Bow Society

Encyclopedia Article


The Bow Priests are conspicuous in Zuni cosmology and in the first world, it was the Bow Priests who planted the prayer stick that allowed the people to climb out into daylight, provided corn for eating and carved the hands, feet, mouth and anus of the newly emerged people. Priests of the Bow Society arbitrate all masked rituals, sprinkling corn meal as the dancers depicting gods are escorted into the plaza.

As members of the war society, the Bow Society is a group of priests attending to secular matters, and taking direction from the Chief Priest of the Bow, the Sun Priest, or Pekwin, and leaders of other priesthoods. The influence of the Bow Priests is prominent in matters of crime, witchcraft and warfare. Responsible for both external aggression and internal dissension, the Bow Society Priests enforce religious law within the Zuni pueblo of Ha'wi-k'uh. Considered the executive arm, Bow Priests recommend for members of the tribal council and deliver the cane of office to the Chief Priest of the Bow who generally serves as governor.

Photo Credit: 

"Ceremony, Bow Priesthood 1898" (BAE GN 02370 06390500) National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution by Matilda Coxe Stevenson is licensed under Public Domain.

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