View Full Version : Navajo Sand Paintings

Zig Bigfoot
01-23-2014, 11:59 PM
I have a couple of questions about how contemporary Navajo do sand paintings. All the data I've been able to find is decades out of date.

What is the typical size of a sand painting? Would 12 ft by 8 ft be out of line? Also, where are they drawn? Traditionally, it was in a hogan with a dirt floor. Is this still the case, or might they draw one in, say, a community center with a tile or concrete floor? Or might they use a storage shed (suitably emptied and cleaned out)?


King Neptune
01-24-2014, 12:14 AM
You might try emailing the address at the bottom of this page:

01-24-2014, 12:35 AM
I have lived in AZ for over 40 years, but I'm not Navajo.

My understanding, from anthro classes at UofA and reading Tony Hillerman novels, is that your size is way off.

Sand paintings were done for healing ceremonies and were done in the hogan of the sick person. This could be physical sickness or spiritual sickness. I don't think any hogans were big enough to have the floor space unused to do a painting that large.

Sometimes paintings are done for demonstration purposes in more public venues, but they are always deliberately changed from the 'real' design. The commercial sand paintings you can buy to hang on the wall all have deliberate errors.

The link provided by King Neptune would be a good starting point.


Zig Bigfoot
01-24-2014, 06:32 AM
I read a monograph from the late 1880's that I got from Project Gutenberg that I'm pretty sure referenced large paintings (the text that King Neptune linked to is actually from that monograph). Unfortunately, I lost it when I switched e-readers.

Well, I'll give navajoboy a try and hope he doesn't just write me off.

01-24-2014, 09:09 AM
You might contact the Heard Museum and/or the Museum of Northern Arizona.