after their arrival the sun rises as a red glare indicating danger. Pg. 206, Flint
The attack proceeds, and they fight even in the village. Two of Sun's children
are killed, and Sun rises red and trembling until the perfect shell discs in which
they were dressed are recovered for him. Pg. 216, Enemy Way.
Chantway Myths, 1957; Katherine Spencer.
note: Ashon nutli', the Turquoise Hermaphrodite, later became masculine and
was known as the Sun Bearer, Jo hona'ai. Pg. 5
: Origin Myths of the Navajo Indians, 1956; Aileen O'Bryan.
rising and setting of the sun are sacred times for Native Americans. The strength
of the sun is believed to be at its most potent at sunrise. Therefore, prayers
and offerings are made to the Sun Father at this time. Offerings of cornmeal
follow the sun's path, going sunwise, in a circle from east, south, west, and
north. Navajos describe four colors of the dawn, including afterglow. Symbolically,
dawn is the beginning of the world; first light, the place the people have come
from their previous world of darkness. Pg. 192
Father Sun: Sun Father, Sun; not to be confused with the fiery orb of our solar
system, Sun Father is a diety who carries the sun with him. Pg. 192
of the Gila Monster, Navajo Ceremonial Tales; 1993, Gerald Hausman.
the Navajo seldom place a red color at the east the Red Ant Chant seems to be
one of the few exceptions where this color occurs there. Perhaps, their general
feeling about red east is best explained by Fishler's Navajo informant who said:
"In the morning, if there is a red or gold color in the east, it foretells
fevers, coughs or epidemics to come." In the Beginning, p. 11.
for Horses: The Impact of the Horse on Navajo and Apache Folklore; 1966, La
Verne Harrell Clark.
groups, such as the Zunis, devote most of their attention to the apparent recurrent
motion of the sun, which they call "Our Father the Sun". While the
sun is vitally important to Navajo thought, the Navajos consider the various
components of the heavens to be of equal importance and usually do not single
out any one celestial entity for symbolic parentage. Instead, it is much more
common to hear Navajos say, "The sky is our father" (yadilhil nihitaa').
The sun may be the main subject of a sandpainting, but more commonly it is but
one component of a night sky consisting of stars, sun, and moon.
Although the apparent daily motion of the sun is responsible for the four cardinal
light phenomena, its annual motion is not significant for the Navajo. It is
easy to understand why a people as geographically dispersed as the Navajo would
focus on the annual motion of constellations rather than on that of the sun:
constellations appear at about the same time within the approximately 18 million
acres of reservation and lease lands, while the annual motion of the sun along
the horizon varies with location. Pg. 64
First Man appointed He-Who-Returns-Carrying-One-Turquoise to carry the sun disk,
Johonaa'ei . . . . . Another primary contrast, that of birth and death, came
into existence because of the sun bearer's demand for payment for carrying the
celestial disk across the sky. He says, "I will not go down without a man's
death. Every time I make this journey, let a man's death occur accrodingly."
In return, he agrees, "You [will] see whatever you may presently be doing
on its [the earth's] surface, I will keep all of that visible for you, and wherever
movable things occur, I will keep all of them recognizable for you." .
. . . The sun and moon, in addition to supplying illumination, provide the orderly
arrangement of time periods proposed by First Man: the light of the sun marks
the beginning of day; its disappearance marks the end. . . . . The sun's movement
along the horizon is responsible for the seasons, which are marked by the appearance
of specific constellations. Pgs. 74, 75
The Sun's house was guarded by two Winds, Thunders, a pair of Snakes, and a
pair of Bears. Located on the shore of the eastern ocean, this pueblo style
house was made of turquoise. Rooms branching off from the central room served
as showrooms for Sun's wealth: to the south a room housed his flocks, stores
of blankets were stacked in a room to the west, while to the north were farms
and corn. At each side of the house were twelve rattles composed of precious
stones to sound and give forth lightning to herald Sun's arrival. Clothing and
weapons were hung upon pegs on the walls while , on a special peg, Sun hung
the sun every night. Pg. 135
is my Mother, Sky is my Father: Space, Time, and Astronomy in Navajo Sandpainting;
1992, Trudy Griffen-Pierce.
one of the most important symbols in the ceremony is that of the sun. The sun
is conceived as a circle and projected symbolically. The ceremonial hogan is
seen as a circle when it is blessed with corn pollen. When people enter, it
is in a sunwise direction. They seat themselves in a circle. The racing is done
according to the position of the sun in the sky, and the girl turns sunwise
when she returns home. The cake is circular, "so it will be like the sun,"
and is baked in a circular pit. The baking is timed according to the passage
of the sun. "All the people watch the time; during the summer, the nights
are short. You go according to the sun. You give it enough time to bake right.
