31" x 37"
Carnelda Benally and her well-known mother, Eleanor Yazzie, have chosen the iconic Twin Rocks as the theme for one of their pictorial rugs. Symbolizing the Navajo Hero Twins, Monster-slayer and Born-for-Water, these monuments have monumental meaning. Don’t miss out on this one-of-a-kind weaving. They’ll never be another one like it.
Eleanor was born in 1963 at Keams Canyon, Arizona to Joe and Ella Benally. She has two sisters and five brothers. When visiting her grandmother on her mother's side who lived at Smoke Signal, she would watch her weave. Her grandmother, Bah Begay, especially loved weaving storm pattern rugs. Eleanor helped her grandmother who, at that time, made handspun rugs. Eleanor learned every step from shearing the sheep to washing and dyeing the wool to spinning the yarn. Because her grandmother especially loved the storm pattern weavings, this style was the first type woven by Eleanor. Her mastery of complex geometrics and diagonal lines comes from this experience in weaving the storm pattern.
One of the added dimensions to this particular style of artwork is the manner in which weaving is learned. Rather than being taught in a formal setting, Navajo weaving is usually part of the overall fabric of their lives. Children are raised watching grandmothers, mothers, and aunts working at their looms. After years of helping and watching her grandmother and her mother weave, Eleanor attempted her first rug at the age of fitteen. A pattern seems to run in her family for weaving starting in the adolescent years. Her brother, Gabriel, wove his first rug at the age of fitteen. He is one of a handful of Navajo men who have taken up the art of waving. Two of her sisters, Shirley James and Geraldine Benally, are weavers as well. Her daughter, Carnelda, started weaving when she was twelve years old and now, at the age of sixteen, is capable of weaving some of the more complex geometric designs. Eleanor says of her daughter's weaving development, "Carnelda would help me either weave part of my rug or warp the loom. I am still helping her learn how to properly string the warp. She likes to weave rugs in natural colors and red with stairstep designs."
Eleanor weaves every day, except for the days she is traveling to sell her rugs. She has five children ranging in ages from nine to sixteen years old, so she takes advantage of the quiet time when her children are in school. When asked why she weaves, Eleanor responds, "I like weaving. I don't want to just sit around. My kids are all in school and it keeps me busy." Her favorite size to weave is 4' X 6' rug, although she can make one up to 5 1/2' wide and as long as needed. the size of her current loom doesn't allow for any wider weavings. When weaving she likes to listen to gospel music. She looks at her weaving as a way of praising the Lord.
She is currently working on a number of new designs like the corn figures woven in the rug she is holding. Her father, Joe Benally, likes the designs she is weaving today as they remind him of old patterns. She used to work in the natural and red colors and would never have thought of making a rug with a black background until a couple of years ago. Her creativity has been rewarded at the 1998 Gallup Ceremonial, she swept the award for the Special Design or Function category.
Slayer (na'ye' ne'zyani) (I) represents impulsive aggression, whereas Child-of-the-water
represents reserve, caution, and thoughtful preparation. Monster Slayer kills
for the future benefit of mankind; Child-of-the-water collects the trophy and
provides for its ritualistic utility.
In some tales of the monster conquest, The Twins go together; in others, Monster Slayer sometimes goes alone while his brother watches over the warning prayerstick at home. This prayerstick was made to glow, burn, or turn blood red when the older hero was in danger and needed help.
After Cliff Monster had been overcome and Monster Slayer returned home, his brother said to him, "I watched the prayersticks all the while you were gone. About noon the black one began to burn and I was troubled because I knew you were in danger, but after it had burned about halfway, the fire went out and I was glad, for I thought you were safe again." His brother answered, "Oh! That must have been at the time Cliff Monster carried me up and threw me on the rocks."
In the story of the War Ceremony, First Man watched the prayerstick which told him of the whereabouts of The Twins. When they had brought back the trophy of Big Monster, he gave it the power to burn when they were in danger. Monster Slayer alone overcame Cliff Monster, and the prayerstick merely moved a bit while he was gone. When he, again alone, entered the home of the Eye Killers, the prayerstick was a little scorched. After hitting Traveling Rock so that chips flew off, he stepped on a chip with his right foot. His strength suddenly failed him; he breathed heavily and trembled. Then the prayerstick at home began to burn and First Man told Child-of-the-water to go to his aid. The boy shot his zigzag lightning arrow into the air. In a moment a healing plant appeared just in front of the older brother. He chewed it and rubbed himself with it; then a cloud arose and rain cooled him. The prayerstick once more assumed its ordinary appearance, and Monster Slayer was ready to race with Traveling Rock (Matthews 1897, pp. 117, 122; Haile 1938b, pp.113, 123, 135, 137, 155; Reichard, Shooting Chant ms.).
