Spider Rock was formed over 230 million years ago, but is still being completed. This 800 foot red sandstone monolith is located in Canyon de Chelly National Park. The layered rock was formed by sand that blew and was compressed and for centuries the Dine built and lived in caves above the canyon as protection from enemies and floods.
Guardian of Spider Rock
By Mark Silversmith, Navajo
Mark Silversmith Gallery
Spider Rock is the home of Spider Woman and here is how that came to be. When the Dine came into this fourth world from the previous third world, monsters were here and killed many people. Spider Woman used her supernatural powers to send Monster-Slayer and Child-Born-Of-Water in a search for their father, Sun-God, who showed them how to destroy the monsters. Monster-Slayer also has a role in the story of Tse'Bit'Ai, which means "rock with wings." The Anglo word is Shiprock.
Spider Woman is now highly honored as a deity among the Dine, and she chose the top of Spider Rock as her home.
She has two important roles in the Navajo stories; one as the teacher of weaving. Her husband, Spider Man, made the first loom, using sky and earth cords for the cross poles, sun rays for the warp sticks, rock crystal and sheet lightning for the healds, and a sun halo for the batten. The comb was made of a white shell.
Spider woman's other function in Dine society is to enforce obedience in children. They are told that if they do not behave Spider Woman will carry them away to be eaten. The top of Spider Rock is supposed to be white because of the bones of children.