Posts Tagged ‘dancing’

Dance Party!

July 17, 2009

Your long overdue obecjt of the week (past several weeks).

Dancing is a major part of traditional Yup’ik culture. Every major celebration/festival/gathering includes elaborate dances accompanied by drumming.

Yup'ik Dancing

(Camai Dance in Bethel, AK)

Part of the dance regalia for men and women alike are dance fans (the Fenimore Art Museum has at least one pair). They are worn on the hands almost like brass knuckles, the fingers fitting into 1-3 holes on the base. Then there’s a circular part that sticks up off the hand and is usually decorated with feathers or fur.

Dance Fans

(A pair of dance fans in the collection at the Sam Fox Museum.)

Dance Fans

(Another pair of dance fans from the collection of the Sam Fox Museum.)

So now for the interesting part. The first pair of fans are a woman’s, the second pair are a man’s. How can I tell? Women’s fans are traditionally made of grass, and in the same style as woven grass baskets, a traditional female art. Men’s fans are carved out of bone or ivory, a traditionally male past time.

The first pair are from Nome, AK and their maker is unknown. The second pair were made right here in Dillingham by Sam Fox himself.

Anyway, I hope to see some Yup’ik dancing in about a week. I’ll be sure to post pictures of fans such as these in action.

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