The Hand Symbol in Native American Art

Horse Fetish by Carol Martinez, Zuni

Horse Fetish by Carol Martinez, Zuni

The Hand

In Native American art, the hand usually represents the presence of man. From the earliest hand imprints on cave walls, the hand depicts a man’s work, achievements and his personal history.

When a hand had a swirl in the middle of it, that is said to be the “eye in hand” and represents a mystic, or all-seeing, hand, the presence of the Great Spirit in man.

Mystic Hand Pendant

Mystic Hand Pendant

A Native American’s horse was highly honored and often covered in symbols for various purposes. This would vary from tribe to tribe but hand prints were often used in various positions on a horse to mean different things.

FH427-fishrock-martinez-1

The most prized handprint was when preparing for battle, if it was a kill-or-be-killed mission, an upside-down hand would be placed on the warrior’s horse.

If a horse knocked down an enemy, right and left hand prints were put on the horse’s chest.

The Pat Hand Print was the left hand pressed onto the horse’s right hindquarters. It was put on a horse who had returned from a dangerous mission with his master unharmed.

Horse Fetish by Carol Martinez, Zuni

Horse Fetish by Carol Martinez, Zuni

Paula

EH Hallmark on a Horse Pin

Hi Paula,

I recently purchased a silver horse pin at a gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona. The pin was of a running Appaloosa horse. The jagged mane and tail are shiny while the body is textured. There are seven shiny dots on the horses rump signifying it being an appaloosa and a raised dot for the eye. It’s hard to make out the hallmark, but it looks like a cursive EH. Thanks for helping me identify the artist. Susan

Here is a picture of the horse. I had the pin made into a pendant. The hallmark is too small to photo, but it is located on the backside -upper mane. Thanks Paula!!!

IMG_9847Hi Susan,

Great idea to make that great little horse pin into a pendant.

The artist is Ervin Hoskie, Navajo. We’ve had several of his pins in our store in the past but not lately.

frolicky-app hopalongPaula

To view our full list of article or to ask a jewelry question, follow the instructions here
http://www.horsekeeping.com/native-american-jewelry-artifacts.htm

If you are selling your jewelry, read this
http://www.horsekeeping.com/jewelry/pawn-buying.htm

Visit our pawn shop for your research and shopping
http://www.horsekeeping.com/jewelry/pawn/pawnshop-vin.htm

rearingpaint-1

Lee Charley, Navajo

What do I have to do to break in my new catlinite pipe?

Hi Paula,

Really stupid question, but is there any pre-treatment, heating or whatever to do to the pipe bowl prior to smoking it? Just a little nervous of cracking the bowl with the heat from the tobacco and the kinnikinnick burning in there.

Kind regards

Phil

CEP65-horse-1Hi Phil,

Nothing is needed for breaking in the pipe. Catlinite (pipestone) is the perfect material to make pipes out of. It can be smoked quite a bit but still be just a bit warm on the outside. That’s because pipestone is a clay and it porous so it cools quick and has give. So it won’t break. It is natural pipe material and that is why it has been used for many many years by Lakota and other pipe makers.

Paula

How should I carry my new pipe ?

Hello Paula,

I had a dream encounter with a fierce red horse that the pipe closely resembles, so I was stunned when I found the horse effigy pipe on your website and purchased it.  Do you have any suggestions for a case I can carry the pipe and the 12″ stem in that would protect it?  Thanks again, Jan

Catlinite Horse Effigy Pipe

12" ash pipe stem

There is an article on this blog and our website The Sacred Pipe which describes use and storage of a pipe. Traditionally, once a pipe has been smoked and blessed, the pipe bowl is only joined to the stem for smoking. At all other times the bowl and stem are stored separately.

So for carrying your pipe, you can choose a bag big enough for your pipe bowl and smoking mixture and let the stem poke out the top of the bag. Some tie the stem along side the bag. There are also very long bags made just to carry the stem separately. It is all a matter of personal preference.

Here are some bags you might wish to consider for your pipe bowl.

Native American Healing, Ceremonial and Dance Rattles

NATIVE AMERICAN CEREMONIAL AND DANCE RATTLES

©  2010 Cherry Hill

Native American rattles have been and are used for many purposes including healing and other medicine uses, dancing for ceremony and celebration, commemorating birth and more. To First Nations people, shakers or rattles represent rain (for prayers of abundance and prosperity) and tears, especially those of emotional release. Tears of joy signifying when the mind, body, soul and spirit connect. Ceremonially, rattles are used in cleansing and purifying, spiritual guidance work, celebration and in thanks and respect to Ancestral Spirits.

Dragonfly Spirit Gourd Rattle by Cynthia Whitehawk, Apache

 

Rattles can be made of many materials including deer and elk hooves, rawhide, turtle shells, gourds, wood, buffalo parts (horn, hump bone, scrotum) bones, horns and antlers of all kinds, leather (cowhide, buckskin, elkskin).

Wolf Spirit Gourd Rattle by Apache Cynthia Whitehawk

 

The rattling items are either inside or outside. Rattles such as gourds might have small items inside such as beans, corn, small stones, or even the seeds native to the gourd itself.

