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#TBT: In a season of fire and water, the weather is a sacred clown.

Sleeping Beauty Turquoise Fat Man Pin Resized

In a season of fire and water, the weather is a sacred clown.

Clown because it is an elemental joker, a trickster, the offspring of Coyote and Thunderbird; sacred because it is life itself.

Yesterday, wave after wave of thunderheads amassed at the horizon, moved forward and over . . . and past us. Not a drop of rain for a hot thirsty land.

Until last night.

Not long ago, night rain was virtually unknown here. There used to be very little rain in any season but this, and it was distinctly a phenomenon of the afternoon; exceptions were vanishingly rare. Most of the rest of this region’s precipitation comes in the form of snow.

That changed over the last year.

And last night, we were given the gift of a thundering downpour, the strongest part of the storm lasting well over an hour, with hours of softer rain on either side of it. Then this afternoon, the pattern repeated itself, and both radar map and sky indicate that more is on the way for this evening.

Trickster weather.

Sacred clowns.

The elements’ unseasonal behavior reminded of one of Wings’s works from about eight years ago, one of a pair of such works created about three years apart. It’s the Fat Man.

The Fat Man is like our current weather: joker; trickster; sacred clown. He is a wholly indigenous being, and  in more than one sense. Like the traditional clowns (known here as koshare), he is connected, symbolically, to everything: to earth and sky, to the elements, to the sacred directions, to all of life and existence. In our cultures, clowns do not function as mere amusement; they teach deep and fundamental lessons about conduct and tradition. This little Fat Man is no exception.

Here, he assumed the form of a pin, but he began life as a sheet of sterling silver. Wings coaxed him from the precious metal freehand, with a tiny jeweler’s saw. He was born fully-grown and fully-dressed, hands held high and stair-stepped headdress firmly on his head. Wings gave him a pair of eyes and a mouth open to speak by way of simple stamps. He then chose a stamp that produces a symbol much like a high-altitude sunrise to bring fingers and feet into sharp relief.

He emerged from the silver in rotund form and shape, wide of body and girth. Atop his torso, Wings set a single round, lightly-domed cabochon of Sleeping Beauty turquoise into a plain low-profile bezel, giving him a stomach made of sky. It served as a marker of abundance: of the sky and the rain and the fat that accompanies a good hunt and a good harvest. He finished the little man off with a pin soldered to his back.

As trickster spirits go, the Fat Man is relatively benign, but — as always with those who hold the elemental powers — not to be taken lightly. In these days of an altered monsoon, he reminds us of the raw force of the rains, and of the need to respect their gifts.

And in a season of fire and water, he is both: molten metal and hardened rain, a clown not of hot air but of the water of life.

~ Aji








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