CHAPTER VII. The Song of Blessing of the Blanket


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ONE of the most common chants or sacred songs of the Navaho is the hozhÓji, or song of blessing or benediction. It is used on almost every occasion, in social and domestic life. One of these is on the setting up of the blanket before a newly erected hogan. Of course there are unbelieving and irreligious Navahos who care little or nothing for these ceremonies and chants that are very dear, sacred, and precious to the hearts of the truly religious; and the more industrious, skillful, and careful the weaver the more likely she is to be under the feeling of what to her are religious influences.

According to the mythology and beliefs of many Indian tribes, and among others, the near neighbors of the Navaho—the Hopi and Zuni—all prayers offered in the blessing of any particular object inhere to that object, hence the friendly races, combats, strivings, competitions, and strugglings to gain possession of these objects over which prayers have been offered, sacred songs sung, and rites performed. These are taken and used to make the cornfields more fruitful, to make the herds more prolific and to bring an abundance of good luck in every direction.

While, to most cultured Americans, there may seem to be nothing of good that can come from the prayers and songs of a barbaric Navaho, I am free to confess it does not lessen the value of a good blanket in my estimation to know that it is probable that songs of blessing and benediction and prayers of helpfulness have been sung and said over it. I like to feel that the Navaho woman thought of the beautiful poetic symbols of the first blanket when she made my blanket, and that before she began work upon it she prayed that only beautiful things should come in touch with it. Then I can see the ceremony of blessing the hogan, as it is elsewhere described in these pages. The doorway is an important spot in the hogan. It faces the rising sun. The sun is not a dead object of inanimate Nature to the Navaho, but a living, supreme, divine personality, whose eyes gaze upon the innerness of everything exposed to his gaze. The blanket that covers the doorway, therefore, is ever in his sight during the morning hours, and it, with all the rest of the hogan, is made the subject of the prayers of blessing.

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