Native American Symbols

Many of the Native American symbols that are used in their art and craft characterize a particular idea or are a form of cultural expression. All artists and craftsmen from various tribes like Navajo, Pueblo, Hopi, and Zuni are known to use them liberally on pottery, hide and sand paintings, clothing and other works of art. Mentioned below is a list of some of the Native American symbols which are commonly used.

Some symbols represent the natural forces of the earth. The Morning Star or Venus is considered as sacred and given great honor. The Indians of the Plains and the Great Basin regarded it as a symbol of courage and purity. The sun portrays life and is associated with growth and everything good. Many of the sun symbols are also seen with rays signifying the four directions. The Zia, named after Zia Pueblo which is also another representation of the sun, symbolizes recurrence of life. The symbol, “Life’s Choices” is a popular design displayed through a man known as “U’ki’ut’l” in the maze. It symbolizes life’s various cycles and countless emotions that a man goes through. It was commonly used by the Hopi silversmiths.

Other symbols associated with the spirits include the Navajo Yeii spirit viewed as a mediator between god and man. He is considered to have control over all the natural elements like sun, rain, wind, water, day and night. The Kokopelli is a very popular Indian fertility symbol, also known as the water sprinkler and the seed bringer. He is often honored as a kachina doll. Another symbol is that of the Twins portrayed in creation stories. They are usually displayed as boys or small men who fight for their people against all odd s like famine, drought and enemies . They represent the fact that everything in life exists in a balance, for instance, male and female or good and evil. The symbol of hand stands for a man’s efforts and his accomplishments.

Animals like frogs depict renewal and fertility. The bear is considered as a protector and is associated with strength and leadership. The horned lizard implies perseverance and is considered to be a guardian of secrets. The turtle again stands for strength, fertility, perseverance and long life since it is considered to be able to defy death. The coyote symbol is often looked upon as a bad omen.

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