by Ernie Branscomb
Photo by Robin Shelly
"There is a Round Rock on a road, a few miles north of Laytonville. On that rock is what we used to call “Indian Writing”. I recall that the rock was quite intact and well detailed when I was a kid. I was deeply offended, for my own personal reasons, that people have chipped artifacts and writing off the rock. I can only imagine how the Indian people feel..."
In the Comments:
ben said: "Ernie...Some rocks have the circle designs and indentations called "Cupules". These may be "rain rocks". The local Indians were great ones for controlling the weather and the medicine maker would sing, pray and pound on the rain rock to imitate thunder. Even into the twentieth century there are stories about the old men contesting with each other to make it rain or even bring lightning. The rock at Spyrock is pictured in Vol. 8 of the Smithsonian Handbook of the American Indian. There is a copy in th Garberville library. I have seen one near Sherwood that is spectacular and includes a "seat", a place to call the spirit helpers. Each Indian community needed such a place to carry on their religious life, so there were (or are) many of them..."
Ernie Branscomb said...
I’ve seen a lot of “Cupules” as Ben called them. I had no idea what they were for. I thought that maybe they used them to grind their Pinole (Wild Grain Flour). They seem to be everywhere. I’ve also seen lots of zigzag groves, and I wondered if that they were snakes or lightning. They never have a head or a tail, just a zigzag line. One of the more common markings that I’ve seen are plain straight lines. Sometimes parallel, and sometimes all coming to a central point. I’ve been told that those were fertility grindings, and like Ben said, the females drank the grindings to have sons. One version that I heard was that the male did the grinding of the rock and fed it to the female to make sons. The rocks with the straight lines seem to always be serpentine based rocks. Did they only use serpentine for fertility?
Rain Rock at Sugar Bowl South of Hupa; rock is in center of foreground (1901)