Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Spanish Rock

Back to Canyon de Chelly and I hope you all can indulge my fascination with rock art for a few more posts...
This is probably my favorite of all the rock art sites I visited and was one of the main reasons for going in the first place.. I had previously heard about this one and wanted to see it for myself. This branch of the canyon is named "Canyon del Muerto"(Canyon of Death) for an incident related to the story depicted on this rock. The art is Navajo in origin and nowhere near as old as the last one I wrote about, dating back only to the 1800's. In fact it depicts an expedition by Spanish soldiers into the canyon in January 1805, led by Lt. Antonio Narbona, in which they cornered a group of Navajos at their hiding place in the rocks and massacred everyone, including women, children and elderly. That spot is now a ruin known as "Massacre Cave" and is quite a bit further up the canyon from this spot where the artwork is found.
As Spanish, Mexican and eventually American settlers began to invade the traditional Native American territories, they (the Navajo and others) understandably felt justified in raiding and pillaging the intruders, but that in turn prompted retribution from the armies of the various governments involved, which of course were destined to prevail due to their size and resources. After many years of back and forth raids, in 1863, a force led by Kit Carson, under orders to subdue Indian unrest in the area, entered the canyon from the upper end and drove all the remaining residents from this last refuge, destroying their homes and crops and forced them into "The Long Walk".. the infamous 300 mile forced march eastward to the Fort Sumner internment camp in New Mexico. Hundreds died on the 18 day trek. Once there, they were forced to live together with other tribes with which they had historical disputes, (kind of like the racial divides in modern day prisons), creating lots of new problems, but eventually in 1868 they were allowed to return to their traditional homeland.
I love the way the artists used the natural formation in the rock wall to create a ground for the riding characters, as well as the way the intricate textures and colors highlight the scene. Notice the robe and cross depicting a Spanish priest riding along with the soldiers and the detail of the horses.
The photographer’s most important and likewise most difficult task is not learning to manage his camera, or to develop, or to print. It is learning to see photographically – that is, learning to see his subject matter in terms of the capacities of his tools and processes, so that he can instantaneously translate the elements and values in a scene before him into the photograph he wants to make.
- Edward Weston, The Art of Photography

15 comments:

storybeader said...

the rock art is beautiful! I'm so glad to see it in such good shape. The history sounds very familiar to many stories in southwest Oklahoma, where I live. No rock art, though...

Jan's Place USA and Mt Forest Pictures said...

this is wonderful to see, and love the narration.

donnie said...

eloquent photograph and story :)))

Split Rock Ranch said...

What a beautiful photo of some stunning rock art! I would love to visit Canyon de Chelly some day.

Amy Lilley Designs said...

more rock art...yet another rock blog!!!!!...it's just gorgeous!!

betchai said...

the details are so intricate, and the lighting is so perfect to showcase this wonderful piece of art rock. i've never been here, will put this in my list once we visit the area. thanks for sharing.

Mook said...

marvellous! feel free to indulge yourself all you like :)

Love the article! on my old blog far far away, every year I used to write something to commemorate the anniversary of Wounded Knee.

Nice one Mark.

Chrissy said...

It is beautiful photography of a fascinating piece of art. Amazing history. Is it that colour or have you used sepia?

Shinade aka Jackie said...

Mark I for one am loving your rock images and the rock art.

keep them coming It's very interesting and there's something new to learn with each post!!

Gary Heller said...

Mark, your work is outstanding and a pleasure to view. The story behind the photograph is equally important and interesting.
As always, the level of detail and technique is top notch.
Looking forward to more.

Mark Alan Meader said...

Thanks everyone for the comments. I am currently in the process of moving my office/studio and it's kind of a nightmare. I'm trying to clean up everything and get it out of my current location by the end of the month, so I haven't been around much to see what you all are up to.. I apologize for that. I'll get back to normal in September.

Deb: Many of these examples are in remarkably good condition, luckily. You're right, I think the stories from around that time period are similar all over the country, and mostly they are not very positive for those involved.

Jan: Thanks!

donnie: always enjoy your input and your work.. good stuff.

Split Rock: Thanks.. hope you get to see it someday.

Amy: glad to hear from you and I kind of thought you would enjoy this kind of "found art". I have a few more of these for the future... hope you don't mind:)

Betchai: This place is lesser known than many other nearby places, but definitely worth finding next time you are near there. Take a long lens and tripod!

Mook: Cheers!.. I've been by but haven't had time to comment . I didn't know you were interested in Native American history, but glad to hear it.

Chrissy.. Thanks a lot for commenting.. No, no sepia effect on this one. The red/orange of the rock is a main feature of the whole area and what makes it so beautiful, especially in the morning and the evening. I, for one, never get tired of it.. the open spaces and the color always draw me back.

Hi Jackie: Thanks.. hope your back is feeling better.
I like the new look over at your side, BTW.

Gary: it's always gratifying when your work is appreciated by someone with a really discerning eye.. thank you much. Like you, I try to find something relevant to say in each post, rather that just throw stuff up there without any context.. I'm glad some people appreciate that. Sometimes (like now) when I'm busy with other stuff, it gets hard to concentrate, though.

Shinade aka Jackie said...

Thank you so much Mark for taking the time to stop by and leave a comment.

To get a critique from someone such as yourself is a treasure to a beginner like me.

The top image is also my favorite. You are so correct about the risk.

The post with abstract always receive the least amount of comments.

But, they are among my favorites to play with.

You too have a jewel of a phto here.

I love the richness of the color, the drawings and the wondeful reflective quality.

I hope you have a great weekend,
Jackie

Emm said...

What an amazing post. The story of the 18 day trek and the camp is horrifying.

*!*Fяαи*!* said...

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