Sunday, March 29, 2009
Enemy Way Ceremonies
The Navajo believe that words should paint an image in ones mind...if not then you are using the wrong words. When I'm creating my art I want the pictures to tell a story. The Navajo singers, what we may think of as a Medicine man or woman use intricate sand paintings in ceremonies such as in a healing ceremony. The Enemy Way ceremony is used to eliminate ghosts and to discourage evil spirits, that may surround an individual or an area.
The sand paintings were done on the ground and the designs were made with colored sands, created by blending crushed corn pollen, cornmeal, charcoal from a burned tree and powered minerals gathered in the red and pink sandstones found in canyons and on the buttes that make up Navajoland. Usually the Yei are dipicted in the sand painting, the Holy Ones. the Ye'i were ususally drawn with long straight bodies seeming larger than life. If the sand painting was not drawn correctly both the Singer and the "patient" could be bring demons into their lives. A Singer is paid to preform these ceremonies, and they last from a few hours to a few days. The singer would bring an entourage of family with him and the host hogan would have to feed and house all of them!..this could be very expensive and maybe I should learn how this craft!$$?
For me sand painting is not a ceremony, but the precise lines the Singer is an artist and his craft is a work of art...this image I created makes me think of sandpaintings on the hard desert floor.
Sand paintings were usually gathered up and brushed away at the end of the ceremony. It was taboo to walk across a sand painting and the one who did may be infected by a ghost, and then a curing ceremony would be needed to return this person to harmony or Hozho ( the balance of man to the Earth)