is the corporeal substance of the god and in donning it the wearer, through a miracle akin to that of the Mass in Roman Catholic ritual, becomes the god.

Therefore the masks with which this cult operates are second in sacredness to the fetishes of the rain priests themselves, They are the property of individuals; they are buried with his other possessions four days after death. The possession of a mask is a blessing to the house; it guarantees the owner admission to the dance house of the gods, and is the means by which the spirit can return after death to delight his beloved ones on earth and assuage his own loneliness. Therefore, as soon as a man can afford the very considerable expense involved, be will have a mask made for himself. These masks are carefully guarded in the back rooms of houses, protected from the eyes of children. Like the fetishes of the rain priests, they receive daily offerings of food from some female member of the household. When they are to be used they are repainted by someone whose special office that is, and redecorated to represent the special god to be impersonated.

The organization which performs the rites of the katcinas is the ko'tik^än:e or katcina society, whose membership comprises every

{p. 518}

adult male. In exceptional cases females may be initiated.[50] The initiation includes two separate ceremonies frequently separated by several years. Until the rites are completed, at about the age of 10 or 12, boys are expected to be kept ignorant of the mysteries of the cult, and to believe the dancers are indeed supernatural visitors from the village of the gods. At the first ceremony they are severely whipped by the katcina priests[51] to inspire them with awe for these creatures. There is another and more severe thrashing at the second ceremony. Whipping is the prerogative of the katcinas. It is employed by no other ceremonial group at Zuñi and as a mechanism of juvenile punishment is unknown. The American method of establishing discipline by switching is met at Zuñi with horrified contempt. The katcinas whip to instill awe for the supernatural, but also to remove sickness and contamination. The whipping of katcinas is a blessing. It is administered with the formula, "May you be blessed with seeds" (t?o? t?owaconan aniktciat!u). Therefore outsiders are never whipped.

The katcina society has a set of officers, the katcina chief (ko'mosona), his p?ekwin (ko'p?ekwin), and two bow priests, who act as hosts when the gods come to dance. They receive them, lead them into the plazas for their performances, sprinkling corn meal before them. They are the arbiters in all matters pertaining to masked rituals. The society is organized into six divisions (upa:we), associated loosely with the six directions. Each group has a house of special construction set aside for the use of the katcinas-the so-called kivas.[52] In early days these were men's clubhouses, but their use is now being abandoned, even in ceremonies, in favor of more modern and spacious dwelling houses. Membership in one or another of these six groups is determined by the choice of a ceremonial father at a boy's birth or, at the latest, at the time of the preliminary initiation. His association is lifelong, unless he is expelled for sexual transgression or severs his connection because of disagreement with the leaders. In either case he will be received gladly into another group. Each group has a number of officers--from two to six or more--who run its affairs. They decide upon the dates for dances and the particular dance to be performed; they compose new songs, decorate the masks, assemble the costumes, and rehearse with the participants. Upon them also falls the more vital task of performing the secret rituals that will insure success. They prepare and plant prayer sticks and observe

[50. "To save their life" if they suffer from hallucinations, the mental sickness caused by supernatural brings.

51. See p. 521.

52. Kiva is a word which has been adopted into southwest literature to denote the subterranean or semi-subterranean chambers found in all modern and prehistoric pueblos, The word is of Hopi provenience. The Zuñi term kiwitsin:e is probably derived from it.]

{p. 519}

all the ritual requirements attendant thereon. They consecrate new masks and bless all the dancers before they leave for the plaza.

The dances themselves are large group dances, performed by one or of dancers in formation, frequently with solo performers. The costumes, including masks, are brilliant, picturesque, often of workmanship; the songs are varied and striking. The performances proceed with the spirit and precision of a well-trained orchestra. The dance groups in summer frequently number over 60 As many as 90 have been observed.

Each kiva group is required to dance at least three times during the year--once in the winter, once in the summer, and once in the fall, during the five days following the departure of the Ca?lako gods.[58] In addition to this they may dance at any other time they choose, except the 4 days following the close of the Ca?lako festival and the 10 days of the winter solstice. The dances of the winter series are performed indoors at night but may be repeated outdoors on the following day. The summer dances are performed outdoors and in the daytime.[54]

Eight days after the close of the winter solstice the kiva which is to inaugurate the winter series sends in two katcinas to announce the dance on the fourth night following.[55] On the appointed night society altars are set up in the six houses which fill the rôle of kivas, and society choirs are summoned to provide music for the dancers. The various groups of dancers make the rounds of these six houses. The kiva presenting the dance will perform one of about six traditional dances. This group brings seeds to be distributed among the populace. On the same night any other kiva that wishes to participate will prepare dances which may be in the traditional style or some new variant, fanciful, grotesque, or amusing. The hilarity of the occasion is increased by the presence of isolated groups of dancers, especially the "little dancers," the mischievous children of katcina village, and dance of masked or unmasked clowns. At the indoor dances not all participants need be masked, and where no mask is used the same magical power resides in the face and body paint. If the dance is repeated outdoors where it can be viewed by the uninitiated masks are obligatory.

In contrast to the light-hearted gaiety of the winter dances, those of summer are marked by great solemnity and intense religious devotion. At this time rain is urgently needed, and the whole religious mechanism strains to the task of compelling it.

Eight days after the summer solstice and on the "middle (i. e., fourth day" of the retreat of the first priesthood, the gods, accompanied

[53. See pp. 702, 941.

54. Except the first dance of the summer series, when all-night ceremonies are held in the kiva on the night preceding the outside dancing.

55. At least, so it used to be. At present the dance is held "when they get ready."]

{p. 520}

by the Koyemci[56] and officers of the katcina society, appear at sunset, marching across the plain. They come from the village of the katcinas.[57] From now on until they are sent home in November, the katcinas are believed to be present in the village, lurking in the kivas. After dancing in all the plazas the dancers retire to the home of the Katcina Chief where an altar has been set up. After all-night ceremonies they dance throughout the day in the four plazas while society choirs continue to sing in the house of their retreat and the house of the Koyemci. This first dance is a most solemn occasion. Until rain falls the participants may touch neither food nor drink, nor engage in any unnecessary conversation. They must, of course, observe sexual continence. At later dances continence is required only of the leaders who have offered prayer sticks and of the Koyemci.

After this first dance other kivas follow as they can get ready. It is considered desirable to perform these dances as rapidly as possible while rain is needed. But with characteristic Zuñi procrastination they are put off and finally performed in rapid succession in September, and the resulting deluges play havoc with the crops already ripe for the harvest.

The gods remain in the village until they are sent home in the fall. In November, after the regular series of dances is over, and it is evident that no more extra dances are to be interpolated, the gods are sent home. The Koyemci are generally the first to go. One night they will be heard singing in the yard before their house. After making the rounds of the plazas they go out toward the west, and whoever dares stick his head outdoors while they are about will surely be drawn along with them (i. e., he will die). After the Koyemci have gone the others follow within a few days.

They all return again to Zuñi with the Katcina Priests when they come for the Ca?lako ceremonies. After the Katcina Priests depart for their home the others remain to dance for five nights in the houses they have dedicated and in the plazas of the town. Certain dances are regularly performed during this time and others may be introduced. On the fifth day they depart for the east to visit the supernaturals who dwell in that quarter. On that day every man who owns a mask takes it out to the east of the village. Here he offers prayer sticks and food in one of the six holes dug by the kiva heads. Setting down the mask and making a road of meal toward the east, he sends him out. For four days the masked gods are visiting in the east, and consequently no masked dances may be performed. They return after four days, and from that time on until the beginning of

[56. See p. 946.

57. Every fourth year there is a pilgrimage by the priests, officers of the Katcina Society, and the chosen impersonators of the priests of the masked gods to the home of the gods, a lake 86 miles west of Zuñi. On other years the offerings are made at Rainbow Spring, 17 miles to the southwest.]

{p. 521}

the winter solstice any of the dances performed after Ca?lako may be repeated by request, or new ones may be presented.


