The Man to Send Rainclouds

by Leslie Marmon Silko

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What is the meaning of the colors white, blue, yellow, and green, and cornmeal and pollen in the burial ritual of "Man to Send Rainclouds"?

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The Pueblo Indian burial rituals reflect their oneness with the natural world.  They believe that death is part of a natural cycle in which the spirit of the deceased returns to its source and returns bringing rainclouds to aid in the perpetuation of new growth and life.  The symbols of their rituals are literal and straightforward - cornmeal and water are sprinkled around the grave so that the person who died will have plenty to eat and drink on his journey, and the pollen is representative of the renewal the rainclouds will bring.  The face of the deceased is painted so that "he will be recognized in the next world", with the colors white, blue, yellow, and green.  In keeping with the affinity the Indians shared with the natural world, it would appear that the colors reflect "the high blue mountains in the deep snow", the yellow of the sun, and the green of the earth.

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