How Did the Cherokee Decorate Their Homes

The Cherokee tribe holds a significant place in Native American culture, with a rich history that spans centuries. One fascinating aspect of their cultural heritage is the way in which they decorated their homes. Cherokee home decorations were not merely aesthetic embellishments but served as profound reflections of their beliefs, traditions, and social status. This article delves into the world of Cherokee home decorations, shedding light on the symbolism, craftsmanship, and artistic expressions that adorned their living spaces.

The importance of home decorations in Cherokee culture cannot be overstated. For the Cherokee people, adorning their homes was a way to preserve and celebrate their heritage. Every decoration held meaning and significance, from the use of natural materials to the intricate designs woven into textiles and pottery. These adornments were more than just decorative elements; they conveyed stories, passed down traditions, and honored spiritual beliefs.

Nature played a vital role in Cherokee home decorations. Living in harmony with the environment was central to their way of life, so it comes as no surprise that natural materials were abundantly used in their creative expressions.

From woven baskets made with plant fibers to wall hangings crafted from vibrantly dyed herbs and roots, these creations showcased both their artistic talent and resourcefulness. The integration of natural materials into home decorations allowed the Cherokee people to harness nature’s beauty while staying true to their cultural values.

Through this exploration of Cherokee home decorations, we gain insight into not only their artistry but also the depth of their cultural heritage. Each element-basketry, pottery, textiles-tells its own story about the vibrant community that once thrived within these walls. It is through appreciating and learning from these traditions that we can continue to honor and celebrate the rich legacy left behind by the Cherokee people.

The Importance of Home Decorations in Cherokee Culture

The Cherokee people have a rich cultural heritage that is tightly intertwined with their traditional home decorations. The importance of these decorations cannot be overstated, as they serve as a reflection of the beliefs, traditions, and social status within Cherokee culture.

Preserving Heritage through Home Decorations

Decorating their homes was a way for the Cherokee to preserve and honor their rich heritage. Each decoration told a story and held symbolic meaning, encapsulating the essence of their culture. These decorative elements served as a visual representation of the values and beliefs that were passed down from generation to generation.

Social Significance

In addition to reflecting their cultural identity, home decorations also played an important role in conveying social status within the Cherokee community. Certain materials and designs were reserved for specific individuals or families of high standing. The intricate craftsmanship showcased in these detailed decorations demonstrated not only skill but also indicated wealth and importance within the tribe.

Natural Materials: A Foundation for Cherokee Home Decorations

Cherokee home decorations were rooted in the use of natural materials found abundantly in their surroundings. Bark, shells, clay, feathers, and plants were just some of the resources they utilized creatively. The connection between their environment and artistic expression is evident in every piece of Cherokee decoration.

Intricate Basketry: A Testimony of Cherokee Artistry

A prominent form of decoration seen throughout traditional Cherokee homes was intricate basketry. Basket weaving was not only functional but also served as an artistic expression. Different types of baskets were used for various purposes such as storage, harvesting crops, or even ceremonial occasions. The artistry exhibited in these baskets demonstrated the skill and creativity of Cherokee artisans.

Symbolism at its Finest: Cherokee Pottery

Another significant aspect of home decoration among the Cherokee was pottery. Pottery played an integral role in ceremonial practices as well as everyday life. The designs on Cherokee pottery often depicted symbols, motifs, and patterns that held deep cultural meaning. The intricate details of these creations reflected the artistic talents of the Cherokee people.

Harnessing Nature’s Beauty: Cherokee Wall Hangings and Rugs

Woven wall hangings and rugs adorned the walls and floors of Cherokee homes, adding beauty to their living spaces. These textiles showcased intricate patterns, vibrant colors, and symbolism, drawing inspiration from nature. Whether it was a depiction of animals or plants, these decorations demonstrated the Cherokee’s appreciation for the natural world around them.

Sacred Walls: Cherokee Wall Paintings and Murals

Cherokee homes showcased an array of wall paintings and murals, which held spiritual significance. These artistic expressions often depicted stories from their traditional folklore or conveyed spiritual beliefs. The vivid imagery beautifully blended storytelling with visual artistry.

