In Albuquerque, we visit the “old town” section, a colorful magnet for the tourist trade. In addition to its expensive jewelry shops and cheap souvenir shops, the old town has interesting architecture and the definite imprint of its Native American populations.
I am delighted to encounter an open courtyard performance of a Zuni elder with the unlikely name of Fabian, who sings and dances in his native tradition, in full (and no-doubt oppressively hot) ceremonial regalia. His costume includes enormous feathers which make him, at times, appear to be a giant bird, swooping and nearly flying in his energetic dance. His multi-layered garb features hand embroidery, mostly crafted by his wife (who sings with him) and extensive beadwork, most of which is his own work. He tell me that he had to earn the right to wear many of the elements of his ceremonial costume. Much of the embellishment, especially the beadwork, is particular to his family. When another tourist asks is she can photograph his beadwork, he agrees, but implores, “Please do not copy my beadwork.” It is replete with meaning that is sacred to his family.
Albuquerque is an interesting town, and we have too little time to even do a good job of scratching its surface. We realize that our plan to make it to Santa Fe this afternoon was way too ambitious (aka unrealistic). But we are okay with the promise of a return visit. Next summer, we plan to return to this interesting city for Convergence, the national conference of the Handweavers’ Guild of America. I have yearned to attend this fiberworks’ feast since the first (and only) time I attended, about 20 or so years ago, when it was held in the D.C. area. This time, by golly, I think I will.