Monster Slayer had led one of the war parties to an attack on Taos for some valuable beaded scalps, the hair of two desirable virgins. During the entire journey the party had been disturbed by two very old men, who coughed and looked as though they had no sense and ought to go home. When they turned up at the last night's camp, Monster Slayer even cursed them. Eventually they said they just wanted to look on when the party attacked. After the pueblo had been taken, a search was made for the scalps and no one seemed to have them. In the second search, they fell out of the ragged clothes of the old men. The scalps stood for the girls, and there was an archery contest between the trembling old men and Monster Slayer to decide which should have them for wives. The old men hit the target exactly and the hero's arrow fell beside the mark. He did not acknowledge his failure, but merely gave the old men a mean look.
The Stricken Twins-the blind one carrying his lame brother on his back-went from one place to another, begging the gods to help them. All refused because the children had no offering. They met Monster Slayer, his brother, and Shooting God, who offered them help but did not mention a reward. The Hunchback gods had left a sheep where the Stricken Twins could shoot it (probably with the help of Shooting God) and Monster Slayer skinned it for them and cut off pieces specified by the gods.
When The Twins visited Sun the second time, he said he was willing to help them, but this time he wanted them to return the favor: "I wish you to send your mother to the west that she may make a new home for me." Whereupon Monster Slayer, believing himself equal to any task, replied, "I will do so.I will send her there." Then Child-of-the-water reminded them both: "No, Changing Woman is subject to no one; we cannot make promises for her. She must speak for herself; she is her own mistress. But I shall tell her your wishes and plead for you."
Although it is not directly so stated in Gray Eyes' tale, the duty of rewarding his father is perhaps the reason Monster Slayer tried so hard to get Changing Woman to move.
In the tale of the Eagle Chant, Monster Slayer was domestically inclined and, as an ordinary citizen, seems to have demonstrated little power, at least to help his own malady.
Monster Slayer, hero of the legend, took the two ignorant girls, Whiteshell Woman and Turquoise Woman, as wives. They helped him carry out the prescriptions of the Eagle Chant, which, before he learned it, had belonged to a wizard.
Monster Slayer, overcome by powers who controlled game, requested many singers to treat him and, despite offers to pay, all refused, giving no reason. At length his three brothers, Child-of-the-water, Reared-in-the-earth, and Changing Grandchild, who had been trailing him, forced the chanters who had denied him aid to give their medicines to Swallow, for he had agreed to sing for Monster Slayer. After he had been cured, the brothers told him to go back to his wives and keep out of trouble.
When Monster Slayer's work, including the subjection of the minor evils, had been completed, Sun sent a conveyance of dark clouds to take him to his new flint home in the sky. The house was provided with food in abundance; there was a comfortable bed with a pillow made of four white lightnings that would prevent bad dreams from coming true (Haile, 1938b, p. 167; Matthews 1897, p. 127; 1902, pp.232, 242; Newcomb 1940b, pp.53-70; Reichard, Shooting Chant ms.; 1939, PI. XVII-XIX; Newcomb-Reichard, PI. XVI, XVII).
(toba'djictcini) (P), the younger of The Twins, will be discussed here only
insofar as his traits differ from those discussed for the two.
When First Man sent his messengers to spy out the newborn humans who had not yet learned to escape them, Child-of-the-water sighted the dangerous crow and Monster Slayer shot it.
Holy Man (that is, Monster Slayer) went to the home of White Weasel, who shot four arrows of turquoise, whiteshell, abalone, and redstone at him so that each pair crossed. He pulled the arrows from the side opposite that which they had entered and Holy Man escaped, losing much blood and stopping at four anthills, at each of which he sang a song. Contrary to his wont, he had not told his brother, Holy Boy (Child-of-the-water) where he was going. Nevertheless, the younger boy followed, but did not enter White Weasel's home; if he had, he too would have been shot. By the time he reached his older brother the latter was unable to proceed; the younger brother carried the older until they came to some Cactus People, who restored him so that he could walk. He was further helped by various people whom they met and the result of this journey was the meeting with the leaders of the Female Shooting Chant, with whom they exchanged some songs and knowledge.
