If you wanted to direct the rains or the snow to every mesa you would climb to the highest heights and petition the Shalako Taka. The Shalako people are cloud deities and can be either male or female. Artist S. Miguel chose to paint the moccasins of this Shalako turquoise indicating that this Shalako is male.
The cloud deities are abundant and essential to the Hopi who lived traditionally in a very dry place. Almost all Hopi ceremonies center around the bringing of moisture be that rain or snow. The high altitude (depicted by the fact that the Shalako has ascended the highest peak) encourages us to view this Shalako as a member of the snow clan.
Check out the three arrows that appear on this magnificent headdress that adorns the top of his crown! It's as if the arrows are directing the clouds to appear above all three of the Hopi mesas. Symbols of clouds and lighting in the headdress connect this Shalako to the rain.
Perhaps the most wonderful aspect of this incredible carving is that the Shalako Taka is also accompanied by the Crow Mother (Angwusnasomtaka)! The crow mother is the head of the Hu or Whipper Kachina who are known to carry yucca whips- they are used to whip the children as part of an initiation ceremony into the Hu Kachina. Though this sounds fierce, don't be fooled, the Angwusnasomtaka is actually the beloved chief mother. In this carving she wears her white gown indicating that this could be the Crow Bride who only appears on the third mesa during the ceremonial Powamu festival. Regardless, both Kachina together symbolize the changing of the new seasons and the recurring theme found in all Puebloan art- the desire to bring rain and as a result a plentiful harvest for the year. Even the craggy rock base shows off Miguel's carving skills.
Kachina: Shalako Taka & Crow Mother
Artist: S.Miguel, Hopi, Arizona
Dimensions: 5 in. x 3-1/2 in.