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Friday Feature: Flying Skyward

The last few days have been near-perfect examples of early autumn, the entire world awash in shades of blue and gold and amber. Yesterday managed to pass without a single cloud in the sky, a rare feat even here, even at this time of year. Today saw a few trailing wisps of white, barely enough to be called “clouds” with any real accuracy.

And birds of all sorts have soared on the thermals today: the vultures for whom they are a primary means of transport, the hawks, the ravens. Even the smaller wingéd ones have been unusually active, as though taking advantage of the beautiful daylight hours to enjoy the last winds of summer.

And among them, occasionally, has seemed to flash the bright feathers of a spirit bird — not enough to identify it, nor even to be sure that it’s real (or at least corporeal), but enough to know that a visitor of some sort has appeared for a moment, allowing a glimpse of its presence.

We were visited by one such this morning: today’s featured work seemingly come to life, a flurry of tiny bright gold wings lit with even more brilliant colors, dashing through the corn stalks and flying skyward out of sight in less than the beat of its own wings. Was it real? Of course. Was it corporeal? Ah, that’s a different question. Perhaps it was today’s work come to life momentarily, a spirit bird with a message as yet undeciphered. From its more still and solid counterpart’s description in the Other Artists:  Fetishes gallery here on the site:

Spirit birds fly on wings of light. It’s true of this tiny version, not an eagle but a spirit bird of a more ordinary sort, yet with extraordinary color and texture. Hand-carved by Delvin Leekya (Zuni Pueblo), this wingéd being emerges from Zuni rock, the Pueblo’s nickname for a particular variant of yellow travertine. It’s crafted in “vintage style,” meaning that the likeness flows from basic lines, without a great deal of accent detail. Its eyes are the tiniest of inlaid turquoise cabochons; its tailfeathers inlaid with geometric bands of turquoise, jet, pink-lip mother-of-pearl shell, lapis lazuli, and white-lip mother-of-pearl shell at the ends. Its wings are light itself: pink-lip mother-of-pearl in the front, colorfully whorled abalone at the ends, and a bold bisecting band of black jet. Fetish stands 3-3/4″ long by 1-3/8″ across at the widest point (dimensions approximate).

Zuni rock (yellow travertine); turquoise; abalone shell; pink-lip mother-of-pearl shell; white-lip mother-of-pearl shell; lapis lazuli; jet
$135 + shipping, handling, and insurance

It is a tiny creature, this carved stone spirit bird — small enough to fit into the palm of one’s hand. So, too, was its counterpart among the corn today, tis feathers every bit as colorful and bright. Spirit birds are messengers, of course, and protectors, too, but this one’s message, if any, remains unclear to me still. Perhaps its message was only to remind me to look, to see, to comprehend in real terms the beauty and mystery and animating spirit of the world around me. Perhaps it 2was also a reminder that, while earthbound, there is value in dreams, in our own hearts flying skyward occasionally in all directions to touch the spirit world . . . and to let it, from all directions, touch us.

On days as clear and bright as this, it’s possible to believe in such dreams, and in their messengers, too.

~ Aji








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