2011 Student Research Conference:
24th Annual Student Research Conference

The Number Four in Lakota Directional Symbolism
Stephanie E. Barry
Dr. Julia DeLancey, Dr.  Dan Mandell , Dr. Bonnie Mitchell, and Dr. Sara Orel, Faculty Mentors

This paper represents one facet of my research into some of the cultural ideals of the Lakota. These can be visualized and exemplified by the unity inherent in the Sacred Hoop symbol, which ties together the four directions and sacred colors in a circular image. Many scholars argue that art is always connected to spirituality because both play a similar role in human life. The visual culture of the Lakota cannot be understood without the connection to religious beliefs and practices. The Lakota have a regular system of organizing reality by grouping every aspect of life into fours. One important expression of this tendency is the people's relationship with the Four Winds, which factor into most rituals. After a comparison with a second numerical model, organization by groups of seven, this paper argues that the Sacred Hoop is best understood as a grouping of four with three extra elements implied.

Keywords: Lakota, Sacred Hoop, Numbers, Rituals

Topic(s):Art History

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 36-3
Location: OP 2121
Time: 3:15

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