In the winter, you wait till later. Someone has to direct that time schedule.
Women are inside and outside keeping track." When done, it is cut in a
sunwise direction. The center assumes anthropomorphic qualities attributed to
the sun; it becomes a heart, and as a living thing, it may not be cut with a
knife. The sun is a symbol of life, creation, blessing, and power. According
to Reichard, this suggests a sun cult, a monism where in belief centers on universal
harmony or destiny. "The sun is an agent of that monism, a central deity
who correlates the nether and celestial worlds with this one, who exists to
assist man to his final destiny. Changing Woman may possibly be the female manifestation
of the Sun." Disappearance of the sun, as in an eclipse, initiates efforts
to re-establish harmony. Taboos are in force during this phenomenon. Pg. 373-74
A Study of the Navaho Girl's Puberty Ceremony; 1993, Charlotte Johnson Frisbie.
sun and the moon are borne across the skies by divinities. Trails, thirty-two
in number, have been created for their travels, and summer and winter solstice
occur as the divinities complete the total number and start their return from
the northern- or southern-most trail, respectively. Pg. 37
An eclipse is caused by the death of the orb, which is revived by the immortal
bearers of the sun and moon. During an eclipse of the moon the family is awakened
to await its recovery. Similarly, a journey is interrupted and work ceases during
an eclipse of the sun. Songs referring to the Hozhoji, or rite of blessing,
are chanted by anyone knowing them, otherwise the passing of an eclipse is awaited
in silence. It is not considered auspicious to have a ceremony in progress during
an eclipse of the sun or moon, and a ceremony is often deferred on this account.
The rising generation, however, pays little or no attention to this custom.
Dictionary of the Navaho Language; 1910, The Franciscan Fathers.
represents fatherhood and masculinity. His aspects are distance, power, leadership,
and discipline. Just as the earth, which Changing Woman symbolizes, is close
and nurturing to all beings, the sun is symbolically a non-intimate energy source.
The universe is in order when the Sun and Changing Woman, the sun and the earth,
man and woman, father and mother, are united. Thus, the Navajos believe that
day (union of the earth and the sun) is equal to good, safety, life, and growth.
Night represents the separation of the sun and the earth and is therefore equal
to danger and potential evil. Pgs. 13-15
on the Blue-Eyed Bear, Navajo Myths and Legends; 1975, Gerald Hausman.
previously they had been content with color, First Man and First Woman, when
they arrived in this world, wanted light as well, probably because the world
was large and many places existed far from the mountains that had previously
furnished illumination. After due consideration the First Pair made the sun
of a large turquoise disk surrounded by red rain, lightning, and various kinds
of snakes. It was heated with fire kindled by Black God's fire drill. From a
piece of rock crystal the First Pair made the moon, bordering it with whiteshell,
forked lightning, and sacred waters; it is slightly warmed by rock crystal's
supernatural company there were two men, one old, one younger, who had risen
unexpectedly from a spring. For a long time the two had merely accompanied the
people, not performing any usual deeds, but endearing themselves to the travelers.
They had planted the reed through which the beings of the fourth world escaped
to the fifth. When First Man and First Woman had finished making the sun and
decided to place it in East Wind's country, they appointed the young man, who
until then had no name, as the sun-bearer. Moving to the east with the orb,
he became Sun. They put the old man in charge of moon and gave him the name
Moon-bearer or Moon.
of the creation myth shows concern to account for Sun's position among the spheres.
After the disk had been lighted by dint of great effort, it became too hot and
burned the people because the sky and earth were too close together. First Man
and First Woman raised the orb a short distance, but it was still dangerously
hot. They then made two poles of turquoise and two of whiteshell, which they
gave to Those-who-stand-under-the-sky [Sky Pillars]. The latter pried the sky
far enough from the earth to prevent burning, but the heat was insufferable.