Intimately associated with the foregoing activities are those rites and ceremonies which form the cult of the katcina priests. This cult also employs, as its principal technique for controlling the supernatural, impersonation by means of masks. But the beings impersonated are of a different order. The masks are differently treated and the character of the rites in which they function, arid the personnel and calendrical cycle are quite independent. Like all supernaturals, they are bringers of rain, but the special blessing which lies within their power to bestow is fecundity. The katcina priests also live at Ko'lhuwala:wa (katcina village) and form, indeed, the priestly hierarchy that rules that village. But they are definite individuals, with personal names and distinct personalities. There are, for instance, the Koyemci--they are the fruit of an incestuous union between brother and sister, and display the stain of their birth in their grotesque appearance and uncouth behavior. They are the sacred clowns, privileged to mock at anything, and to indulge in any obscenity.[59] On them fall the most exacting sexual restrictions. They are the most feared and the most beloved of all Zuñi impersonations. They are possessed of black magic; in their drum the have the wings of black butterflies that can make girls "crazy."[60] In the knobs of their masks is soil from the footprints of townspeople.[61] One who begrudges them anything will meet swift and terrible retribution. But everyone goes in hushed reverence and near to tears to watch them on their last night when they are under strict taboo. At this time, from sundown until midnight the following day, they touch neither food nor drink. They neither sleep nor speak, and in all that time they do not remove their masks. This truly heroic self-denial earns them the sympathetic affection of the people, an affection manifested in the generous gifts that are given them on this their last day in office.[62]

P?autiwa, chief of the masked gods at Ko'lhuwala:wa, is a truly magnificent person. His prestige is enormous. He possesses in unlimited measure the three most admired qualities-beauty, dignity, and

[58. The term is awkward, but it is a literal translation of the Zuñi term.

59. They are, however, surpassed in obscenity by the Ne?we:kwe. The presence of white people at Zuñi is resulting in the gradual suppression of these practices. The word obscene is used advisedly since their practices are universally so regarded at Zuñi. Here the proprieties are meticulously observed. It is a society of strong repressions. Undoubtedly the great delight in the antics of the clowns springs from the sense of release in vicarious participations in the forbidden.

60. I. e., sexually.

61. A widely used love charm.

62. The very deep affection that is felt for the Koyemci is by no means extended to the impersonator when he is released from office.]

{p. 522}

kindliness. In folklore he appears as the successful lover of mortal maids. Literature is full of the exploits of his illegitimate offspring, to whom he is unfailingly generous. His two brief appearances at Zuñi mark him as a prince of gods and men. The moment he appears in the plaza at the close of the solstice ceremonies, the hilarity which has prevailed subsides in an instant and is replaced by hushed reverence. The two gods who have been making merry on the housetop to the great delight of the populace suddenly pale to insignificance before the newly risen splendor of P?autiwa's beauty and stateliness.

His p?ekwin, K^äklo, is very different. He is a bustling, officious, self-important individual, somewhat ridiculous in spite of his great power. In the midst of his most sacred ceremony he engages in none too gentle horseplay with the Koyemci. His speech is an incoherent jumble.

Sayataca is more austere. Like P?autiwa, he has tremendous dignity and prestige, but he lacks P?autiwa's charm. When he speaks--and he speaks often and at incredible length--his voice booms with authority and importance.

One might continue to enumerate the personality traits of the individual katcinas. The Sayalhia, avengers and exorcisers, hideous and terrible; the Ca?lako, giant gargoyles, terrifying but not unlovely; the Sä'limop?ia, youthful and beautiful, and impetuous with the ardor of youth; and many others.

Each of these appears at Zuñi to perform a special ceremony which he alone has the right to perform. For each of these katcinas there is a permanent mask used only in his rites. This is tribal property. It is the mask given by the Divine One himself, and has been passed down through the generations like the fetishes of the rain priests. Like them, these ancient masks are kept permanently in jars in definite houses, from which they are removed only for use and with elaborate ceremony. Furthermore, connected with each is a cult group which preserves its secret ritual, including the words of prayers and chants.

The mask of P?autiwa is kept in a house of the Dogwood clan. The cult group in charge of his ritual comprises all who have ever impersonated the god at his appearance in the winter solstice. These men meet each year to select the impersonator. He learns the prayers and rituals from some older man of the groups and is thereafter permanently associated with this group.[63]

The masks of the Cula:witsi, Sayataca, Hututu, and the two Yamuhakto are kept in another house of the Dogwood clan. The custodians of their cult are a self-perpetuating group of four men of various clan affiliations. The impersonators of the gods are chosen by the priests and go to the cult heads to learn what they must do.

[63. Certain members of the Sun clan form a subsidiary cult group, whose function is to dress P?autiwa.]

{p. 523}

This knowledge--that is, the power which it confers--is "given back" at the end of the year.

The Koyemci masks are kept in the house of the West priesthood. Their cult is in the keeping of four groups of men who themselves impersonate the gods. Each group holds office for a year and returns again after four years. The head of the group, who impersonates the father, is appointed by the priests and he chooses his associates, filling any vacancies which may have occurred since the last incumbency.

The six Ca?lako masks, associated with the six kivas, are kept in six different houses and each has a permanent group of wo:we,[64] who instruct the impersonators in the duties of their offices. The impersonators are chosen by the officers of the kivas and hold office for a year.

The mask of K^ä'klo is kept in the house of the p?ekwin of the Katcina Society. His rites are known to a group of four men, who take turns in impersonating the god. The head of this group receives from the priests a crook summoning him to appear.

The 12 Sälimop?ia masks, two of each color, are kept in six different houses, along with other masks associated with them in the principal ceremony in which they appear, the preliminary whipping of little boys. Each kiva has a Sälimop?ia wo?le who is trustee of their ritual.

At the new year ceremony which terminates the celebration of the solstice P?autiwa comes to give his orders for the coming year. He leaves with the priests or on the roofs of the kivas the feathered sticks with which are appointed those who impersonate the gods at the great fertility ceremony of November, the so-called Ca?lako. He leaves one stick for the father of the Koyemci, one for each of Sa'yataca group, one for each of the six Ca?lako. There is also a stick for Bitsitsi, who is not a katcina, but who plays an important rôle in the ceremony of the Corn Maids which follows the Ca?lako. In this P?autiwa himself appears.

The impersonators are chosen immediately--the impersonators of the Koyemci and the Sayataca group by the priests, two impersonators for each of the six Ca?lako by the officers of their respective kivas. Each month at the full moon they plant prayer sticks at distant shrines, visiting them in a body in fixed order. After October the plantings take place every 10 days, and as the time for the ceremony approaches, each group goes into retreat like priests, in its ceremonial house. The great public ceremony is held in the houses of prominent citizens who volunteer to provide this costly service. There should be eight houses, but in recent years the expense involved has become so great that not enough men volunteer. In that case the groups double up at the last moment. The house is newly built or completely renovated for the occasion, and the visit of the gods is the

[64. Literally servant or domesticated animal, a word that defies translation.]

{p. 524}

dedication and blessing of the new dwelling. They deposit prayer sticks under the threshold and in the roof-symbols of fertility. The sticks are double, painted blue and yellow, and they are male and female respectively. They plant seeds in the center of the floor and on the altar leave a basket of seed corn to be used by the host in his spring sowing. The burden of their prayer is that the store rooms may be filled to overflowing, and the house so full of children that they jostle one another in the doorway. (See text of Ca?lako prayer, pp. 718, 773.)

The gods depart after all-night ceremonies but during the following days each kiva presents a masked dance. They may present more than one if they so choose. These dances are performed for five nights in all the houses and on the fifth day in the plaza. On this day the Koyemci, who have remained in retreat throughout this period, are rewarded for their services by gifts from the members of their fathers' clans. Late at night, after visiting every house in the village to bestow a final blessing, they are released from their arduous duties.

The Koyemci, in addition to participating in this cycle of ceremonies, are required to attend upon the masked dancers during the summer dance series. On these appearances they play the rôle of clowns; and many of their games are of frankly phallic significance.[65] In their drum they place the wings of black butterflies, a potent love charm.

