The Meaning of the Chunkey Symbol

Published on March 25, 2013 by Amy

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Chunkey Symbol
Chunkey Symbol

The Chunkey Symbol

Native American Indians were a deeply spiritual people and they communicated their history, thoughts, ideas and dreams from generation to generation through Symbols and Signs such as the Chunkey symbol. The origin of the Chunkey symbol derives from the ancient Mississippian culture of the Mound Builders of North America and were major elements in the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex of American prehistory (S.E.C.C.). Some Indian tribes including the Creek, Choctaw, Cherokee, Seminole and Chickasaw still retain some elements of the Mississippi culture. Their sacred rites, myths and symbols and are presumed to descend from the Mississippians.

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The Meaning of the Chunkey Symbol

The Chunkey symbol featured strongly in the Mississippian culture. The Mississippians were a highly competitive people and enjoyed the challenge of high stakes gambling and competition. Chunkey was the favorite game of the Mound Builders. The Chunkey symbol pictured at the top of the page depicts a player holding a game piece called a Chunkey stone. The player was dressed in an elaborate fashion and the ‘Forked Eye’ surround motif indicating their place on Earth between the Upperworld and the Underworld. The player is depicted in an unusual shaped hat which was only ever seen on chunkey players.

The Chunkey Symbol – Playing the Game

The game was played on flat, sand covered Chunkey courts that were 200 feet long. Chunkey was watched by huge crowds that sat on mound stairs. The spectators wagered on the game but the outcome of a Chunkey game could be deadly serious. It is believed that some Chunkey courts contained a 30-40 foot post on which the trophies of war, such as severed heads, were hung. Opposing teams from different regions played Chunkey and the result determined which leaders conquered other kingdoms. The winning players were like the sports stars of today and success brought them high esteem, wealth and a high social status. The game could be played by two players or a team. A disc-shaped game piece called a chunkey stone was rolled over the ground. Chunkey stones were 3 – 15 inches in diameter and made out of stone such as quartzite and basalt. Other players threw Spear or shot arrows to indicate where they thought the stone would stop rolling. Whichever player’s arrow or spear that landed closest to where the chunkey stone came to rest was the winner.

The Chunkey Symbol – Mississippian culture

The most ancient Native American Indian symbols, like the Chunkey symbol, came from the Mississippian culture which was established in 1000AD and continued to 1550AD onward. The Mississippian Native Americans were the last of the mound-building cultures of North America in the Midwestern, Eastern, and Southeastern United States. The Mississippian culture was based on warfare, which was represented by an array of emblems, motifs and symbols. The Mississippian culture warrior icons like the Chunkey symbol provides interesting history and ideas for tattoos that include cosmic imagery depicting animals, humans and mythical beasts. The Mississippian Native Americans practiced body painting, tattooing and piercing.

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