Mineral Earth Painting of a Shalako and Mudhead Katsinas [SOLD]


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Pablita Velarde, Santa Clara Pueblo Painter

Shalako, a reenactment of the creation and migration of the Zuni people to Heptina, the “Middle Place,” has persisted through the centuries. The religious activities are controlled by caciques of the six kivas, representing the four directions and up and down, which constitute the dance groups, and each kiva is associated with a direction, a color, and certain fetishes.


Each of the six kivas has a Shalako god representative. Each Shalako has two impersonators, the understudy and the “older brother.” Those spectacular figures stand approximately ten feet tall, the mask and costume being carried on a pole, and the embroidered garments draped around hoops.


The Shalako Ceremony is conducted at Zuni in late November or early December every year.  Although a Zuni ceremony, it is attended by members of other pueblos, Navajo, Anglo tourists and others who enjoy seeing the reenactment.  It is not unusual for artists of Navajo or non-Zuni pueblo to paint scenes from the ceremony as it is attractive, exciting, and inspiring.  Pablita Velarde (1918-2006) Tse Tsan - Golden Dawn took the occasion to paint an encounter between a Mudhead Katsina and a Shalako God.


The painting was executed in Pablita’s style using mineral earth paintings which she painstakingly made by grinding materials on a metate using a mano.  This was a labor of love as Pablita could have purchased commercial paints and finished the job in much less time, but it was her dedication to the art that made her spend countless hours making her own paints.


The detail that Pablita achieved in the embroidery of the Shalako’s robe is amazing.  It is so finely done that one might think it truly is embroidery.  The same goes for the fox tail around the Shalako’s neck.  Every hair of the fox is delineated.


Signature of Pablita Velarde (1918-2006) Tse Tsan - Golden DawnThe painting is framed in the style of those of Helen Hardin where there are two frames separated by fabric.  It is signed Pablita Velarde in lower right.  It is not dated.


Condition: very good condition

Recommended Reading: Pablita Velarde-Painting Her People by Marcella Ruch, et al. This book is currently not available from Adobe Gallery

Provenance: from a member of the Maisel family of Albuquerque

The Shalako Ceremony is conducted at Zuni in late November or early December every year.

Pablita Velarde, Santa Clara Pueblo Painter
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