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Sand Painting - A form of ceremonial art practiced by Indians of the Southwest.  This art reached its highest development among the Navajo.

The Navajo, who claimed that sand painting was practiced by the Cliff Dwellers, made their pictures only during religious ceremonies.  The five colors most sacred in Navajo mythology were used.  Each color had a meaning. White, Yellow, and red were made from powdered sand of those colors; black was powdered charcoal, and blue, which was actually gray, was a mixture of white sand and charcoal.

First a blanket of white sand was spread over the lodge floor.  Then the artist picked up some of the powder between his first and second fingers and thumb and allowed it to run slowly out as he moved his hand.  The pictures represented various gods, lightning, sunbeams, rainbows, mountains, animals, and plants.

While some Pueblo Indians allowed the pictures to remain for several days, the Navajo destroyed all pictures on the day they were made.  The Cheyenne, during their Sun Dane ceremony, made sand pictures to represent the Morning Star.  The Hopi made theirs in secret, first indicating the north by yellow, the west by green or blue, the south by red, and the east by white.

Related Information within this Site
[ Cheyenne ][ Hopi ][ Navajo ][ Paint ]