Symbolism In The Teachings Of Diné People

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The core of all the teachings of the Navajo or Diné people “stress male and female [aspects] as a basic form of symbolism; the notion is that only by pairing can any entity be complete.” (Reichard 1950, 29). Thus, the traditional Navajo housing structure, a hogan (hooghan), emphasizes this core idea, since the belief is that all natural things have both a male and female aspect for balance. Accordingly, this sense of balance is symbolized in the function and construction of both aspects of the hogan. The hogan’s male aspect is the conical, fork-stick hogan (alchi adeeza), whilst the round hogan (hooghan nimazi) is considered the female aspect. As the hogan is regarded as a domestic and spiritual place, ceremonies are conducted in this space …show more content…
The seasons influence the locality of the hogans as summer and winter structures vary in elevation due to availability of resources. For example, in the summer when farming is far more important, large expanses of land is needed, so summer hogans are usually erected near lowlands. In winter, access to firewood is far more important, so winter hogans are erected in higher elevation areas. (Jett and Spencer 1981, 10). The changing environments influenced the difference in the amount of materials used in the construction. In addition, the differences in the shapes of the male and female hogan aspects were considered in the distribution of the materials used. Although, the hogans’ designs were simplistic in nature, the construction of the hogans needed to adhere to the teachings of the hogan songs as places of great spiritual importance. One might think that these structure would require lengthy process, but since the Diné people were reliant on familial relationships, the construction of a hogan was usually only a day’s work (Mindeleff 1898, 493). Therefore, the first step in beginning the construction of a hogan was to prepare a site by clearing a flat area. Regardless of type, the hogans utilized cedar logs, pinon logs, bark, and earth or mud (Jett and Spencer 1981, 15). In contrast to winter hogans, the hogans in the summertime were made using less earth and used lighter logs (16). The completion of the construction of hogans required a Blessingway ceremony, so the hogan and family would be blessed with good things and allow the Creator and Holy People to acknowledge the family’s new home

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