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Face Painting at powwows

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  • Face Painting at powwows

    Colors, symbols and designs had great meaning to our Indian ancestors in days gone by. This is especially true in face painting.

    There used to be many reasons for wearing face paint. Each color had a different meaning according to tribe. The wearers often received their paint, symbols and designs: in ceremony, from a respected elder when the wearer was first given a name, used as protection or earned on the battlefield.

    Today's traditional dancer face designs seem to have evolved into a whole new realm - away from tradition. Many of today's face paint designs are a personal interpretation. Yet, they are still called "traditional dancers."

    It is my personal belief that if the true traditional dancers of early last century could see the face paint of today's "traditional dancers," there would be many questions brought up.

    Is this a valid assumption? What are your thoughts? Good or Bad?
    Powwows will continue to evolve in many directions. It is inevitable.

  • #2
    Okay, I'll shorten my question and get right to the point. . .

    "Are today's face painting designs on 'traditional' dancers getting away from tradition?"
    Powwows will continue to evolve in many directions. It is inevitable.


    • #3
      I've been wondering the same thing. But I have a question, too--

      Are the face paint designs on Traditional dancers today given to them or did they make them up? (I'm thinkin' maybe both but I'm not sure.) I know that either way, they have great meaning to the individual wearing them, though.

      Somebody please respond to this Thread and shed some light on this subject. Thanks!
      Point to the part of you that's Indian... "The heart knows what it is." I may look like I'm white, but my heart knows I'm Native.


      • #4
        Originally posted by NoTrad. Eagle Scout
        I've been wondering the same thing. Are the face paint designs on Traditional dancers today given to them or did they make them up? (I'm thinkin' maybe both but I'm not sure.) :candle:


        You answered your own question. There ARE men in the dance arena who wear face paint that has strong meaning. They received their designs in a number of traditional ways according to their tribe or ceremonial associations.

        But . . .

        Because there are so many dancers who fall under the men's traditional catagory, "new" traditional dancers "ARE" making them up.

        It is my opinion that . . .

        "A traditional dancer who paints his face in a design that they can wear in a powwow OR WWF arena . . . . is NOT wearing a traditional design."
        Powwows will continue to evolve in many directions. It is inevitable.


        • #5
          not to repeat what was said above, As it is true, but face paint falls into the same area as any other Traditional thing, there are going to be people that actually follow tradition, then there are people who are going to make it up as they want to. It is sad that it happens but it does.
          Why does fat chance, and slim chance mean the same thing?


          • #6
            good topic i was just wounderingthe same thing about face pianting and you guys cleared it up prety good for me i want a tradittional design whitch i did earn or was giving to me from an elder but my problem is my grandma is for getting some of our tradittion and my granpa s sister who teaches our culture on the rez is hard to get a hold of and since my rez is on the other side of canada from were i am now it s is very hard to comunicate espcially when i dont talk with poeple back home but im trying to do the best i can to be traditional
            [FONT=Arial Black]FONT]


            • #7
              I see some of the younger more contemporary traditional dancers wear some paint that reminds me of that rock group KISS (without the tongues hanging out, lol). One of those young men is an accomplished dancer and places regularly and I am friends with his uncle. I asked the uncle about the face paint and he said they don't use it the way his nephew was using it and later spoke with his nephew and asked him not to paint his face like that cuz that wasn't their way.


              • #8
                paint away

                give good sing hard and try not to fart infront a fine flat butt babe!


                • #9
                  Lots of contemporary traditional men paint up for contest, it adds to the outfit.

                  Personally I don't care for it. I think our ndn men are handsome without it :D When I see a good dancer painted up I wonder if he's as good looking as his dancing is :D
                  "Gaa wiin daa-aangoshkigaazo ahaw enaabiyaan gaa-inaabid"


                  • #10
                    ....or sometimes the guy looks really good w/the face paint and then takes it off and you cant even recognize them.
                    The only time its too late to start dancing is when you're dead.


                    • #11
                      *LOL*....I spoze so! I never thought about it that way :D
                      "Gaa wiin daa-aangoshkigaazo ahaw enaabiyaan gaa-inaabid"


                      • #12
                        So, is face painting strictly for Traditional dancers? Grass dancer Marty Pinnecoose has always sported white stripes under his eyes and they look bad (good)!


                        • #13
                          I've seen all men dancers in each category wear it. I guess was just the traditional men's category that came up here :)
                          "Gaa wiin daa-aangoshkigaazo ahaw enaabiyaan gaa-inaabid"


                          • #14
                            Well to begin, I would like to just say that there is a huge difference between going to a competition powwow, and a traditional powwow!!!!

                            So in saying that, competititon powwows, have brought the powwow singing and dancing to a whole different level. It has sped the process of evolution up ten fold.

                            Being a relatively new dancer, its eazy to look at some of the face painters out there n say dayummm thassss cool. But I know that there isnt really any meaning behind lots of those faces, they juss look cool and add to the performance. I mean your their to impress the judges, and have a good time. Its competition, especially the comteporary dancers and there faces, Face painting like hte wwe is comptemporary.

                            But then taking those faces and going to a traditional powwow, that would be kinda, silleeee, At a traditional powwow, maybe i might paint red on my forehead. But at a traditional powwow, there is more meaning behind it, its not just to see whose the best or whose got the best movezz. Its about dancing for the people. Dont take this the wrong way when i dance at a competition, im still dancing for the people, but im there to have a good time, more of a social aspect of it, a traditional powwow, theres more RESPONSABILITY, i guess is what im saying.

                            BTW i know i look as good without the paint as i do with the paint!!! :large:


                            • #15
                              Face Paint

                              I am not able to talk to elders or go to a ceremony so I talked to some guys on and dancers around here and they suggest getting my grandmother to give me a name and face paint design. BUT, I made sure my grand mother(1/2blood Cherokee) knew the great importance of this and that it isn't a joke.

                              any comments are greatly appreciated,
                              Even YOU can change!


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