Adorning the Hearth: Cherokee Fireplace Decorations

The hearth in a Cherokee home served as a central gathering point for family and community members. It was customary to adorn this area with decorative elements to create a warm and inviting atmosphere. Various items such as feathers, animal skins, or small sculptures were used to beautify the hearth space while also symbolizing unity and protection.

Woven Dreams: Cherokee Dreamcatchers and Wreaths

Dreamcatchers and wreaths held special meaning in Cherokee culture. Dreamcatchers were believed to protect against bad dreams by filtering out negative energies while allowing positive dreams to enter one’s sleep. Additionally, wreaths made from natural materials like flowers, leaves, or herbs were created to signify important occasions or events within the community.

Modern Adaptations: Preserving Cherokee Home Decorations Today

While traditional home decorations hold immense cultural significance within the Cherokee tribe, efforts are being made to preserve these traditions in modern times. Contemporary artisans continue to incorporate traditional elements into their work by blending old techniques with new innovations. These ongoing efforts ensure that future generations can appreciate the beauty and cultural heritage of Cherokee home decorations.

Natural Materials

The Cherokee people had a deep connection with nature, and this reverence for the natural world was reflected in their home decorations. Natural materials served as the foundation for Cherokee home decorations, allowing them to create intricate and meaningful pieces that showcased their artistic abilities and cultural heritage.

The Abundance of Natural Resources

One of the reasons why natural materials were so prevalent in Cherokee home decorations was their abundant availability. The Cherokee lived in what is now known as the southeastern United States, an area rich in natural resources such as wood, clay, plants, and animal hides. These resources provided them with ample opportunities for creative expression.

Wood played a crucial role in Cherokee home decorations, serving as the primary material for furniture, carvings, and structural elements like beams and posts. They would often use trees such as oak, cedar, and hickory to fashion intricately carved panels that adorned their homes. The designs on these wood carvings often featured important symbols and motifs from Cherokee mythology and spirituality.

Clay was another essential material used by the Cherokee for pottery. They would collect clay from nearby rivers or lakes and shape it into various vessels that were both functional and decorative. These pottery pieces were adorned with unique designs that told stories or conveyed specific meanings. Techniques like coiling and hand-building allowed the Cherokee to create intricate forms that showcased their artistic prowess.

Preserving Traditions through Natural Materials

For the Cherokee people, decorating their homes with natural materials was also a way to preserve their cultural traditions. Each material held symbolic significance and represented a connection to their ancestors and spiritual beliefs. By using these materials, they were passing down traditional knowledge from one generation to another.

The interweaving of natural materials with cultural practices can still be seen today through contemporary artisans who continue to incorporate traditional elements in their work. Through sustainable practices and respectful harvesting techniques, these artisans ensure that the traditions associated with Cherokee home decorations continue to thrive. By using natural materials, they not only honor their ancestors and the past generations but also connect with the land in a meaningful way.

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Intricate Basketry

In the rich tapestry of Cherokee home decorations, basketry stands as a testament to the artistry and craftsmanship of the Cherokee people. Baskets not only served practical purposes but also held deep cultural significance in Cherokee homes. The intricate weaving techniques, unique designs, and varied sizes of baskets showcased the skill and creativity of Cherokee artisans.

The Art of Basket Weaving

Basket weaving was an integral part of Cherokee culture, with skills often passed down through generations. The art form involved gathering and preparing materials such as rivercane, white oak splints, honeysuckle vines, or walnut twigs. These natural resources were transformed into masterpieces that were used for storage, carrying goods, or even as decorative items within their homes.

Cherokee basket weavers demonstrated their artistry through various styles and techniques. One notable technique is called double weave, where two layers are woven simultaneously to create a sturdy structure. Other techniques include twill weave, plaiting, feathering, chasing rainbows pattern-weave, and many more.

Functional and Decorative Baskets

The versatility of Cherokee baskets is truly remarkable. They were used for various functions in everyday life. For example, larger baskets with handles known as “pack” or “backpack” baskets were used for carrying provisions during hunting or long journeys. Smaller baskets served as storage containers for food or personal belongings.

Baskets also played an essential role in ceremonial traditions. Beautifully crafted wedding or gift baskets were presented during significant life events or tribal ceremonies. The intricate patterns and vibrant colors adorning these special baskets conveyed esteem and respect for the recipient.

