Butterfly Ceremonial Basket, unknown artist (#23)

16"


$1,450.00


Forty-some-odd years ago, this butterfly basket was carefully woven by an unknown artist. The design depicts the close association Navajo people have with butterflies and creation stories. Butterflies symbolize a life lived along the pollen path, upward movement, and personal development. The ceremonial center depicts the beginnings of the Navajo universe, family, and beneficial boundaries. Every once in a while, we get a piece from a private collection. This wonderful basket was residing in New Mexico, where it acquired a gorgeous Sol tan. The golden patina sets off the multitude of butterflies in a rich, appealing manner.


Butterfly in Navajo Traditional Stories

Butterfly: Due to the natural beauty of its wings, Butterfly is often considered vain. Yet, in Navajo mythology, Butterfly brings the sacred flint to the hooves of the horse. In the legend of the diety, Butterfly Boy was cured of his vanity by being lightning struck with the axe of Rain Boy. After that, his head opened up and out of it came the butterflies of the world. The perishable dust of Butterfly's wings is sometimes thought to prove that such beauty is usually not durable. Pg. 191

Caterpillar: In Navajo belief, Caterpillar is sacred because of his ability to transform into Butterfly, the gatherer of the sacred flint. However, while Butterfly may not always be trusted because of his vanity, Caterpillar is a simple, many-footed walker through life. Like Worm, he may give advice to his "betters." Pg. 191

 

 

The Gift of the Gila Monster, Navajo Ceremonial Tales; 1993, Gerald Hausman.

