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.
and powdered ochers of different colors, which are poured from the hand between the thumb and fingers.  Without the use of a brush or other implement the trickling stream is guided to form intricate designs.  These designs are made directly on the earthen floor in a zone about 3 feet wide and extending nearly the entire length of the hut from north to south.  This zone, called the ika’, is made in front of the qacal’i, and between him and the fire, which is reduced to small dimensions to enable him to work close under the opening in the roof.  During the process the door is closed with the usual hanging blanket, and to increase the light from above a buckskin or white cloth is sometimes suspended as a reflector on a light frame of boughs erected on the roof on the western side of the smoke hole.

  [Illustration:  Fig. 243—­Diagram showing measurements of Yeb[)i]tcai
  house]

The mask recess, which is found in all the larger hogans, is always made in the middle of the western side of the iyacaskuni.  It is usually somewhat wider and deeper than in the ordinary dwelling.  The bundles containing the masks and other paraphernalia to be used in the ceremony are placed in the recess by the qacal’i, who then fastens a skin or cloth across it.  The upper edge at a height of about 3 feet from the floor is fastened with strings to the sloping timbers.  The lower edge is held by small pegs driven into the edge of the bench-like ledge of earth which marks the limits of the floor.  When he needs them the qacal’i reaches behind the curtain for the paraphernalia he has previously prepared and deposited there.  The masks must never be seen except when worn by the dancers, nor are the fetiches exposed except when certain rites demand their display.

This recess is called by the Navaho dj[)i]c b[)i]naskla, literally “mask recess.”  Besides its practical use it has a mythic significance, as it indicates the position occupied by First-man, who sat there with Qastceyalci (Dawn) and Qastceqo[.g]an (Twilight) on either hand, in the house where the Corn people were made.  They also occupied similar positions in the house in which they made the celestial bodies, and also in the first iyacaskuni, which was made by them to celebrate the occurrence of the first menstruation of Estsanatlehi.

No special veneration attaches to the iyacaskuni except when a ceremony is in progress.  At that time it is devoted exclusively to the qacal’i and the other actors in the rites, and it is then known as qacal’ biqo[.g]an, the song house.  Perhaps the family for whose benefit it was first used may have contributed the larger share of the food for the workers who constructed it, but it is not held to be the exclusive property of any one person; it is for the use of the neighborhood.  In the summer time, during which season no important rites are celebrated, the women often erect their vertical

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