Hopi Rock Art, An Annotated Bibliography

Shanda Vaught, December 16, 2002

Schaafsma, Polly.

1980 Indian Rock Art of the Southwest. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.

In this source Schaafsma is describing rock art from the Pueblo IV Rio Grande Classic period. She states that, “Pueblo IV anthropomorphs and kachina masks from Zuni, Hopi, and the Little Colorado River drainage do not differ appreciably from those in the Rio Grande drainage. The outlined circle eyes, open mouths, and teeth of the Little Colorado River Masks are most like those from the Galisteo Basin” (Schaafsma 1980:289). These forms occur in association with sites occupied between 1300-1600 AD. This source also has a brief discussion of Glen Canyon Style 2, and its association with Hopi re-visitation of the area from the 14th century to the present pointing out the similarity of the kachinas, human figures, and mountain sheep to those found in the Rio Grande forms.The source also talks about the well known Willow Springs site on the Hopi Salt Trail saying the site contains “symbols such as kachina masks, sun figures, bows, clouds, birds, corn plants, and animal tracks have been placed in linear sequence developed over a period of many years as participants in the trip have added their marks. It is said that a new symbol is made to the left of the old, and that a novice is permitted to begin a fresh row for his own work” (Schaafsma 1980:289). There is also an interesting discussion starting on page 293 about the function and interpretation of Hopi rock-art. The section lists different functions including clan symbols, showing where a clan has been or denoting location of communal lands and art in association with shrines, especially the snake petroglyph which may serve a protective function (Schaafsma 1980:294).Schaafsma also notes that interpretation is made more difficult because many different symbols represent the same clan and the same symbol will be portrayed in different forms from village to village.

Schaafsma, Polly

2000 Warrior, Shield, and Star: Imagery and Ideology of Pueblo Warfare. Western Edge Press, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

This book was most notable for the excellent color pictures of shield figures throughout the book, both from rock art and in kiva murals. This book was primarily focused on theories of pueblo war fare and possible influences from Meso-America, but included discussions of shield figures in rock-art and kiva murals.  The shield figures are interesting because they tend to be very abstract, while other forms of Hopi rock-art, such as clan symbols, are much more representational. One Betatakin shield figure has been tentatively identified by Hopi elders as Masau, a Hopi diety, because of its skull-like face and the flame colored arcs that border it (Schaafsma 2000:23). Anthropologists Ekkehart Malotki and Patricia McCreery think that the figure may actually be a female figure, Tiikuywuuti, since it is similar to other, more obviously female, figures in the same area (Schaafsma 2000:24-26).Another petroglyph is shown with a beak and two short parallel lines just below his eye. These “warrior marks” have been described by Hopis as the Elder War Twin’s footsteps (Schaafsma 2000:56).Another interesting fact is that figures who may be Masau are frequently found in deep cave recesses or near cracks. At Hopi these figures are sometimes juxtaposed with shield figures (Schaafsma 2000:58-9).The book also touches on the relationship of war related rock-art and the landscape, noting that some locations, especially high places, may have been places where supernatural powers were being appealed to (Schaafsma 2000:108-112). This may relate to the occurrences of rock-art near shrines or shrine-like places where offerings can be left.The book also indicates that while shield figures may have served a protective function for nearby homes, there are instances of shield figures and tally marks serving as documentation for a successful battle. In these cases the tally marks show the number of slain, and the shields depicted are those of the enemy (Schaafsma 2000:111).

Slifer, Dennis and James Duffield

1994 Kokopelli, Fluteplayer Images in Rock Art. Ancient City Press, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

This book is primarily about Kokopelli, but it is relevant since Kokopelli is sometimes depicted in Hopi rock-art. The book discusses similarities between the bulbous shape found on the end of some Kokopelli flutes and the water gourds that are sometimes attached to the ends of flutes used in Hopi Flute Society ceremonies (Slifer 1994:21). This source also discusses possible origins and migrations of Kokopelli and includes a Hopi informant’s belief that Kokopelli is a Flute Clan symbol, who was a regular human in ancient times, a great leader who did many good things and was made into a katsina after he died. Kokopelli is credited with bringing Asa Clan to Zuni and represents Spider, Water, and Titmouse Clans (Slifer 1994:24-6).The source also mentions a rock-art depiction of Kokopelli that appears to illustrate a Hopi myth regarding Kokopelli’s courtship of a beautiful maiden (Slifer 1994:55). The complete myth is detailed in the appendix. 