Rain Boy and Butterfly Boy: There is a great arch of colored stone in Navajo Country, and it is called Rainbow Bridge. In order to reach it you must ride horseback for days through desert and bare rock land and through great red rock canyons. Not many people go there. In ancient times it was the home of Rain Boy, a powerful god, whose weapon was lightning and who traveled as fast as the wind on his rainbow.
One day long ago he had to go on a journey. He left his wife and daughter at home at Rainbow Bridge and told them that no matter what happened they were not to go out into the sunlight.
"We will obey you, Rain Boy," said the two women, and when he had gone they sat by the open door and took up their weaving. They were both fine weavers. When they needed a new design they would look out of the door until they saw something beautiful. One day, it was the design of a leaf; another day, a bird feather suited their needs. But today they could not see anything that pleased them.
As it happened, White Butterfly Boy had flown into their part of the country from his home in Chaco Canyon, where the ruins of the dead people lie. Butterfly Boy looked just like a Navajo except that he had wings. He possessed one other great power. He could change himself at will into a white butterfly. Today when he came to Rainbow Bridge he saw the beautiful wife and daughter of Rain Boy looking out of the door of their hogan.
"They are beautiful. I should like to talk to them," he said to himself, but he had heard that Rain Boy wouldn't let them talk to strangers and forbade them to leave the hogan when he was away. So Butterfly Boy planned a trick; he changed himself into a white butterfly and flew down onto the door sill.
"Oh, what a beautiful creature," cried the mother. "What a splendid design he will make for our weaving."
"Let us catch him," said the daughter.
But when they reached out with their hands, White Butterfly Boy spread his wings and flew to a milkweed blossom some distance from the hogan. The women forgot their promise to Rain Boy and ran out of the house into the sunlight where they chased the sparkling white butterfly; each time they got near enough to catch him, away he flew, farther from the hogan. Four times he flew, and the fourth time he lit on a tassel of corn silk in Rain Boy's garden. Great yellow pumpkins coiled their arms between the corn stalks, and when the women ran into the garden the pumpkins caught them, so they could not take another step. Then Butterfly Boy turned himself into a man with wings.
"There," he said. "I have you. Now you will come live with me in Chaco Canyon."
He took them far off over the desert and canyon until they came to the land of deserted hogans. Here, long ago, people had lived, but now nothing but the dead remained, and they were buried deep under the blown sands.
Now, Rain Boy returned from his journey, and finding the hogan empty, he searched outside for tracks. In the sands by the hogan he saw footprints of his wife and daughter, which led into the garden and among the pumpkin vines where they disappeared. It was here that White Butterfly Boy had turned into a man with wings, and with Rain Boy's wife on one arm and the daughter on the other, he had flown back to his home in Chaco Canyon. After looking carefully among the corn stalks, Rain Boy sent out a streak of lightning to point the direction they had taken. The lightning struck near Chaco Canyon. Rain Boy mounted his rainbow and rode over the sky to the home of White Butterfly Boy. There he found his wife and daughter, who were prisoners in the hogans of the ancient people. Rain Boy was very angry with them for disobeying him, but he was even more
angry with White Butterfly Boy for his treachery.
When White Butterfly Boy came flying home at night, Rain Boy said, "I challenge you to a race. If you win, you may keep my wife and daughter. If you lose, you die."
"I agree," said White Butterfly Boy.
"We shall race to Mount Taylor," said Rain Boy. "Get ready. When I send out my lightning we shall start."
Now Butterfly Boy had nothing in the world to race upon but his own wings, so he spread them out proudly and waited with his only weapon which was a magic axe
that could kill whoever held it, at a puff of breath.
Rain Boy took off on his bolt of lightning and was gone instantly. Butterfly Boy beat his wings as fast as he could, but it was going to take him a long time to reach Mount Taylor. On the way, he saw Humming Bird poised in the air before a flower.
There is nothing in the world that Butterfly Boy liked more than to have fun. About his throat hung a tiny silver bell. He wanted to hear how the bell would sound on the throat of Humming Bird as he darted from blossom to blossom, so he took the bell from his own throat and threw it into the air. It dropped with a tinkle onto Humming Bird's neck; this is the noise you hear today when Humming Bird rushes in upon a flower.
Soon after his delay with Humming Bird, Butterfly Boy reached Mount Taylor. There sat Rain Boy on the end of a streak of lightning.
"I win," cried Rain Boy. "Now we will race back again."
"All right," said Butterfly Boy tiredly. By now he was already exhausted, but he was cheerful and did not give up. Again he spread his beautiful wings.
"Ready?" shouted Rain Boy, and this time he rode up over the sky on a great rainbow. Butterfly Boy strained himself to fly, but it was a long time before he reached his home in Chaco Canyon. There sat Rain Boy on the end of the rainbow, and his wife and daughter were waiting beside him.
"I win again," Rain Boy said, and raising his head he proclaimed: "now you will die!"
"Wait," said Butterfly Boy. "Won't you please kill me with my own axe? It would make me happy to die by the blade I have carried on my journeys."
But Rain Boy knew that Butterfly Boy's axe was a magic axe. At a puff of breath from its master it would fly back and kill the man who held it.
"No," he said, "I will kill you with my own axe." And again he raised it above his head. But Butterfly Boy begged four times, and the fourth time Rain Boy stuck his own axe in his belt and took the magic axe in his hand. But he was not to be tricked. He had a scheme in mind.
"Now," said clever Rain Boy, "close your eyes."
As soon as Butterfly Boy had shut his lids Rain Boy changed axes, and grasping his own trusty weapon he hit Butterfly Boy a deadly blow on the head. The skull cracked, Butterfly Boy was killed at one stroke, and out of the crack in the skull came a net of butterflies, all bright-winged and lovely. Away they flew to scatter over the sky; and that is how the beautiful butterflies of this world came to be born. Pgs. 65-69

Sitting on the Blue-Eyed Bear, Navajo Myths and Legends; 1975, Gerald Hausman.

Butterfly (ka'logi') (U) and various moths are symbols of temptation and foolishness, so despicable that their behavior, acting like a 'moth,' has come to stand for insanity, the punishment for breaking taboos.
The hero of the Mountain Chant acquired the power of the meal sprinklers from the Butterfly People.
Butterfly was a decoy for two girls of the Excess Chant (cp. Ch. 1; Restriction, Con. B; Matthews 1887, p. 406; Kluckhohn 1944, p.104).

