The Turtle Rain Dance By Jose Ray Toledo
This mural portrays a ceremonial dance dedicated to rain-making spirits. Twelve male and female dancers face the viewer, accompanied by two dance leaders, who give thanks for the beauties of life, abundant rain, and plentiful crops. As many as forty men, women, and children may participate in this important dance. A spruce tree stands behind the leaders, and both men and women carry evergreen branches which symbolize strength and eternity, for evergreen is the giver and sustainer of life. turtle shells decorate the legs of the men, and the motif is repeated at the base of the mural where the water-loving turtle and cloud and lightning symbols form a decorative border.
Jose Rey Toledo is a native of Jemez Pueblo. he earned a master's degree in fine arts from the University of New Mexico and another master's degree in public health from the University of California at Berkeley. For twenty years, until his recent retirement, he was an administrator of Indian health programs under the Department of Health. He is known as a "graphic historian" because of his detailed, loving portrayals of Indian social and religious ceremonies, some of which are no longer performed and are preserved only in his paintings. He has exhibited in Europe as well as nationally, and his works are on permanent display at the School of American Research and the Smithsonian Institution.
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