1996 32¢ Butterfly Dance
American Indian Dances
Issue Date: June 7, 1996
City: Oklahoma City, OK
Printed By: Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed
The Butterfly Dance, native to the Tewa Pueblo Indians of the Southwest, is a dance of life. To them, the butterfly’s dramatic life cycle – from larva, to caterpillar, to pupa, and finally to a colorful, graceful butterfly – symbolizes the physical and spiritual renewal of life, flowering, and growth.
Appropriately, the Butterfly Dance is performed in the spring by a couple chosen by the tribe. The maiden wears a white embroidered dress, beaded leather boots, and a massive array of eagle feathers on her back in imitation of butterfly wings. On her head she wears a butterfly-shaped tablita, decorated with feathers and crafted by her dancing partner. The youth, painted gray and white, wears a white kilt embroidered with the symbols of clouds, rain, and life. His kilt is belted with a rain sash and bells. On his back he wears a fox pelt; on his feet, beaded moccasins with skunk fur at the heels.
Facing each other, the couple moves back and away with small jumps. Pivoting, they travel backwards, toward each other. These movements are repeated many times as a symbolic re-enactment of the miracle of life.