Navajo Religion, Vol II; Gladys A. Reichard, 1950

Navajo Basketry

Basketry is a woman's industry, which is also pursued by the nadle (he changes), hermaphrodites, or men skilled in the arts and industries of both men and women. Basketry, however, is not classified with textile fabrics (yistl'o), but with sewing (nalkhad). It is of interest also that, while the basket is in progress, the sewer is untouched and avoided by the members of her family. The material, too, of which the basket is made is placed beyond the immediate reach of the household. Finally the sewing is accomplished with the utmost expediency, and is undertaken by skilled sewers only. Should an unskilled person tamper with this occupation, it is believed that sickness and rheumatic stiffness affects the wrists and joints. This is remedied by the singer who, in the course of a ceremony, clothes both arms of the patient with the skin of a fawn (bi'yazh), whereupon a hole is broken into the south side of the hogan through which the patient extends her hand and wrist. As soon as the wrist appears on the outside, her younger sister takes it between her teeth, pressing them lightly into the skin, which supposedly removes the stiffness (nasdo'). At present this rite is rarely necessary, but suggests a reason for the taboo (bahadzid) placed upon anything connected with basketry and for the readiness with which the Navaho decline to pursue the industry.

 

 

The dimensions of a basket often exceed twelve to fourteen inches in diameter, and are usually a fraction more than three inches in depth. As a material, the twigs of sumac (ki, or chilchin) are used. A triple incision is made into the butt end of the twig, one part of which is held between the teeth while the other two are torn off with the fingers. Each part is then scraped clean of its bark with a knife of piece of tin, and the twigs to be dyed are laid aside in a heap, while the natural color of the twig furnishes the lighter shades of the designs. The dyes used are identical with those used for coloring wool, though, obviously, the mordant of boiled sumac leaves (ki) becomes superfluous. Cedar ashes supposedly add luster to the color and contribute to its adhesive quality. Black was obtained from surface coal (lejin), added to boiling sumac leaves (ki), or from a sulfurous rock (tsekho), slightly roasted (ilt'es) with pine gum or rosin (je'). When ready this was added to the boiling twigs giving them a lustrous black color similar to charcoal (t'esh nahalin). The root of juniper (gad behetl'ol) and mountain mahogany (tseesdasi behetlol) are boiled together, after which the ground bark of alder (kish yikago) is added to obtain a pale red, into which the twigs are immersed. At times the joint fir (tlo' azehi, Ephedra trifurcata) is substituted for alder bark, while cedar ashes add luster to the color.

Blue was frequently obtained with indigo, though a native blue is also prepared from a bluish clay or ocher called adishtl'ish, which is pulverized and mixed with water. Various shades of yellow are obtained with plants like Bigelovia (kiltsoi), the sneeze weed (naeeshja ilkhei, Helenium hoopesii), or the sorrel (jat'ini), the flowers of which are crumpled and boiled, with cedar ashes thrown in.

