In 1932, U-M anthropology professor Leslie White collected this piiki (pee-key) at the Hopi village of Oraibi in northeastern Arizona. White was teaching a field course in ethnology that helped train young anthropologists, including Fred Eggan and Mischa Titiev.
Piiki is a traditional Hopi food that continues to be important in Hopi religious ceremonies and everyday meals. It is a type of flatbread made from finely ground cornmeal. Piiki is usually grayish blue, a color made by mixing finely ground blue cornmeal with water and specially prepared ash made from the saltbush. The thin batter is cooked on a special stone, creating tissue-thin sheets that are rolled together. A Hopi girl learns to make piiki from her paternal grandmother during a ceremony that celebrates her transition to womanhood.
In honor of the University of Michigan’s 2017 bicentennial, we are celebrating the remarkable archaeological and ethnographic collections and rich legacy of research and teaching at the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology by posting one entry a day for 200 days. The entries will highlight objects from the collections, museum personalities, and UMMAA expeditions. The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology is also posting each day for 200 days on Twitter and Facebook (follow along at #KMA200). After the last post, an exhibition on two centuries of archaeology at U-M opens at the Kelsey. Visit the exhibit—a joint project of the UMMAA and the Kelsey—from October 18, 2017 to May 27, 2018.