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San Ildefonso Basket Dancer Painting [SOLD]

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Waldo Mootzka (1910-1940)

Our thanks go to San Ildefonso artist Russell Sanchez for identifying this painting by Hopi artist Waldo Mootzka as a San Ildefonso Pueblo Basket Dancer, sometimes called a Gourd Dancer because they are always accompanied by the women with their gourds and rasping sticks.  The Basket Dance is performed by the Winter People at San Ildefonso around Easter time.

Dances are a social as well as a religious occasion in the pueblo.  Dances conclude all important religious ceremonials. Since we do not participate in the kiva ceremonials, which may have been going on for 8 days or more, the ceremonial dances are our witness to the end of the ceremony.

These dances are invocations or requests to the gods and to nature to bless the pueblo, its people, and the growth of corn, squash and melons and for the abundance of animals to hunt for food. All residents, except children and the infirm, may be asked to participate in a dance.  Such a request is never denied without good reason.

The dancer portrayed by Mootzka is very colorfully presented, with the pink wedding sash, which is always white in real life, and the elaborate greens around the dancer’s neck.  Mootzka’s intent, most likely, was to make a colorful and attractive painting more so than an accurate presentation of the dancer. All the costuming is correct, only embellished in color.


Condition: this San Ildefonso Basket Dancer Painting is in very good condition, with two thumbtack holes (top and bottom center)

Provenance: from a gentleman resident of Santa Fe

Recommended Reading: The Pueblo Indians of San Ildefonso a Changing Culture by William Whitman

Relative Links: Russell Sanchez, Waldo Mootzka, San Ildefonso Pueblo; Native American Paintings; Hopi Pueblo; Native American Baskets


Waldo Mootzka (1910-1940)
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