Reflection of Social Life in the Navaho Origin Myth

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Author: Spencer, Katherine Halpern (1913-2004)

Year: 1947

Publisher: The University of New Mexico Press

Place: Albuquerque

Description:

140 pages with tables, bibliography and appendix. Royal octavo (9" x 6") bound in original publisher's wrappers with black lettering to spine. Publications in Anthropology number three. First edition.

Diné Bahaneʼ (Navajo: "Story of the People"), the Navajo creation myth, describes the prehistoric emergence of the Navajo, and centers on the area known as the Dinétah, the traditional homeland of the Navajo. This story forms the basis for the traditional Navajo way of life. The basic outline of Diné Bahaneʼ begins with the Niłchʼi Diyin (Holy Wind) being created, the mists of lights which arose through the darkness to animate and bring purpose to the four Diyin Dineʼé (Holy People), supernatural and sacred in the different three lower worlds. All these things were spiritually created in the time before the Earth existed and the physical aspect of humans did not exist yet, but the spiritual did. The First or Dark World was small and centered on an island floating in the middle of four seas. The inhabitants of the first world were the four Diyin Dineʼé, the two Coyotes, the four rulers of the four seas, mist beings and various insect and bat people, the latter being the Air-Spirit People. The supernatural beings First Woman and First Man came into existence here and met for the first time after seeing each other's fire. The various beings started fighting with one another and departed by flying out an opening in the east. They journeyed to the Second or Blue World, Niʼ Hodootłʼizh, which was inhabited by various blue-gray furred mammals and various birds, including blue swallows. The beings from the First World offended Swallow Chief, Táshchózhii, and they were asked to leave. First Man created a wand of jet and other materials to allow the people to walk upon it up into the next world through an opening in the south. In the Third or Yellow World, Niʼ Hałtsooí, there were two rivers that formed a cross and the Sacred Mountains but there was still no sun. More animal people lived here too. This time it was not discord among the people that drove them away but a great flood caused by Tééhoołtsódii when Coyote stole her two children. When the people arrived in the Fourth or White World, Niʼ Hodisxǫs, it was covered in water and there were monsters (naayééʼ) living here. The Sacred Mountains were re-formed from soil taken from the original mountains in the Second World. First Man, First Woman, and the Holy People created the sun, moon, seasons, and stars. It was here that true death came into existence via Coyote tossing a stone into a lake and declaring that if it sank then the dead would go back to the previous world. The first human born in the Fourth World is Asdzą́ą́ Nádleehé who, in turn, gives birth to the Hero Twins called Naayééʼ Neizghání and Tóbájíshchíní. The twins have many adventures in which they helped to rid the world of various monsters. Multiple batches of modern humans were created a number of times in the Fourth World and the Diyin Dineʼé gave them ceremonies which are still practiced today.

Condition:

Corners and heal bumped else a very good copy.


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