31 December 2004

Clay Old Woman & Clay Old Man (Hopi Nation)



Clay Old Woman & Clay Old Man - Hopi

In the beginning the Pueblo peoples did not know how
to make pottery. They had no bowls to cook their
rabbit stew. They had no jars to carry cool water. The
people had no pots to store their seeds for next
year’s planting.

The Wise One in the Land Below saw how hard their life
was. Taking some clay, she made one man and one woman.
The Wise One named them Clay Old Woman and Clay Old
Man. She sent them onto the earth with a big ball of
clay and her blessing for the Pueblo peoples. Clay Old
Woman and Clay Old Man found themselves in a pueblo.
They sat down in the middle of the plaza and the wife
set to work with the clay. Curious children crowded
close. Women with their babies peered from the
rooftops of the houses around the plaza.

Clay Old Woman rolled the clay into long coils between
her two rough hands.

Around and around she wound the coils to build a pot.
The men standing on the log ladders propped against
the houses leaned closer for a better look.

Clay Old Woman made pot after pot. Her husband began
to sing and dance. The longer his wife worked, the
louder Clay Old Man sang.  The more pots she made, the
harder he danced. Puffs of dust danced in his
footsteps. Clay Old Man became so caught up in his
dance that he tripped.  He fell hard against the
largest, most beautiful pot. The pot shattered.  The
people held their breath, wondering what would happen
next.

Clay Old Man collected all the potsherds. He handed
them to Clay Old Woman and apologized. Clay Old Woman
soaked the pieces of the broken pot in water and
rolled them back into a ball of clay. Clay Old Man
gave a piece of it to every woman in the pueblo. “You
have watched my wife work,” he said. “You know what to
do.” The women began to knead their clay.  Clay Old
Woman nodded to herself as she watched the women work.
She was very pleased.

“The Wise One has given you a gift to treasure for all
time,” said Clay Old Woman. “Do not lose her gift.
Never forget how to make pottery.”

And the Pueblo peoples have never forgotten.



From Blue Panther Keeper of Stories.



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