Hopi Religious Rituals

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Religious beliefs and the rituals created to express them have played a major role in shaping artistic expression since the beginning of time. The west is no different and we find artwork throughout generations is rich with religious meaning. From the devotional art of New Spain to the Native rituals of the Southwest, the exhibit “Art of the West” at the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum displays a significant narration of western culture in one of its main themes “Religion and Ritual”. This collection represents different manifestations of religious thought, practice, and spirituality in art of the west both historically and in present day. On the northern border of the Spanish frontier, the presence of the divine west was part of daily life as well as the focus of special rituals during Holy Week, in which carved figures of Jesus and the Virgin Mary were carried through the streets in …show more content…
Artist Frank G. Applegate captures the essence of Native American ritual in his painting Hopi Snake Dance, circa 1923. While the origins of the Hopi snake dance precede written records anthropologists have described it as an elaborate prayer for rain, in which reptiles are gathered from fields and entrusted with the prayers of the people. The Snake dance was part of a cycle of rituals designed to benefit Hopi society. As the ceremony evoked cosmic or tribal space, it was conducted mostly in private. The last day of the weeklong ceremony was open to the public. Drawn to what they saw as an unbroken link to an ancient past, artists flocked to Hopi in the early twentieth century to paint the Snake Dance. By 1913, the crowd of observers numbered several hundred, prompting the Hopi to impose restrictions on sketching and photography. Applegate’s painting is truly a window into the a past that connects us to an understanding of our

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