Every fourth year[66] P?autiwa leaves a feathered staff for K^ä'klo, by whose order is performed the preliminary whipping of the small boys. K^ä'klo does not himself perform this rite. He comes twice at intervals of eight days to inform the priests and officers of the kivas that this is the wish of the gods. They in turn appoint the gods who administer the whipping--12 Sä'limopia, four Sa'yalhia and 10 other gods. The ceremony, held the day after K^ä'klo's final visit, is one of the most elaborate and spectacular at Zuñi. The boys are severely whipped in the plaza. They are taken into the kiva to have feathers tied in their hair as a symbol of their novitiate. The writer has never witnessed this ceremony, and can only guess at its significance on the basis of the description given by Mrs. Stevenson.[67] The point seems to be exorcism. The boys are whipped "to save their lives," and previous to this, there is general whipping and destruction of property throughout the village, "to take away bad happenings." The Sä'limopia and Sayalhia appear as exorcisors during the winter solstice ceremony. And whenever any taboo of the masked god cult is broken the Sayalhia appear to administer punishment and to whip

[65. See E. C. Parsons, Notes on Zuñi, pt. 2, p. 229.

66. Due to recent disintegration this ceremony has not been held for more than six years.

67. Twenty-third Ann. Rept. Bur. Amer. Ethn., p. 65.]

{p. 525}

all present in order to counteract the contaminating influence of the transgression. At the Ca?lako two Salimopia are present to perform this service.

The final whipping of the boys is performed by the Sayalhia by order of the priests, some time during the Ca?lako festivities. This also seems to be a rite of exorcism, and is followed by general whipping to remove bad luck.

Another masked ceremony held at irregular intervals, and by express order of P?autiwa, is the dance of the K^ä'na:kwe or white gods. This is a group dance like the kiva dances but is performed by a special self-perpetuating cult group owning ancient masks and esoteric ritual. The beings impersonated are of a different order. They do not live at Koluwala:wa. They are essentially hostile, and therefore must not remain overnight in the village. Their rites have no place in the regular cycle. They bring with them seeds, which are given to the priests, and large quantities of food, which they throw away to the people, so the purpose of their rite may be assumed to be fertility.


The war cult of the Pueblos, as in other tribes, is greatly in abeyance at the present time due to enforced peaceableness. Although the Pueblos probably were never aggressive warriors, intertribal warfare was once an important part of life, and was accompanied by elaborate ceremonies.

The gods of war in Zuñi are the A'hayuta, twin children of the Sun begotten of a waterfall when the Zuñis, wandering in search of the middle, were in dire need of military leadership.[68] They led the people to victory and gave them the rites of war. They are the patrons of contests of all kinds, including foot races and games of chance. In folklore the A'hayuta appear as two dirty, uncouth, cruel, and disobedient children, masking their great powers behind obscene and ridiculous exteriors. They live on the mountain tops, they are lords of the high places, and their shrines are on all the prominent mountains about Zuñi.

The cult of the A'hayuta, the gods of war, and leadership of war parties, is delegated to the Bow Priests, and several less important groups, the priests who keep pa?eton:e, a war fetish, the priests of the great shell and the scalp chief, who takes care of the scalps in the scalp house, and the men who carve and decorate the idols of the war gods.

Membership in the bow priesthood is restricted to those who have killed an enemy. No matter what the circumstances of the killing, no escape is possible from the burden of membership, for the slayer

[68. See text of origin myth, p. 597.]

{p. 526}

must seek magical protection from the vengeance of the ghost. The bow priesthood supplies this protection. He is initiated in the course of the scalp dance, which celebrates the victory and propitiates the ghost.[69]

The bow priesthood is organized in somewhat similar fashion to the medicine societies a circumstance which led Mrs. Stevenson to include it among them. There is a society chief and a battle chief. They have a ceremonial chamber in a house in the eastern part of the town, where certain of their ceremonial paraphernalia is kept. Pa?ettone, which is used only in war rites, is kept in another house, and has its own hereditary priesthood, members of which are not necessarily Bow Priests. The great shell also has its own priesthood. It is brought out for all war ceremonies. The Scalp Chief has a male and two female associates, who take charge of the scalp from the time it is brought into the village until it is placed in the scalp house. He plants prayer sticks each month for the scalps. At the winter solstice and at the scalp dance idols are made of the elder and younger War Gods. They are carved, respectively, by men of the Deer and Bear clans. These are hereditary offices, and each has several associates, male and female.

The Bow Priests are leaders in war and defenders and protectors of the people in times of peace. To them falls the task of policing the town, in the religious but not the civil sense. In this capacity they must wage constant warfare against the insidious inner enemy--namely, the witches-whose secret power causes sickness and death. Of this activity, too, they have recently been stripped. They are furthermore the defenders and the executive arm of the religious hierarchy. They protect their altars from desecration, carry their messages, and execute their orders. To perform these duties two bow priests are assigned to the priestly hierarchy, two to the katcina and two to each of the medicine societies.[70]

The great annual ceremony of the Bow Priests is held at the winter solstice. Six days after the p?ekwin announces the solstice a man of the Deer clan and a man of the Bear clan and their associates start to make the images of the War Gods to be used at this ceremony. On the tenth night following the p?ekwin's announcement these images, together with pa?ettone, the great shell, the e'tow:e of the chief priests, and all the paraphernalia of the war cult are taken to the chief kiva. In the kiva are assembled the priests of the council, the priests of pa?ettone and the great shell, the image makers and their associates, and the full membership of the bow priesthood. At

[69. See texts, p. 674.

70. That is, this used to be the pattern. The bow priesthood is now reduced to three members--one who has no society affiliations serves the priests, one is Bow Priest of the katcinas, and associated also with the Rattlesnake Society, the third is associated with the Hunters and the Little Fire Society, and formerly served the priests.]

{p. 527}

this time the Bow Priests sing comato:we.[71] the songs given to the Bow Priesthood at the founding of the order by A'hayuta. At dawn the ceremonies end and later in the day the images are taken by the Bow Priests and the priests of the council to two of the mountain shrines of A'hayuta. This is the day on which everyone plants prayer sticks to the sun.

At the full moon in March the Bow Priests make prayer sticks for A'hayuta. At night they meet in their ceremonial room, where their altar is set up.[72] There are no images of the gods of war at this time. Again during the night comato:we are sung. Four days later there is a kick-stick race under the special patronage of the gods of war. After this it is safe for people to plant corn. Spring wheat is planted before this time, but corn is planted only after these ceremonies. The precise nature of the connection between the War Gods, stick racing, and planting is obscure.

There are no ceremonies for the War Gods at the summer solstice. However, the two Bow Priests who serve the priests of the council have their place in the series of summer retreats for rain. The day the p?ekwin comes out they plant prayer sticks to the U'wanami Bow Priests. For four days they observe all the requirements of retreat, save that they do not remain in seclusion in their ceremonial room. Instead they visit each day a distant mountain shrine of A'hayuta where they offer corn meal and turquoise. They have no altar at this time--probably because all their fetishes are for war, and therefore can have no place in these purely priestly activities.[73] The bow priesthood does not convene at this time.

Formerly the bow priests held a great public dance after harvest in the fall. This was an occasion of great festivity, as always when there is dancing by the girls. Like the scalp dance, it was accompanied by sexual license. However, the dance has not been performed in 20 years, since two girls of a good family were killed by a stray shot from the housetops. The Bow Priests met in their ceremonial room, but there was no altar and no offerings of prayer sticks.

The scalp dance is held at irregular intervals, whenever an enemy is killed. Its purpose is to induct the scalper into the Bow Priesthood for his own protection, to strip the dead enemy of his power and develop his capacities as rain maker, and to celebrate fittingly with all manner of festivity the destruction of the enemy. The principal events are outlined in another place.[74]

There are other groups which have definite associations with war. The Ant society figures prominently in the ceremonies of the scalp

[71. The word means "spiral." It is accompanied by a circle dance. Approaching spiralwise toward a center is characteristic of war dances throughout North America. See text of origin myth, p. 597.

