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Jump Dance basket

Hupa na´wehch (Jump Dance basket)
ca. 1880
Yew wood, maidenhair fern, bear grass, spruce root, hide, woodpecker feather, sinew, paint
65 x 10 x 7 cm
Collected by Alexander Brizard

The Xay-ch´idilye (Jump Dance) is completed every two years by people from the Hoopa Tribe of Northern California. The ceremony is conducted only in the fall and is one part of three ceremonies held in three sections to bring balance back into the world. The first ceremony is called the Xonsil-ch´idilye (White Deerskin Dance) and lasts for ten days. This dance is believed to remove evil or bad from the people preparing for the second cere¬mony, the Ta:´altul (Boat Dance). The Boat Dance is conducted toward the last days of the White Deerskin Dance as a way for the people to gather prayer from the past, present, and future. After a ten-day resting period, the Hupa people begin the Jump Dance. The Jump Dance is a time for re-creation of the world or putting the world back into balance. This third ceremony is believed to bring the entire world back into order.

The na´wehch (Jump Dance basket) serves a vital role in the completion of this ceremony. With each stitch of the basket the weaver breathes life into its creation and makes way for the basket to take its place as a living part of the community. An active participant in the ceremony, the basket is responsible for the important task of removing evil or bad from the world and putting good back into it. The dancer holds the basket in his right hand. Keeping time with the song and other dancers, he lifts the basket high in the air and then returns it to his stomach area. With a loud stomp of his foot, the evil or bad is stomped into the ground. The basket is then lifted again high in the air, releasing good back into the world. This action is considered a way of replacing evil or bad in the world with good.

—Bradley Marshall (Hoopa), tribal liaison, Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley

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