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A Group of Anasazi Indians performing the ritual Sundance inspired by ancient Petroglyphs from New Mexico

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Description

A Group of Anasazi Indians Performing the ritual Sundance inspired by ancient Petroglyphs from New Mexico

Measurements: 3 inches x 2 inches x 1 and 1/2 inches
Weight: 220 Gramm

Sun worship is a custom that has gone on nearly as long as mankind itself. In North America, the tribes of the Great Plains saw the sun as a manifestation of the Great Spirit. For centuries, the Sun Dance has been performed as a way to not only honor the sun, but also to bring the dancers visions. Traditionally, the Sun Dance was performed by young warriors.

Origins of the Sun Dance

According to historians, Sun Dance preparation amongst most of the Plains peoples involved a lot of prayer, followed by the ceremonial felling of a tree, which was then painted and erected at the dancing ground. All of this was done under the supervision of the tribe's shaman. Offerings were made to show respect to the Great Spirit.

The Sun Dance itself lasted for several days, during which time the dancers abstained from food. On the first day, prior to beginning the dance, participants often spent some time in a sweat lodge, and the painted their bodies with a variety of colors.


The Sun Dance was not held solely to honor the sun -- it was also a way of testing the stamina of the tribe's young, unblooded warriors. Among a few tribes, such as the Mandan, dancers suspended themselves from the pole with ropes attached to pins that pierced the skin. The young men of some tribes lacerated their skin in ritualized patterns. Dancers kept going until they lost consciousness, and sometimes this could go on for three to four days. Dancers often reported having a vision or a spirit walk during the celebration. Once it was over, they were fed, bathed, and -- with great ceremony -- smoked a sacred pipe in honor of the Great Spirit's manifestation as the sun.

Outlawing of the Sun Dance

The Native Americans Online website has some great information about the Sun Dance, including this bit about the tragic history of the practice. They say, "The sun dance was outlawed in the latter part of the nineteenth century, partly because certain tribes inflicted self-torture as part of the ceremony, which settlers found gruesome, and partially as part of a grand attempt to westernize Indians by forbidding them to engage in their ceremonies and speak their language. Sometimes the dance was performed when reservation agents were lax and chose to look the other way. But as a rule, younger generations were not being introduced to the sun dance and other sacred rituals, and a rich cultural heritage was becoming extinct. Then, in the 1930's, the sun dance was relearned and practiced once again."

Sun Dances Today

Today, many Native American tribes still hold Sun Dance ceremonies, many of which are open to the public as a means of educating non-Natives about the culture. If you get the opportunity to attend one as a spectator, there are a few things to keep in mind.

First, remember that this is a sacred ritual with a rich and complex cultural history. Non-Natives are encouraged to watch respectfully, and even ask thoughtful questions afterwards, but should never join in.

Also, keep in mind that there may be parts of the ceremony - including but not limited to aspects of the preparation - which are not open to an audience. Be mindful of this, and respect boundaries.

Finally, understand that you may see things at a Sun Dance which seem strange to you or even make you uncomfortable. Remember that this is a a sacred event, and even if the practices are different than yours - and they probably will be - you should see it as a learning experience. Father William Stolzman, a Jesuit priest who spent many years living on Native American reservations, wrote in his book The Pipe and Christ, "Some people have great difficulty understanding and appreciating the tearing of flesh that takes place in the Sun Dance. Many cannot understand that there are higher values for which health is to be sacrificed."
A Group of Anasazi Indians Performing the ritual Sundance inspired by ancient Petroglyphs from New Mexico

Measurements: 3 inches x 2 inches x 1 and 1/2 inches
Weight: 220 Gramm

Sun worship is a custom that has gone on nearly as long as mankind itself. In North America, the tribes of the Great Plains saw the sun as a manifestation of the Great Spirit. For centuries, the Sun Dance has been performed as a way to not only honor the sun, but also to bring the dancers visions. Traditionally, the Sun Dance was performed by young warriors.

