Bearer of the Sun

Encyclopedia Article


In Navajo mythology there is a difference between the sun in the sky and the Bearer of the Sun, also known as Tsohanoai in navajo. The Bearer of the Sun is the holy being who carries the sun across the sky every day. He is symbolically represented as a blue disk with mouth eyes, and, occassionally, horns. Sometimes, however, he is represented in sand paintings as a person. He has an acknowledged wife, Changing Woman (Estsanatlehi), but much like Zeus in Greek mythology, Bearer of the Sun has relations with many other women, and as a result has many illegitimate children. The illegitimate children are only acknowledged as his own when they have completed a difficult task. In one such instance, Changing Woman’s children, the Hero Twins, are challenged to complete a series of tasks when they confront Bearer of the Sun at his house.

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"Chiricahua Sun Painting," photograph, Hubbard Museum of the American West, New Mexico Centennial Project (1990.01.1769). All rights reserved. Use with permission only.

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