corpse hole

Encyclopedia Article


Navajos have strict taboos regarding death, as it is believed that contact with the deceased can can place the living in contact with the roaming spirit of the dead, causing an imbalance in the living called ghost sickness. It is believed that if a person dies inside a structure, his or her spirit is trapped inside the structure, contaminating the structure and making it uninhabitable. A hole is created in the northern wall of the hogan to release the ghost, known as chindi in Navajo, from the structure. The hogan is then either left to decay or burned down. If the hogan is left abandoned, all openings other than the corpse hole are closed in order to warn others as to what has happened in the dwelling.

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