The Traditions of the Hopi by H. R. Voth
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36. WATERMELON-RIND WOMAN (HÖLÖ'KOP WUHTI). 1
Halíksai! The people were living in Oraíbi. At the place where now old Qömáhoiniva lives, lived a very pretty maiden, who refused all offers of marriage. At the place where Sikámöniwa at present lives, lived a young man by the name of Piwítamni. He lived there with his grandmother. He had derived his name from the fact that he always patched his grandmother's wrappers and blankets.
Many young men in the village asked for the hand of the pretty maiden when she would shell corn in the evening, and they would come and woo her, but she refused all offers. Piwítamni's grandmother once told him to visit the maiden too, and ask for her hand in marriage, but he said that she would certainly refuse him because he was poor and his blanket was very much patched. One time she gave him two little fawns and said to him: "When the maiden goes south of the village to a certain rock, you go and meet her there and take these two little fawns with you." So in the evening he did as she had told him to do and went up to the maiden where she was pulverizing some rock with a hard stone. "What are you doing?" he asked her. "I am doing this way," she said, whereupon she looked around and saw the two little fawns. "What have you there?" She asked. "They are my two little animals," he answered. She was glad and said, "Give me these and I shall own them." So he
gave them to her. She took them to the village and showed them to her father and mother, as she still had parents.
The young man also returned to his grandmother and she asked him: "Well, how has it turned out?" "Why she took them to her home." "All right," she said. By this time the sun had set and the grandmother said to the young man, "Now go to the maiden's house and you speak to her parents, and if they talk good to you you bring her to my house. So in the evening he went over to the maiden's house and the parents recognized him. They asked him whether these were his two little fawns and whether he had given them to their daughter. He said he had. "All right," they said, and seemed to be glad. Then they turned to their daughter and said, "You have found each other. You fill your tray with meal and go with him." So she filled her tray with meal and went along with the young man. When they arrived at the young man's house the grandmother was very happy and greeted her. "Come in," she said, and assigned her a seat. She found that the maiden was a very pretty girl. She then gave her some little hurúshiki (a certain Hopi food) and some meat from the breast of the chíro, with some brine. When the maiden had eaten, she asked: "Where shall I sleep?" So the grandmother showed her a small room with blankets in it which were also very much patched up, so that she had a very poor looking bed.
For four days she ground corn there, as is the custom of the Hopi. When the young men of the village heard about it they were very sad. But while usually relatives and friends provide a bridal costume for the newly married maidens, there was no one to prepare this costume for this maiden, and hence there was no one for whom she could prepare meals except the poor grandmother. When she had been there for some time, the grandmother said to her grandchild. ''It is now a long time, you go and cry out this evening that your relatives should come here to-night and eat." During that day they prepared some píkami for the feast that night. So in the evening he cried out, saving: "You my uncles, come here and partake of this food, and do not be slow about it." So in the evening they arrived and partook of the food. The young bride set before them the píkami which she had prepared. The grandmother went into an inner room and got from there a great deal of nö'okwiwi (a dish consisting of venison, shelled corn, salt, and water), which the maiden had not noticed before. This she also set before her guests, of whom a great many had come in by this time. When they had eaten they said, "Thanks, that our bride has prepared this feast and that we have
eaten it, You remain here and see we have prepared your costume. There it is wrapped up in this bundle. To-morrow you look at it." so in the morning the grandmother opened the bundle, and there were the two bridal robes, the moccasins, and the big belt in the reed receptacle.
The people had heard that Piwítamni's bride would go home and they all wanted to see her, and said that she would not have a bridal costume on because nobody had prepared one for her. So they all went on their houses and waited for her. All at once the old grandmother accompanied the young bride to the ladder which the bride descended, and behold! she was dressed up in an ówa. 1 They were astonished, not having heard of any costume being prepared for her. The old grandmother sprinkled a road of corn meal for the bride and then the latter, carrying her bundle with the second ówa and the belt in front of her, went home to her parents. Her father and mother were very happy and they welcomed her. "Thanks, that you have come and somebody has prepared something for you," they said.
Later on the bride took some corn-meal to her own parents, and her husband also brought some to her parents, and then they lived in their parents' house. But Piwítamni lived with his wife and was always very poor and had nothing. The parents of the wife were now wondering and waiting whether he would provide for his wife and make some clothing for her. But he did as he had done for his grandmother, that is, repaired and patched, but never made any new clothes for her and only made and worked a very small field. He proved to be lazy. While the others raised fine crops and watermelons and filled their houses with them, this young man raised hardly anything, and his poor wife had to live partly on watermelon rinds which were thrown away by other people, so from that fact she derived her name, and the others laughed at her husband.