72. This ceremony has never been described. The writer has not witnessed it; merely knows that it takes place.

73. Or perhaps because of the association between A'hayuta and wind, snow, and cold weather.

74. p. 674.]

{p. 528}

dance and the O'winahaiye. The Wood society holds a ceremony in which the Bow Priesthood participates. The Great Fire society is privileged to wear the great feather, part of the war chief's regalia. The arrow order of this society uses the body paint of the war chiefs. The Hunters' society is also a war society. The members of this, as well as those of the Cactus society, can not be inducted into the bow priesthood, because they are already warriors. Members of the Cactus society offer prayer sticks to A'hayuta. The Hunters' and Cactus societies have male members only.

All these groups, however, are devoted primarily to the worship of the Beast Gods and receive from them their sanctions and power.


To the east at Cipapolima live the Beast Gods (we'ma:we or we'ma a:'ciwan:i). These are the beasts of prey and partake of their rapacious nature. They are the most dangerous and violent gods in the Zuñi pantheon. They are the priests of long life (onaya:nak^ä a:'ci'wan:i, literally road fulfilling priests). They are the givers of medicine, not only medicinal plants, but the magic power to make them effective. They are the source also of black magic or witchcraft. Their leaders are associated with the six directions, as follows: North, Mountain Lion; west, Bear; south, Badger; east, Wolf; above, Knife-wing;[75] below, Gopher. Of all, the most powerful is the Bear. He is compelled through impersonation at curing ceremonies. The symbol of his personality is the bear paws which are drawn over the hands and have the same properties as the masks of the gods. The worship of the beast gods is conducted by 12 societies or fraternities. Membership in these societies is voluntary and is open alike to males and females.[76] All offices are held by men, and only they have the ultimate magical powers--the powers of impersonating the bear, the use of the crystal, the power to remove sickness by sucking, and the use of magical songs. Some knowledge of therapeutic plants is hereditary in certain matrilineal families. Except for midwifery, which is practiced independently, all medical practice is in the hands of these societies. They are, in fact, medical guilds, closed corporations which guard their secrets jealously. The combined body of esoteric knowledge and ritual held by these groups is enormous, and this is genuinely esoteric. To collect it one would have to be on terms of utmost intimacy with all the officers in all the societies. No knowledge is more closely guarded than this.

[75. A mythical monster with wings of knives. Mrs. Stevenson names eagle as god of the upper regions, and shrew for below. The present list is quoted from a prayer of the Great Fire society.

76. Except the Cactus society, a war society, and Hunters which have only male members. The Cactus society cures wounds made by bullets or by any pointed object, including cactus. The Hunters have no curing rituals.]

{p. 529}

Each society in addition to practicing general medicine has a specialty--one cures sore throat, another epilepsy, another has efficacious medicine for delayed parturition, yet another cures bullet wounds, and so forth.

Initiation into the societies is a precaution taken to save one's life. If a person is desperately ill he is given by his relatives to one of the medicine societies.[77] The officials of the society come in a body to cure him. They bring with them all their ceremonial paraphernalia and lend the whole force of their ritual toward defeating the disease. If the patient recovers he is not necessarily cured. He has been granted a respite, and until he fulfills his pledge and receives a new heart and places himself under the direct protection of the Beast Gods through joining the society which cured him, his life is in jeopardy. Since initiation involves one in great expense, frequently many years elapse before it is completed.

The societies have, perhaps, the most highly developed ritual of all the cult groups. They possess elaborate altars which are kept in the houses in which they habitually meet. These consist of carved wooden tablets, stone fetishes, and various other sacred objects. These altars are set up on a meal painting at all ceremonies in which the society takes part. On the altar are also placed feathered ears of corn, the personal fetishes of members of the medicine order of the society. This fetish (mi?le) is made for the novice by his father at the time of his initiation; it remains his personal fetish until he dies, when it is dismantled and buried by members of the society. If a man is compelled to be absent from any meeting of his society he or some member of his household takes his mi?le to the society room to be placed upon the altar.

All members of medicine societies plant prayer sticks each month at the full moon. The offering includes, besides the usual sticks for the ancients and for the katcinas, sticks for the Beast Gods, made in each society according to different specifications. These sticks are planted either in cornfields or at Red Bank, a point on the river bank east[78] of town. These are offered separately by each individual.

The collective ceremonies of the medicine societies are held in the fall and winter. During the summer the cult of the Beast Gods is in abeyance. As a symbol of this, the drums of the societies must not be touched during this time, not even to beat out the rhythm for grinding songs. At the full moon in October (in some societies November), the members are summoned to their ceremonial house. They make

[77. In less serious cases an individual medicine man is called. He removes the cause of sickness and is paid for his trouble. At the winter ceremony the recovered patient has his head bathed in the society room and exchanges gifts with his "father."

78. The Beast Gods live in the east. Therefore all ceremonies of the curing societies are oriented toward the east, in contrast to ceremonies for the ancients and the katcinas, which are oriented toward the south and west. It is interesting to note that historically the medicine cult is undoubtedly of Keresan, i. e., Eastern origin.]

{p. 530}

their prayer sticks here during the day. At sundown the altar is set up. Female members, who do not attend this meeting, send food and leave their miwe for the altar. After dark the drum is taken out and songs of the Beast Gods are sung. The gods are present in the village at this time, much the way the katcinas are present throughout the summer.

The great meetings of the societies are held at the winter solstice. On the ninth day following the P?ekwin's announcement society members meet early in the morning at their ceremonial houses. The day is spent in prayer-stick making. The solstice prayer-stick bundles of the societies are the most elaborate and beautiful products of this highly developed art. They contain sticks for the ancients, for deceased members of the society, and for Paiyatamu[79] gods of music, poetry, flowers and butterflies. Included in the bundle are the crook, symbol of old age, and twigs of various medicinal plants. There are no offerings to the Beast Gods at this time.

At sundown the altar is set up. Women members, if they are not planning to attend the night meeting, come bringing food and their miwe and sprinkle corn meal on the altar. Late at night, about 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning, the Ne?we:kwe visit the kiva where the priests have been waiting in silence before the altar of the Gods of War. Here they perform a rite of exorcism, without which the ceremony can not proceed. When they have left the Bow Priests start their song. As soon as their drum is heard the society people, who have also been waiting in their own houses, start their own rites. The songs sung at this time are for the U'wanami. They are among the most beautiful and sacred of all Zuñi songs, and are known only to the most learned members of the societies. The ceremony ends at daybreak. The members come home, each bringing with him his mi?le, his bundle of prayer sticks, and a bundle of several ears of corn that have rested all night on the altar. The corn is kept for spring planting and the prayer sticks are buried that afternoon, along with each man's individual offerings to the sun and the ancients. After this planting all society members except the Sa'niakakwe and the Ci'wanakwe must abstain from all animal food for four days, in addition to the usual requirement of continence. The food taboo obligatory for society members is optional with others. For them, too, it used to be obligatory and is probably related to the offering to the sun.

This ceremony is for rain and fertility. It has nothing whatever to do with curing, and in it the Beast Gods play no rôle, it is quite

[70. Paiyatamu is the Keresan word payatyamu, "youth." He is associated with all things gay and youthful. He is another romantic adventurer in folklore. His prayer stick, significantly, is double, and is painted blue and yellow, the colors associated with sex. The flutes of Payatamu are played at the phallic ritual of O'lolowickya. (Parsons: Winter and Summer Dance Series.) They are important in the Corn dance.]

{p. 531}

distinct from the "going in" of the Beast Gods which immediately follows it, and is so regarded by the Zuñis themselves.

On the evening of the tenth day of the solstice, the day of the universal planting, the societies convene for their great retreat.[80] Female members sleep at home, and return in the daytime to attend to their household duties. Their attendance, even at the evening meetings, is not obligatory until the final night. Male members, however, are in retreat; they sleep and eat at their society houses, although they are permitted to visit their homes between times. This privilege is not accorded to officers of societies who observe as strict a retreat as priests. The altar is put up on the first evening, and remains in place until the conclusion of the ceremonies on the fourth morning following. The room is taboo to outsiders, with the exception of members of the household.

