The Zuni Knifewing God

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The Zuni Knife-wing God (A-tchi-a la-to-pa), a sky being, has a combined human-bird form. Though an animistic spirit, he holds no religious significance when rendered in silver but is merely decorative. As described by anthropologist Frank Hamilton Cushing, who lived with the Zunis from 1879-1884: "This curious god is the hero of hundreds of folklore tales, the tutelary deity of several societies of Zuni. He is represented as possessing a human form, furnished with flint knife-feathered pinions, and tail. His dress consists of the conventional terraced cap (representative of his dwelling place among the clouds)... His weapons are the Great Flint-Knife of War, the Bow of the Skies (the Rainbow), and the Arrow of Lightning. His guardians or warriors are the Great Mountain Lion of the North and that of the upper regions. He was doubtless the original War God of the Zunis."

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  • Sondra Christianson April 14, 2020 at 12:58 pm

    I bought a knife wing pendent.(from a second hand thrift store) It hangs upside down. I haven’t been able to find any examples like it. Is there any meaning to it being upside down? I suspect it was just an error made by the jeweler when the bale was attached. I appreciate hearing your thoughts about it.

    Thank you,
    Sondra Christianson

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