Monday, November 24, 2008

Carved Rock School Subject


Hi Buckaroos!

As promised here is a excerpt from “A Guide to Rock Art Sites...Southern California and Southern Nevada” by David S. Whitley:

Spirit Mountain and the Patterns of Creation

For the Yuman-speaking inhabitants of the Colorado River region, no location was more sacred than Avikwa'ame, or Spirit Mountain, which we call Newberry peak, in southernmost Nevada. According to the Mojave creation myth, the oldest spirit was Matavilya, made from the mating of Earth and Sky. Matavilya had two sons, Mastamho and Kaatar, and a daughter, Frog. Matavilya committed an unwitting indecency that offended his daughter, who then killed him. Mastamho directed the cremation and mourning ceremony for his father, and when completed, strode up the Colorado River Valley. When he got to the top he created the river by plunging a cane of breath and spittle into the earth, allowing the river to pour forth. Riding a canoe down the waters to the ocean, he created the wide river bottom by twisting and turning the boat. He returned from the ocean with his people, The Mojave, taking them in his arms to the northern end of Mojave country. There he piled up earth, creating the mountain Avikwa'ame, and built himself a house on it. There too Mastamho plotted the death of Sky-Rattlesnake, an evil spirit and the source of dark powers. Mastamho killed Sky-Rattlesnake by cutting off his head, with his spilt blood becoming noxious insects. Mastamho then gave land to the different tribes and taught them how to farm. Finally, Mastamho turned himself into a fish-eagle and flew off into oblivion.

The importance of this cosmological myth to rock art is twofold. Known as the “Shaman's Tail,” it was precisely this myth that the shaman “dreamed” to obtain his supernatural powers: In Yuman fashion, the shaman was believed to re experience and witness these mythic events of creation in the supernatural world and, from them, obtain his power. As the anthropologist Alfred Kroeber wrote in 1925, “It is of [Mastamho's] house that shamans dream, for here their shadows were as little boys in the face of Mastamho, and received from him their ordained powers, confirmed by tests on the spot.” It is at the foot of Spirit Mountain that the important Grapevine Canyon petroglyph site is located; that is Grapevine Canyon is Mastamho's House, where the Mojave shaman went to witness, in his dreams, the creation of the world.


Cool stuff ,eh? The picture for Grapevine Canyon shows a rock covered with petroglyphs, that any competent electrical engineer could use for graphics in a lecture on how television works. The important thing to note is the rock they are created on has the same outline as the”Buffalo Stone” on my property, and the skull with a pointy hat on my stone can be seen on the cliff face at Grapevine Canyon.

I can only guess at the intent of the artists that created the the works I'm finding. I do know I seen to have come across the remnants of a “rock-carving school”. Seminar level is learning to open the “eyes” of a rock. Freshman level seems to be create a Buffalo Stone. Sophomore level, create a skull with a pointy hat. Junior level, create a pointy hatted skull on a Buffalo Stone. Senior projects involve putting detail on the hat, in the form of an emblem of a Buffalo looking at a Meteor. Graduate level makes large artworks and Snake Heads.

The only Cultural parallel I can come across is Disneyland, with Micky Mouse taking the place of the Skull character. Style wise, Aztec used a lot of skull imagery, and the Takic speakers around here spoke a dialect of the Aztec language. I could use some help.

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