The days are spent making prayer sticks and preparing their costumes and regalia for the great ceremony of the last night. At night songs are sung for the Beast Gods. Each day at dawn the members go out in groups to offer corn meal and to present their miwe to the rising sun. During the evenings tales are told and instruction in the ritual is given.

On the last night all the society members, male and female, assemble in full ceremonial costume, including face and body paint. To the society house also come those who wish to be cured of chronic ailments, since curing during public ceremonies entails no obligation on the part of the patient.[81] About midnight a fresh altar is prepared. Sometimes there are demonstrations of fire eating and other tricks by qualified groups before the chief business, the invocation of the Beast Gods, is reached. The songs of the Beast Gods are sung with the accompaniment of rattle and drum, and society members dance. The dance is without formation, members rising to dance whenever they choose and leaving the floor when they are tired, usually after four or eight songs. The purpose of this dancing is to create a proper atmosphere in which to summon the Beast Gods. The participants gradually work themselves into a state of mental excitement bordering on hysteria. Finally those who are qualified to impersonate the bear,[82] draw over their hands the bear paws that lie on the altar, and

[80. The Lhe'we-kwe do not go in at this time. Their retreat follows six days after the close of the solstice ceremonies.

81. The following ceremony of purification is held in Cochiti during the winter: "People may go to the giant, flint, or cikame houses. The ritual is similar. The shamans approach each person, touch him and draw out an object, usually a stone, which he is told is a sickness. An altar is erected with cornmeal paths and fetishes but the rainbow arch is not used. After the sickness has been removed each person is given water "medicine" from the bowl. This is sprinkled over their bodies and they are allowed to drink some. This same formula is used in times of actual sickness. The shamans sing and pray all night while the people pray and walk around the altar sprinkling corn meal to the animal helpers and protectors. (Goldfrank, p. 72.)

82 Only the oldest and most learned of the medicine men. They acquire power to summon the bear only after the expenditure of great effort and much property.]

{p. 532}

in so doing assume the personality of the bear, much as the wearer of a mask becomes a god. They utter the cries of animals and otherwise imitate beasts, especially the bear.

In this condition they are enabled by gazing into the crystal to see the hidden sickness in those present. When they see sickness in anyone they draw from his body the foreign substance that has caused it. Dust, stones, bits of calico, feathers, fur or the entrails of animals are extracted from the mouth and other parts of the bodies of patients. Each article as it is extracted is exhibited to the company and dropped into a bowl to be disposed of the following day. Both practitioner and patient are nude save for the breechcloth, which necessitates considerable skill in sleigh t-of-hand, even though clumsy tricks would pass in the prevailing state of hysterical excitement. It is general knowledge that these "cures" are accomplished by sleight-of-hand. However, such knowledge by no means decreases the respect in which these tricks are held. These practices have the sanction of powerful and greatly feared divinities and are performed directly under their control. The act itself is but a symbol of the relationship with the supernaturals. The efficacy lies not in the performance of the act itself but in the god-given power to perform it.

As the night advances the excitement increases. Groups of medicine men and women selected by the society chief visit other society houses in response to invitations previously delivered with the customary offering of corn meal. They dash through the streets simulating cries of animals. They are barefoot--practically nude, although the ground may be covered with snow or ice.[83] In the house of their hosts they give demonstrations of their curing powers.

The ceremony ends at dawn. The excitement suddenly subsides. The miwe are once more taken out to the sun. On returning to the ceremonial room there are brief concluding ceremonies in a quiet vein. Then the altar is dismantled and the members depart to eat breakfast at their homes. Meat is served for the first time in four days.

In the afternoon male members of societies offer prayer sticks to the Beast Gods.[84] For four days continence must be observed.

The Lhewekwe observe their great retreat for the Beast Gods after the winter solstice ceremonies are at an end. The stick-swallowing order of the Great Fire society also has a retreat at this time. The retreat terminates in a public dance by both societies with exhibitions of sword swallowing. In connection with this there is a retreat with a public dance on the last day for mu'etowe, a snow fetish. So that the whole ceremony combines functions of curing and weather control.

[83. The men are naked, and temperature on a midwinter night may be below zero.

84. At the same time all initiated males offer to the masked gods. There are also special plantings by males and females for fecundity and wealth.]

{p. 533}

We already alluded to the attendance of the Ne'wekwe at the winter dances of the masked gods, and their summer ceremony, which is only rarely performed. This ceremony comprises a four-day retreat with prayers for rain, at which there is no singing to the drum of the songs of the Beast Gods. The retreat ends with an all-night ceremony the last night and a public dance the last day. In this ceremony, as well as in the initiation rites, importance is given to various obscene and cruel practices. The dance may be repeated by request. In this ceremony they are assisted by the Ci'wanakwe.

The other ceremonies of the medicine societies which are held at irregular intervals as occasions arise are concerned specifically with curing and initiation. Curing ceremonies are very secret. Only officers of the societies and those possessed of the required medical knowledge and magical powers are present. Prayer sticks are made and an altar is set up in the sick room and songs are sung. There is a general rite of exorcism by spitting. Since disease is generally caused by a witch injecting foreign bodies into the patient, the most obvious method of cure is to locate and remove the foreign substance. The medicine man locates the foreign substance either by use of the crystal or by partaking of a vision-producing drug.[85] The practitioner then removes it by the same sleight-of-hand that is practiced at public healing ceremonies. Or, if the patient knows who has bewitched him, or learns it under the influence of tenatsali, the Bow Priests are summoned and attempt to extract a confession from the accused. The confession strips him of his power and effects an automatic cure. In former days witches were hung. Since this practice has been ended by the United States Government authorities witch baiting has declined in importance in medical practice and greater weight is given to extracting foreign bodies.[86]

The ceremonies in the sick room are continued for four nights, provided the patient lives that long. Purely therapeutic measures, massage, sweating, blood letting, and the administration of drugs may be employed as supplement and continue beyond the period devoted to magical practices.

Should the patient recover he must eventually fulfill his pledge of membership in the society, thus placing himself permanently under the protection of the Beast Gods. The initiation ceremony is held in November, or after the winter solstice ceremonies. The retreat begins four days before the full moon, so that the final ceremony comes the night the moon is full. The initiation rites are in part public ceremonies. To the final ceremonies other societies are invited in a body, and persons of no society affiliation may attend as individuals. Frequently there are public dances outdoors, as part of the initiation

[55. The men are naked, and the temperature on a midwinter night may be below zero.

56. At the same time all initiated males offer to the masked gods. There are also special plantings by males and females for fecundity and wealth.]

{p. 534}

rites. In these there is great variability among the different societies. In all, however, the core of the ceremony is the same. It is described in some detail in another place.[87]


Between all of these independent cults is the binding element of calendrical observances. Each cult has ceremonies extending through an annual cycle, starting from the winter solstice, and returning again into the winter solstice. Their solstice ceremonies are all nicely synchronized. They are fitted into a period of 20 days, and so neatly arranged that there are no conflicts, even for a man with varied ceremonial affiliations.

The name by which the Zuñis refer to the period of the solstice is itiwana, the middle, the same name that they give, esoterically, to their village. Mrs. Stevenson and others interpret this as being a contraction of the sentence yätokä i'tiwanan te' ?tci "the sun reaches the middle." This is unquestionably correct, but the term has a more significant connotation. It is the middle of the year, the point common to all the different cults, and is indeed the center of their whole ceremonial life. There is no doubt that the Zuñis themselves think of their rituals as being organized about this focal point. Their application of the term "middle" to it is sufficient indication.[88] The linguistic identification of concepts of time and space is characteristically Zuñian. The solstice is, therefore, the center of time, just as Zuñi itself is the center of space.

