I would like to share a few more images taken at the American Indian Center’s 63rd Annual Chicago Powwow. The costumes and dances were of particular interest to me and luckily the weather was perfect for bringing out all the colors on display.
One of the categories in competition dancing is Fancy. The dance originated in Oklahoma and requires considerable agility and endurance. The costumes certainly live up to the name, being extremely elaborate with feathers, ribbons, bells and all kinds of brightly-colored accoutrements. It is said that the dance may represent warriors preparing for battle.
Although not quite so flamboyant, the costumes worn for the Men’s Northern Traditional dance are still considerably ornamented and are most impressive. The costume may include an Eagle feather bustle, bone bead breastplate, leggings, beaded moccasins and ankle bells. The dancer sometimes carries an Eagle feather fan, pipe bag or dance stick and paints his face to represent a traditional family or national emblem.
There are several different interpretations of the dance which is thought to either represent a warrior recounting his feats in battle or searching for his enemy while other stories mention a hunting or gathering role. Some of these dancers look quite fearsome so I’m guessing it has more to do with the fighting aspect.
During the American Indian Center’s 63rd Annual Chicago Powwow held earlier this year at Busse Woods in Elk Grove, Illinois, I was able to capture some images of the dances performed in competition there. The costumes were stunning and the dancing energetic and graceful. One of the more musical categories was the Jingle Dress dance.
The Jingle Dress dance originated with the Ojibwa Nation in the early 1900’s and is thought to have healing powers. The dresses are decorated with rolled snuff can lids which create the delightful bell-like sound as the dancer twists and turns. She also carries a feather fan and sometimes a beaded purse and wears beaded leggings and moccasins.
The story behind the Jingle Dress Dance goes something like this: A father, whose young daughter was very ill, had a dream in which he was shown how to make a jingle dress and also instructed about a dance that was part of the healing ritual. When he awoke he made the dress for his daughter and showed her how to do the dance. Despite the fact that she was so ill, she performed the dance wearing the jingle dress and the more she danced, the better she became until she was completely recovered.
There was no shortage of images featuring yellow for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week. Like red, yellow usually shows up well in pictures and I’m always on the lookout for bright colors.
These cheeky sunflower faces caught my eye at Goebbert’s Pumpkin Farm in South Barrington the other day.
We visited the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau last week to see their ‘Birds in Art’ exhibit. This beautiful piece, entitled ‘Lesser Bird-of-Paradise’ (Oil on tupelo), was created by Gary Eigenberger.
Maybe not quite so artistic but very creative, this pumpkin was decorated for the Scarecrow Trail at Morton Arboretum in Lisle last year.
Trees showing off their autumn finery at River Trails in Northbrook, Illinois.
Splendid yellow costumes worn by participants in the American Indian Powwow in Busse Woods this September.
I just wanted to share a few more of the images that I captured at the 63rd Annual Chicago Powwow. As I explained in the previous post, this was a life-long ambition for me, to attend an event such as this, and I wanted to make the most of it.
A big part of the powwow is the competition dancing which explains the numbers that you see in some of these portraits.
Everyone joins in. Dancing is an important part of the American Indian culture and participants range in age from seniors to youngsters .
Dances include Men’s Fancy and Northern Traditional, while the women compete in Fancy Shawl and Jingle Dress categories, which suggests that the costume is as important as the dance itself.
I’ll be sharing more pictures of the dance itself in upcoming posts.
Cheri Lucas Rowlands’ choice of topic for this week’s Photo Challenge on The Daily Post, Quest, could not have come at a more opportune time. More than sixty years ago when I was a young schoolgirl in England, I became the proud recipient of my own library card. I can remember as clearly as if it were yesterday, the first book that I borrowed with that card. It was a very old publication on the history of the American Indian Nation. The photographs were probably some of the first ever taken and I was absolutely fascinated by the faces that stared out at me from those yellowing pages.
It became something of a lifelong ambition (or quest, if you will) to one day see something of the American Indian culture. I don’t pretend that it was an all-consuming passion. I didn’t make a study of it or even pursue it once I came to America but I often thought about that book whenever I saw Native American artifacts or costumes in a museum and when I read that the American Indian Center’s 63rd Annual Chicago Pow Wow was about to take place at a nearby forest preserve in September, I realized that now was the time to make good on that promise I had made myself all those years ago.
I’ve never been a great one for portrait photography, always feeling rather self-conscious about taking other people’s pictures especially when they are total strangers, but I was determined to make the most of this opportunity, and I have to say I was very pleased with the results. I hope to share more of these images in upcoming posts.
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