The dyeing done, the twigs, both colored and uncolored, are placed in water to render them moist and pliable. The butt ends of the first twigs are wound around a small stick known as the bottom of the basket, and secured there with yucca. An awl, made of deer-bone (bi' bikhetsin), is now used in sewing the basket for which an iron awl is found impractible. The sewing is always done sunrise, or from left to right, giving the basket the shape of a helical coil when finished. Much deftness and constant application are required to obtain a close weave which will hold water after a few minutes moistening, while baskets of inferior quality require moistening much longer. The designs are, of course, woven with the colored twigs. Yellow and blue, however, are now rarely used, and the usual pattern is a band three to six inches wide, woven with zigzag edges in black with a line of red running through the center, and set, as it were, on a light background made of the natural color of the twig. Or, this band is sometimes displaced by a set of four or more square figures woven at intervals, with a colored circle entwining the lower part of each square. The colors in this and the first pattern might be increased to two or more according to taste. Both patterns are designated as tsa', basket, without reference to their designs. Of the two extinct patterns, the tsa' netse', or coiled basket, presented a design of vari-colored coils following each other, while the tsa' hokhani, or basket of enclosures, presented a set of four triangles whose apices rested on the center or bottom of the basket. From the base of each of these triangles three squares, increasing in width, extended to the rim of the basket, giving the whole design a shape similar to the Maltese Cross. While no special rules were laid down with regard to the blending of colors, or the number of figures and circles in a design, it was essential that every design be broken or intersected by a line of uncolored twigs. In baskets with circular designs this was comparatively easy, but in the tsa' hokhani, or basket of enclosures, it was found necessary to intersect one set of squares in order to make this line quite apparent. It was therefore called qaatqin (qatqin), the way out, or chohot'i, the line leading out, and was prescribed lest the sewer, in bending all her energies and applications upon her work, enclose herself and thus lose her sight and mind. A parallel is found in overdoing weaving, singing, in amassing fortune, or in the opening left in the figure of the queue and bow. This intersection always runs in a radial line with the close of the seam on the imbricated rim of each basket, which in turn serves as a guide in the directional assignment, as the close always faces eastward. Hence the singer always looks or feels for the closed rim, designated as bida' astl'o, where the rim is woven (instead of sewed). The details involved in mending this rim, as well as the taboo placed upon the wearing of a basket as a headgear, the legends of the origin of the basket, and relative subjects, are beyond the scope of the present work. Suffice to say, that the basket is made exclusively for ceremonial use, and is an integral part of every rite, as none is holy (diyin) without it.

The strength and elasticity of the Navaho basket renders it serviceable as a drum, in other words, it is turned down and beaten with the drumstick. Should it be turned up again before the close of the ceremony, it indicates that the singer has suspended the continuation of the ceremony. The basket is also used as a receptacle for the rattles, prayersticks, stones, herbs, medicines, and like ceremonial paraphernalia. The ceremonial bath is administered in the basket. The mask of the Fringed Mouth (zahodolzhai) is supported on a basket from which the bottom has been cut out. At the marriage ceremony a new basket is required in which to serve the porridge. As it is frequently impossible for the couple to consume its contents, the basket is passed around to the visiting guests. Whosoever consumes the final portion of the porridge also takes possession of the basket, wherefore baskets thus obtained are designated as tsa' na'obani, or the basket which was won. It is otherwise referred to as danakhan bi'odani, the basket from which they eat the porridge. The so-called wedding basket is therefore unknown. In the early days baskets were woven of yucca braid. The pith of the yucca leaf was extracted and dyed in the same manner as sumac twigs today. It was also permissible to use the designs of the basket in the decoration of the uppers for moccasins made of yucca. The remnants of twigs used for baskets are employed in constructing the so called owls (naeshja). Pgs. 291-296

An Ethnologic Dictionary of the Navaho Language; 1910, The Franciscan Fathers.

Even such everyday tasks as weaving must be done only in moderation. Many women will not weave more than about two hours at a stretch; in the old days unmarried girls were not allowed to weave for fear they would overdo, and there is a folk rite for curing the results of excess in this activity. Closely related is the fear of completely finishing anything: as a "spirit outlet," the basket maker leaves an opening in the design. Pgs. 225-226

The Navaho; 1946, Clyde Kluckhohn and Dorothea Leighton.

According to Washington Matthews the Navahoes have many legends with which baskets are connected. Here is a description of the first baby baskets ever made. Surely none but a poetic and imaginative people could ever have conceived so wonderful a basket. Their gods of war were born of two women, one fathered by the sun, the other by a waterfall, and when they were born they were placed in baby baskets both alike as follows: The foot-rests and the back battens were made of sunbeam, the hoods of rainbow, the side-strings of sheet lightning, and the lacing strings of zigzag lightning. One child they covered with the black cloud, and the other with the female rain.

