Dream catchers and mandellas have become commonplace objects in the United States as decorative wall hangings which add a Southwestern flair to any home. They can also be seen hanging from the rearview mirror of many cars. But to the Native American, these two craft items have a much deeper meaning.
The legend of the dream catcher began as part of Ojibwe or Chippewa culture. They believe that the dreams we have are messages sent by sacred spirits. Our bad dreams get caught in the web and the first light of day dissolves them. Good dreams are allowed through the web’s hole and then slide down the feathers to reach the dreamer.
The dream catcher is constructed of different items which each have a special meaning. The hoop represents unity and the circle of life. The center bead symbolizes the spider in the web. Other beads, attached around the web made of sinew, represent the good dreams caught up in the web that eventually come true. Feathers, depending on their origin, can connote strength or wisdom. To evoke the meaning of the four directions, four gemstones can be strategically placed in the web.
Dream catchers can be purchased already constructed in a multitude of sizes, colors, and designs. The more meaningful way to enjoy this sacred Native American legend is to make one yourself. Popular kits are available that include everything you need to make a beautiful dream catcher: a metal hoop, imitation sinew, flint arrowhead, beads, leather lacing, and feathers. Once completed, the dream catcher can be hung on the wall, hung from your car’s rearview mirror, or suspended from your child’s crib.
The mandella is another Native American Indian work of art that has become popular to those who wish to add the feel of the Southwest to their homes. Like the dream catcher, the mandella means much more to the Native American than just a wall hanging. They are derived from the shield of the Plains Indians which not only were used as defensive weapons during warfare, but also provided protection against evil spirits. Tribal members would construct these shields during ceremonies and design them based upon their dreams and visions. The mandella was hung in every tipi to ward off antagonists and provide a peaceful atmosphere.
Today’s mandellas are beautiful works of art that will enhance the look of any home or office. Like the dream catcher, mandellas can be purchased readymade, or obtained in kit form to assemble yourself. Either way, the mandella will include a metal ring, leather lacing, animal fur pieces, beads, feathers, and domestic wool top. Since the beads, feathers, and wool come in a myriad of color choices, the finished mandella can be customized to everyone’s taste.
At you can purchase finished dream catchers and mandellas as well as kits to make them yourself. You can even customize your project by purchasing each component individually!