The parrot effigies that were made by the Anasazi, the Ancestral Puebloan people of Chaco Canyon in northern New Mexico, A.D. 900-1150, inspired this larger-than-life sculptural parrot form. These ancient Pueblo people were amazing ceramicists, and the design matters painted upon their ceramics were extraordinary. These ancestors were highly skilled artists for such ancient times. Amongst my favorite forms are the effigies they made to honor the animals. I was taken aback by the trade amongst the indigenous peoples of the Americas that happened at Chaco Canyon. Some of the many items that were brought to trade from far away were parrots and macaws. Their feathers were as beautiful as the rainbows. The Anasazi used these feathers as a symbolic way for their prayers to reach the heavens.
One day in the mid-seventies my mother, Linda Cain, was flipping through an “Arizona Highways” magazine at her parents home in Santa Clara Pueblo. An article about ancient Pueblo pottery intrigued her and a parrot effigy she saw that accompanied the article filled her with inspiration. So she made her own version of this sculptural form. I was gifted one of these clay parrots. And many years later it would inspire me to create my own rendition of the parrot effigy.
Alongside my wonderment of the beautiful parrot feathers in the regalia that’s worn during prayer ceremonies in the pueblo where I grew up, I wondered where and how these feathers came to be so important in our ceremonial use. Our ancestors have passed this ritual use of these feathers down to the present day. I would later learn of Chaco Canyon and the ancient ones that inhabited this place.
The Anasazi of Chaco canyon used the stars as a guide, the stars alignments would coincide with the seasons and that would determine when to plant and harvest, they documented stories and told time by how the shadows moved on rocks. I have designed this parrot effigy with feathers, stars, clouds and raindrops, the spiral designs represent the life and journey of man and woman and the generations that follow.
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