As a young man, Child-of-the-water held a scalp in his hand, causing a black spot to appear, a spot mentioned in a song. Since that time no young man is allowed to hold a scalp Or throw ashes upon it, but an old man is selected to do these things in ceremony.
Child-of-the-water is the parent of all the waters.
Changing Woman, after the earth had been made safe for humans, talked long and earnestly with her older son and finally dispatched him to the permanent flint home she and his father had prepared for him. She sent the guards of her mountain home, Bear Man and Big-snake-man, to their destined homes, where they would guard the flint house. Then, turning and noticing Child-of-the-water as if she had forgotten him up to this time, she asked him where he wanted to go. She had really hoped that he would stay with her a little longer, even that he might choose to go with her, but he said, "I want to go where my brother went."
Perhaps from habit or to cover her own disappointment, she scolded him: "If you thought this, why did you not say so when your brother started off? Had you spoken, you could have gone with your brother and father when they left in that cloud. Then it would not have been necessary to start all over again,"
Recalling the cover of darkness, in which the children had previously been wrapped (either as infants or when hidden in Sun's house), she suggested, "Why not choose Darkness to travel in?" And as Darkness came up, even though it was daytime, she spoke to him: "Darkness, be sure and look after your grandchild." She addressed the same prayer to Moon, Dawn, and Sun. As her baby went out of sight in the darkness, though she had sent the others away quickly without indulging in regrets, Changing Woman wept.
This scene depicts clearly the subordinate place of Child-of-the-water in the universal scheme and his primary place in his mother's heart, a position symbolic of his function as a god and as the baby of the family. And just as in a few telling strokes the passage characterizes the son, it summarizes the mother as woman and mother.
At the risk of anticlimax I cannot resist pointing out that the behavior of Child-of-the-water in remaining silent while Sun waited and the Skies assembled is delightfully and typically Navaho. Had a white person in a situation as heavily charged with emotion asked, "Why didn't you say so?" a Navaho would have answered, "You didn't ask me."
When Secondborn arrived at the new flint home, his brother wept for joy at his coming. When they had done weeping, the older said, "From now on don't go wherever you please [that is, without consideration], but let me do the thinking and let us go together." This sentence, I feel, is the epitome of the character and purpose not only of The Twins but of all pairs in Navaho myth, ceremony, and actuality. One does the thinking, the other goes along; one leads, the other follows, serves, and protects (Reichard, Shooting Chant ms.; Haile 1938b, p. 317, 55n; Stevenson, p. 280).
Elder Brother: First child of the union of Changing Woman and Sun Father. His earthly identity or mortal presence may also be "elder brother." Pg. 192
With the help of the gods they search for Holy Boy. After missing the rendezvous with Holy Man on their hunting expedition, Holy Boy had wandered in search of him and stopped to visit various people, snakes, and ants. In the center of an expanding and receding pool he sees a cornstalk with two eagle feathers. While reaching for the feathers he falls in and is swallowed by a huge fish which takes him through four habitations of water people. Holy Boy uses a flint point to cut his way out of the fish and them heals the cut. Meanwhile, the search party has found only his footprints at the edge of the pool. The Holy People of the waters at first object to the presence of an earth person, but on learning from big fly who he is, they give him Sandpaintings and other ritual knowledge. He is sent back to earth and welcomed with a ceremony of thanks for his return. Pg.121, Male Shooting Way
Younger Brother: Second child of the union of Changing Woman and Sun Father. His earthly identity or mortal presence may also be "younger brother." Pg. 200
Brother (I) is the hero of the Endurance Chant, the humble one become great.
He is called nake'ctca'i, 'Disgusting Eyes' or 'He-has-matter-in-his-eyes,'
a name Matthews says is general for the youngest boy of a family. He says also
that the youngest brother is the choice for a chanter since the Navaho believe
his mind and memory are best, a remark not corroborated by mythical ideal or
practice. The Youngest Brother is also called 'acki'tcil, 'Dwarf Boy,' a name
that contrasts his unfavorable appearance with the greatness of his final achievement.
