Woman instructed the Navajo women how to weave on a loom which Spider Man told
them how to make. The crosspoles were made of sky and earth cords, the warp sticks
of sun rays, the healds of rock crystal and sheet lightning. The batten was a
sun halo, white shell made the comb. There were four spindles: one a stick of
zigzag lightning with a whorl of cannel coal; one a stick of flash lightning with
a whorl of turquoise; a third had a stick of sheet lightning with a whorl of abalone;
a rain streamer formed the stick of the fourth, and its whorl was white shell."
In Part Two, man journeys into the sky and meets another ally, Spider Woman. It
is she who makes human arteries, and is thus considered to be a medicine woman.
Her spiritual power, as seen in her silken web, joins the realms of Earth and
Sky. In most of the Ways She is a beneficent female, a mother figure who guides
mortals and can be trusted to stand up to stand up to Coyote when he performs
witchcraft or enacts misdeeds. Pgs. 33, 34
of the Gila Monster, Navajo Ceremonial Tales; 1993, Gerald Hausman.
Woman, in some Navajo legends, is a Kisani (Pueblo) woman who was taught the
craft by a spider. In acknowledgement of their debt to Spider Woman, one of
the Holy People of Navajo mythology, Navajo weavers always left a hole in the
center of each blanket, like that of a spider's web, until the traders in the
early part of this century refused to buy such blankets. Most Navajo weavers
still acknowledge the debt by leaving a "spirit outlet" in the design.
The spirit outlet usually takes the form of a thin line made from the center
of the blanket to the edge, and also serves, Navajo weavers believe, to prevent
"blanket sickness." The People have a phrase similar to "cobwebs
in the brain" and believe that Spider Woman, to whom the tribute of a spider
hole has been denied, will spin webs in the head of the weaver if the spirit
outlet is omitted. Since the weaver carries the pattern of the blanket in her
head from beginning to ending, perhaps blanket sickness is more real than imagined.
of the Navajo; 1976, Raymond Friday Locke.
medicine woman told the people about the prayersticks she told them that there
was a place in the underworld where two rivers crossed. It was called ni tqin'kae
tsosi, fine fiber cotton (Indian hemp). There were two persons who brought the
seed of that plant, they were spiders. They said that the people were to use
the plant instead of skins for their clothing. So this seed was planted in the
earth. When the seeds were planted, the plant ripe, and the cotton gathered,
the people shaped a little wheel, 3 or 4 inches in diameter, and they put a
slender stick through it. This was used in the spinning of cotton. When they
began spinning they pushed away from the body toward the knee. Then the chief
medicine woman said: "You must spin towards your person, as you wish to
have the beautiful goods come to you; do not spin away from you." For it
was in their minds to make cloth which they could trade for shell and turquoise
beads and she knew their thoughts. She said :"You must spin towards you,
or the beautiful goods will depart from you." There were two names given
to the spindle, yudi yilt ya'hote, meaning, turning or shooting around with
the beautiful goods. This the Spider Man suggested; but his wife said: "It
shall be called by another name, ntl is yilt ya'hote, turning with the mixed
chips." After they had spun the thread they rolled it into good-sized balls.
They brought straight poles and laid them down; one down, one opposite. They
tied two other poles at the ends, making a rectangular frame. They rolled or
wound the thread on two of the poles as the sun travels, east to west, over
and under the poles. The Spider Man said that the ball of thread should be called,
yudi yilt nasmas agha, rolling with the beautiful goods. His wife said: "No,
it shall be called ntsli yilt nasmas agha, rolling with the mixed chips."
After the loom was finished the cross poles were erected and other poles placed
on the ground to hold the loom frame solidly, and the loom was stretched and
lifted into place. Then the Spider Man said: "It will be called yoteblitz
nes thon, looping with the beautiful goods." His wife said: "From
hence forth it shall be called nil tliz biltz nes thon, looping with mixed chips."
Then they used a narrow stick about two and a half feet long, and they wound
the yarn or thread over it, and where there is no design they ran it along.
That was given the same name as the ball of thread. The Spider Man held that
it should have the same name as the ball; but his wife said: "No, it shall
be called nil tliz nasmas agha." Then they used the wide flat stick for
tapping down the thread. The Spider Man said: "It shall be called nil tliz
na'ygolte" ; but his wife said: "It shall be called nil tliz na'ygolte,
twining with the mixed chips". When they got this far with the weaving,
the threads of the warp mixed together and were too near or too far apart. So
another kind of stick was used. It had long, narrow teeth. It was also used
for the purpose of tapping down the thread. The Spider Man said: "It shall
be called yote yo'golte, hoeing with the beautiful goods." His wife said:
"It shall be called nil iltz yo'golte." The Spider Man said: "Now
you know all that I have named for you. It is yours to work with and to use
following your own wishes. But from now on when a baby girl is born to your
tribe you shall go and find a spider web which is woven at the mouth of some
hole; you must take it and rub it on the baby's hand and arm. Thus, when she
grows up she will weave, and her fingers and arms will not tire form the weaving."
