medicine bag

Encyclopedia Article


A small pouch, usually made of deer skin, which contains a few items that have totemic, spiritual, or ceremonial value. These items can consist of small objects such as special rocks, animal parts, or carved amulets, in addition to a small quantity of sacred pollen, which is commonly used in a variety of prayers and rituals. Believed to provide protection and healing, a medicine bag is usually worn next to the skin, either on a string around the neck or under a waist belt.

The Navajo word for medicine bag is jish, which applies to both the small bag and its contents.

Photo Credit: 

"Navajo medicine pouch," (1996_46_11). Farmington Museum, Farmington, New Mexico. All rights reserved. Use with permission only.

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