Richard Thornton | May 9, 2017 | 23
Images: Tamulte Youth Wear Different Symbols On Their Clothing
The dresses that both the Tamaulte women and girls wear are identical to those described by the chroniclers of the De Soto Expedition, when the conquistadors were passing through the Creek Motherland. The commoner women wore off-white versions, while the elite women wore brightly colored dresses, resembling modern day “ribbon dresses,” but with the same form. Expedition leaders, sent out from Fort Caroline, also described this style of dresses, when exploring the interior of Georgia. In cooler weather, the women and men wore versions of this clothing that draped over the upper arms. Over this, the women wore shawls and the men wore capes.
The Tamulte youth in this photo performed the Sun Dance (also done by the Muskogeans) and now are forming up to do the “Danza Comales” that you saw in the previous video. Note that the girls are either wearing a crescent moon or no symbol at all. Married Tamulte women wear a reddish-brown circle over their womb area. Single and available women wear a red circle. Adolescents, past puberty, but too young to marry, wear red crescents. Note that the pre-marital age girls wear their symbols over their chest or stomach, not the womb. This has obvious meaning. Look in the center rear of the photo and you will see the crescents. Pre-adolescents wear no symbol.
I am studying the symbolism of Tamulte art in hope of finding more clues to the Creek writing symbols. Everyone of the Tamulte artistic symbols can be found in the art of such proto-Creek towns as Etula (Etowah Mounds.) Well, that should be expected, since the Tamulte are essentially Southern Creeks. Their cultural heritage is quite different than the Nahuatl peoples such as the Aztecs. Their music and dances are more similar to that of Mayas, but not quite the same.
The musical instruments of the Tamulte are identical to those of the Creeks, before the Trail of Tears. Like the Creeks, their principal drum looks something like a conga drum. Believe it or not, Latin American music instrument manufacturers still make this style of drum for indigenous customers in Mesoamerica and northern South America. In my earlier life, I was a professional percussionist. Now I play my drums and zampana to entertain the wildlife! LOL When I have the money, I will purchase at least three sizes of these Creek-style drums and bring them to tribal festivals for others to see and hear.
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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history.Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.
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