Finally, they decided to stretch the world and, by blowing hard, expanded it
until the temperature was comfortable for the inhabitants.
home, a major symbol of the Male Shooting Chant Sun's House branch, is at the
eastern quarter of the sky. In it is a rattle that warns of his return. When
it sounds the fourth time, Sun arrives home, takes off the sun, and hangs it
on a peg on the wall - on earth the sun sets. Formerly he moved from east to
west and back in a day, pausing at the center of the sky [noon] to eat his lunch.
Since Changing Woman has lived in the west, he stops there and rests at evening.
On dark, stormy days he stays at home and sends out his lightning, which may
do mischief. Sun thus carries out his daily schedule.
journey begins at the winter solstice; he climbs the southernmost sky pillar
and, as the season advances, reaches the northernmost; he retraces the route,
spending an equal number of days at each pole. On the rare occasions when he
becomes angry he hides his light partly or completely; the earth experiences
a solar eclipse which presages misfortune. The Navaho believed the influenza
epidemic of 1918 was caused by the solar eclipse of June 8.
Religion, Vol I; Gladys A. Reichard, 1950
Sun's cherished possessions, frequently pictured in the sandpaintings, is his
tobacco pouch. It is painted blue, with blue tapering flaps, a white border
of porcupine quills, and fringe of fawnhooves. The tubular pipe and the pipe
cleaner, kept in thepouch, are of turquoise. A black spot at the narrow end
of the pipe represents tobacco; a streak of white at the end represents a smoke;
a rock crystal lights the pipe.
Sun (djoxona'ai) (P),the deity, is to be differentiated from sun, a light which
he carries. Usually, especially in the Shooting Chant, Sun is designated by
the orb that gives life to the world. In one drypainting a person is drawn.
Sun is portrayed by numerous references to his ritualistic functions, specific
details about his appearance, life, social relationships, and temperament. His
symbol is a blue disk with eyes and mouth; it sometimes has horns. Surrounding
the disk are colored lines that represent powers rather than persons, as do
other appendages such as rain streamers, lightnings, and feathers. Sun is said
to be a large person, having a huge foot, known because he left tracks when
he visited Changing Woman.
In the Stephen version of creation, Sun and another young man arose in the first
world. Both were carried by First Woman to the uppermost world, where the more
powerful became Sun, the weaker, Moon. According to Matthews, two men, one old
and gray-haired, one young, appeared when the people had given up hope of escaping
from the fourth world, and created the reed through which they were delivered.
After the sun and moon had been made in the fifth world, as a great honor they
were given to these men to carry, as they had endeared themselves to the people.
Nevertheless, Sun and Moon exacted human lives as a reward for moving far enough
away from the earth not to burn things on it.
Two contrasting impressions of Sun are developed, one held by the young women
he seduced, one indicated by his behavior at home when confronted by his sky
wife and those who claimed to be his children. To women he was so handsome that
they dared not look at him; they bowed their heads in shame at their own inferiority.
He appeared to Changing Woman suspended some two feet above the ground on a
white horse with a white bridle. His clothing and moccasins were all white.
He did not ask women for what he wanted, he told them what to do, and, where
the details are described, as they are for Changing Woman, guardians were only
too glad to arrange for a romantic mating with Sun.
When, however, the results of these meetings, Sun's children, appeared in his
home, a different side of the love story, one more familiar to Earth People,
comes out. He had a permanent, acknowledged wife who was fat and jealous, and
many children. Knowing that The Twins were hidden in his house; that things
were not going too smoothly, he entered with blustering bravado and sometimes
brought evil with him, causing an eclipse on earth. When accused by his wife
of philandering, he simply did not answer.
Apparently so many children claimed him as their father that only the severest
tests could prove their legitimacy.
The Twins' visit brings out details of Sun's powers. His house with its furnishings
is described. Two Winds, Thunders, a pair of Snakes, and a pair of Bears guarded
it. The house was of the pueblo type, white at the east, blue at the south,
yellow at the west, and black at the north. In one version it is represented
as a pueblo house made of turquoise standing on the shore of the great ocean;
in another, it was said to be of whiteshell. Stephen describes rooms giving
off from the central room as showrooms for Sun's wealth: at the south a room
opened to exhibit his flocks; at the west were stores of blankets and at the
north farms and corn.
