[Previous] [Next] [Top]

Sun-circle beaker, Cahokia site.

Shell gorget with spider and cross-in-a-circle.

The cross-in-a-circle may signify both the importance of the sun and four cardinal directions. The ends of the four cardinal directions at the horizon are taken to represent the place where the upper world is tethered to the earth (SCTY). The circle itself may represent the earth.

Natchez chief (Great Sun) carried on square litter,
drawing by LePage DuPratz 1758.

Gorget with litter motif, woodpecker heads, circle and cross motif, and sun-rays, Holmes 1883.

The perpendicular arrangement of four logs with a fire burning at their intersection likely reflects the importance of sacred fire held in temples throughout the southeast by historic Native Americans. The fire may be symbolic of the sun and its importance in Mississippian world view. As such, its meaning may be related to the cross-in-a-circle motif. Artistic designs showing poles arranged to form a square are clearly symbolic of the chief's litter on which he was carried by his attendants.

[Previous] [Next] [Top]