Photograph by John McCauley
“The earth is shaking / From our beating the basket drums” —Tewa song
So much depends on rain. Native peoples throughout the Southwest pray for it, dance for it, build its blessings into the designs of their pottery and petroglyphs, blankets and baskets. The rasp seen here adds its percussive sound to that heavenly request during the women’s basket dance, one in a cycle of winter dances among northern New Mexico pueblos symbolically waking the earth for a new season of planting. The women scrape the smooth tool across the notched one; its sound joins those of drums and singers. These pieces, featuring a flicker and a lizard, were carved by an unknown Ohkay Owingeh Puebloan before 1962. The Indian Arts Research Center, at Santa Fe’s School for Advanced Research, holds the rasp in its collection, along with numerous drums, Hopi rattles, and Apache fiddles. Tours are offered on Friday afternoons.
Between the Canyon Road and Museum Hill neighborhoods, at 660 Garcia St., in Santa Fe, the Indian Arts Research Center is part of a 15-acre historical complex.