The Grand Canyon Of Arizona: How To See It By George Wharton James

 -  There they sing and dance awhile, waiting for
the snake priests. These come from their kiva to the south of - Page 189
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There They Sing And Dance Awhile, Waiting For The Snake Priests.

These come from their kiva to the south of the dance plaza, and, as they arrive, all sounds are hushed and all attention concentrated upon them.

They circle before the kisi, and then line up facing the antelope priests.

Appearance of Priests. Some people say they are hideous; others have said, with me, that the sight is sublime. If one looks merely at the half-nude bodies, made repulsive by a coating of reddish black paint, with dabs of whitewash in several places, at their faces painted with the reddish black stuff, at the strings of white beads around their necks, and the snake whips in their hands, then indeed it is easy to say that they are hideous. But if one looks at their faces, he will see intense earnestness, deep solemnity, profound dignity, and unflinching belief in the necessity for and power of the prayer about to be offered. Then, too, with what simple, trustful bravery they handle the snakes, when that part of the ceremony comes! They know the danger; no one more so. Indeed, if a priest is afraid, he is not allowed to participate. Not only would his fear prevent his own proper worship, but it would interfere with that of his comrades.

Variety of Snakes. There were few snakes at Oraibi, the year I last saw the dance there, but those they had were active and vicious. There were several rattlers, some red racers, and a few bull snakes.

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