Golden State Gourd Society

TRADITIONAL DRESS

The original ceremonial clothing of the Kiowa Gourd Clan consisted of the finest clothing a member had.  Each member took pride in being properly attired.  The types of headdresses worn were War Bonnets, Otter Caps or a Roach made of porcupine quills with eagle feathers attached.  The gourds and fans used were decorated with designs that belonged to the family.  Buckskin shirts, leggings and moccasins were also worn.  Around the waist was a black shawl along with a beaded sash.  The dancer wore two strings of beads, one of red mescal beans and one of silver beads draped over the left shoulder and crossing diagonally over his heart.  A red and blue broadcloth blanket worn over the shoulder or a white sheet wrapped around the waist completed the proper attire.  Each article had its own story of why it was worn by a certain dancer. 

 

Members of the Golden State Gourd Society are also encouraged to wear their finest clothing. If the dancer does not have traditional clothing he should wear dress pants, a plain long sleeve colored dress shirt and moccasins.  No cowboy hats, ball caps, boots or tennis shoes should be worn, but dress shoes are acceptable.  Other articles that should be worn are a bandolier made of two strands of mescal and silver beads draped over the left shoulder, crossing the heart and bound together at the right hip.  A sash, usually made of velvet with beaded trim on the ends, should be around the waist and tied at the right hip.  A red and blue blanket should be draped over the shoulders or worn over the right shoulder and held together over the arms at the left hip.  A white sheet wrapped around the waist can also be worn in place of a blanket. Gourds used today are natural gourds, German silver, milk cans, salt and pepper shakers or baking powder cans, which are painted for decoration.  The handles are usually decorated with beads and rolled fringe, with horse hair and assorted feathers adorning the tip.  A fan is carried in the opposite hand.  If traditional clothes are worn, an otter cap or roach can be worn.

 

The Gourd Dance is a ceremonial dance, not a social dance, and the Gourd Dancer should always show dignity, pride and respect while in the arena.

THE GOURD DANCE

When the Kiowa Gourd Clan holds their annual dance they do not designate a head gourd dancer.  This dance holds equal significance and meaning for each member and is not a social dance.

The Gourd Dance is a dance of dignity and pride. As the dance begins, the dancers are seated around the arena.  As the starting song is sung, the seated dancers begin to shake their gourds to the beat of the drum, but do not dance to the first song.   As the song ends the dancers give a howl/yell at the end of the song.  As the tempo increases, during the second song, the dancers rise from their chairs.  The dancers step in place or walk in time with the music during the slow beat of the drum, moving freely around the arena. Once the tempo changes, they once again stand in place and dance to the beat of the drum, shaking their gourd.  When the song ends, the dancer raises his gourd and shakes it vigorously ending with a howl/yell (honoring the Red Wolf) and waits for the next song to begin.  Songs are usually sung in sets of four (this is left to the discretion of the head singer) and the dancers do not sit down again until the full set of gourd dance songs has ended or they are dismissed.

Once the gourd dancers start to dance, the women take their places behind the men, dancing in place, in the outer arena.  The women never start dancing before the men and never walk in front of the dancers.  However they are allowed to dance in the arena, only if they are being honored or are honoring a dancer, and should dance behind the honoree.  Women never dance in line with the men.