Feb 6, 2013
Apr 10, 2006

Koshare Contest

Koshare Contest

c. 1920s

Julian Martinez

(Native American, San Ildefonso Pueblo, c. 1885–1943)


Page: 57.5 x 36.5 cm (22 5/8 x 14 3/8 in.)

Educational Purchase Fund 1928.314



This painting depicts the pole climb that occurs every year during the San Gerónimo Feast Day in Taos Pueblo, New Mexico. The striped characters clambering up the pole toward a treasure are koshare (co-shar-eh), the sacred clowns of Pueblo religion. Like European American clowns, koshare provide comic entertainment, but they are much more complex. For instance, they behave in exaggerated ways that turn social norms upside down, thus highlighting and reinforcing the norms.

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