Another form of this story says that the boy born first was wrapped in black cloud. A rainbow was used for the hood of his basket and studded with stars. The back of the frame was perihelion, with the bright spot at its bottom shining at the lowest point. Zigzag lightning was laid in each side and straight lightning down the middle in front. Niltsatlol (sunbeams shining on a distant rainstorm) formed the fringe in front where Indians now put strips of buckskin. The carry-straps were sunbeams. Pg. 23

In many Indian ceremonies baskets play a most important part. For nine days these ceremonies last, the first day being devoted to the building and dedication of a medicine hogan and a sweat house. Around this sweat house wands of turkey feathers were placed, which were brought hither in one of these sacred baskets; and when the sweating process was over the wands were collected, placed in the basket and removed to the medicine hogan. On the fourth day two of these baskets figured prominently in the ceremonies. A medicine basket containing amole root and water was placed in front of a circle made of sand and covered with pine boughs. A second basket contained water and a quantity of pine needles sufficiently thick to form a dry surface, and on the top of these needles a number of valuable necklaces of coral, turquoise and silver were placed. A square was formed on the edge of the basket with four of the turkey wands before mentioned. The song priest with rattle led several priests in singing. The invalid sat to the northeast of the circle, a breech cloth his only apparel. During the chanting an attendant made suds by macerating the amole and beating it up and down in the water. The basket remained in position; the man stooped over it, facing north; his position allowed the sunbeams which came through the fire opening to fall upon the suds. When the basket was a mass of white froth the attendant washed the suds from his hands by pouring water from a Paiuti basket water-bottle (Fig. 20) over them, after which the song priest came forward and with corn pollen drew a cross over the suds, which stood firm like the beaten whites of eggs, the arms of the cross pointing to the cardinal points. A circle of the pollen was then made around the edge of the suds." This crossing and circling of the basket of suds with the pollen is supposed to give them additional power in restoring the invalid to health. The invalid now knelt upon the pinion boughs in the center of the same circle. "A handful of the suds was placed on his bead. The basket was now placed near to him, and he bathed his head thoroughly ; the maker of the suds afterwards assisted him in bathing the entire body with the suds, and pieces of yucca were rubbed upon the body. The chant continued through the ceremony and closed just as the remainder of the suds was emptied by the attendant over the invalid's head. The song priest collected the four wands from the second basket, and an attendant gathered the necklaces; a second attendant placed the basket before the invalid, who was now sitting in the center of the circle, and the first attendant assisted him in bathing the entire body with this mixture; the body was quite covered with the pine needles, which had become very soft from soaking. The invalid then returned to his former position at the left of the song priest, and the pine needles of the yucca,or amole, together with the sands, were carried out and deposited at the foot of a pinion tree. The body of the invalid was dried by rubbing with meal." This taking out of the sands, pine needles, etc., used in the ceremony was supposed to take away so much of the disease that had been washed from the invalid.

Later in the day at another most elaborate ceremony baskets filled with food are placed in a circle around a fire in the medicine lodge. One of the priests takes a pinch of food from each basket, and places it in another basket. This is then prayed over, smoked over and thus made a powerful medicine by the song-priest. After the priest has gone through several performances with it, the invalid dips his three first fingers into the mixture, puts them in his mouth, and loudly sucks in the air. This is repeated four times. Then all the attendants do likewise, with a prayer for rain, good crops, health and riches. This food is afterwards dried by the chief medicine man, made into a powder, and is one of his most potent medicines. On the sixth day a great sand painting is made in the medicine lodge, and the invalid, as he enters, is required to take the sacred medicine basket, which is now filled with sacred meal, and sprinkle the painting with it. The chief figures of the painting were the goddesses of the rainbow, whose favor it was desired he should gain. Again and again in the ceremonies these sacred baskets are used, and on the ninth day in the concluding dance the invalid takes it full of sacred meal and sprinkles all the dancers. The full description of this wonderful series of ceremonies is found in the Eighth Annual Report of the U. S. Bureau of Ethnology.

