Saturday, August 19, 2017

IMAGES OF FOOTWEAR IN ROCK ART - ANASAZI SANDALS:


Shod footprint, Three Rivers, Otero
County, NM. Photo Jack and Esther
Faris, November 1988.


Closeup of shod footprint, Three Rivers,
Otero  County, NM. Photo Jack and
Esther Faris, November 1988.

As mentioned last week, a subject of interest in rock art is the portrayal of footwear. What do these images mean, what is their implication, what do they represent? Among the Ancestral Puebloan peoples, and most other people of the southwest, the common footwear was the sandal. For the sake of this discussion I will assume that any image of the outline of a human foot that does not display toes represents shod foot, showing a piece of footwear, sandal or moccasin.


Plaited sandal, Kayenta Anasazi,
Arizona, 900-1300 AD, yucca
leaves and cordage. Natural
History Museum of Utah.

Sandals were woven out of plant fibers or bark (often juniper), but perhaps the most common sandal was hand woven of yucca leaves (although especially fine examples might be twined out of cotton fibers). More than one technique was used in their production. The simplest ones were plaited with a warp in one direction, crossed by a weft in the other direction in an over-under alternating pattern. More complicated, and finer, results were obtained by twining, and the finest examples were often decorated by using different colors of dyed material, or by painting them subsequent to their weaving.


Twined yucca fiber sandal,
Glowacki, Fig. 10, p. 141.

Glowacki observed in 2015 that "Changes in sandal technology and the iconography depicted on murals and in rock art imply widespread reorganization in Western Mesa Verde influenced in part by changing relationships with an perceptions of Chaco and Aztec that altered local interactions and practices. For example, twined sandals, made of finely woven yucca with raised geometric designs on the tread or designs that were painted or dyed after production were used until the early 1200s, subsequently being replaced by plaited sandals." (Glowacki 2015:140)


Alex Patterson, 1992, A Field
Guide To Rock Art Symbols, p. 173.

These are assumed to have been used as ceremonial dance footwear, given the amount of work, and the specialized knowledge, required to produce them. "the intricacies of the unique geometric designs on the tread, and the impracticality of wearing finely twined sandals for daily use." (Glowacki 2015:140)


Footprint petroglyph, Spruce Tree
House, Mesa Verde, CO., Photo
Peter Faris, July 2002.

"The high frequency of sandal imagery in Western Mesa Verde and the depictions of sandals on rock art panels near habitations and on the inside and outside walls of rooms and kivas suggest that twined sandals had a different role in Western Mesa Verde culture than in other parts of the region." (Glowacki 2015:140-42)


Alex Patterson, 1992, A Field
Guide To Rock Art Symbols,
p. 173.

"Twined yucca sandals fell into disuse across the northern Southwest coincident with both the decline of Chaco and the extreme drought conditions of the mid-1100s." (Glowacki 2015:142)



Franktown Cave sandal, Franktown,
Colorado. 3345 - 3033 B.C. 
https://collectioncare.auraria.edu


The ubiquity and time-depth of the plaited yucca sandal is easily illustrated by the Franktown Cave sandal, recovered from a dry cave near Franktown, Colorado, and dated from between 3345 and 3033 B.C.(www.collectioncare.auraria.edu)  Indeed, anywhere and anytime that people had access to yucca they seem to have produced sandals for footwear.

Would an image of a sandal or moccasin serve as a symbol of travel, or does Glowacki have it correct that it is a symbol of ceremonial significance? In this latter case a depiction of a sandal print, especially a geometrically decorated sandal print, might represent a ceremonial dance. Or does it represent something else entirely? What do you think?

NOTE: Some of the images in this posting were obtained through an internet search for "Public Domain." If I have used any images that were not intended to be public domain please inform me and I will be happy to give full credit.


REFERENCES:

Glowacki, Donna M.,
2015 Living and Leaving, A Social History of Regional Depopulation in Thirteenth-Century Mesa Verde, University of Arizona Press, Tucson.

https://collectioncare.auraria.edu/content/yucca-woven-sandal-franktown-cave

Patterson, Alex
1992 A Field Guide To Rock Art Symbols, Johnson Books, Boulder, CO.


Saturday, August 12, 2017

IMAGES OF FOOTWEAR IN ROCK ART - FREMONT MOCCASINS:


Fremont moccasin print petroglyphs,
Dinosaur Nat. Mon. Grand County, UT.
Photo: Peter Faris, June 1986.