The winter solstice ceremonies start when the p?ekwin announces from the housetop that all men shall make prayer sticks for the sun to be offered in 10 days. The date is calculated by observations of the sunrise from a petrified stump in a cornfield east of the village. When the sun rises at a particular point on the mesa to the southeast it is time for the p?ekwin to start his own plantings. If correctly calculated, then the general prayer-stick planting will take place on the day when the sunrise reaches its most southerly limit--that is, on the 22d of December. However, the Zuñis seem never to have been able to decide on the relative merits of solar and lunar calendar, and the desire to have the observation of the solstice occur at the full moon disarranges the calculations and naturally leads to dissention among the various priests. However, the date is definitely set by the p?ekwin and the others, whatever their views, fall into line.

[87. See p. 701.

86. E. C. Parsons (Winter and Summer Dance Series in Zuñi in 1918, University of California Publ., v. 17, No. 3, p. 171) designates the winter dance series of the katcinas, koko a-wan itiwana, the itiwana of the masked gods. These dances follow at stated intervals after the solstice, but are not actually part of it. This indicates the Zuñi pattern that each cult must have a center, and this center must correspond to the centers of other cults. The katcinas do not figure in the solstice ceremonies proper.]

{p. 535}

The ceremonies fall into two periods of 10 nights each.[89] The first nine days are spent in preparation of great quantities of prayer sticks by all men. Images of the war gods are carved by men to whom this office belongs. The great ceremonies begin on the tenth night. On this night the new year fire is kindled in the kiva and the Bow Priests hold their ceremony for the War Gods. At the same time all the societies hold ceremonies in honor of the Uwanami.

On the following morning the images of the War Gods are taken to their shrines. The priests take the younger brother to Corn Mountain to a shrine the position of which is visible at the village. There the priests kindle a fire, and the appearance of their smoke is the signal for the beginning of the great fire taboo. For the next 10 days--that is, until dawn on the twentieth day--no fire or light must be seen outdoors, nor must any sweepings or ashes be thrown out. For the whole period priests observe continence, eat no animal food, and they and their households refrain from trade of any description. Others observe continence for eight days following the planting of prayer sticks, and refrain from animal food and trading for four days. The conservation of fire, and especially the saving of ashes and sweepings, are fertility magic, that the house may be full of corn, as it is of ashes. Throughout this period a sacred fire is kept burning in He'?iwa kiva.

The eleventh to the fourteenth nights 10 are given over to the retreats and ceremonies of the medicine societies, with the great all-night ceremony ending at dawn on the fourteenth day. On this afternoon occurs the second general planting of prayer sticks to the katcinas, the Beast Gods, and to the ancestors for wealth.

On the following day the priests again make prayer sticks for the Uwanami in preparation for their retreat the following night. This takes place on the sixteenth night. The prayers are for rain and fertility. On the altar are placed clay images of animals and objects on which blessings are invoked. The prayer sticks are planted at springs the following morning.

Also late on the sixteenth night all the kivas are visited by P?autiwa (called on this occasion Komhalhikwi, "witch god") who throws into each a ball of fine corn meal to be used during the coming year by the Ca?lako impersonators in their morning prayers. His visit takes place late at night when none can see him. The rite seems to be one of exorcism.

On some night during the 10 days of the fire taboo, generally the night of the priests' retreats, each family that owns sacred possessions of any description employs them in rites of fertility magic.[91] Clay

[89. In computing the dates of ceremonies only nights are counted. The p?ekwin's announcement is made at dawn. The following night is the first day. Taboo periods begin at sundown or late afternoon and continue through four nights, ending the fourth morning at dawn. The days are not counted.

90. Sometimes called "the first four nights of the komosona's count." For 10 days the p?ekwin counts days for the sun. Then he is finished and the komosona counts days for Pautiwa.

91. Itsuma:wa, the ritualistic term for planting.]

{p. 536}

objects, similar to those used on the altars of the priests, are modeled by the women of the house. These are set out at night along with ears of corn and the sacred object, mask, rain fetish, sacred medicine, or personal fetishes such as pebbles to which are imputed magical properties. For one night the family are in retreat. They remain awake until day and repeat prayers and songs whose burden is a request for fertility of crops and flocks, and the fecundity of women. The ears of corn are set aside for spring seeding. The clay objects are later buried in the floor of the house, or thrown out on the twentieth day with the sweepings. They are the seed from which the real objects will grow.

On one of these days pregnant women, especially those who have been unfortunate with previous babies, visit the shrines at the base of the rock pillars on the west side of Corn Mountain. A woman undertaking this pilgrimage is accompanied by her husband and a priest. They deposit prayer sticks at the foot of the rock pillars and she scrapes a bit of dust from the rock and swallows it, from one side if she desires a boy, from the other if she wishes a girl. In addition to this, or instead of it, a pregnant woman may have made for her at this season a doll, similar to those sometimes given to children during the winter dances of the katcinas. The doll is made by anyone who "knows how," that is, who has the supernatural power to make it effective. It will ensure a safe delivery and a healthy child.

Meanwhile the impersonator of P?autiwa for the final day has been chosen. On the nineteenth day the priests of the council make the crooks of appointment to be given to the impersonators of the katcina priests. Just before sunset arrive Ci'tsukä and Kwe:lele, two masked gods from the east. They bring the new year from the east. Their masks belong to the Great Fire Society and appear, along with another mask, at certain curing ceremonies of that society. I can offer no explanation of the conspicuous part they play in the celebration of the New Year. They go to the chief kiva where are assembled the priests of the council and the impersonators of P?autiwa and the four Sai'yalhia. They dance all night in the kiva to the songs of the Great Fire Society. Late at night the Saiyalhia visit all the kivas "to send out the old year." It is a rite of exorcism. At dawn the new year fire is kindled. Before sunrise the katcinas, accompanied by the p?ekwin, the chief of the Katcina Society and the guardian of the sacred fire, go out to the east carrying fire brands and a lighted torch. After brief prayers they return. The sound of their rattles as they pass is a signal to the people. The great fire taboo is now ended and from each household the men and women emerge bearing live coals from the fire, and the accumulated ashes and sweepings. Soon the fields from which night has not yet

{p. 537}

departed blossom with a hundred piles of glowing embers. The masked gods return to the kiva where they dance until day. Anyone, man, woman, or child, who desires good luck, may go to the kiva at this time to receive the blessing of the presence of the gods.

The day is one of great festivity and rejoicing. All day the gods from the east dance on the roof of the kiva, throwing food and other articles to the populace. Meanwhile the bow priests summon to the kiva the men chosen to impersonate the gods during the coming year. When they have all arrived the wands of office are distributed by the p?ekwin.

The merrymaking continues in the plaza until sundown, when P?autiwa appears. He visits all the kivas. On the roof of each he lays down the crook of office for the Ca?lako god to be chosen from that kiva. The bar of the hatchway he marks with four lines of corn meal, to indicate that the masked gods will visit the village. Then using a twig to represent a scalp, he performs a brief ritual symbolizing the taking of an enemy scalp. Thus he brings the new year. After visiting all the kivas he departs for the, west, taking Ci'tsuk^ä, and Kwe'lele with him.

After dark each house in the village is visited by Tcakwenaok^ä, a female masked impersonation and the special guardian of women in childbirth.[92] She is accompanied by other masked gods. As the group reaches each door live coals are thrown out of the house as a rite of purification. Tcakwenaok^ä comes only once to bring the blessing of fecundity. The other gods return for four consecutive nights, in accordance with the promise of P?autiwa. In early days the first dance of the winter series took place four days after the departure of the exorcising divinities (Stevenson, p. 141). Now it takes place any time the leaders wish. This closes the celebration of the solstice, unless the retreat and dance of the lhewekwe which follow 10 days after the coming of P?autiwa be considered as part of the solstice ceremonies.

Theoretically the second half of the Zuñi year repeats the ceremonial calendar of the first six months. As in December, the summer solstice is marked by a ceremonial period called i'tiwana, the middle. As in the winter, this is a synchronization of independent cults. But here the resemblance ceases. The actual ceremonies, and above all the relative weight of various elements, are quite different.

