The Unwritten Literature of the Hopi eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 108 pages of information about The Unwritten Literature of the Hopi.

[Footnote 17:  Wissler, Clark, Op. cit., p. 258.]

=Hopi Story-Telling=

There comes a time in the Hopi year when crops have been harvested, most of the heavier and more essentially important religious ceremonials have been performed in their calendar places, and even the main supply of wood for winter fires has been gathered.  To be sure, minor dances, some religious and some social, will be taking place from time to time, but now there will be more leisure, leisure for sociability and for story-telling.

[Illustration:  Figure 4.—­Kiva at Old Oraibi.

—­Courtesy Arizona State Museum.]

In the kivas (See Figure 4) the priests and old men will instruct the boys in the tribal legends, both historical and mythological, and in the religious ceremonies in which they are all later supposed to participate.  In the home, some good old story-telling neighbor drops in for supper, and stories are told for the enjoyment of all present, including the children; all kinds of stories, myths, tales of adventure, romances, and even bed-time stories.  Indian dolls of painted wood and feathers, made in the image of the Kachinas, are given the children, who thus get a graphic idea of the supposed appearance of the heroes of some of these stories.

The Hopi, like many primitive people, believe that when a bird sings he is weaving a magic spell, and so they have songs for special magic too; some for grinding, for weaving, for planting, others for hunting, and still others for war; all definitely to gain the favor of the gods in these particular occupations.

Without books and without writing the Hopi have an extensive literature.  That a surprising degree of accuracy is observed in its oral transmission from generation to generation is revealed by certain comparisons with the records made by the Spanish explorers in the sixteenth century.


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=Gods and Kachinas=

The Hopi live, move, and have their being in religion.  To them the unseen world is peopled with a host of beings, good and bad, and everything in nature has its being or spirit.

Just what kind of religion shall we call this of the Hopi?  Seeing the importance of the sun in their rites, one is inclined to say Sun Worship; but clouds, rain, springs, streams enter into the idea, and we say Nature Worship.  A study of the great Snake Cult suggests Snake Worship; but their reverence for and communion with the spirits of ancestors gives to this complex religious fabric of the Hopi a strong quality of Ancestor Worship.  It is all this and more.

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The Unwritten Literature of the Hopi from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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