If the margin is worn through or torn, the basket is unfit for sacred use. The basket is one of the perquisites of the shaman when the rites are done; but he, in turn, must give it away, and must he careful never to eat out of it. Notwithstanding its sacred uses, food may be served in it by any other person than the shaman who has used it ceremonially. Fig. 29 shows the other form of Navaho sacred basket. It is also made of aromatic sumac, and is used in the rites to hold sacred meal. The crosses are said to represent clouds, heavy with rain, and would indicate that this basketry design may have had its origin in its use during ceremonies intended to bring the rain. Another important ceremony of the Navahoes in which this basket figures is that of marriage. Another interesting thing about this Navaho wedding basket it is well to notice, and that is that the finishing off of the last coil of the basketry always comes directly opposite to the Shipapu opening. This is for the purpose of enabling those who use the basket at night to determine where the Shipapu opening is, so that they may hold the basket in the proper ceremonial way, which requires that the Shipapu opening shall always be turned towards the East. This finishing off place on the rim of the basket is called by the Navahoes the a-tha-at-lo. According to Matthews, the sacred basket used in all these ceremonials has another important function to perform. It is used as a drum. He says: "In none of the ancient Navaho rites is a regular drum or tomtom employed. The inverted basket serves the purpose of one, and the way in which it is used for this simple object is rendered devious and difficult by ceremonious observances." Then over a page of description is required to tell how the shamans proceed when they "turn down the basket" to make a drum of it at the beginning of the songs, and "turn up the basket" at the close. Everything is done with elaborate ceremony. "There are songs for turning up and turning down the basket, and there are certain words in these songs at which the shaman prepares to turn up the basket by putting his hand under its eastern rim, and other words at which he does the turning. For four nights, when the basket is turned down, the eastern part is laid on the outstretched blanket first, and it is inverted toward the west. On the fifth night it is inverted in the opposite direction. When it is turned up, it is always lifted first at the eastern edge. As it is raised an imaginary something is blown toward the east, in the direction of the smoke-hole of the lodge, and when it is completely turned up hands are waved in the same direction, to drive out the evil influences which the sacred songs have collected and imprisoned under the basket."

Even in the making of this sacred basket many ceremonial requirements must be heeded. In forming the helical coil, the fabricator must always put the butt end of the twig toward the center of the basket and the tip end toward the periphery, in accordance with the ceremonial laws governing the disposition of butts and tips. Pgs. 33-37

Indian Basketry and How to Make Baskets; 1903, George Wharton James.

By 1973 there were over 100 basket weavers on and off the reservation, and 125 potters in Chinle Agency alone. At least in part, commercialization stimulated the revival of these crafts. . . . . In the Oljeto area, basketweavers began producing baskets with yei figures woven into their designs. While such baskets could not be used in religious ceremonies, they found a ready market with non-Indians. Pg. 252

A History of the Navajos, The Reservation Years; 1986, Garrick Bailey and Roberta Glenn Bailey.

The Navajo wedding basket also reflects many values of traditional life and so often contains all six sacred mountains, including Huerfano and Gobernador Knob, though the size of the basket may determine the number of mountains in the design. The center spot in the basket represents the beginning of this world, where the Navajo people emerged from a reed. This is where the spirit of the basket lives. The white part around the center is the earth, the black symbolizing the sacred mountains upon which are found water bowls. Above them are clouds of different colors. The white and black ones represent the making of rain. A red section next to the mountains stands for the sun's rays that make things grow. Pg. 19

Sacred Land, Sacred View; 1992, Robert S. McPherson.

The basket for the emetic in the first War Ceremony was of crystal.


An indispensable requirement of a chant is the basket; at least one is believed to represent whiteshell. All the precious stones are mythical basket materials. Frequently the basket is of one stone with a contrasting rim - whiteshell rimmed with turquoise or the reverse; abalone rimmed with redstone or the reverse, jet with an abalone rim or the reverse.

__

The fibers of baskets used to be of yucca. Baskets are not used much secularly but have a prescribed place in ceremonies.