Before the summer solstice the p?ekwin makes daily observations of the sunsets from a shrine at Ma'tsak^ä, a ruin a few miles east of Zuñi. When the sun sets behind a certain point on the mesa to the northwest the p?ekwin begins his plantings to the sun and to the ancestors. On the morning after his fourth planting he announces that in eight days everyone shall make prayer sticks for the sun, the moon, the ancients,

[92. In 1927 the visit of Tcakwenao'k^ä was omitted. The man who owns her mask, a very dangerous one, and knows her ritual, was in prison for burglary. No one else dared touch the mask. (See p.931.)]

{p. 538}

and the katcinas. The prayer sticks are offered in the afternoon of the eighth day, which should be the summer solstice, June 22. The offerings are less elaborate than those of the winter solstice, but their precise nature is not known to the writer. There is only one planting. Prayer sticks for the katcinas are offered together with the others on the eighth day. There are no offerings to the Beast Gods. The offerings are made in cornfields. For four days everyone refrains from sexual intercourse, trading, and quarreling, but there is no restriction on food.

On the day preceding the offering the societies, except the Wood Society,[93] meet in their houses. Altars are erected, but there are no images of the Beast Gods. The members remain in retreat overnight, and their prayers on this occasion, as on the night preceding the solstice in December, are directed primarily toward the rain makers. There is no four-day retreat in honor of the Beast Gods following this, and no general healing of the sick. This part of their activities is temporarily in abeyance.

On the third day following the solstice the impersonators of the Koyemci visit each house in the village and are doused with water by the female inhabitants as a suggestion to the supernatural powers to do likewise. Then they go into retreat.

On the fourth day following the general prayer stick planting the first of the chief priesthoods goes into retreat, to remain in for eight nights.

On the same day preparations are begun for the first of the summer rain dances. Every fourth year a pilgrimage is made to the village of the katcinas, a lake about 80 miles to the west. On the fourth day following the solstice the officers of the katcina society and the impersonators of all of the katcina priests, accompanied by the chief of the Hunters Society and men of the Deer and the Badger clans leave for the home of the gods. The lake is reached on the evening of the second day. Offerings of prayer sticks are made at various shrines and turtles are hunted. The party returns next morning, arriving at Zuñi the fourth day at sunset, the seventh after the solstice.

On intervening years the same party leaves at dawn on the seventh day to plant at a spring at Ojo Caliente, 17 miles southwest of Zuñi. The spring symbolizes the more distant shrine. Since the date coincides with the monthly planting of the katcina priests, the impersonators separate, some going with the others to Ojo Caliente, some taking the offerings of his fellows to the spring at which they make their regular monthly planting. Each person makes offerings for both springs.

[93. Stevenson, p. 150. This society does not meet with the others in the winter rites. Its rituals are especially potent for bringing cold winds and snow. For it to function at this time would be disastrous.]

{p. 539}

Returning at evening, the party from the katcina village is met on the plain by a group of katcinas from the kiva that is to present the first dance. The priests bring the gods back with them from their village. From now until they are sent home in the fall they are present, though invisible, in the village. After dancing in the four courts of the village the dancers retire to the house where they are to spend the night. Here one of the societies which has been invited to provide music has erected its altar. The gods are welcomed and throughout the night dance for the delectation of the hosts. Their presence is manifested by rain. Meanwhile the Koyemci hold similar rites in their own ceremonial house.

The dancers on this occasion abstain from food and drink until they have made the round of the plazas four times the following morning, or until rain falls.[94] Each round takes about an hour, and the outdoor dancing begins at sunrise. Dancing in the plazas continues throughout the day, while in the two houses visited by the gods the medicine societies keep up continuous singing. At sunset the dancers depart and the society people dismantle their altars and return home. With this ceremony the celebration of the summer solstice closes.

The chief priesthood remains in retreat for four more nights, and comes out on the eighth morning. The second priesthood goes in that same evening and the rest follow in regular order.

The summer solstice observances are notable in the complete absence of any ceremonies to secure the blessings of the Beast Gods or the Ahayuta. The omission of the Ahayuta is especially noteworthy. In the winter they are appealed to for protection and aid in war, but more especially for snow and cold winds. Prayer sticks are offered at all their shrines in conjunction with the dance of the Wood Society, a potent snow-making ritual. The second calendrical ceremony of the Bow Priesthood is held in March, before corn planting and in preparation therefor. The ceremony has never been observed nor described, nor, unfortunately, have the words of the prayers and songs been recorded. However, it corresponds to the summer solstice ceremonies of other cults, in being a partial repetition, with variations, of their winter observances. The writer hazards the guess, in the absence of direct evidence, that this is an appeal for snow and violent rains to swell the spring freshets and prepare the ground for the reception of seeds.

If the winter ceremonies emphasize rites having as their object medicine, war, and fecundity, the summer ceremonies are weighted

[91. At Acoma the summer dance of katcinas is held early in July, the public ceremonies consuming four days, from about the 10th to the 14th. These are preceded by a period of purification lasting eight days. The participants abstain from food and especially from water from nightfall preceding the dance until noon the day of the dance. (White, MS.) The date is that of the Hopi Niman. In certain Aztec ceremonies there is prohibition on drinking from nightfall until noon.]

{p. 540}

overwhelmingly on the side of rain, the most conspicuous features being the retreats of the priests and the dances of the katcinas. It is tempting to attribute this pattern difference to practical consideration. The first of July is the approximate date of the opening of the rainy season in this semiarid land. At this time the corn plants are about 10 inches high and desperately in need of rain. Two more weeks of drought and blazing heat will bum them beyond hope. Upon prompt and plentiful rains in July depends the welfare of the tribe. It is, therefore, to this end that all the magical resources of the tribe are bent. The Ahayuta, associated with wind and low temperatures, are shunned.

On the other hand, in December the conditions are reversed. The crop is already harvested and whereas it is desirable to have heavy snowfalls in the mountains to feed the spring freshets, inclement weather in the valley is a great hardship and works ruin among the flocks that form so large a part of Zuñi wealth. Therefore prayer sticks are twice offered at the mountain shrines of the Ahayuta with prayers for snow. The Uwanami and the katcinas receive but very meager attention, and the efforts of the tribe are focused on rites directed toward war, medicine and fecundity. At both solstices the sun father is appealed to in similar fashion for his great blessing of life.


The vast wealth of ceremonial elaboration which we have been considering is notably weak on the side of what have been called "crisis rites." In contrast to the ceremonial recognition given to natural phenomena--the solstitial risings of the sun, the alternation of summer and winter, the perpetual dearth of rain--crises in personal life pass almost unnoticed. The ceremonies surrounding birth, puberty, marriage, and death are meager and unspectacular. There is sprinkling of ashes for purification of the newborn. On the eighth day of life the infant is presented to the sun with brief prayers, but the occasion is not one of any ceremonial importance. There are no ceremonies whatsoever at marriage, and mortuary rituals are simple and undramatic in comparison with calendrical ceremonies. Relatives are summoned at death. The body is dressed for burial, all present weep and sprinkle corn meal on the head of the deceased with brief prayers, and the corpse is interred at once. Four days later prayer sticks are planted, and the property of the deceased, including certain ceremonial possessions, is buried and additional prayer sticks may be offered to the dead after an interval of time. But there are no public demonstrations and no elaborate ceremonies of mourning.

On the other hand, initiations are always important occasions. The general initiation of all young males into the Katcina Society

{p. 541}

corresponds in some ways to puberty ceremonies of other tribes, even though it has very little relation to the physical fact of adolescence. The first "initiation" takes place at the age of from five to seven years. It corresponds to no physiological change and marks no change of status on the part of the child. The child who has been "initiated" in this preliminary ceremony has no more knowledge or responsibility than one who has not yet gone through the rite. The final ceremony at which knowledge is revealed takes place anywhere between the ages of 10 and 20, depending on the interference of schooling---in old days it probably took place between the ages of 10 and 14--and is unrelated either to physical maturity or the assumption of adult responsibilities. It is an initiation solely into the katcina cult and has nothing to do with the social status of the individual. Marriage, for instance, does not depend upon it, nor participation in other ceremonies. Although any initiated boy may, if he wishes, take part in masked dances, he does not feel any obligation to do so. It is usually many years before he assumes even the responsibility of making his own prayer sticks. Curiously enough, considering general North American custom, no notice whatever is taken of the advent of maturity in girls.

