190405-03 Large Antique Zuni Shalako Kachina, c. 1930
Zuni polychrome Shalako kachina. Dimensions: 19"h. In the tradition of the Zuni people of the American Southwest, Shalako refers both an annual winter solstice ceremony, as well as to spirit deities perceived as giant, beaked messengers to the gods. Six Shalako messengers, one for each cosmic direction (the four cardinal directions as well as one for above and one for below), carry prayers from the Zuni people to the gods all year long. After the fall harvest, close to the winter solstice, as the year transitions from old to new, the Shalako ceremony takes place. It includes dances, prayers, remembrance of ancestors, and ritual blessings for health and fertility. The Shalako messengers, personated by trained dancers, are depicted as very tall kachina who accompany the personated Council of the Gods in a ceremony that lasts all evening.