The Unwritten Literature of the Hopi eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 108 pages of information about The Unwritten Literature of the Hopi.
As they journeyed across, the feet of the bad slipped and they fell into the dark water, but the good, after many days, reached dry land.  While the water, rising around the village, came higher, the old people got on the tops of the houses, for they thought they could not struggle across with the younger people.  But Baholikonga clothed them with the skins of turkeys, and they spread out their wings and floated in the air just above the surface of the water, and in this way they got across.  There were saved of our people, Water, Corn, Lizard, Horned Toad, Sand, two families of Rabbit, and Tobacco.  The turkeys’ tails dragged in the water—­hence the white on the turkey tail now.  Wearing these turkey skins is the reason why old people have dewlaps under the chin like a turkey; it is also the reason why old people use turkey feathers at the religious ceremonies.”

[Footnote 31:  Mindeleff, Victor, Op. cit. (Myths by Cosmos Mindeleff after Stephen), p. 31.]

Hough[32] says that in accord with the belief that the markings on the tail feathers were caused by the foam and slime of an ancient deluge, the feathers are prescribed for all pahos, since through their mythical association with water they have great power in bringing rain.

[Footnote 32:  Hough, Walter, Op. cit, p. 172.]


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The story of the Hopi, who does every important thing in his life according to a traditional pattern and accompanied by appropriate religious ceremony, would not be complete without some account of birth, marriage, and burial.  Not having seen these ceremonies, the writer offers the record of authoritative observers.


Babies are welcomed and well cared for in Hopiland, and now that the young mothers are learning to discard unripe corn, fruit, and melons as baby food, the infant mortality, once very high, is decreasing.

Natal ceremonies are considered important.  Goddard[33] gives us a brief picture of the usual proceedings:  “The Hopi baby is first washed and dressed by its paternal grandmother or by one of her sisters.  On the day of its birth she makes four marks with corn meal on the four walls of the room.  She erases one of these on the fifth, tenth, fifteenth, and twentieth day of the child’s life.  On each of these days the baby and its mother have their heads washed with yucca suds.  On the twentieth day, which marks the end of the lying-in period, the grandmother comes early, bathes the baby and puts some corn meal to its lips.  She utters a prayer in which she requests that the child shall reach old age and in this prayer gives it a name.  A few of the women members of the father’s clan come in one at a time, bathe the baby and give it additional names.  After the names have been given, the paternal grandmother goes with the mother and the child to

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The Unwritten Literature of the Hopi from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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