Decorative baskets displayed exquisite designs that incorporated symbols representing nature elements like plants or animals significant to the Cherokee tribe’s heritage. These symbols reflected their deep connection with Mother Earth and conveyed stories about creation, spirituality, and ancestral wisdom.

Preserving Cherokee Basketry Today

Although modern lifestyles differ from those of their ancestors, contemporary Cherokee artisans are fervently dedicated to preserving the art of basket weaving. Many weavers continue to employ traditional techniques and materials while also incorporating innovative styles and contemporary elements.

Efforts have been made to ensure the continuation of this ancient craft. Cultural centers, museums, and educational programs provide platforms for both learning and showcasing the beauty of basketry. Through classes, workshops, and apprenticeships, young Cherokee individuals are encouraged to embrace their cultural heritage by reclaiming the skills passed down by their predecessors.

Symbolism at its Finest

Cherokee Pottery is a significant aspect of home decorations in Cherokee culture. It carries deep symbolism and artistic expression that reflects the beliefs and traditions of the Cherokee people. The pottery serves not only as a functional item but also as a testament to the craftsmanship and creativity of the Cherokee artisans.

Cherokee pottery is known for its unique designs, motifs, and symbols that are deeply rooted in the tribe’s cultural heritage. The patterns on the pottery often tell stories or represent spiritual beliefs of the Cherokee people. These intricate designs are meticulously hand-painted onto the vessels, making each piece a work of art.

The symbolism embedded in Cherokee pottery is diverse and holds various meanings. For example, animal motifs such as turtles, snakes, or birds may symbolize different aspects like protection or spirituality. Geometric patterns can represent harmony or balance within nature and community. The use of earthy colors like red, black, and brown further enhances the cultural significance of these pieces.

Cherokee pottery plays an essential role in preserving their cultural heritage. It provides a tangible representation of their traditions and serves as a crucial link to their ancestors. Today, contemporary artists continue to create pottery using traditional techniques passed down through generations. By incorporating these ancient symbols and designs into their work, they carry forward the legacy of Cherokee pottery while adapting to modern aesthetics.

Harnessing Nature’s Beauty

Cherokee culture has long been characterized by a deep connection to nature, and this reverence for the natural world is evident in their home decorations as well. Cherokee wall hangings and rugs are not only functional pieces but also serve as stunning displays of creativity and artistry. These woven textiles showcase intricate patterns, vibrant colors, and meaningful symbolism that reflect the beauty found in the surrounding environment.

One of the most distinct features of Cherokee wall hangings and rugs is their exquisite weaving technique. Cherokee artisans meticulously weave together various fibers to create these decorative pieces. Natural materials such as plant fibers, animal hide, and feathers were commonly used in their creation. The use of these organic elements not only added texture and depth but also connected the decoration to the land from which it came.

The patterns and symbols found in Cherokee wall hangings and rugs were deeply meaningful to the community. Many designs were inspired by elements from nature, including animals, plants, and celestial bodies. For example, patterns resembling running water or leaf veins symbolized life force and renewal, while geometric shapes like triangles and diamonds represented balance and harmony.

Moreover, storytelling played an integral role in Cherokee culture, and this tradition was often conveyed through visual art. Wall hangings and rugs served as platforms for narrating important stories or legends within the community. By adorning their homes with these intricately designed textiles, Cherokees celebrated their rich heritage while keeping traditions alive for future generations.

Sacred Walls

Cherokee wall paintings and murals have long been a significant aspect of Cherokee home decorations, serving as a means of spiritual expression and storytelling. These artistic expressions hold great cultural significance and are often found on the interior walls of Cherokee homes. The tradition of wall paintings and murals allows the Cherokee people to connect with their spiritual beliefs and preserve their rich heritage.

Cherokee wall paintings and murals are deeply rooted in spirituality and symbolism. They often depict important stories from Cherokee mythology, tribal history, or personal experiences. These intricate artworks serve as reminders of the tribe’s values, teachings, and ancestral wisdom. The symbols used in these paintings carry deep meanings, representing aspects such as nature, animals, elements, or spirits.

