|The Clouds, Rain & Lightning. Representing themselves. They are important symbols for change, renewal & fertility. Related to snow which is a higher blessing than rain.|
|The Morning Star. The brightest star on the dawn's horizon. Considered an important spirit and honored as a kachina with most Pueblo Indians. Plains and the Great Basin Indians honored it as a sign of courage and purity of spirit. The Ghost Dance Religion associated it as a symbol of the coming renewal of tradition and resurrection of past heroes. Other spirits are sometimes represented as stars.|
|The Sun. Life giver. Warmth, growth, and all that is good & well. The style shown is the sun used as a kachina mask. Many styles are seen in all of the Southwestern Indian cultures. "Rays" signifying the 4 directions are seen in some of these styles.|
|The Zia. Named for Zia Pueblo, who first used it, it is another symbol of the sun, and also of the 4 directions and the repetition of life on earth. Also may be associated with the place of emergence. When New Mexico became a State, in 1912, the Zia was adopted as the symbol for the State Flag. It appears as the sun in red, honoring the Indian Nations, on a yellow field. Yellow was the royal color of the Spanish crown carried by the conquistador Coronado in 1540, known as his entrance into New Mexico. It was the first recorded European contact with the North American Indians.|
|Life's Choices. "The-man-in-the-maze" is a very popular design that was originally created as an illustration of an emergence story by the Tohono o'odham or Papago Indians of the Central Valley in Arizona. The little man is named "U'ki'ut'l" in their language. It has been adopted by many other people. It is significant of life's cycles and eternal motion and also of the choices we are always confronted with. Correct choices lead us to harmony with all things, no matter how long & hard the road can get. Utilized by Hopi silversmiths as a way to showcase their high quality & technique.|
Navajo Yeii Spirit. A spirit considered by the Navajo to be a mediator between man and his creator. Yeiis control natural forces, such as day and night, rain, wind, sun & others. A very exceptional kind of yeii is the Yei'bi'chai, grandparent spirit or "talking God" who can speak to man, teaching him how to live in harmony with all living things by following some simple rules of behavior to conserve and use well only the things he needs to survive. A symbol of the harmony achieved is the "Rainbow Man", a yeii commanding the rainbow, giving beauty to all those in harmony.
|Kokopelli. Probably the most popular & well known Indian symbol. Known as the seed bringer and water sprinkler. A common fertility symbol throughout the Southwest. His image is found many times in petrography art. He is a personage who is honored as a kachina by most Pueblo cultures. He is associated with fertility, the male principal, biology, and the significance of guarding seeds. Usually depicted as old, bent under his heavy load with his flute. He travels to many communities, impregnating young women who are mesmerised from the notes played on his flute. Related to the cricket or locust whose natural music is associated with the state of humidity and seasonal weather. Many bawdy stories of his various exploits have been told. As a kachina doll, he is made with a staff, not a flute and is carved as a hunchbacked. His likeness also featured exaggerated male sexual organs until the missionaries came in the 1930's, who frowned on this practice. Today he is considered the ambassador of the Southwest.|
|The Twins. Portrayed in most emergence or creation stories. The twins are usually shown as boys or short men who overcame great odds to defend the people from all enemies, drought, attack from other beings, animals, or many other problems. They illustrate the concept of duality in life. In the natural world everything exists in balance: male & female, large & small, light & dark & good & evil. Here they are depicted as Father Sky & Mother Earth from a Navajo sand painting|
|The Hand. Representing the presence of man. His work, his acheivements & his history.|
||Many kinds of clowns are used. Shown is the popular "Mud Head". They usually symbolize well being, good times & harvest.|
||So many different depictionís of arrows are used. They usually symbolize direction, force, movement, power and direction of travel, also the pathway of the breath, the life force of the animal spirit, called the "heart line"|
Feathers. Symbols of prayers, sources of ideas or marks of honor. Representing the Creative Force, and are taken from birds with the attribute for which they might be used: goose flight feathers to fledge an arrow. Geese are known for their long flights; Eagle feathers for honor & connect the user with the Creator. To decorate a kachina mask Turkey feathers are commonly used. Feathers may appear plain, barred, banded, or decorated.
|Prayer Sticks (Pahos). Are delicately notched then painted on cottonwood or cedar sticks using specific feathers to catch the wind. Planted in the ground at fresh water springs and religious sites to carry personal prayers to the Creator or to the Kachina. Found in many Navajo and Pueblo designs.|
|Feather Arrangements (Circular). Found on pottery, on masks, prayer fans, costumes for dance and on Plains "war bonnets". Also used on decorated buffalo hides telling a story in paint remembering war honors, important historic events and other periods of time. Placed in a circular arrangement, they are related to the sun, and thereforth, the Creator.|
The Frog. Water animal, implies renewal, fertility & springtime.
