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The Moundville Serpent Disk

The Moundville Serpent Disk

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Published by Cliff
A continuation of a series of papers related to understanding Native American written gesture signs. The Moundville Disk is much more than imagery of Serpents and an Eye-Hand composition. This is an important artifact because it seems to connect nicely with oral tradition.
A continuation of a series of papers related to understanding Native American written gesture signs. The Moundville Disk is much more than imagery of Serpents and an Eye-Hand composition. This is an important artifact because it seems to connect nicely with oral tradition.

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Published by: Cliff on May 09, 2009
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02/23/2011

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Illustration 1: Photograph Courtesy of Moundville ArchaeologicalPark, The University of Alabama
The Moundville Rattlesnake DiskbyClifford C. RicheyMay 2009Revised 06-21-2009
 
 Illustration 2: Drawing Courtesy of Moundville ArchaeologicalPark, The University of AlabamaThis sandstone disk is from Moundville. Alabama and is about 12 inches in diameter. While theimagery on the disk is obviously of Serpents and a Hand-Eye design, one should not be distractedby this. One should focus first on the overall Form of the disk which is a Circle with notches on itsedge. This means a location that has holes (holes as viewed from horizontal section as opposed tothe usual overhead bullseye style) in its surface. The locational sign is relatively large and this signis also used as the number one (made by counting the Finger Tip). Therefore the statement, TheGreat One. Next we need to look at the Secondary Form created by the total imagery. From thispattern we see that it is the image of a Buffalo Head. There is a line on the Buffalo's Nose thatpoints to one of the the hole signs. This message may be based on a metaphor relating to a buffalowallow.
 
The Great OneBuffalo(at) His Hole(in)The Ground'sSurface
Exactly what this Associational Form (the Buffalo Head) meant to the Native American thatcomposed it is unknown. However, we can find some historical information as to what the BuffaloForm meant to the Winnebago Tribe. Perhaps similar meanings were held by other Buffalo huntingtribes.The following is material from Paul Raden's Notebook.
1
 “The spirit of the buffalo, an animal thatseems to traverse the whole earth in its migrations, is the very essence of the land. When Earthmaker created our world, he saw that his creation was unstable and moved about uncontrollably, sohe created the land to help anchor it. This land is in spiritual origin a gigantic buffalo. However, thechief of the buffaloes is the complex deity Blue Horn. As it is said in Blue Horn's Nephews, "Hewas one of the chief Water spirits, that was why he was called "Blue Horn". He was a BuffaloSpirit. He was the chief of the buffaloes, but he was a Water spirit, it is said. Blue Horn is alsoassociated with the blue sky and the Evening Star. Esoterically, the buffaloes over which he hascommand are the vast herd of stars who undertake the massive migration across the dark plain ofthe celestial sphere every night from east to west, only to come to ground or to disappear below theground at the end of their journey. What makes them Buffalo Spirits is the mysterious journey theymake from west to east, either somehow across the land or perhaps subterraneanly, traveling untilthe herd reemerges in the east following after the setting sun. As the Evening Star (Red Star) wholies close to the horizon of the sunset, he leads this herd of stellar buffalo across the sky. So the
1 Paul Radin's Notebook 58, a manuscript with numbers corresponding to the pages of a lost syllabic text. Pages104-107 were found as a single loose page fragment inserted in another notebook (#59). The translation is in thestyle and hand of Oliver LaMère. collected by Sam Blowsnake, ca. 1912Paul Radin, Winnebago Notebooks, Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society.
 Illustration 1: Buffalo Form

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