Five Directional Series, 2000, Peggy Black, ET513.51-55
Photo: Kirstin Roper, © NHMU

Color Symbolism

White blue, yellow, and black are deeply important colors in Diné (Navajo) culture, spirituality, and art. They represent the four cardinal directions and are directly linked the four sacred mountains that surround Dinétah (the Diné homeland). White is the east and represents the color of dawn and Sis Naajiní (White Shell Mountain), or Mt. Blanca. Blue is the south and represents the sky and Tsoodził (Blue Bead Mountain), or Mount Taylor. Yellow is the west and represents pollen and Dook’o’oosłííd (Abalone Shell Mountain), or the San Francisco Peaks. Black is the north and represents protection and Dibé Nitsaa (Obsidian Mountain), or Mount Hesperus. These four colors and the stones/shells that represent them, have myriad meanings and symbolize much of Diné cosmology. Used in sand paintings, weaving, basketmaking and other art forms these colors connect the past, present, and future and provide a means to communicate cultural traditions across generations.