Initiations into medicine societies are more clearly ceremonial recognition of personal crises. The initiate is a patient who has been snatched from the jaws of death and his initiation into the group that saved him is the ceremonial assumption of his new status. At his initiation he gets a "new heart," and, as a symbol of the new life he has begun, receives a new name.[95] This name, however, is not usually used and does not ordinarily replace his childhood name or names. The ceremony may be delayed for years--sometimes as long as 20 years--after the cure which it affirms. Like initiation into the Katcina Society, it involves a minimum requirement of attendance, and the privilege of additional participation as the interests and ability of the individual may dictate. Children need not assume any responsibilities upon initiation.

Religious participation starts among children when, as infants on their mother's backs, they are taken to watch the katcinas dance. The summer dances outdoors are largely attended by small children of both sexes. During the morning and early afternoon they constitute the entire audience. Formerly children were not permitted to attend night dances of the katcinas where the katcinas dance unmasked, but this rule is broken among the more lax parts of the population.

Children learn early to share the interest of their elders in the more spectacular phases of religious life. They are keen observers of dances, they know songs, and give accurate and lively accounts of

[95. Contrary to custom in other pueblos, and reported information from Zuñi, naming is not a part of the initiation into the Katcina Society.]

{p. 542}

ceremonies which they attend; they are interested. in sacerdotal gossip; and they orient their activities about great religious festivals. In early childhood boys and girls are especially interested in religious affairs. Sometime between the ages of 5 and 10 boys make their first direct contact with the deeper aspects of religion, on their preliminary initiation into the Katcina Society. This makes no change in a child's religious life. It is only after his final initiation, which may occur any time after the age of 10, that active participation in dances begins. Boys of 10 or 12 take part in the winter dancing but rarely in the more strenuous dancing of the summer series. At about the same age girls have their attention diverted from religious spectacles to their own adult activities.

Most adult men engage in other religious activities besides the required minimum of katcina dancing and the semiannual prayer stick plantings required of all persons. The younger men, who find exhilaration in dancing and singing, dance many times a year, either with their own groups or with others, and organize extra dances. As their knowledge of dance forms increases they may advance to formal office in one of the six dance societies. Those who display an aptitude in memorizing long prayers, if of exemplary conduct, may be appointed to impersonate one of the gods.

Membership in curing societies is not ordinarily a matter of individual choice. Once initiated into one of these groups a man may limit his activities to attendance at the regular winter meetings and initiations. Or if he has sufficient intellectual curiosity to pay high for esoteric knowledge he may, by accumulating knowledge and the supernatural power which knowledge gives him, advance to a position of influence in his society. For a successful career as a medicine man, intelligence and ambition seem more important than piety and virtue. However, although a man of questionable moral character may build up a good medical practice, he is not likely to be chosen for office in his society.

Membership in priesthoods is even less a matter of free choice than curing societies. Priesthoods are hereditary in maternal families, and to fill a vacancy the members select the least quarrelsome rather than the most intelligent of the eligible young men.

The priesthoods are the branch of religious service that carries the greatest prestige and heaviest responsibilities. Because of the heavy responsibilities the office is avoided rather than sought, and considerable difficulty is experienced in recruiting the priesthoods. As one informant said, "They have to catch the men young to make them priests. For if they are old enough to realize all that is required of them, they will refuse." She was not thinking of the taboos and restraints of the priestly life, but of the sense of responsibility for the welfare of the tribe which lies so heavily on the shoulders of the priests. The same informant continued: "Yesterday my younger

{p. 543}

brother went with his uncle to the spring for water for their altar. He was dressed in his ciwan:i costume and looked very handsome. As he went out, light rain fell, and everyone was happy that they had been blessed with rain. But my heart hurt and my eyes were full of tears to see my younger brother. He is so young and yet he has his mind on these serious things."

Another and very different type of voluntary participation is to "take the crook" for the ca?lako, that is to volunteer to entertain the gods in one's house. This involves the host in very great expense, and can be undertaken only by a man who is wealthy in his own right or who has wealthy relatives who are willing to help him. This munificence brings to the house the blessing of fecundity but is primarily a social activity in that it merely provides the background for a great tribal festival. Its rewards (to the individual) are to be measured largely in terms of social prestige. If volunteers fail, the obligation to hold the ceremony falls upon members of the religious hierarchy.

The religious activities of women are less varied and picturesque than those of men. In early adolescence a girl's interest is diverted from religious affairs. About the time she assumes adult dress--or did before the days of the American school--she falls under a system of chaperonage that hampers her movements. Especially running around to public dances is regarded as unbecoming. So if she goes to dances at all she goes to watch discreetly from the houses of relatives who live on the plaza, or gets very much dressed up and stands and giggles on the corner of some housetop with a group of equally dressed up and equally self-conscious little girls. Furthermore, about this time she assumes adult responsibilities in the household, and beyond that all her interests are absorbed in mating activities. Adult economic status comes later to boys than to girls. In the years between initiation and marriage boys give much of their attention to dancing, while girls of the same age are cooking, grinding, and caring for their sisters' babies.

After marriage they become even more domestic, and remain so throughout the period of childbearing. Not only is their time filled with domestic duties, but it is displeasing to a man to have his wife gadding about, and Zuñi women, despite their economic and social security, are careful not to displease their men. Furthermore, their avenues of participation are restricted. They are not, except in very rare cases, initiated into the Katcina society, the only democratic religious organization. Some of the priesthoods have women members, but these positions are, it seems, even harder to fill than positions for men. One of the reasons is that husbands get very restive under the long periods of continence required of their wives. A man will remain continent during his own ceremonies but seems to think

{p. 544}

it is too much to expect him to remain continent during his wife's ceremonies also. Here, again, the problem is to catch the girl young enough. Women are initiated into medicine societies on an equal basis and as frequently as men. They participate in the dances of the society, but they are debarred from holding office. They frequently practice medicine and are "given" children for their society, but they must call upon male members for assistance in cures and to perform many of the initiation rites over their children. Women never possess the ultimate medical power, that of calling the bear, and do not usually possess esoteric songs. However, their knowledge of actual therapeutics is often greater than that of men. Most societies have "mothers" who brew their medicines and jealously guard the secrets of the treatment of medicinal herbs.

Some women who are well endowed mentally exert a good deal of influence indirectly upon religious affairs. Although their activities may be restricted, knowledge is not taboo to them. There are women who know prayers and rituals better than their men folks and some men customarily consult their wives, mothers or sisters on matters of sacerdotal procedure. In the Onawa priesthood the member with the best verbal memory is a young woman, not especially intelligent in other respects. However, she has an aggressive, managing mother who, although not herself a member of the priesthood, is the head of the priestly household, and contrives to run her brothers and children. Several other women have a reputation for their knowledge of esoteric lore. One, in particular, is reputed to be the only person who knows the prayers, songs and secret rituals of Anahoho, one of the katcinas coming at the initiation ceremony.

Women are less active in religion than men, but their activity is not essentially different in kind. The richness of ceremonial tends to mask the fact that in any but a superficial sense, religious activity is limited in scope.

The religious life of an individual is exclusively a series of participations in group rituals. No avenue is left open for individual approach to the supernatural. All over North America individual mystical experience is prized. On the plains such experience is valued since it provides one with a guardian in the supernatural world, or furnishes supernatural sanction for some special exploit. Among the Pima of the Southwest, the experience itself is regarded as the highest value in life. In Zuñi the religious life is a highly developed system of techniques for producing rain and furthering the growth of crops. Certain socially valuable attitudes and modes of behavior are regarded as more favorable to this purpose, and much esthetic joy and enhancement of life are achieved through them. But these subjective values are secondary and merely incidental to the primary purposes of religious participation, which is an objective social good.