Bluff Winter Solstice Events Feature Burning Sculpture and Sunrise Observation

Save the date of December 21st, for observation of the Winter Solstice in Bluff.  A sunrise observation at the site of the Bluff Great House, a parade, and the burning of another Joe Pachak sculpture are scheduled.

Winter Solstice observations may have occurred in the Bluff valley since prehistoric times.  Knowledge of the solstices was important to Ancestral Puebloans and used to initiate crop planting, opening of wild plants, and a time to gather for ceremonies.

Local archeologists believe the Ancestral Puebloans living in the Bluff area used cultural features and landmarks to mark the winter solstice.  At Winter Solstice, a prehistoric archeological site just across the San Juan River on the Navajo Reservation aligns with the Bluff Great House site.

Meet at 7:20 a.m. at the site of the Bluff Great House on Cemetery Hill to experience how a winter solstice sunrise may have appeared for Ancestral Puebloans.  Sponsored by Southwest Heritage Foundation, local archeologist Jonathan Till will provide an overview of the importance of the solstice and archeoastromony to the Ancestral Puebloans.   Sunrise is at 7:30 a.m.

At the 2012 Bluff Winter Solstice, a mammoth sculpture was burned to commemorate the discovery of a mammoth petroglyph Joe discovered near the San Juan River.  During the recent Bluff Arts Festival, local artist Joe Pachak and arts festival volunteers, built a new sculpture which is scheduled for burning on December 21st.  The 2013 sculpture is made from wood and wire and represents the theme of the 2013 Bluff Arts Festival, “Sand, Water, Stone.”

According to Joe, the sculpture begins with a pyramid form which fits inside a sphere.  The sphere fits inside a cube.  And, a spiral form goes around the cube.  When the sculpture burns, it represents erosion and has movement like water as the layers peel off.

Prior to the “burn”, a Bluff Solstice Light Parade will commence at 6:30 p.m.  Those interested in joining the parade should gather at the Bluff Community Center at 6:15 p.m.   The parade will wind its way through historic Bluff on the way to Joe’s sculpture.   Stay for the bonfire and drums and the big event.  Joe is scheduled to burn his sculpture at 7 p.m.

Other useful links:

To see the 2013 Sand Water Stone sculpture being created, visit Bluff Arts Festival Facebook site ( )

For video footage of the 2012 Bluff Winter Solstice, see video footage on YouTube ( )

For more information on Deep History of Bluff written by Jonathan Till visit ( )

For more information on the Bluff Great House and the Southwest Heritage Foundation visit ( )

To see how an archeoastronomy  landmark might have marked the Winter Solstice in prehistoric times, see The Sun Marker sculpture by Joe Pachak at the Edge of the Cedars State Park in Blanding, Utah ( )

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