The Kana:kwe Print by Elroy Natachu
The Zuni Kana:kwe dance is performed once every four years in late November. This dance is to ensure blessings of crops and wild game as the A:Shiwi (Zuni Pueblo) migrate across the land. When our ancestors first encountered the Kana:kwe they were not kachinas, rather, they were a group of people.
Instead of a peaceful coexistence, a battle raged between the Kana:kwe and the A:Shiwi. The leader of the Kana:kwe was a warrior known as Chakwena Okkya, a seemingly invincible opponent. However, with the assistance of Yaddokya Datchu (Sun Father) and Ahayuda (War Gods), victory came to the A:Shiwi.
The kachina figure depicts one of the two leaders of the Kana:kwe dance wearing an embroidered man’s war shirt and an embroidered woman’s cape dress.
He carries in his hands a basket full of corn, squash, beans, sunflower, gourd, and other seeds indigenous to the Southwest.
The black background represents the night sky, and the rainbow is indicative of the last night of the battle between the Kana:kwe and our ancestors.
The gold paint splatters are various constellations, and the glow of the metallic paint is associated with the sacred. The gold can be linked to western views of what is precious.
The geometrical effigies on the sides of the main figure symbolize the brother and sister survivors of the Kana:kwe, who became the black corn clan that exist as part of Zuni today.
The mist represents the physical form of our prayers.
The hidden face in the background is the leader of the Kana:kwe; Chakwena Okkya.
Overall, the image symbolizes that after all the chaos of battle that occurred, peace prevails.
This painting is symbolic of the core values evolved through our ancestors’ migrations.