The One-Horned Buffalo Dance

Dancers in this mural reenact the legend that Little Buffalo pierced the Earth's crust so that the People, led by two Koshare, could leave the underworld and enter the upper world by way of Sipapu. The male dancers wear one horn and seven eagle feathers on their heads, and black buffalo pelts blend into their black painted bodies decorated with stars. They carry a bow and arrow in one hand, and a gourd rattle in the other. The women wear eagle feathers, plus two brilliant macaw feathers, and are dressed in black mantas.

The Artist

José Encarnacion Peña (1902–1979), was the oldest of the IPCC mural painters. His Tewa language name was So Kwa A Weh, which means Frost on the Mountain. He was the nephew of Maria Martinez, the internationally renowned potter. He often helped dig and mix the clay for his famous aunt, and sometimes helped decorate the finished pots. He painted during most of his life, usually in watercolors, and also made animal carvings and unusual pottery figurines, meticulously clothed in Native dress. José was a student of Dorothy Dunn at the Studio of the Santa Fe Indian School in the early 1930s, although he had begun painting in the early 1920s, and continued until his death in 1979. His pieces reside in museums in Phoenix, Denver, Houston, Columbus, and Nice, France. His realistic approach to painting is reflective of what he saw and knew from everyday Pueblo life.

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