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Legendary Native American Figures: Skeleton Man (Masaw)
Name: Skeleton Man
Tribal affiliation: Hopi
Hopi name: Maasawu (Masau'u, Maasawi, Masawu, Maasaw, Masaaw, Masauwu, Masaw, Masao or Mosau'u), pronounced maw-sow-uh
Type: Lord of the Dead,
Skeleton Man is Lord of the Dead in Hopi mythology, but is often depicted as a benign and even
humorous figure. In the Hopi creation epic Skeleton Man is a culture hero who taught the Hopis
the arts of agriculture as well as warning them about the dangers of the world. In other legends, he
plays the role of a very earthy trickster who chases women
and makes bumbling mistakes. These funny and scandalous stories make Skeleton Man into a more
endearing, accessible figure.
Although his aspects can be terrifying, Skeleton Man is generally considered a great friend of
humanity who can be
trusted to take care of Hopi people in the afterlife.
Skeleton Man Stories
Másaw, the Caretaker:
Legend about the Hopi people's first encounter with Masaw (Skeleton Man.)
Stories of Maasaw, a Hopi God:
Good collection of Maasaw legends, put together by two Hopi authors.
American Indian Trickster Tales:
Compilation of more than a hundred Skeleton Man and other trickster stories from many different tribes.
Use discretion sharing these with kids as some of the stories contain adult humor.
The Fourth World of the Hopis
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