Navaho Houses, pages 469-518 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 71 pages of information about Navaho Houses, pages 469-518.

The songs given above are known as the twelve house-songs, although there are only two songs, each repeated twelve times.  These are sung with many variations by the different qacal’i, and while the builders are preparing for this ceremony they discuss which qacal’i has the best and most beautiful words before they decide which one to engage.  But the songs are invariably addressed to the deities named, Qastceyalci, the God of Dawn, and Qastceqo[.g]an, the God of Twilight; and they always have the same general significance.

After the “twelve songs” are finished many others are sung:  to Estsanatlehi, a benignant Goddess of the West, and to Yol’kai Estsan, the complementary Goddess of the East; to the sun, the dawn, and the twilight; to the light and to the darkness; to the six sacred mountains, and to many other members of a very numerous theogony.  Other song-prayers are chanted directly to malign influences, beseeching them to remain far off:  to [)i]ntco[ng]gi, evil in general; to dakus, coughs and lung evils, and to the b[)i]cakuji, sorcerers, praying them not to come near the dwelling.  The singing of the songs is so timed that the last one is delivered just as the first gray streaks of dawn appear, when the visitors round up their horses and ride home.


Despite the ceremonies which have been performed, it frequently happens that malign influences affect the new dwelling.  The inmates suffer from toothache, or sore eyes, or have bad dreams, or ghosts are heard in the night.  Then the house ceremony is repeated.  If after this the conditions still prevail and threatening omens are noted, an effort is made to ascertain the cause.  Perhaps the husband recalls an occasion when he was remiss in some religious duty, or the wife may remember having seen accidentally an unmasked dancer, or they may be convinced that a sorcerer, a c[)i]lkuji, is practicing his evil art.  Such malign influences must be due to some definite cause, and it must be found.  Then, if the cause be grave, resort must be had to a very elaborate ceremony, the dance of the Yeb[)i]tcai.

For the observance of this ceremony it is usual to construct a flat-roof hut called iyacaskuni, meaning, literally, “under the flat.”  The roof is nearly square as well as flat, and the edifice, with its spreading base, suggests a truncated pyramid; but as it is roughly covered with earth heaped over the entire structure it is externally little more than a shapeless mound.  Plate LXXXIX is an exterior view of one of these special hogans, which is also shown in plan in figure 241.

  [Illustration:  Fig. 241—­Ground plan of Yeb[)i]tcai house]

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