Term Paper: Hopi Perspectives on Moisture or Rain Clouds Are Linked to Hopi Ancestors

Pages: 3 (934 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  Topic: Agriculture  ·  Buy This Paper

¶ … collective endeavor, agriculture required that the Hopi work together under the guidance of ancestral wisdom. Cultivation of corn and other crops was no small feat in the desert. Especially during summer months when rainfall was scarce, irrigation and water collection determined the outcome of the crops. The well-being and health of the people therefore depended on a bountiful corn harvest. With life so intimately connected with land, the sacred aspects of agriculture permeate everyday Hopi life.

Corn has symbolic as well as nutritive value. As the "staff of life," corn linked the Hopi to their ancestors and to the Great Spirit (Udall). A successful harvest nourishes soul as well as body, enriching the entire community. Corn is used as ritual offerings to the gods and to tribal chiefs, and is also used in ceremonial decoration.

Thus, corn is food for humans and gods. The concept of shared nourishment is why corn meal is also sprinkled as offerings during rituals and why dancers and elders often wear corn ears as part of sacred dress (Curtis & Boesen, nd). Sekaquaptewa's memories reveal the central significance of corn to Hopi ritual and daily life. The cycles of the harvest: the periods of bounty and scarcity characterize Hopi existence even in the post-contact era (Udall). Corn remains the central staple of the Hopi diet and was consumed regularly as well as ritualistically.

Rains and moisture are integral to the survival of the corn and of the clan. Thus, Hopi venerated clouds as ancestral spirits and created kachinas (O'mau kachinato) honor them ("Ancestral Art," 2003). Cloud figures pepper Hopi iconography and the Hopi distinguished between different types of clouds to distinguish those that deliver the blessing of rain from those that simply flank the sky. Cloud kachinas essentially "wear" the clouds on their headdress, and cloud imagery also decorates their sash and garment ("Water").

Likewise, Hopi dances drum up clouds and rain fall. Ritualistic communications between the human and spirit worlds, the dances demonstrate the need for systematic control over rain and rain clouds. The dance, a prayer in motion, is a conscious intent to will the powers of nature to serve the needs of the Hopi people. The Snake Dance is the rain dance, a petition to the snakes to deliver the message of need and hope to the clouds ("Ancestral Art," 2003). Rain prayers, motifs, storytelling and rituals permeate Hopi life throughout the year. However, the Snake Dance is performed annually and in the driest month: August (Smith 2000). Snake Dance and other annual rituals illustrate the interconnectedness of Hopi symbols and the interconnectedness of nature itself.

Agriculture has been referred to as the "fourth way" for the Hopi: a difficult path requiring community solidarity and commitment ("Hopi Agriculture: Introduction"). The Fourth Way entails struggle: the Hopi view… [END OF PREVIEW]

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APA Format

Hopi Perspectives on Moisture or Rain Clouds Are Linked to Hopi Ancestors.  (2007, June 29).  Retrieved July 19, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/hopi-perspectives-moisture-rain-clouds/4436087

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"Hopi Perspectives on Moisture or Rain Clouds Are Linked to Hopi Ancestors."  29 June 2007.  Web.  19 July 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/hopi-perspectives-moisture-rain-clouds/4436087>.

Chicago Format

"Hopi Perspectives on Moisture or Rain Clouds Are Linked to Hopi Ancestors."  Essaytown.com.  June 29, 2007.  Accessed July 19, 2019.