San Ildefonso Male Corn Dancer


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José Encarnacion Peña, San Ildefonso Pueblo Painter


Jose Encarnacio Pena- Original Portrait - copyright Adobe Gallery.This dancer appears during the spring dances as a means of promoting the growth of corn. A line of male and female Corn Dancers dance in the plaza accompanied by drummers and chanters.  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 1952

 José Encarnacion Peña (1902-1979) Soqween - So Kwa A Weh (Frost on the Mountain) has provided a view of a single Corn Dancer from the group.  He wears evergreen boughs on both arms secured with arm bands, carries an evergreen branch in his left hand and a rattle in his right.  He wears a traditional pueblo kilt, secured around the waist with a white cotton rain sash with long fringe hanging, as seen on the dancer’s right side. 

Artist Signature - José Encarnacion Peña (1902-1979) Soqween - So Kwa A Weh (Frost on the Mountain)This appears to be an earlier painting by Peña as it is signed only with his name Soqween.  His later paintings have his full name and the date the painting was completed.  The painting appears to have been painted on textured paper, but has not been examined out of the frame.


Condition: the painting of a San Ildefonso Male Corn Dancer appears to be in original condition

Provenance: from the estate of a former client from New York

Recommended Reading:  Author Unknown.  Handbook of Indian Dances, The Museum of New Mexico, 1952

Jose Encarnacio Pena- Original Portrait - copyright Adobe Gallery.

Close up view of the corn dancer.

José Encarnacion Peña, San Ildefonso Pueblo Painter
C3928K-paint.jpgC3928K-large.jpg Click on image to view larger.