war dance

2003, oil, 44"h x 64"w

10. War Dance 44x64.jpg

Much of Zhuo's research suggests that many Northeast Indian tribes held war dances prior to a vengeance or plunder raid rather than afterwards, as in Plain Indians cultures. The custom was to build a large fire in the center of the village as night approached. The band chief would then speak of past victories and honors. His purpose was to convince his people that the forthcoming strike was blessed by the medicine men with the approval of their Great Spirit, and then to enlist warriors. The dance began with drummers beating a slow pulse-like cadence. As the drum beat increased and grew louder, so did the excitement of all in attendance The frenzied shaking of rattles with high pitched singling heightened the ever-building momentum.

Then, the war leader stepped boldly before the fire and, raising his war club, stomped the ground to put emphasis to their purpose so that even the earth would give witness. The dancing began in earnest and swelled into a synergic crescendo lasting long into the night! May volunteers assembled by first sight.

Like a symphonic arrangement, Zhuo's composition dramatizes all the action and movement present in the painting. We can almost hear the resonance of the scene as well.