|The Bear. Protector. Physical strength & leadership. Frequently mentioned as "first helper" in creation & emergence stories.|
|The Deer. Hunting prey animal, sacrificial and sometimes mentioned as "first helper" in a few emergence stories, also family protection and of course speed.|
|The Horned Lizard. Significant in some Navajo stories implying perseverance and keeping past secrets. An old saying is "they'll steal your eyes if you look at them too much!" They are also found in Coyote stories as the ones who like to annoy Coyotes.|
|The Tadpole. Immature frogs implying fertility and renewal. They can change and are considered very powerful because of this.|
|The Turtle. A water animal. Strength, feminine "power fetish" animal, fertility, long life & perseverance. Considered by many to be able to defy death, also an annoyance to the Coyote.|
|The Coyote. This trickster is a powerful hunting prey god and fetish. Very keen to find things, often considered as an omen that something not pleasant could happen. Style shown was a popular design of the "Santa Fe style" in the early 1990's. Howling design with a bandanna is a copy of a cottonwood folk-sculpture first created by Santa Fe artist Ricardo Rodriguez.|
The Water Bird. A symbol of the renewal of life, rainy seasons, rivers, distant travel, distant vision & wisdom. many times inaccurately called "thunder bird", not a South Western tradition, but one of the plains Indians. Connected with lightning, thunder and visions. Those who dream of the thunder beings will become Heyokas -- those who live out their dreams backwards (Lakota tradition) This image has been modified and used as the symbol of the Native American Church, founded by Comanche Quannah Parker around 1910.
|The Hummingbird. Paired or sometimes water birds or quail, symbolized in mated pairs as symbols of devotion, life cycles, permanence and eternity. Often modified in many simple forms. Hummingbirds are known to be very ferocious fighters and defenders of their territory. Many times stronger than their small size would suggest.|
|The Parrot. Connected with both the sun and the coming of the rainy season. Considered carriers of specific prayers and could bestow blessings. Kept for their colorful feathers & beauty by many Pueblo Indians, they were gotten by trading with the people to the far South. They were a very expensive possession at that time. So they were also used as a status symbol.|
|The Crane. Connected with water and the end of the growing season, symbols of migratory fowl like Sand hill Cranes are commonly used in pottery and petrography from the Mimbre culture in South Western New Mexico.|
|The Turkey. Food source that is mentioned in several Tewa Pueblo stories. Its feathers have many spiritual & ritual uses.|
|The Owl. With Zuni and Keres Pueblo Indians, the owl is respected as the disguise of the departed. Wise elders and leaders' spirits. A silent hunter, the owl is connected with darkness and night. Keen eyes & a skillful hunter. The owl is considered a bad omen.|
|The Eagle. Master of the skys. A carrier of prayers. Many Indian Nations honor this bird as possessing courage, wisdom, and a special connection to the creator. Often confused with the "thunder bird". The Eagle is considered a protector, the sky spirit, and a symbol associated with visions & spirits|
||The Snake. Usally found in healing and fertility rites. Connected with lightning, male organ, speed, and the ability to move undetected. He is usually shown with an extended tongue. Considered a hunter & and as a "first helper" in some emergence stories.|
|The Avanyu. A feathered sky snake. Many times found on Tewa, Keres and Zuni pottery. Also on some jewelry. He can bring on storms & change the seasons. Associated with thunderstorms, lightning and sudden violent changes.|
The Badger & Bear Paws. Badger is shown here. Known as a way of summoning the power of the animal spirit & as a sign of the presence of the spirit. Badgers are honored as healing animals and tenacious hunters. Their tracks can signify strength & well being. Tracks are also considered symbols of leadership & authority.
|The Wolf Track. And other predators tracks signify a direction rather than the spirits presence. These are also symbols of authority and leadership. Used as a clan symbol.|
|The Deer Track. Symbols of prosperity, well being, safety and the abundance of prey. Directional indicator and as a clan symbol.|
||The Dragonfly. Associated with water & springtime. Also considered a messenger as well.|
|Dragonfly Forms. Shown is an abstraction of the dragonfly, which is can be used as a talisman, especially with the Southern Pueblo Indians. At Isleta it became a double armed cross. This was worn as a symbol of both Catholic conversion and respect for older traditions.|
|The Cricket. A singer. Connected with fertility, water and Springtime.|
||Plants. Primary food source. Tools & materials used in baskets. Medicinal. Flowers are mostly relating to the sun. Ones such as corn as symbols of life. Squash, beans, bean sprouts and seeds are commonly used in Indian pottery. The image shown, is from a Navajo healing sand painting. Each plant corresponds here to a direction as well. One unusual symbol, the open flower at the end of the "Squash blossoms" on Navajo necklaces, were not originally from squash at all. They were symbolic of the pomegranate, brought in by wealthy Spanish colonial settlers, and symbols of the new prosperity the Spanish introduced. As squash blossoms were already commonly used, the new image became popular quickly. Other plant images include trees, weeds (Devils Claw & Jimson Weed) and seed shapes.|
Weaving Pattern. Navajo weavers create beautiful, bold patterns. Many are partly controlled by the limitations of their vertical looms. Many patterns are also found in the other arts, such as jewelry & pottery. Many symbols of the natural world are often combined.
|Weaving Pattern. Navajo Storm Style. Many of the Navajo patterns are followed closely by weaving families, while other designs are created fresh each time. A few designs are similar to designs seen in Plains Beadwork and paintings.|
|Border Patterns. Used by weavers and silversmiths alike to establish boundaries and as designs in their own right. The Hopi silversmiths have made great use of these patterns in their overly jewelry. Many of the recurring spirals and whorls are connected with bean sprouts, life leaping out, cycles of life, and perpetual renewal.|
|Border Pattern. Spirals & whirl winds, renewal, water & springtime.|
|Border Pattern. Steps, direction and change.|
|Border Pattern. Wedding Baskets, Man & Woman, Cloud Tips, Night & Day, landscapes & distant horizons.|
|Border Pattern. Waves & spirals. Denotes water and cycles of life, renewal & springtime.|
|Border Pattern. Composite designs. Combinations of many symbols joined together by the artist. Complex designs like this are showcases for the most talented Hopi silversmiths.|
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