To this day that is done to all baby girls. The weaving progressed, and they
made all kinds of articles. They used cotton and yucca fiber and Indian hemp.
These were the thread. They raised turkeys, and they used the feathers for feather
blankets. They ate the turkey flesh for their meat. They killed rabbits and
cut the fur into strips, and they made fur blankets. They wove different kinds
of grass into mats for their floors, and also, to hang in front of the openings
of their houses. There were many kinds of weaving. The people lived peacefully
and were happy in working out designs in the new art. They raised great quantities
of corn. All this made them grow in number; they became a very strong people
and their past troubles were forgotten; but this was not to last. Pg. 37, 38
Origin Myths of the Navajo Indians; 1956, Aileen O'Bryan.
identify another design as the Spider Woman pattern. Found on bowls and other
ceramics, the design is a square with triangles at the corners. Spider Woman
is a goddess associated with weaving and so it is not surprising to find this
same pattern on baskets and blankets of the historic period as well as pottery
of the prehistoric. Some sites also yield pieces of pottery with sawtooth edges
called Spider Woman by the Dine' . Its exact use is unknown, but it appears
to be associated with weaving. Pg. 106
Land, Sacred View: Navajo Perceptions of the Four Corners Region; 1992, Robert
seems the return trip was made to the Spider Woman whom (they had visited) before
at the place called Among-the-sumac. She gave them all teh baskets which they
needed. "If at any time anything goes wrong with it be sure that you remember
me by it," she said. "In that event I shall weave four seams around
in a single day before sunset, and thereby I shall make it whole again,"
she said. "If it is to be used in depositing (a sacrifice) you must attach
a live one's plume to it, which can be identified as such," she said. "Below
it you must make an imitation of a rainbow and lay it there," she said.
Here it seems that happenend. Pg. 70
of the Navaho; 1962, Leland C. Wyman.
Woman (na'acdjei' 'esdza') (U) plays a dual role; she is sometimes helpful to
man and at others a danger so great that she has to be subdued. She is a symbol
of the textile arts, having taught man weaving; she requires woven fabrics as
When the waters of the first world rose, Spider wove a web that served as a
lifesaving raft. In the second world Spider Woman stole Water Monster's baby,
capturing it with her web.
The Twins came upon Spider Woman on their way to their father's home the first
time. They saw smoke rising from an underground house, to which a ladder with
four rungs formed the entrance. There were many seats in the house. Firstborn
chose to sit on one of flint, his brother on one of turquoise. In the room sat
an old woman, who was very pessimistic about their venture. According to the
Shooting Chant myth, when she had been overcome by The Twins, she gave them
chant properties-the permanent bundle talking prayersticks, sometimes called
the 'life feathers.' According to Matthews, she furnished also a formula that
would quiet the anger of enemies.
Spider Woman was instrumental in fixing the flint and turquoise 'men' within
The Twins to make them invincible.
Scavenger of Matthews' Bead Chant encountered a Spider Woman who had a big mouth
with uneven, protruding, widely separated teeth and claws like a bear's. She
told him that her 'life hoops' needed new feathers; these he procured for her
from his friends, the Eagles. She said she would use them to adorn her walls.
In exchange she gave him a black cane and medicine with which to fight Bees
In RP's Bead Chant legend, Spider Woman captured Scavenger, who was escaping
from the great rain he had brought on by opening the Eagles' little blue water
jars. Black God saved him. The Spider People were said to be the wealthiest
of the pueblo people.
The Spider People helped the Swallows to trap Coyote after he had disobeyed
the Twelve Brothers in hunting. As a reward they received pieces of his skin,
which they laid on their backs, where they may still be seen.
In the Flint Chant myth, Spider Woman helped the hero through a test by stringing
webs from one flint to another. With the aid of Crane's sound, do'd, he was
able to walk over the flints without injury (Stephen 1930, pp. 94, 100; Matthews
1897, pp.109, 201-3, 232, 109n; Reichard, Shooting Chant ms.; 1939, pp. 31-4;
Endurance Chant ms.; Haile 1943a, p.117).
Religion, Vol II; Gladys A. Reichard, 1950
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