There was a strong relationship between art and religion in Native American culture. The God’s eye is one of the classic examples of this fusion. This was the name of a special yarn weaving that was developed by the Native Americans. The God’s eye was considered to be an object of spiritual magic.
This unique object is known as Ojo de Dios in their local language. As such the object served multifold purposes as at one end it was a ritual tool whereas on the other it was considered to be a magical object. It was also a potent cultural symbol popularly used as a weaving motif with spiritual associations.
Different tribes made use of the God’s eye in different ways. For example the Huichol people, dwellers of northwestern Mexico, took the God’s eye as a symbol for the power of sight and comprehension of the unseen. For them it was a symbol of insight into the mystery of life. The design with its four points also represented earth, air, fire and water as the four natural elements.
The God’s Eye Design
In terms of weaving the God’s eye can take on a complex or simple structure. It is commonly made across two sticks, which can be more in some cases. The Huichol tribe of Jalisco is credited as being the innovator of this design. In their language the design is referred to as the Sikuli the meaning of which is mentioned above.
The Natives had a strong tradition with the God’s eye which was followed very strictly. According to the tradition when a baby was born to the father he would weave the central eye of the design. An eye would be added to the design every year until the baby reached the age of five. This was the original cross design of the God’s eye which is very rare to find in today’s times. Although you will be able to find many replicas in the market that have been specially produced for tourists, however they lack the traditional value.
Christian Acculturation of the God’s Eye
With the advent of Christianity in the Americas the traditions associated with the God’s eye began to undergo changes. The Christians started to take the symbols as a devotional process art. The symbol now stood for the binding of a spiritual covenant with God. Binding the God’s eye was a means of seeking God’s protection at all times.
Other beliefs were also associated with the God’s eye including its powers to attract health, longevity, auspiciousness and fortune. Soon enough the God’s eye became a physical representation of prayer.
This is a classic example of the acculturation of an already existing ritual tool of a certain culture by another one from outside. However this process occurred all too naturally and was not a means of deserting the Native American art of the God’s eye.