Stephen, Alexander

1936 The Hopi Journal of Alexander Stephen.  Columbia University Press, New York.

This source was very interesting, but its journal format can make it difficult to follow and its sheer size makes it difficult to navigate, although it has an excellent index. One reference to rock-art (Fig. 83) showed a drawing of a roughly h-shaped outline. Inside the outline is a filled in circle, a cross, and 2 curvilinear shapes. Below is the caption, “Fig. 83. Ute shield (Yu’ta tübo’ota). Moon and Friendship mark (nakwachve’eta): ‘When the moon was half gone i.e. full moon, with our friends we slew the enemy.’ About 2 ½ ft. x 2 ft., rubbed on rock” (Stephen 1936:131).  Associated with this spot was a story about a Tewa woman who was digging coal when a number of large boulders fall on her and imprisoned her, but did not kill her. Her people tried to dig her out for ten days and ten nights before she died. They left her there (Stephen 1936:130-132). The relevance of this story to the rock-art is unclear. There is also a drawing of an Apache shield that was located near the Ute shield. This shield is round with shapes (legs?) coming out of the bottom. Below it are two sets of tally marks. The caption indicates that it is an Apache shield and that the tallies represent the number of slain Apaches and Apache women. It is about 3 ft in diameter (Stephen 1936:132).This source also describes an interesting link between rock-art and grave sites, “Pecked in the cliff on the south side of Müsho’ñĭnovi is a shield about 30 in. in diameter (Fig. 400). ‘When I am dead and below my shield will be here’” (Stephen 1936:745). The source of the comment is unknown. A cemetery is also described in conjunction with rock-art, “The cemetery lies among the ground plan between boulder and pillar. There are numerous petroglyphs on the north and south face of the pillar, the south face peckings quite inaccessible and from forty to sixty feet from the base. Many ka’ü (corn) and pa’shmi (field) prayer-sticks, old sticks lie at the north base of the pillar” (Stephen 1936:747). Although the cemetery is mentioned in relationship to the rock-art it is unclear if he meant to emphasize a connection or simply describe the place.

Talayesva, Don

1942 Sun Chief: The Autobiography of a Hopi Indian. Yale University Press, New Haven and London.

This is one of the most interesting sources I found because it is from the Hopi point of view. The description of the author’s experience on the Salt Journey includes interactions with rock-art, “Traveling a mile farther, we arrived at the shrine where Hopi salt gatherers carve their clan emblems on the rocks. Our ancestors had gathered salt for many generations, and there were hundreds of clan emblems cut into the rocky base of the shrine. Every traveler, on each successive trip, had carved another symbol to the left of his original one. My father had carved eleven sand dunes in the course of his life and Talasvuyauoma had carved ten coyote heads. I selected a smooth surface nearby and carved my Sun symbol, also tracing my initials on the emblem; but I kept this secret, fearing that my companions would object to it as something modern. When I had finished, I placed the breath line of a prayer feather at the mouth of my Sun symbol, pounded it with a stone until it stuck and prayed: “My uncle, the Sun god, please notice that I have carved my clan emblem upon the stone. Direct our steps to the Salt Canyon and watch over us until we have returned safely” (Talayesva 1942:235). This description seems to show the rock-art was being made almost like an offering with the process of making it being more important than the fact that it is there, since the clan symbols are re-carved on every journey.

Titiev, Mischa

1972 The Hopi Indians of Old Oraibi: Change and Continuity. University of Michigan Press.

This source describes another interesting Hopi interaction with rock-art, although it is unclear if the rock-art in question is of Hopi origin or simply left over from some other cultural group. A Hopi man, Allen describes a deer picture that was on a mesa near a Sun shrine at which men used to fire for target practice. The rock has since fallen down. Titiev comments, “Target practice only, and not mimetic magic seems to have interested the Hopi” (1972:125).Another site is also described on two large boulders near a trail.“On the face of one rock had been carved the pictographs of a reed (bakap), gun, vulva, and coyote head [Fig 13]. Ned [A Hopi man] said that these pictographs indicated that at this spot someone had detected a Bakap clansman having intercourse with a Coyote clanswoman” (Titiev 1972:151).

Waters, Frank

1963 Book of the Hopi. Penguin Books USA Inc., New York.

This book describes in detail pictographs from Pictograph Point and other places and explains the meanings of these markings as told to the author by a Hopi spokesman. There are drawings of the pictographs included with their explanations. Many of the pictographs are said to depict clan histories and interactions. Some indicate the location of villages and announce the people who lived there, (Waters 1963:49-66).It also mentions carving Kokopellis in relation to clan migrations, “When the people moved off on their migrations over the continent they carved pictographs of him on rocks all the way from the tip of South America up to Canada” (Waters 1963:38).