They are often called "wedding" baskets because one holds the ceremonial mush which the bride and groom eat alternatingly. The function of the basket in curing ceremonies is perhaps greater, but not as well known. When preparations for a ceremony are made, one of the questions asked is, "How many baskets must be provided?" They become consequently an important item of trade. Their manufacture is surrounded with such a number of taboos difficult to keep that Navajo rarely make them, preferring to trade them from their neighbors, the Ute and Paiute, who have not the prescribed taboos.


Another form of purification is the yucca bath. The "one-sung-over" bathes from head to foot in the yucca suds which fill a ceremonial basket. He is careful to stand within the limits of a platform made of sand from the cornfield which has been carefully spread. On it special places are designated for the basket and for the patient's knees and hands, for he kneels to get his hair in the basket. The water which drains off of him must fall on the sand. When all is over, this may be gathered up like a blotter and the evils may be carried out and dissipated.

Dezba: Woman of the Desert; Gladys A. Reichard, 1939

An indispensable requirement of a chant is the basket; at least one is believed to represent whiteshell. All the precious stones are mythical basket materials. Frequently the basket is of one stone with a contrasting rim - whiteshell rimmed with turquoise or the reverse; abalone rimmed with redstone or the reverse, jet with an abalone rim or the reverse.


The basket for the emetic in the first War Ceremony was of crystal.

Navajo Religion, Vol I; Gladys A. Reichard, 1950

Basket (tsa') has already been extensively treated. There are, however, certain points that have not been stressed; one concerns the number of baskets necessary to a ceremony-the discussions often imply that there is only one (Ch. 14). A part of the agreement between chanter and sponsor is the provision of the baskets, as important as the payment to the singer. When the chant is over, some baskets are presented to the chanter or some other participant in the ceremony; borrowed baskets are returned to the owner, who may be the chanter or almost anyone who can provide them. Certain taboos, some very strict, attach to the basket. Nowadays it has become an article of trade, procurable at a trading post. Baskets so bought may be considered neutral, having no restrictions and no evil attached to them; the ceremony gives them blessing value.

Because of the 'drawing power' of the earth, sacred objects should not touch the ground; consequently, ceremonial properties-War Ceremony rattlestick, prayersticks, hoops, bundle equipment-must be placed on or in something; it is often a basket, especially for assembled bundle equipment.

I had to provide five baskets for the Shooting Chant Prayerstick branch. I paid for four and borrowed one from RP, the chanter. One was used for the layout of branch symbol prayersticks during their preparation and for the subsequent bundle equipment layout, one for the emetic, one for the drum, one for the bath, and one for the ceremonial mush. After the bath the chanter put his bundle layout in the basket that had been used for the bath. Every ceremony undoubtedly has similar requirements; some have more, some fewer.

The basket represents jewels and therefore the potentiality of wealth, with its provision for proper offerings. Baskets are often thought of as consisting of one of the precious stones, rimmed with a contrasting jewel (Ch. 12); such baskets are prescribed for the Hail Chant. In addition, one of Heat and one of Mirage (aragonite) are required. The War Ceremony emetic was prepared and the unseasoned mush was served in a rock-crystal basket. Since the mush was inexhaustible, there is a relation between the rock-crystal basket and the yellow bowl.

The Flint Chant baskets represent jewels; the plants put into them ceremonially became meat which, with other plants eaten by rare game, became gruel (Kluckhohn-Wyman, pp. 44, 60; Matthews 1894b, pp. 202-8; 1897, p. 211, 5n; Haile 1938b, pp. 33, 105, 207, 243; 1943a, pp.15, 184, 190; Goddard, pp. 142, 164; Reichard 1944d, p.49; Shooting Chant ms.; Tschopik, pp. 257-62).

Basket drum was described by Matthews and Kluckhohn-Wyman (Matthews 1894b; 1902, pp.59-63, 163, 165; Kluckhohn-Wyman, p.44; Haile 1938b, pp.33, 243).

Navajo Religion, Vol II; Gladys A. Reichard, 1950