Friday, March 30, 2018

Back to a Zigzag (CT 2007)

    I just hadn't realized that Great Serpent concept - the Qusukqaniyutôk or Stone Rows as Snake Effigies - in Indigenous Stonework, back in 2007. Looking for something else, I just happened upon a blog post written just as the land clearing began along this old Indian Trail, its origins going back perhaps to a time when this floodplain was a glacial lake. This morning I did a double take, wondering how had I missed this...

Listening to the Sound of Distant Thunder; Angry Voice of the Great Serpent:

   This boulder should have been a clue, down at the northwestern end of this enclosed space, the zigzag remains of that same stone row that bounds that floodplain field by the Nonnewaug Stone Fish Weir on the eastern edge, the old Indian Trail on the western side, another boulder, perhaps humanly enhanced to resemble the head of a timber rattlesnake and the Great Serpent as well - a little fanciful with a rhomboidal shape for the the Snakes left eye:
Zigzag rows of stone aren't rare in the immediate area. A short drive away is this one, similar but not identical, just one more example of zigzag stacked to resemble entwined snakes - timber rattlesnakes with flat-topped triangular heads most often:

Sometimes these snakes are realistic, sometimes not - and they aren't always boulders.
Maybe it's a slightly larger cobble.
Sometimes something about the stone, especially something about the shape of the eye already there rather than pecked into it:

Sometimes the zigzag turns linear, maybe even turns a corner and maybe the Serpent Head is not very triangular or flat on top:

Sometimes there's a sort of  Trompe l'oeil ('trick of the eye') to some of them and the Serpent, just like so many do in Great Serpent Stories, seems to change into something else as you walk around it:
Sometimes that Serpent Head will be at a slight (zigzag?) angle, and perhaps it recalls the Uktena, the Strong Looker, who knows your thoughts and intentions, who offers protection with the gift of tobacco, from the Thunder Beings who shoot fire from their eyes - and from the Great Serpent itself:
No, I just didn't have all these images fitted into my cognitive map back in 2007, just didn't know all those Great Serpent Stories I've been collecting now for sometime.
But I'm trying to learn how to listen better as the Landscape Speaks to me...

Adding this in January 2020:
In Stone Prayers; Native American Stone Constructions of the Eastern Seaboard (2018), Dr. Curtiss Hoffman writes about Qusukqaniyutôk or Stone Rows as Snake Effigies: “Some of the more remarkable rows have what appear to be serpent heads at their ends. These and the sinuous walls have been reclassified to the “effigies” category (page 61)…It is my understanding that the Algonquin term qusukaniyutak, which applies to stone rows and enclosures, also may be used to define serpentine walls. The Algonquin term for snake, skug, does not appear to be applied to these structures (page 92).”

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Mark Starr Frog Effigy

I looked at this one a year ago, a photo from Mark Starr.

   I don’t find it here:, so, I guess it was an attachment from an email – and I guess I guessed that the boulder above the wall “could be a turtle,” since on the same flash drive I found this:

Well let me change my mind about that.
Look here:
That larger "spot" looks like it might have had some human help to resemble a Frog’s Ear – actually a Tympanic Membrane and not a true ear, but as close to an ear as you can get for an American Bullfrog. Or those Wood Frogs who are singing love songs in the little pond across the road from our house. 

“Weren't you just showing us another one?” the three or four people who actually read this blog might be thinking.

“Yes, I was,” I’ll reply, “That Stone Bullfrog at the Dead End of a Street.”
Yes, I know it’s not exactly where the membrane should be, but it’s close enough for me – and the artist who created it.

     Seems like just yesterday I saw another example of a bullfrog stone, a definite eye and a tympanic membrane just two details that resemble an actual bullfrog:

Mark Starr will be presenting at the upcoming Neara Conference, just after my friend Robert DeFosses, on Friday April 13, 2018 in Southbury CT.

Follow this link for details:

Monday, March 26, 2018

Weathering an Effigy

      On my "To Do" list: make giant stone frog effigy, check the state of weathering on it every 100 years or so for the next 12,000 and see exactly when on the timeline the two match up. It will give me something to look forward to in my old age...

(After I make a bear, turtle and a couple rattlesnake heads for practice, of course.)
     I’m not sure if I’ll ever follow through on this – chances are I won’t.
     I guess the best I can do is take you over to a couple effigies in the stonework around our old house, show you some above ground examples and then a few hidden from view underground...

Oh -  wait a minute – I already did:

Friday, March 23, 2018

Model of the Inwood Hill caves (Bronx NY)

Where have all the New York City Cermonial Stone Landscape Features Gone??

   “Mr. Chenoweth dug away the dirt until he found an easy entrance to a chamber in which a man in stooping posture might crawl about with some difficulty.  The chamber was dry, and the dirt on the floor was soft.  Mr. Chenoweth began turning it through with his trowel.  Many pieces of pottery, some as large as a man’s hand, a few as large as a man’s two hands, lay in little pockets of the sediment. After six hours of digging Mr. Chenoweth had all the fragments of six pots of curious forms and unique manufacture.  As he pushed ahead the next day he found a dark exit from the first chamber to a second one.  The exit was a hole in the rocks; half filled with dirt, and altogether so small that before being cleaned a man would have to crawl through it...” (NY Sun 1890)

    Princess Naomie says: "Back in the woods a bit is what’s called an Indian cave, but between you and I and the gate-post, I don’t believe Indians ever lived there. It leaks..."

     I say: “Look at the location, the path to the Creek, and think about a Stone Sweat Lodge or Pissuponck for a few moments:”

 Where have all the New York City Cermonial Stone Landscape Features Gone??
Long time passing, Long Time Ago...
Gone to WPA work crews - every one???
When will we ever learn...
     When will we ever learn...

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Serpentine in More Than One Way

    A short bit of stonework, extending from another row of stones, not a Zig Zag but more “Serpentine” you could say, undulating side to side, ending in a triangular flat topped boulder touching the little stream...
    I can find it here quite easily, this Indigenous signature on LiDar indicating a Ceremonial Stone Landscape, and even turn it so that east is at the top, just like in the photo:
Well that looks terrible. I hope you get the idea...
     And the Idea is that “This is indicative of the effigy form known as (a) Serpentine row (of stones). Quite often they  curve and meander across the landscape and usually they will start with the tail of serpent in a spring or a stream and will end with the Serpent’s head – which you see at the bottom of the screen – also pointing to water,” as Doug Harris mentions in the National Park Service Training Video (and in the transcript) which can be found here:
That Serpentine Row of Stones, enhanced for effect:

Not to be confused with Zig Zag Rows of Stones:
Some Previous Sometimes Serpentine:
Atlanta Trails - Fort Mountain State Park: hike to a mysterious serpentine rock wall:

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Back to "That Spot"

"This Spot:"
Way UP:

Sculpted Stone?