“Hopi Bride With Wedding Pot” stoneware sculpture by kayti sweetland Rasmussen
Every bride is beautiful in her own way, and the Hopi bride of yesteryear was no exception. Though today’s bride is more apt to wear a long white wedding dress and serve a multi-layered wedding cake at her reception, not so long ago her preparations were time-consuming and laborious.
The two sided wedding vase was used by both the Cherokee and the Pueblo Indians and contained a sweet corn liquid which the bridal couple sipped during the ceremony.
After informing her mother and future mother-in-law of their intention to marry, the bride was set to the task of grinding corn for three days. Can you imagine a young woman of today grinding corn for three days?
The village beauty parlor then took over and after washing her hair with pounded yucca roots to make it shine, the bride’s mother cut the front hair to the level of her chin and rolled the long hair in back into two large coils over her ears which designated her new status as a married woman. After this ceremony, the bridal couple each took a pinch of cornmeal, walked to the eastern side of the mesa on which the village of Oraibi stands. Holding the meal to their lips they cast it to the wind and return to the house as husband and wife. Simple ceremony.
Gifts of corn were distributed around the village, and the bride set to work making dozens of paper breads for the festivities after the wedding to which the entire village was invited.
“Corn Maiden” stoneware sculpture by kayti sweetland rasmussen
Kiva at Isleta, New Mexico, where I lived for some time in the 1960’s
The crier of the village announces the time for the spinning of the cotton for the bride’s blanket which takes place in the kivas. The bridegroom and male members of his family then wove a large white blanket which would be used as the bride’s winding sheet upon her death, and a second smaller sash each with long tassels on the ends, plus a reed mat in which the blankets are to be rolled.
The last act of the drama is called “going home” in which the bride, who has been living with her husband’s people up to this time, returns to her family home. Wearing the large white blanket and carrying the smaller one wrapped in the reed mat she walks to her mother’s house. For in this land of women’s rights the husband must live with the his wife’s relatives.