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Friday Feature: The Green Ribbons of Summer

Media and meteorologists are making much of our newly-increased levels of clouds, proclaiming, apparently without irony, that monsoon season is now here.

It may be the season, but the rains remain mostly absent: Yesterday saw an hour or so’s worth of showers in the morning, followed by nothing more than the occasional stray drop as the thunderheads swirled around us on all sides but declined to move overhead.

Unless the clouds of the next few days behave differently, this will make the growth of crops near-impossible.

Drought is not new to these lands of course — all the more so to points south and west of here, where the elevation is lower, the temperatures higher, and the atmosphere drier still. As season and climate go, the people indigenous to these lands here at the northernmost reaches of the old Pueblos have traditionally fared better than most; the elevation gives us an advantage in both climatic and seasonal terms. Still, as our peoples have always known, nothing is guaranteed, and in an arid high desert, the people are accustomed to invoking the spirits of this summer season to help ensure prosperity and abundance.

It’s fitting, perhaps, that today’s featured works should come from a member of one of the Pueblos further south and west: Tesuque, the last of the Pueblos before reaching Santa Fe. I say works, plural, because although they offered for sale separately, all four are of a piece, a collection in miniature of those summer spirits, the Corn Maidens, manifest in varying sizes and shapes and other aspects. From their description in the Other Artists:  Sculpture gallery here on the site:

Master carver Mark Swazo-Hinds (Tesuque Pueblo) coaxes stylized Corn Maidens from plain smooth blocks of stone.  Each is hand-carved from very pale, very fine pink sandstone, almost a translucent peach in color.  With surfaces so smooth you can hardly keep from touching them, they feel a bit like large worry stones.  In lieu of the traditional tablita headdress, each wears Mark’s trademark bundle of brilliantly-hued macaw feathers. All dimensions are approximate:  The two smaller ones are in the 3″-4″ high range; the largest is about 6″; the one in the back on the far right is about 5″ high, and is narrower — almost an inverted teardrop shape. Individual views shown at the link.

Pink sandstone; macaw feather bundles
Far left: $275 + shipping, handling, and insurance
Middle: $425 + shipping, handling, and insurance
Far right: $275 + shipping, handling, and insurance
Back: $325 + shipping, handling, and insurance
Weight requires special handling; extra shipping charges apply

On this day, a few tiny green shoots have emerged from a dry and crumbled earth. The corn that we planted a week or so is already taking hold, rooting itself sufficiently to rise into the light. If we are fortunate, we shall have the help of the Corn Maidens in nurturing this nascent life: stalks, leaves, and silk, the green ribbons of summer that will grow into food, ornamentation, medicine, ceremony.

It will take much more work on our part, and not a little work. For now, we wait and watch the skies, and pray for rain.

~ Aji









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