Coyote Walks with a Song, Earth Dancer Sculpture, by David Caricato
hand carved on gourd with leather, removable carved mask and stand
40″ x 14″ x16″
The Story of Earth Dancers
Long ago, there was a very old Earth Dancer who wore masks. None of the other Earth Dancers understood why, nor did they yet know that one day all Earth Dancers would wear masks. The change began when an impudent young Earth Dancer challenged the old man, who was sitting in the shade carving an owl mask.
“Old fool! Why do you waste your time making toys? After all your work, you’ll put on that mask and you still won’t be an owl! You’ll still be and old fool!”
The old Earth Dancer stopped his work, slowly looked up, and gently laid the mask on the bench beside him. Quietly, and without any sign of anger, he said, “Yes, that’s true.” He calmly continued to look at the youth for some time, without saying anything more. Then, he picked up his mask and resumed his work.
The youth stood defiantly facing the old man, waiting for more response. None came. At last, he grew bored and turned to walk away. As he did, from the corner of his eye, he thought he saw the mask blink! He looked straight at it in disbelief, but now it was motionless. He thought he must have imagined it, for the old carver obliviously continued working.
“Sit down,” said the elder, without looking up. The bewildered youth mindlessly obeyed.
Still carving, the old masker began. “Earth Dancers are not separate from animals, from the earth, or even the sun and the moon. All things come from and belong to each other. Bravery, serenity, wisdom, and lightheartedness all come from the same source as eagles, lions, owls, and Earth Dancers. When I wear a mask, I’m not pretending to be something that I’m not. I wear masks to remind myself that I am one with the things that I love and aspire to be. I can be as brave as the lion, as free as the eagle, as serene as the moon, and as wise as the owl. I only need to be reminded.”
The youth, losing his patience and regaining his impudence, ridiculed the ancient storyteller. “So! For a fool to be wise all he has to do is wear an owl mask! Is that what you’re telling me? Well, then, you truly are an old fool!”
The old man, without looking up, tossed the youth a block of wood. The boy instinctively caught it, and the moment he touched it, a strange warmth slowly spread over his hands. He looked up in confusion, but the old one was reabsorbed in his carving, and seemed to have forgotten that anyone was there. For a long time, the young Earth Dancer sat, holding the block of wood, staring at the owl mask in the hands of the skillful carver, and thinking of nothing but the mysterious blink and the unfamiliar sensation in his hands. Finally, his reverie was broken by the voice of the elder.
“Would you like to borrow a carving knife?”
When the youth raised his eyes, they were greeted by the dark, deep, unblinking eyes of the old man. Lost in those dark eyes, the second Earth Dancer to wear masks reached out, accepted the knife and said, “Yes. Thank You.”