Heritage, Volume 7, Number 2, Spring 1989 Page: 25
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dancers celebrate a 17th century Spanish
celebration complete with renaissance
dance tunes played on the violin. The
church occupies the center of the pueblo,
much as it does throughout Mexico, where
the church was often constructed with the
building block of Mixtec or Zapotec or
Aztec temples. But in the Southwest the
kiva still serves as the native religious
center, even if the church is more visible.
In the surrounding landscape there is also
the powerful sense of place, and the "signs
from the ancestors," inscribed as rock art
that is found throughout the region.
It is this inner cultural sense of place and
meaning that M. Jane Young eloquently
portrays in her book Signs from the Ancestors:
Zufii Cultural Symbolism and Perceptions
of Rock Art. There is a powerful message
in this book. It brings alive the meaning
of rock art like few other works on the
subject. Jane Young began her studies
among the Zunii as a linguist, and she focussed
linguistic studies on rock art as a way
of understanding prehistoric astronomical
systems in the Southwest. Later the Zuni
Tribal Council invited her to document
rock art on the reservation so that it could
be known and protected from vandalism.
This book is the fruit of those labors. With
the double purpose of recording and relating
prehistoric rock art to the present generation,
Ms. Young has been able to integrate
prehistoric and contemporary experience
into an interpretation of meaning.
Not only did she conduct field surveys of
prehistoric rock art sites, she also developed
a set of flash cards of design motifs and
symbols that she then used to elicit responses
from Zufii colleagues and friends.
The responses varied according to the
individuals' own precepts and occupations,
but patterns of meaning emerged that Ms.
Young explicates in a brilliant linguistic
analysis which she extends to other texts
from her previous research. While many
books on rock art are satisfied to define
symbols or motifs as clan boundaries or
water locators or even "ceremonial" designs,
Ms. Young demonstrates that meaning
is integrally entwined with one's own
sense of place and time, as part of an unique
cultural identity that reveals itself in rock
art as well as other symbolic outlets. While
there is a problem with continuity between
prehistoric and contemporary cultures Ms.
Young's book is nonetheless a profound
beginning of a new direction in analyzing
material culture in the Southwest.
Unfortunately, Marks in Place: Contemporary
Responses to Rock Art is not as good.
It is a good idea for a contemporary fine arts
theme. However, there is an almost complete
insensitivity to the origins of rock art
as part of local communities and cultures.
Each artist contributes photographs taken
throughout the western hemisphere,
equating the styles and content of rock art
expression. In fact, in the foreward by Lucy
R. Lippard, she decries the lack of archeological
analyses: "Its neglect by archeologists
(frustrated by precisely the elusiveness
that attracts the artists) has left it a nearly
open field." She forgives the photographers
for their own ignorance of anthropological
knowledge: "Several of them insist
that they know little about the rock art
they pursue and don't want to get into the
'intellectual stuff on an anthropological
and historical basis: 'If the power's there,
you'll feel it, ' says Roitz."
Culture is relative, fluid, and very diverse
in its experience and expression.
Although none of the photographs in
Marks in Place are outstanding, they are still
somewhat interesting as they document
20th century American expression, but if
you really want to expand your horizons of
Southwest cultures, read Jane Young and
J. Manuel Espinosa.
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HERITAGE * SPRING 1989 25
A Pictorial History
by Margaret Henson & Kevin Ladd
Captures the colorful heritage of a
community marked by dynamic
adventure. Anyone who has ever
lived in Chambers County will
treasure this "mirror" record of
the way things were and the way
things are. Over 300 nostalgic
Please send CHAMBERS COUNTY: A Pictorial
History. I enclose $33.75 per copy.
Make checks payable to:
Wallisville Heritage Park
Chambers County Pictorial History Book
P. 0. Box 16 * Wallisville, Texas 77597
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 7, Number 2, Spring 1989, periodical, Spring 1989; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45432/m1/25/: accessed June 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.