Original Painting of San Ildefonso Corn Dancers [SOLD]


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José Encarnacion Peña, San Ildefonso Pueblo Painter

An interesting division occurred at San Ildefonso around 1920 resulting in a split which was primarily of a religious nature, but family dissensions also were involved. The result was one faction remaining in the North side and the other on the South side near the round kiva. As a result, San Ildefonso is described as the North and South Sides, instead of the traditional Winter and Summer moieties.  Edelman and Gile 1975

The Corn Dance is often the principal dance of the pueblo ceremonies. The people from the North Side and those from the South Side form two different dance teams which then alternate dancing, then returning to their own kivas between dances.

“Gestures of the chorus are a sign language for invoking clouds, rain and growth.  The tall banner is emblematic of all life: eagle and macaw feathers are seen, ocean shells are said to be attached, a fox fur hangs over a strip like the dance kilt of hand-spun native cotton.  An origin myth relates that the supernatural Mother who ruled wished her people to have a public dance which all could enjoy.  War Captain (still a dance director in the pueblos) was pleased and made prayer sticks to try to bring the legendary character called Koshari— ‘he who talks a lot and seems to know everything’—to instruct the dancing.  The black and white painted dancers are privileged clowns from the Koshare Society.  They have a dual role as they are said also to represent the spirits of the remembered dead.” Museum of New Mexico 1950

Peña illustrated a portion of the dance group in this painting.  Missing are the females wearing tabletas.  In so doing, he could provide a larger scale painting of the lead group of the ceremony.  The women would be to the left, off the edge of the painting

Artist Signature - José Encarnacion Peña (1902-1979) Soqween - So Kwa A Weh (Frost on the Mountain)This painting is signed in lower right and dated 1975.  It was delivered to us without a frame so we examined it in detail.


Condition: original condition

Provenance: this is one of several paintings in the artist’s possession when he passed away in 1979.  They were all stored by his widow, who, when she passed away, were passed on to her grandson, a Santa Fe resident from whom we received it.


-        Edelman, Sandra A. and Beverly Gile. Summer People Winter People, The Sunstone Press, Santa Fe,1975.

-        Author Unknown.  Handbook of Indian Dances, The Museum of New Mexico, 1952


José Encarnacion Peña, San Ildefonso Pueblo Painter
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