Monday, January 12, 2015

Pondering The Ancient Moqui Queen

[Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Highway 95, North Wash.] 
January, following a snowfall in southeast Utah's canyon country. From the Colorado River crossing at Hite, further westward on Highway 95. Beautifully lonesome. 

An atmospheric inversion had kept the lower river canyons under wraps, low clouds and fog, for over a week. Which served to keep the virgin snow on the ground perfect. And peaceful: no wind. Just calm white beauty on the red canyon sandstone cliffs. 

I stopped to visit a panel of ancient rock art called the Moqui Queen. A pictograph (painting) on a smooth sandstone face in a huge alcove. It's not hard to find if you know it's there. And it's easy to miss if you don't. 

I followed North Wash down from the parking lot, per instructions from friends. The stream was mostly frozen, making it easy to cross, though it was not deep anyway. Up the far bank and into the yawning, cathedral-like alcove. The fresh snow was so perfect that I hated defiling it with my tracks. 
[Moqui Queen Alcove] 
Up into the alcove. Where was she? I walked along the base of the sheer face. There she was. A path led right up to her. People know about this rock art panel, but you have to seek it out. Those who love these kind of sites want to protect them from vandals, so they usually only share the knowledge with someone they trust. 

Which is why I'm not giving you specifics. You need to feel drawn to this kind of thing, to be interested enough to find out more. 

The Moqui Queen. What does this rock panel painting of mineral paint from at least 700 years ago signify? No one knows for sure, since the Anasazi, or Ancestral Puebloan, culture left no written language for us to decipher these things. 
[The Moqui Queen, from below.] 
"Moqui", pronounced "mo-kee", was a term applied to the natives in this area when the first Europeans and American explorers came here. It seems to have been a catch-all name for the pueblo tribes found in this region, including present day Hopi, Zuni, Acoma, and other pueblo dwelling tribes into northwestern New Mexico. 

So what about "queen"? It's because of the regal appearing white dots at the crown of her head. Which are amazingly apparent after seven centuries. They have been described to represent white feathers. But then why round? I think they would have been white shells. Yes, this far from the Baja and California coasts. Because it's well established that their culture had such and extensive trade network. 
[Moqui Queen detail.] 
The robe, too, with the whitish streaks, looks quite ceremonial. 

As to the animal shaped figure to the lower right, well, that's been called her dog. Really? It looks like a bird to me. Some people think it's a turkey (which they cultivated), but the neck is too short. And the tail is too tall for a duck.
[Moqui Queen panel, with "bird".] 
So I think it's a grouse. Though why it's that large in proportion is...still another mystery. 

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© Copyright 2014 Stephen J. Krieg

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