Beloved Ones

Encyclopedia Article


Hillerman alternates the definition of "Beloved Ones" and sometimes it is a way of referring to ancestors and sometimes to the gods of the Zuni creation story. In Zuni belief, ancestors are supposed to serve as mediators between the mortals and the gods. The Beloved Ones, or ancestors, provide protection, spiritual comfort, guidance and sustenance. The cult of the ancestors is invoked in all ceremonies.

Masks mediate between the living beloved and the beloved ancestors. The masks are carefully guarded, given offerings of food every day, and are inaccessible to children. Masks are sacred possessions that bless the house and can channel the energy and joy of the dead beloved ancestors to the living beloved ones, assauging loneliness.

In The Boy Who Made Dragonfly, "Beloved Ones" is initially used as a reference to the "Beloved Two" or "Beloved Twins." When Sun-Father impregnates the Earth Mother with a cup of foam, the Beloved Two are born. As the twin brothers of light, Úanam Achi Píahkoa and Úanam Yáluna are the elder and younger, the right and the left, the Beloved Preceder and the Beloved Follower. Braiding grasses for ladders, the twins aided the people in climbing out of the caves of the first, second and third worlds.

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