The young man also had a place in one of the kivas, but he usually had very little to eat. When the other people received their food from their homes, nobody brought him anything, He generally got very little because they were so poor. He never received any meat to eat and always ate by himself on the floor of the kiva. Only one old man had pity on him and sat by his side when he ate. The other people laughed at him. One time he went home and his old grandmother asked him what the people were saying to him in the kiva. He said that some of the people who were rich always brought a
great deal to eat to the kiva, especially a great deal of meat, and one had said to him that he would feed his wife with good food and then he would take her away from him. So the next day when it was noon again, the men from the kiva all went to get their mid-day meal again. The old man who was sitting with Piwítamni said to him: "You wait, go and get your food when they are all done." The, again brought in a great many victuals, especially a great deal of meat. Finally Piwítamni asked them, "Is that all?" They said, "Yes." "All right," he said, "so I am going to get my food now", and left the kiva.
When he had arrived at his grandmother's house she went into one of the rooms and got out a great many watermelons, which she placed in blankets. "Take these to the kiva first," she said. When he came to the kiva they looked up and said, "Somebody is carrying a big burden." So he came in and placed the watermelons on the floor at the place where he was usually sitting. All the others looked at those fine watermelons with envy and astonishment. He then went out again and proceeded to his grandmother's house. When he arrived there she asked him: "Have you come?" "Yes," he said. "Now what else do you want?" she asked. "My meat," he said. So she went into another room again and brought out a great deal of meat. It was antelope meat which she gave him, and he wrapped up a great quantity of it and carried it into the kiva. When they saw him come in they all looked up again and there he placed a great quantity of meat on the floor and then he commenced to eat. The old man who had always been with him was very happy and exclaimed, "Ahá," so the two were eating again. When they were done eating the old man turned to the others at the other end of the kiva and said to them:" Now, if any one is coveting this, come here and get the watermelons and take them to his children and the meat, that is left and take it to his wife." They were at first hanging down their heads, but soon came and took what was left and enjoyed it. Only one man did not come. He said, "Wait until to-morrow, how will it be then? To-morrow we shall not bring any food into the kiva, we shall not eat, but let us then bring our wealth (robes, dresses, belts, buckskins, etc.), into the kiva, and whoever proves to be the richest and bring in the most shall live with your wife." So the young man went over to his grandmother's house again and she asked him what the men had said. He said that to-morrow they were all going to bring into the kiva their wealth.
So the next day they were in the kiva all forenoon and at noon one of them suggested that now they go and get their possessions,
"All right," the old man said, who was sitting with Piwítamni. "You go first because you wanted to have it this way." So they all went out and got their possessions and hung them up on the poles and pins in the kiva, filling them entirely. Others brought theirs in and the kiva was filled. They then said to Piwítamni: "Now then you go, too." "Yes," his comrade said, "you go and hunt at least something too, and bring it in." So he left the kiva and after he was gone his friend asked the others in the kiva to prepare many poles in the kiva for his friend to put his things on.
When he came to his grandmother's house she went into a room and brought forth a great many sashes. "Take these over to the kiva first," she said. So when he came to the kiva they looked up again and saw that somebody brought a great bundle. He placed them on the floor and said to his friend: "Now you hang all these up," and then left the kiva. Arriving at his grandmother's house she again went into a room and brought forth something and it was buckskins in great quantities. He took them over to the kiva. The men there looked up as he arrived at the kiva entrance and saw that he had a great bundle. He placed these buckskins on the floor and his friend, the old man, suspended them over poles. He again returned to his grandmother's house and this time he brought back a large bundle of large buckskins which were also hung up in the kiva by the old man. A fourth time he went and this time brought a large bundle of women's belts. So it was shown that he was very rich. Most of what was in the kiva belonged to Piwítamni. "Now then, what have you to say?" the old man said to the other men. So Piwítamni was ahead again.
Hereupon the old man took all these things that Piwítamni had brought into the kiva over to his house and gave them to his wife. Hereafter he was wealthy and no one dared to take her away from him. But the other men wanted one more test. They said the next day they would go from house to house and the man in whose house the most corn was found should own Piwítamni's wife. So the next day all the men from the kiva, including Piwítamni and his old friend, went around in the village from house to house and examined the piles of corn. In some houses they found a great deal of corn.
But when they came to the house of Piwítamni they found the house was filled with corn, watermelons, and squashes, so he had gotten ahead of them and no one ever dared to take away from him his wife.
That rich woman, who was after that no longer called Watermelon-rind Woman, may still be living somewhere.
131:1 Told by Wikvaya (Oraíbi).
133:1 A white blanket made of cotton, two of which form a part of the bridal outfit. See "The Oraíbi Marriage Ceremony," by H. R Voth, published by the Field Columbian Museum.
Next: 37. The Youth And Maiden Who Played Hide And Seek For Their Life