Raven Spirit Gourd Rattle by Apache Cynthia Whitehawk

Rattles with external sound makers are adorned with pieces of metal, tinkle cones, bells, beads and more.

Lakota Horse Spirit Dance Rattle by Alan Monroe, Oglala Lakota

 

Generally, medicine rattles are made entirely of natural materials and the sound is more muted. Dance rattles are made of almost any materials, natural and otherwise. In fact, unusual items such as pieces of scrap metal, coins and other resonating materials are used to create a loud, crisp sound. Dance rattles are often made like a coup stick, using bone or wood with a handle on the end.

Horse Spirit Dance Rattle by Alan Monroe, Oglala Lakota

 

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Native American Pipes – The Sacred Pipe

The Sacred Pipe
©  2010 Horsekeeping   © Copyright Information

The pipe figures into Native American culture in many ways and for each culture there are different uses and traditions. The intent of this article is not to provide a comprehensive explanation of the sacred significance of the pipe in Native American cultures, but to just offer a brief idea of how pipes have been and are used by Native Americans.

On first contact with Native Americans, the French used the word “calumet” [from the Latin “calamus”, for reed] to refer to the sacred pipe. Early pipes of the Miami and Illinois were hollow canes decorated with feathers.

The Lakota sacred pipe, the chanunpa, is an important part of healing ceremonies conducted by medicine men. Once a pipe is made, it must be blessed in a special ceremony that connects it to the original sacred pipe that was brought to the Lakota by the White Buffalo Calf Woman. This is to ensure that a good spirit resides in the pipe.

Lakota Catlinite T Pipe

The Sacred Calf Pipe bundle is the most sacred object of the Sioux. It was brought to them by a messenger (White Buffalo Calf Woman) from wakan tanka (the holy being, the great mystery, the source of all healing).

The sacred pipe of the Osage is the Niniba.

Pipes currently in use by the Plains Indians are made of a catlinite bowl and a separate wooden stem, usually made of alder or ash.

Ash Pipe Stem

The bowl can be a simple L shape or a T shape or can be a carving of an effigy or other symbol.

Catlinite L Shaped Bowl

The primary source of Catlinite is in Minnesota along Pipestone Creek which is a tributary of the Big Sioux River. This area under control of the US National Park Service is now named Pipestone National Monument. Native Americans can apply for a permit to quarry catlinite there. Catlinite is named for the New York artist George Catlin (1796-1872), who was the first white person to visit the Minnesota quarry from which it was obtained.

Catlinite, a very deep red stone, is symbolic of blood of the ancient people and the buffalo.

Catlinite Double Eagle Pipe by Alan Monroe, Oglala Lakota

Although the words catlinite and pipestone are often used interchangeably, there can be a great difference in the two stones. Catlinite, with its dark red color and exceptional ability to be carved, is only found in the Minnesota mine. Pipestone found elsewhere in the US and the world has a different composition, is often a pale terra cotta color, and cannot be carved like catlinite.

Using a Pipe
©  2010 Horsekeeping   © Copyright Information

The bowl and stem are separated and carried along with a tamper, the smoking mixture and other smoking accessories in a bag or pouch.

Each person has their own ritual about handing and smoking their pipe. It usually starts by smudging (purifying) the pipe and all of its parts and accessories in the smoke of sage, sweet grass, pine or cedar.

Once the pipe has been purified, the stem is connected to the bowl, the stem being viewed as male and the bowl as female.

Important – How to insert the stem into the pipe.

CAUTION – Never roughly jam the stem insert into the pipe hole. If you force the insert into the barrel, you could break the pipe.

Instead. . .
Moisten the insert with your lips. Insert the stem into the pipe barrel and gently give it ¼ turn. This will give the stem a good hold on the inside of the barrel. The slight moisture will swell the stem insert slightly which results in a snug fit.

If you treat a pipe with respect, it will last a long time.

A certain number of pinches of the smoking mixture are added to the bowl in ceremony. Each pinch is smudged before loading in the bowl. (Read about smudging.)

The smoking of the pipe generally consists of puffing on it, not inhaling it. It is viewed as a means of sending one’s prayers to the Great Spirit and making a connection between the earthly world and the spiritual world.

As the pipe is passed, one holds the pipe in the left hand while using the right hand to wave the smoke over the top of one’s own head as a blessing. When speaking to the Great Spirit, often the stem of the pipe is pointed toward the sky.

In the hands of a medicine man, his sacred pipe is full of mysterious power and able to accomplish many things for the health, safety and well-being of his people.

When smoking is finished, the pipe is again treated with great respect as the bowl is cleaned, the stem is detached from the bowl, the pipe is blessed and stored in its special bundle or pouch.

Catlinite Horse Effigy Pipe by Alan Monroe, Oglala Lakota

Storing a Pipe
©  2010 Horsekeeping   © Copyright Information

According to Native American tradition, once a pipe has been smoked and blessed the first time, the bowl and stem of the pipe should only be joined for smoking. When they are joined, during smoking, the spirit of the pipe is released. After the ceremony, the bowl should be separated from the stem and they should be stored that way. If you store or display a pipe with the stem and bowl connected, the spirit is free to roam.

