Friday, April 8, 2011

Art and Performance

I beefed up my portion a bit, and mixed the two categories (art and performance, and meaning and symbolism) together to make it easier to read.

For the [INSERT NAME HERE], art is either functional or wearable as body art. Because the society is based on agriculture, everything must have a purpose and therefore not much purely decorative art exists aside from the body arts. The art that does exist is highly spiritual in nature, with all aspects of art and performance relating back to the veneration of the Sun and Light. The Sun’s far-reaching creative power is of the utmost importance to this society, due to their dependence on agriculture. Additionally, the [INSERT NAME HERE] put great emphasis on the idea of “oneness” with nature, other people, the Light, etc. and through their rituals aim at reaching out to others by distributing the seeds they ritually plant.


Basketry is an important craft, and baskets are used in the fields when collecting certain crops as well as during rituals. Ritual baskets and baskets used for the more mundane tasks are both woven in a simple, handle-less bowl shape with a flat bottom. The two types are distinct however, in that ritual baskets are made with a finer quality straw, and it is strictly forbidden to use a ritual basket outside of the ceremony. Within the Planting Festival, a basket plays a central role as the container for the unwrapped seed bombs (a mixture of clay, soil, and seeds).


Ceramic arts are equally important. Clay vessels are vital to the transportation of water and the storage of food. These utilitarian forms are often treated with slips or glazes, which serve to seal the clay body from the elements and for aesthetic purposes. Ceramics also become important for the creation of musical bells, which are used exclusively in a ritual context. These types of ceremonial bells are occasionally made from metal, but ceramics are much more common due to the perceived powers of the soil from which the clay was derived. The ringing of bells is said to make the light of the sun audible, and when employed in the Planting Festival it purifies the atmosphere and allows sunlight to flow more freely, increasing its creative powers. Because the seeds must be buried within the soil away from the light of the sun, infant plants require the music of bells sun call the seedlings to the surface.

Metalwork and Mirrors

Metals are used widely for jewelry, which is worn daily but elaborated for performances. Percussive musical instruments and adornments used during ritual performances are made from copper, gold, or silver and greatly valued for their shiny qualities.

Even more valuable in [INSERT NAME HERE] culture are mirrors. Mirrors are prized for their ability to reflect the sunlight, and are said to harness a great deal of the creative and spiritual powers of the sun. Mirrors are worn on headdresses by women and sewn into men’s clothing or worn around the neck. It is important to always have some mirrors on one’s person for their sacred uses and as a way to prominently display one’s spiritual wealth.

Mirrors play an important role in the Spring, when the women perform the planting festival (this celebration will be further detailed in later sections). In the Fall, however, the men perform a harvesting festival. This festival includes a competition amongst the young men for an elaborate mirror pendant. This ancient charm has been passed on for generations, and is said to have accumulated massive amounts of spiritual power for the entire community. The winner of the competition is entrusted with the high honor of protecting it for the year until the next Fall, when a new competition will yield a new winner.

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