Ritual Cache

Carved ceremonial objects colored with orange and blue of a man, woman, snake, curved sticks, and cougar
CC0 Public Domain Designation

Image actions

  • Carved ceremonial objects colored with orange and blue of a man, woman, snake, curved sticks, and cougar

Date:

1300/1400

Artist:

Salado branch of the Mogollon
Southeastern Arizona, United States

About this artwork

Discovered wrapped and hidden in a remote, dry cave, this cache of ritual figures comes from the Salado culture, which flourished in the mountains of southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona between the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Brilliantly colored and adorned with flicker feathers and dyed cotton string, these effigies once formed an altar as agents for communion with the life-giving spirits of the earth and sky. The large male figure, with his feather necklace and bold black-and-turquoise zigzag pattern, features sky symbolism. The smaller, female figure is a more self-contained form, probably corresponding to the earth. Her ocher color likely refers to maize and pollen, symbols of sustenance and fertility. The accompanying figures are a mountain lion (the chief predator in the region) and two serpents (carved from cottonwood roots), representing agents of communication with the earth and the seasonal cycle of fertility. Curved wooden throwing sticks for rabbit hunting complete the ensemble. Testimony to the antiquity and endurance of the worship of earth and sky and to the spiritual bonds between people and animals, these objects bear close resemblance to ritual figures and implements still used today among the diverse Pueblo peoples.

On View

Arts of the Americas, Gallery 136

Artist

Salado

Title

Ritual Cache

Origin

Arizona

Date

1300–1400

Medium

Wood, stone, plant fibers, cotton, feathers, hide, and pigment

Dimensions

Male figure: h. 64 cm (25 1/4 in.); female figure: h. 36 cm (14 3/16 in.)

Credit Line

Major Acquisitions Centennial Endowment

Reference Number

1979.17.1-11

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

Share

Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions

Share