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Like the Waters


Sometimes, snakes and earth alike wear flowers.

As I wrote earlier this week, the relationship between Snake and this place (and its people) is a complex one. Even the smallest are related by clan and kind to the great Horned Serpent, the water serpent that the Tewa-speaking peoples south and west of here call Avanyu. Theirs is a clan of great significance, those who hold the power of the waters in a high desert land, and so they have become, quite naturally, associated with the prosperity and abundance that the water brings. But it would be folly to assume that the peoples of this broader region regard the serpent as a benevolent being: After all, the waters themselves hold fearsome power, every bit as capable of destruction as the venom in a rattler’s fangs. It’s perhaps best characterized less as an alliance than a slightly-uneasy truce, a relationship of mutual respect — and of appreciation, at least on the human side.

This complexity is evident in Wings’s own artistic relationship with Snake’s likeness. It’s not imagery that figures consistently in his work, but on occasion, the serpent puts in an appearance in ways pronounced and profound. In one instance, he created a cuff in the image of a coiled snake, a work that sold long ago. Over the years, he’s occasionally added a snake — in copper, no less — to the sides or reverse of various works, a little extra power and prosperity for the wearer. But in his entire body of work, the serpent has appeared consistently in one series, and it’s one of the few categories of works in current inventory where its likeness is now manifest: the Warrior Woman series.

It’s fitting, of course: Any being who holds or controls the force of the waters, in any degree, is necessarily a spirit of great power. And in our ways, warriors call upon power from all directions — for courage and bravery (the two are not precisely synonymous), for strength, for speed and skill, strategic force and agility . . . and for the ability to harness the natural world to one’s ends in defense of the people. And while the stereotype holds that warriors are male, Wings has always, always known better.

And what better symbol of a woman warrior’s power than the power of the waters, a synthesis of great force and fertile abundance?

It’s a synthesis that finds expression, and particularly so, in today’s featured work. From its description in the Pins Gallery here on the site:

Flowering Sky Warrior Woman Pin

The whole world blossoms beneath a flowering sky. With the latest addition to his signature Warrior Woman series, created to honor the power and strength of women, Wings captures the beauty and wonder of skies that open upon a fertile earth. Her traditional dress bears symbols of the winds and the sacred directions, opening like a pair of flowers, edged with feminine crescent moons, and held at top and bottom with hearts. In her left hand, she holds the moon itself, hand-stamped with flowers just opening to the light; in her right, a Skystone the color of a robin’s egg, traced with a delicate golden-brown matrix. Over her right shoulder coils a serpent summoned from sterling silver pattern wire in a floral design, a symbol of prosperity and abundance. Pin stands 2.75″ high at the highest point by 2″ across at the widest point; cabochon is 3/16″ across (dimensions approximate).

Sterling silver; turquoise
$325 + shipping, handling, and insurance

Here, the entire work embodies abundance, the fertile prosperity of a world beneath a flowering sky present on the Warrior Woman’s dress, on the moon she holds in her hand, on the robes of the snake coiled over her shoulder. She is a soldier for this season, and a sustaining spirit too, one equally at home in her role as nurturer as in that of protector.

In much of the outside world, the serpent’s relationship with women is forever marked by a story of deception and disobedience, at least as that traditions defines them. Here, they work together like the waters: as supporting and sustaining spirits, simultaneously breath of life and shield against harm. And like the waters, they bring the world to flower.

~ 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.