Origins of the Sun Dance

According to historians, Sun Dance preparation amongst most of the Plains peoples involved a lot of prayer, followed by the ceremonial felling of a tree, which was then painted and erected at the dancing ground. All of this was done under the supervision of the tribe's shaman. Offerings were made to show respect to the Great Spirit.

The Sun Dance itself lasted for several days, during which time the dancers abstained from food. On the first day, prior to beginning the dance, participants often spent some time in a sweat lodge, and the painted their bodies with a variety of colors.


The Sun Dance was not held solely to honor the sun -- it was also a way of testing the stamina of the tribe's young, unblooded warriors. Among a few tribes, such as the Mandan, dancers suspended themselves from the pole with ropes attached to pins that pierced the skin. The young men of some tribes lacerated their skin in ritualized patterns. Dancers kept going until they lost consciousness, and sometimes this could go on for three to four days. Dancers often reported having a vision or a spirit walk during the celebration. Once it was over, they were fed, bathed, and -- with great ceremony -- smoked a sacred pipe in honor of the Great Spirit's manifestation as the sun.

Outlawing of the Sun Dance

The Native Americans Online website has some great information about the Sun Dance, including this bit about the tragic history of the practice. They say, "The sun dance was outlawed in the latter part of the nineteenth century, partly because certain tribes inflicted self-torture as part of the ceremony, which settlers found gruesome, and partially as part of a grand attempt to westernize Indians by forbidding them to engage in their ceremonies and speak their language. Sometimes the dance was performed when reservation agents were lax and chose to look the other way. But as a rule, younger generations were not being introduced to the sun dance and other sacred rituals, and a rich cultural heritage was becoming extinct. Then, in the 1930's, the sun dance was relearned and practiced once again."

Sun Dances Today

Today, many Native American tribes still hold Sun Dance ceremonies, many of which are open to the public as a means of educating non-Natives about the culture. If you get the opportunity to attend one as a spectator, there are a few things to keep in mind.

First, remember that this is a sacred ritual with a rich and complex cultural history. Non-Natives are encouraged to watch respectfully, and even ask thoughtful questions afterwards, but should never join in.

Also, keep in mind that there may be parts of the ceremony - including but not limited to aspects of the preparation - which are not open to an audience. Be mindful of this, and respect boundaries.

Finally, understand that you may see things at a Sun Dance which seem strange to you or even make you uncomfortable. Remember that this is a a sacred event, and even if the practices are different than yours - and they probably will be - you should see it as a learning experience. Father William Stolzman, a Jesuit priest who spent many years living on Native American reservations, wrote in his book The Pipe and Christ, "Some people have great difficulty understanding and appreciating the tearing of flesh that takes place in the Sun Dance. Many cannot understand that there are higher values for which health is to be sacrificed."

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Mystic Artworks
Hans Oswald
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Note to international buyers: You are responsible for any customs fees, taxes, etc. incurred.
All items will be shipped via German overland postal service.
If you want express courier service for overseas destinations from Germany via DHL (tracking number included), please contact me at hansoswald@t-online.de for a cost estimate.

We will then send you tracking number for the delivery process. For overseas delivery outside of Europe, shipping charges will be based on destination.

We will discuss the details with you in advance via Etsy or e-mail. All items shipped will be secured up to a maximum value of € 300 = USD 350 roughly.

Packaging:
All canvases will be carefully bubble wrapped and boxed. Sculptures will also be carefully wrapped in bubble wrap and appropriately fitted in boxes.

Shipping address:
Please make sure your Etsy address is correct. If you like it sent to a different address than that of your Etsy-account, please include your corresponding details along with your purchase order. We are not responsible for packages sent to outdated or incorrect addresses.

Shipping times:
All items have already been created. Upon receiving payment, the items will promptly be packaged and shipped within 1-3 days. You will receive a message with your tracking number when your order has been shipped.

Note to international buyers: You are responsible for any customs fees, taxes, etc. incurred.

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A Group of Anasazi Indians performing the ritual Sundance inspired by ancient Petroglyphs from New Mexico

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Overview

  • Handmade item
  • Materials: kieselstein, Klarlack
  • Feedback: 23 reviews
  • Favorited by: 4 people
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