Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Not all coup was achieved by touch. A warrior who killed a combatant hand-to-hand, earned the right to display a painted red hand upon his clothing or horse. Anyone rescuing a friend from battle earned a painted cross on his clothing, and to have ridden the friend upon one's mount may have earned dual crosses to display. Stripes on leggings also indicated coup status, such as red vertical signified someone who had been wounded. Notched feathers had significance as did the number of horse hooves painted on someone's clothing. Stolen mounts were not only a way to garner status, but horses were considered valuable assets in bartering as well as determining one's status in the tribe.
The number four plays an important role in the rituals and beliefs of the Lakota people: Four classes of Gods (superior, associate subordinate, spirits), four elements (sun, moon, sky, stars,) four direction, West, North, East and South,) four times (day, night, month and year,) four parts to all plants (root, stem, leaves, fruit,) four classes of animals (crawling, flying, four-legged, two-legged,) and four phases of life (infancy, childhood, maturity, and old age.)
As important as the four, also the "round" symbolized the earth, the sun, the moon, and the sky. Likewise, the winds circled the earth, the round bodies of animals and plant stems. The tepee was built in a circular pattern, and the contents arranged likewise. As with warrior status, the walls inside and out bore the achievements of the lodge dweller. The historical legacy of a family was often displayed in drawings for all to witness.
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