Navaho Houses, pages 469-518 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 57 pages of information about Navaho Houses, pages 469-518.
spread over all.  On this skin the qacal’i sprinkles iron ochers and other colored sands in striated bands, symbolic of the rainbow and sunbeams which covered the early mythic houses.  He and his assistants stand near the hut shaking rattles and singing a brief song to Qastcej[)i]ni, at the conclusion of which the patient is released.  The initial spark of the fire used at these ceremonies and for all religious purposes is obtained by friction, and is regarded as essentially different from fire produced by flint and steel or otherwise, because the first spark of friction fire was brought from Qastcej[)i]ni, who is the god of the underworld fire.  The production of fire by friction is a very simple matter to these Indians and is often done in play; frequently, under the windy conditions that prevail in their country, in but little more time than a white man can accomplish the same result with matches.  For this purpose they often use the dry, brittle stalks of the common bee weed (Cleome pungens).  The drill, which is whirled between the palms of the hands, consists of a stalk perhaps a quarter of an inch in diameter.  This is made to revolve on the edge of a small notch cut into a larger stalk, perhaps an inch in diameter.  A pinch of sand is sometimes placed under the point of the drill, the rapid revolution of which produces a fine powder.  This powder runs down the notch or groove, forming a little pile on the ground.  Smoke is produced in less than a minute, and finally, in perhaps two minutes, tiny sparks drop on the little pile of dry powder, which takes fire from them.  By careful fostering by feeding with bits of bark and grass, and with much blowing, a blaze is produced.

It is said that First-man made the first co’tce.  After coming up the qadjinai, or magic reed, he was very dirty; his skin was discolored and he had a foul smell like a coyote.  He washed with water, but that did not cleanse him.  Then Qastcej[)i]ni sent the firefly to instruct him concerning the co’tce and how to rotate a spindle of wood in a notched stick.  As First-man revolved the spindle, or drill, between his hands, Firefly ignited the dust at its point with a spark of fire which Qastcej[)i]ni had given it for that purpose.  There is another myth concerning the origin of these little sweat houses which does not agree with that just stated.  According to this myth, the co’tce were made by the Sun when the famous twins, Nayen[)e]zgani and Co’badj[)i]stcini, who play so large a part in Navaho mythology, were sent to him by Estsanatlehi.  When they reached the house of the Sun they called him father, as they had been instructed to do, but the Sun disowned them and subjected them to many ordeals, and even thrust at them with a spear, but the mother had given each of the youths a magic feather mantle impervious to any weapon.  Klehanoai (the night bearer—­the moon) also scoffed at them and filled the mind of the Sun with doubts concerning the paternity of the twins, so he determined to subject them to a further ordeal.

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Navaho Houses, pages 469-518 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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