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Original Painting “Mountain Ram Dancer” by Pablita Velarde

C4145C-paint.jpg

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Pablita Velarde (1918-2006) Tse Tsan - Golden Dawn
  • Category: Paintings
  • Origin: Santa Clara Pueblo
  • Medium: mineral earth pigments on board
  • Size:
    11-⅛” x 9-¼” image;
    15-¼” x 13-⅜” framed
  • Item # C4145C
  • Price: $2,250.00

Though they most certainly attract many visitors, Pueblo ceremonial dances are not performed as entertainment. They are religious ceremonies.  The Pueblo Indian feels he is an important part of nature and the universe and that he must be in balance with nature and the universe. Ceremonial dances are part of achieving and maintaining that balance. Such dances always have a purpose, a function, whether it be for rain, snow, game animals, crops or other good things in life.  Animal dances are performed during the winter, when game animals are needed for food. Their primary purposes are to attract animals to the village and increase the population of all animals. Dancers do not wear masks, as Katsinas do, but wear headdresses representing the animal being performed. Deer, buffalo, antelope, elk, and mountain sheep may all be represented in a single dance.  Every item of the dance attire has a special significance. Spruce or fir twigs symbolize longevity and everlasting life. Men wear moccasins ornamented with black and white skunk fir to repel evil spirits from the feet of the dancers. Their kilts and sashes are decorated with sacred symbols in colored embroidery or brocade. The long flowing tassels of the sash represent the gentle falling rain.  

Influential Santa Clara Pueblo painter Pablita Velarde (1918-2006) was very familiar these ceremonial functions.  In fact, they were her most common subjects. Velarde always portrayed her dancers accurately, allowing her works to later serve as historical documents of sorts.  Her skillful, detailed portraits of Pueblo dancers are significant both artistically and ethnographically. Fortunately for collectors, Velarde created these images prolifically during her long career.

This painting of a Ram Dancer is an excellent mid-career work by Velarde.  It was purchased directly from the artist at Santa Clara Pueblo in the 1960s.  By this time, Velarde had painted countless Ram Dancers, and that wealth of experience is apparent in this excellent work.  Her subject here is pictured head-on rather than in profile, allowing the viewer an unobstructed look at his clothing and jewelry.  His kilt, leggings, and moccasins are depicted with Velarde’s typical accuracy. The dancer’s massive black horns, each of which has a feather affixed to its tip, wind out from behind a large headdress. His right leg is lifted while he stands on his left leg, leaning forward and dropping his arms down towards the ground.  Anyone who’s witnessed this particular dance or a similar function will recognize and appreciate Velarde’s accurate representation of her subject’s posture.

The painting is signed “Pablita Velarde” in its lower right corner. It is in excellent condition and is still in the original frame—the style preferred by the artist.  On the back of the frame, Velarde wrote the following in pencil: “Mountain Ram Dancer, Santa Clara Pueblo, $50”.



Condition: this Original Painting "Mountain Ram Dancer" by Pablita Velarde is in excellent condition

Provenance: from the daughter of a now-deceased collector who purchased it directly from the artist in the 1960s

Recommended Reading: American Indian Painting of the Southwest and Plains Areas by Dorothy Dunn

Pablita Velarde (1918-2006) Tse Tsan - Golden Dawn
  • Category: Paintings
  • Origin: Santa Clara Pueblo
  • Medium: mineral earth pigments on board
  • Size:
    11-⅛” x 9-¼” image;
    15-¼” x 13-⅜” framed
  • Item # C4145C
  • Price: $2,250.00

C4145C-paint.jpgC4145C-large.jpg Click on image to view larger.