He was left in a hole in the ground to spy on his sister, Changing-bear-maiden, and Coyote. He learned their lore and witchcraft secrets, which they exchanged while indulging in sexual excess. After Coyote had been killed and the sister finally discovered the little boy, she insisted on delousing him as a mark of affection. As she was doing this, Dwarf Boy, by watching her shadow, discovered that she was rapidly becoming a bear. By means of her knowledge, acquired while he was hidden, he eventually overcame her.
The text of the Flint Chant says that Changing-bear-maiden's Youngest Brother was Monster Slayer; the recorder says it cannot be. And in a note, Reared-in-the-earth is said to be her youngest brother. These are doubtless merely different names for the same person-The Youngest Brother is a manifestation of Monster Slayer (Reichard, Endurance Chant ms.; Matthews 1902, pp.170, 312; Haile 1943a, pp. 127, 295, 98n; 310, 108n).
Grandchild (tsoi na'dlehe') (P), counterpart of Child-of-the-water, calmed angry
When at an assembly of the gods the dancers who made the corn grow by magic in the Night Chant took their places to sing, not a sound issued from their throats. Coyote, driven out at the beginning of the ceremony by the gods, had deprived them of their voices. Monster Slayer sent Talking God out to reason quietly with Coyote. When Coyote refused three times to come in, Monster Slayer became angry: "Bring him in if you have to use force. When we did not want him in the hogan, he came; now we want him in the Dark-circle-of-branches, he won't come!"
Changing Grandchild spoke up: "It is no use to be angry with him; angry words and shouting will not influence him. Offer him some gift and perhaps he will come in and help you."
Monster Slayer replied, "You are right. We will do as you say. Let us make him the god of darkness, daylight, male rain, corn and all vegetation, of thunder, and of rainbow." As soon as Coyote heard about the gifts, he consented to enter and restore the dancers' voices (cp. Ch. 1, 16; Child-of-the-water, Monster Slayer, Reared-in-the-earth, The Twins; Matthews 1902, p. 203).
(le'ya' ne'yani) (P), another name for Monster Slayer, originated from the afterbirth
of the stronger Twin, which was buried in the ground and grew to be a man.
Armored in serrated flint (pink), he helped to convince Changing Woman to move to the new home in the west.
In the story of the Eagle Chant, various singers refused to sing for Monster Slayer after he had been overcome by the Game People. Reared-in-the-earth was in the group that violently protested against the refusal of the singers to give their special medicines to Swallow, who finally consented to sing for Monster Slayer (Changing Woman, The Youngest Brother; Newcomb-Reichard, p. 34, PI. XVI, XVII; Reichard 1939, PI. XVII-XIX; Newcomb 1940b, p. 69).
(lo' neine'l'i'i, lo' nayine'l'i'i) (P) was the name given to the hero's father-in-law
in my version of the Big Star Chant. RM says that the hero is Monster Slayer
and that the name refers to the incident of the hero being swallowed by Fish.
According to the Shooting Chant, Holy Boy (Child-of-the-water) was drawn into
the water by Fish. RM may be thinking of some other version of the tale, of
an entirely different tale, or he may associate Holy Boy, Child-of-the-water,
A few references seem to point to an association between One-who-customarily-sees-the-fish and the incestuous sorcerer, Deer Owner, of the Eagle and Feather chants. It may even be only a name for him or a similar character, but if there is a name, there is probably a description in some tale or other (Newcomb-Reichard, p. 39, Fig. 3; Reichard 1934, facing p. 194; 1939, Fig. 3).
The Stricken Twins (I) are heroes of the Night Chant, sons of Talking God and an Earth Maiden. They represent The Twins in a form the opposite of that in the myth of creation and of the Shooting Chant. Instead of being helped by merely appealing to the gods, they were refused help again and again. Originally poor, they were made helpless; one became lame, the other, blind. They had no powers at all, but they had perseverance. Their struggles and persistence eventually gave Earth People the Night Chant (Matthews 1902, pp.212-68).
