As “Delight Makers” clowns contribute the comedy interludes to the solemn religious dramas, and they also perform theatrical entertainments of a secular nature. These secret orders differ in name, membership, and duties in the various pueblos. One order, the “Chiffoneti” is called the Black Eyes at Taos. The members of this order impersonate, without the use of a mask, a certain kind of supernatural. For the concealment of their identities they depend entirely upon the painting of their bodies and faces and the arrangement of their hair and headdresses. These extraordinary beings are striped from head to foot in horizontal black and white earth colors. Their faces are white with circles of black around their mouths and eyes. The hair is parted in the center and bound in two bunches which stand upright on each side of the head and are trimmed with bristling rosettes of cornhusks. Among the Tewa, this cornhusk is called “mist.” Sometimes strips of black cloth are tied around the neck and knees. Branches of evergreen are worn in the belt, or in a bandoleer over the right shoulder, or carried in the hands. The comic action of these entertainers is impromptu, and it occurs between the appearances of the main drama dance. For subject matter they make use of incidents in village gossip, or they mimic spectators in the crowd. These black and white clowns may entertain a crowd by dramatizing an incident.
January 15, 2020