A subject of interest in rock art is the portrayal of footwear. What do these images mean, what is their implication, what do they represent? For the sake of this discussion I will assume that any image of the outline of a human foot that does not display toes represents a shod foot - showing a foot wearing footwear, a sandal or moccasin. Such shod foot prints are a common subject of Fremont Rock Art of the Dinosaur National Monument.


Fremont style moccasin, Hogup cave,
Utah. Wikimedia, Public Domain.

A large number of leather moccasins have been retrieved from dry caves and rock shelters in Utah. Promontory Caves, on the shores of Utah's Great Salt Lake were first excavated in the 1930s, and excavations resumed in 2011 under the supervision of Dr. Jack Ives of the University of Alberta.

"The site - part of a complex of natural shelters known as the Promontory Caves - contains "exceedingly abundant" artifacts numbering in the thousands, Ives said, marking a human occupation that began rather suddenly about 850 years ago. Scant ceramic sherds and basket fragments, meanwhile, bear strong sigs of influence from other Great Basin cultures, including the Fremont. This wealth of artifacts may go a long way in demystifying the distinctive, little-researched populations often referred to as the Promontory Culture." (De Pastino 2015)


Promontory Cave moccasins,
westerndigs.org,
Public Domain.

"But it was the staggering amount of footwear in the caves that captured the attention of archaeologists, past and present. With soles made from a single piece of bison leather, lined with fur, and sewn together at the heel, the moccasins are made in a style typical of the Canadian Subarctic, Ives said, a fashion his team describes as being "decidedly out of place in the eastern Great Basin. These moccasins and other cues have led some experts to theorize that the cave's inhabitants were part of a great migration from the far north, a wave of people who moved into the Great Basin in the 12th and 13th centuries, and eventually gave rise to cultures that include the Apache and the Navajo." (De Pastino 2015)

Note, this description of the Promontory Culture people of Utah connects them with at least influence from the Fremont people if not sharing the Fremont culture outright. The Fremont, and other, people of Utah and Northwestern Colorado commonly wore leather moccasins. Fremont researchers describe the Fremont people as possessing a unique form of moccasin made from the hide removed from the lower leg of a deer and having the dew claws of the deer left on. "The Fremont made moccasins from the lower-leg hide of large animals, such as deer, bighorn sheep or bison. Dew claws were left on the soles, possibly to act as hobnails, providing extra traction on slippery surfaces." (nps.gov)


Fremont moccasin print petroglyphs,
Dinosaur Nat. Mon. Grand County, UT.
Photo: Peter Faris, June 1986.

The migration mentioned above, known as the Athapaskan migration occurred roughly 500 years ago. It is believed to have involved a relatively small group that assimilated and intermixed with resident groups along their route and in the southwest. Their influence is illustrated by the fact that the Athapaskan family of languages is now dominant in much of the southwest. The Navajo and Apache peoples are descendants of these Athapaskan migrants and their languages are closely related to Chipewyan, an Athapaskan language spoken in the subarctic. (ScienceDaily 2008) The relationship of these migrants to the Fremont people is still not fully understood, but the Fremont wore a type of moccasin inspired by the Athapaskan migrants, suggesting a strong influence.


Fremont moccasin print petroglyphs,
Dinosaur Nat. Mon. Grand County, UT.
Photo: Peter Faris, June 1986.

One location with a large number of petroglyphs of footwear (shod footprints) is found at Station #17 on Harper's Corner Road, in Dinosaur National Park, right by the northwestern Colorado/northeastern Utah Border. This is classical Fremont territory and rock art in this area is predominately Fremont, dating from sometime after 100 AD to ca. 1300 AD.



Fremont moccasin print petroglyphs,
Dinosaur Nat. Mon. Grand County, UT.
Photo: Peter Faris, June 1986.

Would an image of a moccasin have served as a symbol of travel, or does it represent something else entirely? What do you think?

NOTE: Some images in this posting were retrieved from the internet in a search for public domain photographs. If any of these images are not intended to be public domain, I apologize, and will happily provide the picture credits if the owner will contact me with them. For further information on these reports you should read the originals at the sites listed below. 


REFERENCES:

De Pastino, Blake,
2015 Utah Cave Full of Children's Moccasins Sheds Light on Little-Known Ancient Culture, http://westerndigs.org/utah-cave-full-of-childrens-moccasins-sheds-light-on-little-known-ancient-culture/

https://www.nps.gov/care/learn/historyculture/fremont.htm

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080715104932.htm