Friday, June 17, 2016

Hopi Rain Sash

 DAM (Denver Art Museum) had an exhibit of "Why We Dance" and on display were various Native American costumes--all decorated with beads, feathers, bells and also on display was this Hopi Rain Sash and Stockings.  The only info was "Hopi Artist--1950; Rain Sash and stockings".  The comment was cotton and corn husk.  I couldn't see the corn husk so did some research.  
Looking at this tightly woven sash, I could see a twill pattern--and it is definitely cotton fiber.

The display showed how it was worn

and the close-up shows the intriguing twill pattern, but where are the corn husks?

"The cotton stockings look to be crochet or netting--no info on the technique, just Zia Artist, 1940's--During ceremonies, many Pueblo dancers wear decorative white cotton leggings with long white fringe on each side to emphasize their movements. Another very important piece of the dance clothing is a white sash tied around the dancer's waist, sometimes called a rain sash.  The extreme length of the fringe simulates falling rain as rows of dancers move across the plaza"

Here is the other info I gathered in my research about the rain sash.
This is a very tightly woven example. Cotton balls with corn husk interiors symbolize rain clouds, rain fall and the expectation of vegetal fertility. “The wide belt is part of the bridal robe woven by the male relatives of the bride-groom in the preparation phase before the wedding. As in all Hopi textiles, it is full of symbolic references. The cords, tied with thick knots, represent falling rain. 
The thick knots, which represent clouds are filled with a ball of corn husk and the fringe represents falling rain. Corn is the ultimate objective of planting and irrigation.

1 comment:

  1. This sash is woven in a herringbone twill pattern. This pattern is not the traditional (ancient) pattern that these sashes are woven in. In fact, the traditional Hopi sash is not woven at all, they are braided in a technique called sprang. This technique does not used a weft. The vertical warp elements are warped in circular fashion and crossed over each other at intervals using a series of sticks. It is an ancient technique that developed independently from similar techniques in other parts of the world. In Hopi, they are referred to as wedding sashes. Among the Rio Grande Pueblos, they are known as "rain sashes."