The creation of Cherokee wall paintings and murals is not limited to professional artists but extends to all members of the community. It is seen as a collective effort to preserve and pass down stories from one generation to another. This communal involvement fosters a sense of unity and cultural continuity within the Cherokee tribe.

Key ElementSignificance
SymbolsRepresent important aspects such as nature, animals, elements, or spirits.
StorytellingPreserve important stories from Cherokee mythology or tribal history.
Cultural ContinuityFoster a sense of unity within the Cherokee tribe by involving all members in the creation process.

The making of Cherokee wall paintings and murals involves various techniques such as pigments made from natural materials like clay or plant dyes. Brushes made from animal hair or traditional tools like feathers and sticks are used for painting. The artists carefully select colors, patterns, and designs that hold specific meanings within the Cherokee culture.

Adorning the Hearth

Fireside gatherings were an essential part of Cherokee life and held great significance in their culture. The hearth, the central point of a Cherokee home, was often adorned with decorations that added warmth and beauty to the space. This section will explore the various ways in which the Cherokee decorated their fireplaces, highlighting the importance of these decorations in creating a welcoming atmosphere.

One common decoration found near Cherokee hearths was a mantle shelf adorned with meaningful objects. The mantle served as a display area for cherished items such as family heirlooms, pottery vessels, and ceremonial objects. These objects not only added aesthetic value but also represented the family’s heritage and status within the community.

Another popular fireplace decoration was a hanging wall pouch known as an “achoowali.” Made from woven natural fibers or animal hide, these pouches were often adorned with intricate beadwork or quills. Achoowalis were used to hold small objects like amulets, herbs, or tobacco, believed to bring good luck and bless the home with protection and prosperity.

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Additionally, decorative tools such as fire tongs and pokers were often crafted by skilled Cherokee artisans using traditional techniques. These tools would be adorned with carvings or metalwork featuring symbolic designs representing aspects of nature or spiritual beliefs. They not only served a practical purpose but also added visual interest to the hearth area.

Woven Dreams

One of the most intriguing aspects of Cherokee home decorations is the use of dreamcatchers and wreaths. These symbolic adornments serve multiple purposes in Cherokee culture, reflecting their beliefs and adding a touch of beauty to their homes.

Dreamcatchers, also known as “Spear Catchers” in Cherokee, are believed to capture bad dreams and allow good dreams to pass through. They consist of a round hoop, traditionally made from willow branches, adorned with woven threads in intricate patterns. Hanging from the hoop are feathers or other sacred objects, which are believed to attract positive energy. The dreamcatcher is typically hung above the bed or near windows to filter out negative dreams and energies.

Wreaths are another significant decorative element in Cherokee homes. They are typically made from natural materials such as twigs, flowers, berries, or evergreen foliage gathered from the surrounding environment. Wreaths hold spiritual symbolism for the Cherokee people and often represent the cyclical nature of life and seasons. They can also be used to celebrate special occasions or commemorate important events within the community.

Both dreamcatchers and wreaths exemplify the deep respect that Cherokee people have for nature and its role in their daily lives. These decorations embrace their connection with the natural world and serve as powerful symbols within their homes.

Today, many artisans continue to create these traditional pieces using age-old techniques passed down through generations. By preserving these traditions, they not only honor their ancestors but also provide an opportunity for others to appreciate the rich cultural heritage of the Cherokee people.

DecorationSymbolismMaterials Used
DreamcatchersCapturing bad dreams; allowing good dreams to pass through; attracting positive energyWillow branches, woven threads, feathers
WreathsSymbolizing the cyclical nature of life and seasons; celebrating special occasions; commemorating important eventsTwigs, flowers, berries, evergreen foliage

Modern Adaptations

Cherokee home decorations have been an integral part of their culture for centuries, serving as a reflection of their beliefs, traditions, and social status. While many traditional home decoration practices have evolved over time, efforts are being made to preserve and promote the rich heritage of Cherokee home decorations in modern times.

Contemporary artisans are playing a crucial role in preserving Cherokee home decorations by incorporating traditional elements in their work. These artisans are skilled in various art forms such as basket weaving, pottery-making, textile weaving, and painting. They are not only preserving the techniques and materials used by their ancestors but also adding their own unique creative touches to bring these traditions into the modern world.