Raven Effigy Catlinite Pipe by Alan Monroe, Oglala Lakota

The Offering Pipe
©  2010 Horsekeeping   © Copyright Information

The Offering Pipe is a small scale, less expensive version of the Sacred Pipe and is meant to be used as an offering or give-away.

Catlinite Offering Pipe by Alan Monroe, Oglala Lakota

In many cultures, offerings are left at sacred sites and as a gift to the Spirits. In Native American culture, offerings might be left each time someone passes a certain way or takes water from a spring or stones from a mine. An offering can also be left for a person (alive or dead) or for a Spirit as a symbol of thanks and respect. The offering might be tobacco, food, money, flowers, craftwork or special objects. When a person goes on a Vision Quest the pipe that he smoked during that time would be one of the greatest offerings he could make to the Spirits. The Offering Pipe by Alan Monroe is perfect for such uses. When left as an offering, the pipe is separated from the stem and traditionally wrapped in red cloth which represents the red road or the good path. The bundle can be tucked in a rock crevice or a tree at the appropriate location.

A Give-Away Pipe also has tradition in Native American culture. When someone dies, there is a ceremony similar to a wake where people come to pay respects to the departed. Sometimes an Offering Pipe is placed in the casket for burial with the deceased. (See above.) Also, the family passes out gifts to family and friends at this time as a symbol of the tradition of giving away some of the deceased’s belongings. This is where a Give-Away pipe might be used.

A year after the person has passed, a feast is held in the person’s honor and the rest of the person’s belongings are given away. This is another instance where a Give-Away pipe would be suitable to exchange between family and friends of the deceased.

Choosing a Pipe
©  2010 Horsekeeping   © Copyright Information

If you are looking for an Offering Pipe or Give-Away Pipe, see above.

For a personal pipe, generally the L-shaped bowls are thought to be for a woman, a single man or for an everyday smoking pipe.

The T-shaped bowls are for a man or a family pipe. The nose of the pipe represents a man coming of age.

The animal effigy pipes are for those who have aligned with a particular animal spirit.

Horse Effigy Pipe from Catlinite by Alan Monroe, Oglala Lakota

The pipes we sell at Horsekeeping.com are new pipes. They have not been smoked or blessed.

Thank you to Alan Monroe, fourth generation Oglala Lakota pipe maker from South Dakota, for his amazing high quality pipes and works of art and for some of the information used in this article.

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Wanted – Carson Blackgoat Horse Cuff Bracelet

Paula, please I need a Horse Cuff bracelet made by Carson, I already have the wolves one, so I need the horse now to match it, but I need it to be specifically made on the same exactly shape as the photo I am about to attach with this email. cs I bought one from someone else and it wasn’t exactly the way it showed in the photo.
Do you send it to Australia?? Can I pay via paypal?? Can he make it for me??? I do not mind how long it will take?? How much it will cost??
So Paula i want the 4 horses to be put on this same shape bracelet on the attach, cs this one 1 here is more rounded design and I like it better, and also the engravings to be exactly the same.
Thanks and I hope you can help me.
Leandro
Hi Leandro,
The bracelet you have was probably stamped “CARSON B.” which is the hallmark for Navajo artist Carson Blackgoat.
Although we have never carried that bracelet by Carson Blackgoat, I have seen them. The wolf group is a cast piece which is attached to the front of the wide cuff bracelet. The stamping on the edges of the bracelet differs between the bracelets but the wolf group is always exactly the same since it is a cast element.
Now as far as the horse group, there is a cast piece that Navajo artists use of four horses galloping. Below are some examples of that horse herd as used by two different artists. Is this the group of four horses you were thinking of?
Running Horse piece on belt buckle
Running Horse piece on wire bracelet
So since you say you want the horse bracelet to be exactly like the wolf one you have and since these groups of animals are quite different, I wanted to make sure you have seen the horse group to see if that is what you are looking for.
When you say you want it made on the same exact shape as the wolf bracelet, are you referring to the scalloped edges of the cuff? And you want the same exact stamping on the scallops?
Since Navajo jewelry is hand-made, no two pieces are exactly alike so the stamping is different on every Carson bracelet I’ve seen. But the central portion with the cast piece (animal group) is always exactly the same.
Finally, bracelet fit is very important for a wide cuff like this. Since you already have one that fits, measure those dimensions in inches and have that on hand as you shop. I’d suggest using a soft cloth tape measure and measure the inside circumference from end to end and the length of the gap. Have these two measurements as separate figures and also added together as total circumference as some sellers list them that way. Also measure the width.
We don’t take custom orders. Here’s why. We make several buying trips each year and we choose items we feel would be good for our web store. The Native American artists seem to prefer to deal in person, not through the mail or by phone. They purchase their materials (silver, stone), then make their beautiful creations, then take them to a market somewhere to sell. They hope for a quick turnaround for their investment so they are not really set up to take a single order for a specific item and then ship it through the mail.
So your best bet is to keep an eye on our NEW page and maybe on one of our next shopping trips, I’ll see a bracelet like you want.
Best of luck on  your search !

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