According to legend, the Navajo Indians learned art from their gods. The gods painted lasting pictures on buckskin, but they told the Navajos to make sand-paintings and destroy them as soon as they were used. Art is magic, the gods explained, and magic for mortals is a sometime thing.

The sand-painting on this page is one of scores that Navajo medicine men know by heart and create (and destroy) within a day. It is an integral part of the Navajo Night Chant, a nine-day rite which takes place soon after autumn's first frost. Its purpose...

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