The Religious Life of the Zuñi Child eBook

Matilda Coxe Stevenson
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 36 pages of information about The Religious Life of the Zuñi Child.
the guardian and one other of their attendants.  In the early morning the sister of the godfather goes for the boy and brings him to her house, where he enjoys a sumptuous breakfast.  The godfather then leads the boy to the east for some distance from the village, sprinkling a line of sacred meal, and here he says a prayer, which the boy repeats after him, and the godfather, making a hole in the ground, plants a plume stick which he has made for the child.

From this time the child eats no animal food for four days.  The plume which has been placed on the child’s head in the kiva during the initiation is not removed till the fourth morning after the planting of the feathers, when he again goes over the road with his guardian, who deposits the plume from the child’s head with a prayer, which is repeated by the child.

Thus ends this remarkable initiation of the Zuni male child into the order of the K[=o]k-k[=o].  This is really mainly done by sponsors, and he must personally take the vows as soon as he is old enough.


After the first initiation of a boy into this order, he is left to decide for himself when he will assume the vows made for him by his sponsors, though the father and the godfather do not fail to impress upon the boy the importance of the second initiation, which occurs at an annual ceremonial; and when the boy has declared his determination to enter the order, if the K[=o]k-k[=o] upon seeing him deem him too young, he is ordered to return to his home and wait awhile till his heart has become more wise.  For this ceremonial the godparents and the boys assemble in the Kiva of the North.  Each boy in turn takes his position to receive his whipping, which is necessary for initiation.  The godfather, standing, bends his right knee, which the boy clasps, bowing his head low.  The godfather holds the two ends of the blanket and buckskin tightly around the boy, while each of the four Sai-[=a]-hli-[=a] in turn give him four strokes across the back with a bunch of the yucca blades.  Two of the K[=o]-y[=e]-m[=e]-shi stand by and count the strokes; the others are in the plaza outside, indulging in their primitive games, which excite much merriment among the large assemblage of people.  After each boy has received the chastisement and all are again seated, the four Sai-[=a]-hli-[=a] pass in turn to each boy.  Each one taking off his mask, places it over the head of the boy, handing him his Spanish bayonets.  The boy strikes the K[=o]k-k[=o] once across each arm and once across each ankle.  The K[=o]k-k[=o] does not speak, but the boy is instructed by his guardian, who talks to him in a whisper, telling him not to be afraid, but to strike hard.  The eyes of the boys open wide as the K[=o]k-k[=o] raise their masks and for the first time familiar faces are recognized.  The K[=o]k-k[=o] leave the kiva after revealing their

Project Gutenberg
The Religious Life of the Zuñi Child from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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