September 22, 2016

2764 UNITED STATES - Apache Devil Dancers

2764 Apache Devil Dancers in Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation
(Sacramento Mountains / New Mexico)

The Apache believe that langsyne their ancestors lived alongside with supernatural beings. The common belief is that there are spirits that live within certain mountains and underground realms. Part of the Apache creation story incorporates the belief that they are the blood relatives of the mountains, trees, rocks, and the wind. One of the most important pieces to the beliefs of the Apache is a holy being sometimes referred to as White-Painted Woman, but also known as Changing Woman or White Shell Woman.

In the beginning, she gave birth to two sons, Killer-of-Enemies and Child Born-of-Water, who have ridden the world of evil by killing the evil incarnate monsters, thus making the world safe for the Apache people. So, these Mountain Spirit Dancers reflect that story by ensuring the well-being of the people to protect them from their enemies, and from epidemic diseases. The Devil Dancers or Crown Dancers are not considered to be supernatural beings, but posses the ability of summoning these mountain spirits.

They are a link between the supernatural and natural worlds and they often reflect this in a contradictory fashion. Part of their power is expressed as a "paradox of life". In many Native American cultures, this notion of chaos and disorder is personified as the "trickster", a destructive and simultaneously creative force. In Apache tribes, he is a boy amongst men, in some circles called Libaye, the ritual of "clowning" embodies the Apache beliefs underlying power.

Embodying the Mountain Spirits, they dance at night, bringing the spiritual world into physical manifestation. Their heads crowned with wooden slat headdresses, four Mountain Spirit Dancers and a clown wield their wooden swords as they dance around the fire. The bull-roarer, which is whirled on a length of string to produce a distinctive, resonating sound, drums, and singing accompany their dancing among the Western Apache. The bull-roarer is not used among the Eastern Apache.

About the stamps
The stamp used on the first sending, depicting John Adams and issued on June 3, 1938 (first appearance on a U. S. stamp), is part of the Presidential Issue, nicknamed the Prexies by collectors. It is the series of definitive postage stamps issued in the United States in 1938, featuring all 29 U.S. presidents who were in office between 1789 and 1928, from George Washington to Calvin Coolidge. The presidents appear as small profile busts printed in solid-color designs through 50¢, and then as black on white images surrounded by colored lettering and ornamentation for $1, $2, and $5 values. Additional stamps in fractional-cent denominations offer busts of Benjamin Franklin and Martha Washington, as well as an engraving of the White House. With its total of 32 stamps, this was the largest definitive series issued by the U. S. Post Office.

About the first stamp used on the second sending, issued in 2014 with the occasion of Earth Day, I wrote here. The first stamp is part of the definitives series American Design (2002-2007), about which I wrote here.

The Apache Mountain Spirit Dancers - Native Skeptic  

Sender: Denise 
Sent from Greenvale (New York / United States), on 12.11.2015
The postcard was first sent on 12.06.1953 from Albuquerque (New Mexico).

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