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Ritual Space - Navajo and Hopi


…Of earth, of sky    …we dwell between these dimensions... We are the physical link within this conceptual  `demarcation'



Social Organization and Physical Setting

The social structure of the Navajo tribe is based on a  clanship, matriarchal society.  The diagrams show variations of placesetting or patterns between Hopis Pueblos and the Navajos.   Navajos emphasize cardinal principles such as the facing a door the east.  This is also evident in Pueblo settlements however a clear concept of unique social hierarchy exists.  The Hopi Pueblo tends to be a collective cluster of massing forming a central space while the Navajo dwellings evolve into separate clusters with varying proximities to extended families.  This organization is the result of clanship 'bridging' and perhaps defining a ritual connection to the rising morning sun. (east entry)


Belief System (ritual movement)







Concept of Time (Physical Form)






The seasons are very important to the Navajo.  Ceremonies, stories, planting, and the physical orientation of the hogan are all dependent on the sun's position.  The principle concept of time is the rising of the sun.  To compliment our daily festivities, we acknowledge the emerging of the sun by offering morning prayer and also letting our traditional dwelling open up to this setting.  






The area of the physical mass of dwellings is defined by the position of the sun during the summer and the winter.  During the summer, shade is preferred and during the winter season, maximum amount of sun is desirable.



copyright 2003 - Richard K. Begay Jr.