ghost hole

Encyclopedia Article


According to the Navajo belief system, which involves strict taboos regarding death, if a person dies inside a dwelling place rather than outside in an open space, the structure becomes contaminated and must be abandoned. When someone dies inside a hogan, it is also believed that their spirit (or chindi) may get trapped within the walls of the house. In order to release the chindi, a hole is created in the northern wall of the hogan. After the ghost hole (also known as the corpse hole) is punched in the northern wall, the body of the dead may then be taken out of the structure to be buried or left in the hogan if the ground is too frozen to dig a grave. The hogan is then rendered uninhabitable, and is either left to decay, or is burned down. If the hogan is left abandoned, all openings other than the corpse hole are closed in order to warn others that the dwelling has been contaminated by death.

Published Works: