prayer plumes

Encyclopedia Article


Prayer plumes are feathers that are attached to prayer sticks for a variety of rituals, ceremonies, and devotions specific to a number of pueblo and Southwestern tribes, including the Zuni and Hopi. These feathers are usually fastened with cotton string to a short stick, ranging between 6- and 12-inches in length, that is also painted with very specific patterns and colors depending upon the ritual or prayer being performed. The prayer sticks, decorated with their prayer plumes, can be placed to mark a sacred site, or are left as offerings and signs of appeasement. Sometimes, the term "prayer plume" is used interchangeably with the term "prayer stick" and its Hopi translation, "paho."

Photo Credit: 

Laguna Pueblo (Ka'waika) prayer sticks with plume, late 19th century. Brooklyn Museum, Purchased with funds given by Herman Stutzer, 10.229.16a-b is licensed under CC BY.

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