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.

Returning to the house, the paternal grandmother again bathes the child in yucca suds; then, for the first time, the little one is put into the cradle.  The baby’s arms are placed straight by its sides, and in this position it is so strapped in its cradle that it cannot even move a hand.  These cradles have hood-shaped tops, and over the whole thick coverings are placed, so that the wonder is the child does not smother.  The cradle is usually deposited in some safe corner, and the baby is left to sleep or amuse itself with its infantine thoughts.  The cradle is sometimes attached to two ropes to form a swing, and when the mother becomes conscious of the child’s awakening she uncovers its head at times and the tiny thing casts its eyes around.  On the tenth morning both parents of the child are bathed in suds of yucca, the whole body of the mother but only the head of the father.  This office is also performed by the paternal grandmother.  The immediate blood relations (female only) then assemble at the infant’s home; that is, all the household of the father’s house and those of the mother’s house.  Each woman from the father’s house brings to the baby a gift of a little blanket.  This select gathering partakes of a feast, which is presided over by the maternal grandmother.  At the close of the feast the infant is carried by the oldest sister of the father to the paternal grandmother’s house, where it is presented to the paternal grandfather, who prays to the Sun (Yae-t[=o] tka) to send down blessings upon the child.


The present ceremonials are in direct obedience to the orders and instructions given at the time of the appearance of the K[=o]k-k[=o] upon the earth, and their masks are counterparts of the original or spiritual K[=o]k-k[=o] (Plate XX).  The Kaek-l[=o] rides, as of old, upon the backs of the K[=o]-y[=e]-m[=e]-shi, and he is the heralder for the coming of the K[=o]-l[=o]-oo-w[)i]t-si.  Arriving at the village in the morning, he divides his time between the kivas, there being six of these religious houses in Zuni, one for each of the cardinal points, one for the zenith, and one for the nadir.  In each of these kivas he issues to the people assembled the commands of the K[=o]k-k[=o] and gives the history of the Kaek-l[=o] and the gathering of the cereals of the earth by the Sae-lae-m[=o]-b[=i]-ya.  At sunrise he is gone.  The morning after the arrival of the Kaek-l[=o], those who are to represent the K[=o]k-k[=o] prepare plume sticks, and in the middle of the same day these are planted in the earth.  The same night they repair to their respective kivas, where they spend the following eight nights, not looking upon the face of a woman during that period.  Each night is spent in smoking and talking and rehearsing for the coming ceremony.  The second day all go for wood, bringing it home on their backs, for so the ancients did when beasts of burden were unknown

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