The Twins (I), children of Sun, were born that men might live. They may be put into any category of supernatural personages except the evil ones. The attributes that appear most often and characterize them best show them as intermediaries between god and man; yet they are major deities appearing with Talking God and xactc'e'oyan, and indeed, in some respects more powerful than Sun, for they challenge his pet creations and he 'bows his head before them.' Although they possess tremendous power-that of their respected mother, Changing Woman, that of their dynamic father, and the combined powers of all Earth and Sky creatures, deific and humble, even the power of the subdued evils-they walk with men and are sometimes called 'Earth People.' They belong, therefore, in every realm; they are the personification of all conceivable power of the universe.
There is disagreement concerning their parentage, strange as it may seem, on their mother's side, for the Navaho seem not to doubt that these wonderful boys were fathered by Sun. The various stories agree that Monster Slayer, at least, was the 'real' child of Changing Woman and in many tales they are Twins. Others make Child-of-the-water the son of Changing Woman's sister, Whiteshell Woman, or perhaps another. Kinship terms of the divine genealogies do not settle the question, since both boys, even in the myths that make them twin sons of Changing Woman, call her 'mother' or 'maternal grandmother.' If the weaker twin was not the direct, he was the collateral son of Changing Woman, and he looks to her for her powers as if she were his' real 'mother. The mother's sister feels that her sister's child is as close as her own and addresses it by the same kin-terms; of primary interest is the close clanship.
The Twins have many names, among them Reared-in-the-earth and Changing Grandchild; these, as well as other names, indicate manifestations of Monster Slayer and Child-of-the-water somewhat different from the usual ones. For example, Monster Slayer is expected to be warlike; Reared-in-the-earth is his threatening manifestation, a bully; Holy Man and Holy Boy are nearer Earth People than are The Twins.
I had come to the conclusion that the theory of multiple selves, although not quite proved, was justified, when I found in RP's story, dictated to Sam Day in 1924, the statements:
"Holy Man is the same as Monster Slayer; Holy Boy is the same as Child-of-the-water" and "Changing Woman was the mother of Holy Man, Holy Woman, Holy Boy, Holy Girl, and Monster Slayer was her son in an earlier existence." Firstborn and Secondborn, Gray Eyes' first names for the boys, are called Holy Man and Holy Boy by RP. In a long discussion tla'h said, "Changing Woman and Whiteshell Woman are two names for the same person. Monster Slayer, Reared-in-the-earth, and Came-down-on-a-sunbeam (bil najno'ltliji) are three names for the same person. The younger boy was called Child-of-the-water, Changing Grandchild (tsoi nadle'he *)(*There is disagreement about the translation of this word and I have accepted the one most commonly used, since the authority for it is as good as any.), and One-cuts-around-it (neidigici). The afterbirths of the two children were buried in the ground. They did not die, but grew supernaturally. Since the afterbirth of Firstborn was a part of him, how could it be anyone else? He was called Reared-in-the-earth because he grew underground. The second afterbirth became Changing Grandchild" (Ch. 4).
Other names are obvious or explained by mythological events. Dress and characterization, as well as name, denote the manifestation. Compare, for instance, Monster Slayer in Sun's House, The Twins in Armor, and Holy Man and Holy Boy.
Soon after they were born the gods made cradles for The Twins similar to the one in which their mother had been found.
As The Twins grew miraculously, Talking God made them bows and arrows; when very young they became acquainted with the methods of the monsters' spies. Events led to adventures which included escaping dangers on their way to Sun's house, passing tests given them by Sun, and proof that they were indeed his children. Assured of Sun's aid, they systematically conquered one monster after another. They made a second visit to Sun-this is the theme of an unrecorded chant myth, perhaps that of the Wind Chant-and, as a result, overcame numerous minor evils. When this work was done, The Twins did all they could to persuade Changing Woman to move to the west and finally succeeded. They eventually went to live at Where-the-rivers-flow-together (to'oxe'dli'ni'), whither people used to go to offer prayers to them.
Even a summary of the scenes in the life of The Twins would be unduly long, for the narration covers many pages in the literature. Each episode has some function in the ceremonies; many illustrations have been given throughout this work (Reichard 1939, pp.15, 38, PI. X, XVIII, XIX, XXIV; Huckel ms.; Haile 1943a, p.34; Matthews 1897, pp. 105, 112, 134; PI. IV, VII; Goddard, p. 156; Newcomb-Reichard, p.46, PI. XIV-XXVII, XXXIV).