Want to know more about the Circle of life in Native American art? Read our guide to discover what the circle of life meant to the Native Americans…
The circle of life, also known as the medicine wheel is a unique concept in Native American art. It is basically a physical translation of spiritual energy. There are many ways to describe the circle of life but in its essence it was meant to serve as a mirror to let Native Americans see what was going inside of them.
The circle of life has been a prominent feature on many traditional Native American works of art. It was also taken as a symbol of protection by the Natives. The Natives believe they could use the circle of life symbol to channelize the surrounding energies in a particular direction and communicate with the self on a more personal level.
Often featured on ceremonial art objects such as baskets, pottery and dance sticks the Natives would take assistance from the circle of life to gain an inner vision. This would help individuals identify their spiritual status and determine the areas that need development.
The Native Americans also believed that all human beings were connected in a circle. Hence it was also taken as a reflection of the true nature of life and the bigger picture within which all human beings are connected.
The Circle of Life Science
The circle of life had many different markings each having different symbolic meanings. East in the circle of life was painted red and represented success and triumph. West on the other hand was black and stood for death. North was painted blue and was suggestive of defeat and trouble whereas south was painted white and symbolized peace and happiness.
The circle of life had three additional sacred directions. Up above was painted yellow and down below was brown. The Center was green in color.
North in its blue color also represented the winter season. This was denoted as go-la in the local language. East represented the spring season denoted as gi-la-go-ge. Summer season was in the south and the west stood for autumn.
The circle of life also featured certain animals. Amongst the winged animals featured on the sacred symbol were the hummingbird, hawk and the owl. Other animals included the beaver, white buffalo, bear and the moose.
As mentioned above, the circle of life was a sacred symbol that meant to symbolize the fact that everything in nature seems to be round. This includes the sun, sky, moon and earth. The symbol was also believed to mark the edge of the world as well as the four winds that travel there. It also stood as the symbol of the year. In a more detailed manner it also served as a symbol for the division of time with the sky, night and moon being depicted in a circle.