Navajo Hair Bun
In the early days of the world, there were four elements that were created. They were water, wind, pollen, and light. It was during this time that the first pair of spirits made their appearance in the world in an upright manner.
These spirits helped to form life on the planet’s surface, which allowed it to reproduce. In time, at a place that is called Háyoolkáál Bee Hooghan, man was created.
Dawn and darkness were placed on man’s feet. He was dressed in white coverings to cover his nakedness. Rain clouds helped to form his hair. Then sunlight made his hair string to tie the hair at the nape of the neck.
As man emerged from this early world into the White World, he took the hair tie and formed a tsiiyéél, a hair bun, because he wished to gather his plans and thoughts. This would allow him to be focused as he worked to resolve issues in this new place.
The Tsiiyéél and Navajo Identity
The traditional hair bun is an essential component of life. It is comparable to the relevance of eagle feathers or tobacco because it represents the identity of each person, their intellect, and even their way of life.
It is a hair style worn by men and women. Each yarn strand used to form the bun is sacred and purposeful. The tsiiyéél is as much a spiritual practice, or a form of prayer, as it is a way to put one’s hair up.
To create such a beautiful (nizhóní) outcome, it is necessary to care for the hair in specific ways. The washing of the hair, adorning it, and how one chooses to dress with it all becomes part of an individual expression of belonging to the entire Navajo people.
It would be fair to say that, for many, one’s connection with their hair is a connection to the memory of creation. It allows one to connect to that first man, who felt the need to tie up his hair as a way to gather his thoughts.
When someone does so now, the same is true. It is also a way to celebrate family heritage, connect with the Spirits, and find one’s own story through the journey of life.