Impressive features of the house were pistonlike devices made of barbed flints,
which Father Berard translates 'trumpets'; the narrator said they were something
like phonograph horns. The objects are mentioned in numerous myths, but details
differ: Gray Eyes has the 'trumpets' of precious stones-turquoise at the east,
abalone at the south, white-shell at the west, redstone at the north-and JS
describes the houses of Sun, Moon, Black Wind, and Yellow Wind as of the same
materials in the same order. On the other hand, JS says the 'trumpets' are of
flint in sunwise circuit sequence: black, blue, white, yellow, and variegated
at the center. RP's description of the colors was black, blue, yellow, white,
whereas Slim Curley mentioned black, blue, yellow, and pink (serrated); Matthews'
and Curtis' informants say the pistons are of jewels-whiteshell, turquoise,
abalone; and jet.
In most versions, The Twins were hurled against the spikes; in RP's, they were
put into the machine to be ground to bits. In all cases they escaped, thereby
proving they were Sun's children.
At each side of the house, and composed of the same substances, were twelve
rattles, which sounded and gave forth lightning to warn of Sun's arrival. On
the walls were many pegs, upon which hung clothing and weapons; on a special
peg the sun was hung every night when Sun returned home.
One of Sun's cherished possessions, frequently pictured in the sandpaintings,
is his tobacco pouch. It is painted blue, with blue tapering flaps, a white
border of porcupine quills, and fringe of fawnhooves. The tubular pipe and the
pipe cleaner, kept in the pouch, are of turquoise. A black spot at the narrow
end of the pipe represents tobacco; a streak of white at the wide end represents
a smoke; a rock crystal lights the pipe.
Sun had a large number of other weapons, among them lightning arrows and flint
clubs and armor which The Twins obtained and adapted to ceremonial purposes
with the consent and instruction of their father.
Sun's wife, who kept his permanent home for him in the east, is identified as
Dawn Woman or Whiteshell Woman. She was jealous of Changing Woman and nagged
her husband about his behavior when he was away from home. Nevertheless, she
protected the children of the other women from her husband's wrath. In Gray
Eyes' version she harped on the time and care Sun bestowed upon the boys once
he had proved them his own. She even suggested that he drive them out with a
club, but Sun rebuked her severely and said that 'holy things were taking place.'
When he wanted the Earth Twins to restore the Sky son from the bite of Watersnake,
Sun apologized to them: "My wife sometimes uses poor sense when she gets
The Sky wife and Changing Woman probably represent the same woman in different
guises. The affair with Changing Woman was permanent, since, after persuading
her to move to the perfect house in the west, Sun visited her nearly every day.
The famous gamblers were Sun's children. One had won two valuable shells from
the people of Blue House, a pueblo. Sun tried to get Gambler to give up the
shells, but he refused until Sun provided another young man (the son of xactc'e'oyan)
with the power to beat him.
Sun was vulnerable before his children. After The Twins had proved that he was
their father, he pleaded with them:
"My children, be careful not to ask too much of me. If I offer certain
things to you, be satisfied. Do not ask me for more that I can grant."
Nevertheless, the boys, prompted by their mentor, refused everything he mentioned
and asked for his most precious weapons, which they needed to kill the monsters.
When they had blurted out their demand, Sun, overwhelmed by their power, bowed
his head and wept. Eventually recovering himself, he explained: ". . .
he [Big Monster] was your older brother. Above all others I loved him. Be sure
you let me make the first move; then I shall not regret it."
Sun was even the father of Navaho enemies. Two of his pueblo daughters were
called Two-dawns-arrive. Their clothing consisted of four spirally arranged
layers of jewels. They were killed by the war party led by Monster Slayer and,
when Sun realized this, he rose red and trembling with sorrow and anger. When,
however, the jewels were offered to him, he calmed down and steadied himself
(Changing Woman, The Twins; Stephen ms.; 1930, p.93; Haile 1938b, PP. 91, 94,
99, 101, 105, 107; Goddard, pp.135, 140, 142, 154; Matthews 1902, p.213; 1897,
pp.74, 80, 83, 111, 132, 223, 239; Reichard, Shooting Chant ms.; 1939, PI. XVI-XIX;
Newcomb-Reichard, p.29, PI. XVII, XX; Stevenson 1886, pp.279-80).
Religion, Vol II; Gladys A. Reichard, 1950