Materials and Colors for Sand Painting

Published on May 7, 2013 by Casey

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Navajo Sand Painting
Navajo Sand Painting

Materials used for a Sand Painting

Various materials are used in the art of sand painting. Sand painting is the art of pouring colored sands, powdered or ground pigments from minerals or crystals, and pigments from other natural stones and rocks on to a base of smooth sand to make a sand painting. Occasionally other materials were used such as roots, cornmeal and flower pollen. These materials were used with charcoal to create a variety of colors. The colors of the sands was extremely important in creating sand paintings.

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Colors used for a Sand Painting

The design for a sand painting is created using five sacred colors of sand. Each of the colors used in Sand Paintings have a specific meaning and each color represents a physical direction. The Navajo tribe believe that the colors yellow, blue, white, and black were of great significance as they represent four sacred mountains and the four cardinal directions.

Blue: The blue mountains brought the dawn and represented the South

Yellow: The yellow mountains represented twilight and the West

Black: The black mountains brought the night and represented the North

White: When the white mountains rose it was day and represented the East

Red: The color red was also used that represented the sunshine and the Spiritual life

Colors used for a Sand Painting – Creating the Colors

Colored sands were used to create a sand painting. Common sand was worked, or mixed, with various stones and rocks to create the desired colors for the sand paintings:

Blue sands: Criscola is a rich blue stone with deep green flecks and used for creating blue sands

Yellow sands: Sandstone is a rock consisting of sand or quartz grains cemented together and typically red, yellow or brown in color and predominantly used to creating yellow sands

Black sands: Magnetite is black iron oxide containing tiny black, metallic crystals and this, or charcoal, is used for creating black sands

White sands: Gypsum is a very soft, white stone, made of calcium sulphate, and used for creating white sands

Red sands: Sandstone of clay was used for red sands

The Medicine Man mixed the sands in order to create variations of colors for a sand painting.

Source: warpaths2peacepipes Unabridged
Based on the collective work of, © 2015 Native American Encyclopedia.
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