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Friday Feature: The Growth of the Human Spirit

Child Turtle Hand Drum Curved

After a brilliantly sunny morning and a gradual build-up of seemingly minor clouds, the rains have returned. Unlike yesterday, they have brought no tornadic winds with them, only ordinary gusts. But the leaden skies continue to release their burden upon the land to the accompaniment of the thunder’s drumbeat.

And the grass and the corn and the red willows all grow — so fast, in act, that soon all three will be tall enough to dance to the thundering drum.

This is the growing season, and the monsoon, and a time of drum and dance, too. It is also a time of growth even for that which is less directly affected by the rains.

That includes the human spirit.

Some three years ago, Wings took the extraordinary step of removing certain items from his inventory, a direct response to the efforts of billionaire racist Dan Snyder, the owner of the Washington, D.C. football team with the similarly racist name and mascot, to buy the silence of various tribal nations in the face of his refusal to do the right thing. The Pueblo was not among them, but it caused Wings to take a hard look at the art he carried in inventory. The then-leadership of two area nations at the time seemed receptive to the Snyder money: Navajo and Zuni. And so Wings removed any art made by artists from those two nations from inventory, preferring to take a loss on the investment (he had long since paid the artists themselves for their work) than to countenance any association with blood money.

At the time, it was not an insignificant decision to make; it held very real financial consequences for us. It also precluded him from reselling new artwork or representing artists from those two nations in our gallery in the intervening years. But now, it appears that Zuni’s leadership has declined to participate in the sham the the so-called “Original Americans Foundation” represents. [The status of such issues in Navajoland is less clear, and so nothing has changed on that front with regard to what is offered for sale through our gallery.]

And so, today, I am able once again to offer the work of one of Taos Pueblo’s own artists, work that is painted by his wife, an enrolled member of Zuni Pueblo. Today’s featured item is one that especially suits the week’s various themes of growth and life and survival. From its description in the Other Artists:  Drums gallery here on the site:

Grandmother Turtle wears an ancient “kiva steps” pattern on her shell on this small dual-sided hand drum.  Perfect for either adults or children, the drum bears symbols of water and the Four Directions, and comes with a traditional beater.  Drum by Elk Good Water (Taos Pueblo); artwork by his wife, Dolly Concha (Zuni Pueblo).

$125 + shipping, handling, and insurance

This is a hand drum sized for children and youth (or for adults with smaller hands). One might even say that it’s designed to allow a young aspiring musician to grow into the role. But more than that, its patterning speaks of growth in indigenous contexts: Grandmother Turtle herself, she who holds our world on her back, allowing it to take root and grow; the four spokes and four quadrants of her shell, the imagery of the winds and the sacred directions, the seasons and stages of life; the kiva steps pattern that traces up and down each quadrant, a symbol of spiritual growth; and the sacred hoops that adorn body and background, the cyclical motif of growth and its opposite, revolving in (and as) life’s sacred hoop.

At this season of gathering and celebration, it is a perfect work for a young person, one still growing into his or her role in the community, and into his or her talents as an individual. But given what this particular piece has been through, ad what that process represents, perhaps its greatest value is in the way it exemplifies the growth of the human spirit.

~ Aji







All content, including photos and text, are copyright Wings and Aji, 2017; all rights reserved. Nothing herein may used or reproduced in any form without the express written permission of the owners.

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error: All content copyright Wings & Aji; all rights reserved. Copying or any other use prohibited without the express written consent of the owners.