One notable example of modern adaptations of Cherokee home decorations is seen in basketry. Traditional baskets were primarily made from natural materials like river cane, oak splints, and honeysuckle vines. Today, artisans continue to use these materials but also experiment with new materials like dyed reeds or recycled materials to create contemporary designs. These modern adaptations help sustain the art form while catering to changing market demands.

Another example is seen in pottery-making. Contemporary potters draw inspiration from ancient Cherokee pottery designs and techniques while incorporating their own artistic style. They explore various clay bodies and glazes to create both functional and decorative pieces that reflect the spirit of Cherokee pottery while appealing to contemporary tastes.

Preservation EffortsDescription
Cherokee Art MarketAn annual event where contemporary Cherokee artists showcase and sell their artwork
The Museum of the Cherokee Indian Craft ShopA store that features authentic handmade crafts by tribal members, including home decorations
Cherokee Heritage CenterA cultural center that offers workshops and demonstrations on traditional Cherokee arts, including home decoration techniques

Through these modern adaptations and preservation efforts, the traditions of Cherokee home decorations are being kept alive for future generations. It is essential to support and appreciate the work of these contemporary artisans who are not only preserving their heritage but also creating new expressions of Cherokee culture. By incorporating traditional elements in modern designs, they are ensuring that the legacy of Cherokee home decorations continues to thrive in today’s world.


In conclusion, Cherokee home decorations are not merely objects of beauty but serve as significant cultural symbols that reflect the beliefs, traditions, and social status of the Cherokee people. Throughout their history, the Cherokees have embraced the use of natural materials such as basketry, pottery, woven textiles, and wall paintings to adorn their homes. These artistic expressions showcase the artistry and creativity of the Cherokee people while also embodying their spiritual and storytelling traditions.

Today, efforts are underway to preserve and promote these traditional forms of home decoration in order to honor and celebrate Cherokee cultural heritage. Contemporary artisans are incorporating traditional techniques and designs into their work, ensuring that these practices continue to flourish in modern times. By appreciating and learning from the rich cultural heritage of the Cherokee people, we can gain a deeper understanding of their history and contribute to the preservation of their traditions.

In exploring how the Cherokees decorated their homes, we gain insight into a vibrant culture that spans centuries. From intricate basketry to symbolic pottery, each decoration tells a story and offers a glimpse into the lives of this remarkable Native American tribe. By celebrating Cherokee home decorations as valuable cultural artifacts, we can ensure that future generations will continue to appreciate and learn from this rich legacy for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

What did Cherokee Indian houses look like?

Cherokee Indian houses, also known as “council houses” or “summerhouses,” were typically made using a combination of natural materials found in their environment. These houses were designed to be sturdy and comfortable, capable of withstanding various weather conditions. The framework of the house was made using wooden poles, which were then covered with woven panels made from saplings or river cane.

The roof was constructed with layers of bark or thatched grasses, providing protection from rain and sun. Inside the house, there would be a central fire pit for heating and cooking, while sleeping areas were located around the perimeter.

How were the Cherokee villages set up?

Cherokee villages were organized in a way that fostered community and cooperation among its residents. Typically, these villages consisted of multiple family households grouped together around a central area or town square referred to as the “townhouse.” The townhouse played a crucial role in Cherokee society as it served as a meeting place for community gatherings, ceremonies, and council meetings.

Surrounding the townhouse, individual houses or clusters of dwellings formed concentric circles towards the outer edges of the village. The villages were often strategically situated near water sources for convenience and agriculture purposes.

What were Cherokee houses called?

Cherokee houses went by different names depending on their purpose and construction material used. The most common type was referred to as “chiki,” which were dome-shaped structures made from bent saplings covered with animal hides or woven mats for insulation against cold weather. These chikis served as temporary shelters during hunting trips or when families were traveling between seasons.

Another type of Cherokee house was called “ihsi,” which referred to more permanent structures built using wood planks and bark roofs. Ihsis offered additional protection from the elements and better suited agricultural communities where families remained settled for longer periods. However, it is important to note that the architectural styles varied among different Cherokee bands and regions due to geographical influences and available resources within their territories.

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