The Four Directions

Moninne Hardie

Mankato, United States

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Artist's Description

The Four Directions was inspired by indiginous influence. I used the Morning star pattern and Medical Wheel in the center. The four sacred colors are used in the four directions. It’s rich in symbolism of the plains Indians. Native plains people were keen observers of the Morning Star (Venus) and representations of this star adorned animal skins used for tepee, shields, hide paintings, porcupine-quilled moccasins, leggings and clothing. With the traders’ introduction of beads, the star appeared in beaded form. This star pattern is still a favorite with Native Americans of today. The native plains people make quilts called “Star quilts” They are made with an eight-pointed star that fills most of the quilt top. Numerous small diamonds are skillfully pieced together to create these stars. Quilts quickly took on deep significance in the cultural practices of the people. In early times they replaced buffalo robes in wrapping the dead. They were and are given in sympathy to the family of one who has died. They are given at births. Quilts honor friends and loved ones. For the newly married couple, the star quilt is considered an essential gift, bestowing upon them recognition and respect. They are used as altar cloths in churches and are hung in schools for graduation ceremonies. They are placed atop sweat lodges. Often, young men wrap themselves in a quilt while awaiting a Vision on some secluded high place. Always, they are a focal point in the Give Away.
The medicine wheel is a scared symbol used by Plains tribes and others to represent all knowledge of the universe. The medicine wheel consists of a circle. A horizontal and vertical line are drawn through the circle’s center. The circle represents the sacred outer boundary of the Earth often referred to as the Sun Dance Circle or the Sacred Hoop. It represents the continuous pattern of ongoing life and death. The horizontal and vertical lines represent the sun and man’s sacred paths, respectively; the crossing of the two lines indicates the center of the Earth where one stands when praying.
The directions, as they are called upon in the medicine wheel, are often associated with sacred colors. There is no common expression for the color placement of the medicine wheel. It is found that the color placement will vary based on individual band customs. The power of the east is closely associated with the sun. It is there the sun rises to bring light and enlightenment to all creation. The path of the sun is from east to west. The Morning Star, which is the star of wisdom and new beginnings, comes from the east. The sacred color of the east is yellow. The sacred power of the south is connected with life after death and directs men as they walk toward that awe-inspiring place. Life begins in the south, and nourishment of every kind comes from there. The sacred color of the south is usually red. The power of the west is where the sun sets and the day comes to an end. It is this direction connected with the power of the rain and of the water, which is used to purify. The sacred color of the west is often black. Winter’s home is in the north. Its power promotes good health and growth. It is a challenging power, and it promotes endurance. The north is the home of the Calf Pipe Woman and the buffalo people. Its color is generally white. The Eagle feathers are a symbol for honor and prayers. Eagle represent strength, endurance and vision. They connect the us with the Creator.
The Four directions is one of my hand painted drums2004. Acrylic. Edited in Photoshop Elements 6 to brighten colors and Paint to add colors.

Sources:
Black Elk Speaks, John Neihardt, Pocket Books, 1972
Lakota Ritual and Belief, James Walker, University of Nebraska Press, 1980
Oglala Religion, William K. Powers, University of Nebraska Press, 1975
The Pipe And Christ, William Stolzman, SJ, Tipi Press, 1998
Sundancing At Rosebud and Pine Ridge, Thomas E. Mails, Graphic Publishing Co., 1978

Artwork Comments

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