Native American Petroglyph Symbols and their Meanings


Many of our artists use a variety of “Petroglyph Symbols” as design themes in their jewelry. Artists such as Myron Panteah, Kee Yazzie, Arland Ben, Lawrence Namoki, and many others have gained widespread popularity creating art with Petroglyph Symbol designs. These symbols have their origin in actual prehistoric petroglyph sites, found throughout the southwest. The symbols found at such petroglyph sites were carved into sandstone walls many hundreds of years ago.

We love Native American art with Petroglyph Symbols, because not only are the designs beautifully simple, but each one is packed with cultural meaning and history. Some symbols can carry different meanings depending on the tribe. But often, there is a shared symbology across Southwest tribes.

Here is a list of common Petroglyph Symbols and the meanings behind them. This list is by no means complete! It is accurate to the best of our abilities, based on conversations with our favorite artists, but may not cover all explanations or potential meanings. If you’re looking for a symbol and not finding it, please email us at and we’ll add it to the list!

Antelope: Decisive Action

Shop for Antelope

Arrow: Direction


Shop for Arrows

Avanyu: Water Serpent, Metaphor for Winding River

Shop for Avanyu

Bear: Powerful Healer, Strength, Spiritual Journey Through Life

Shop for Bears

Bear Paw: Strength

Shop for Bear Paws

Butterfly: Transformation, Bringer of Joy and Love

Learn More About the Butterfly Symbol

Shop for Butterflies

Dragonfly: Good Fortune, Always Found Near Springs and Life-Giving Water, Insightful, Sees Through Illusions


Shop for Dragonflies

Eagle: Messenger to the Heavens, Carries Prayers, Conduit Between Man and God

Shop for Eagles

Elk Man: Medicine Man, Shaman

Shop for Elk Man

Feather (Prayer Feather): Messenger to the Heavens, Prayer Feathers are Hung at the Entrance to the Home, Giving Good Blessings to Anyone Who Walks Through the Door

Learn More About Feathers


Shop for Feathers

Four Direction Symbol (Cross)Sacred Number Four: Represents Four Sacred Mountains, Four Sacred Crops, Four Stages of Life and more...

Read More About the Four Direction Symbol

Shop for Four Direction Symbols

Friendship Symbol: (Two Human Figures Holding Hands or Interlocking Crescent Symbols) Symbolizes Friendship and Cooperation


Shop for Friendship Symbols

Hand: Helping, Healing, and Oldest Symbol of Humanity

Shop for Hands

Heron: Calm and Patience

Shop for Herons

Horse: Freedom, Great Stamina, Strength

Shop for Horses

Hummingbird: Beautiful Messenger, Healer

Shop for Hummingbirds

Kokopelli: Fertility, Abundance

Shop for Kokopelli

Lightning: Connection Between Earth and Heaven, Closely Associated with the Thunderbird

Shop for Lightning

Migration: Represents the Circled Migration of Native American Tribes to End Up Where they Currently Live, Metaphor for Life's Journey

Read More About the Migration Symbol

Shop for Migration

Naja: Symbol of Protection and for “Warding Off Evil”

Learn More About Najas

Shop for Najas

Rabbit: Bringer of Good Fortune, Fertility


Shop for Rabbits

Rain Clouds: Rain Clouds Bring Life-Giving Water, Essential to Survival in the Arid Southwest


Shop for Rain Clouds

Snake: Transformation (Shedding of Skin), Metaphor for Winding Rivers

Shop for Snakes

Sun (Sunface): Giver of Life, Critical for All Growth of Crops

Shop for Suns / Sunface

Thunderbird: Earliest Explanation of Thunder was a Bird so Large that Every Time it Flapped its Wings, it Created Thunder and Storms

Learn More About the Thunderbird

Shop for Thunderbirds

Turtle: Longevity


Shop for Turtles

Whirling Log: Healing Symbol used most often in Navajo Healing Ceremonies

Learn More About the Whirling Log Symbol


Shop for Whirling Logs

Wolf: Loyalty, Intelligence, Teacher and Pathfinder

Shop for Wolves

3 Responses

Dr. Tom
Dr. Tom

January 22, 2020

Thanks so much for all the info. People can wear Native American jewelry now with meaning and not just aesthetics.

Frank Forman
Frank Forman

July 28, 2019

I recently purchased a beautiful Kee Yazee cuff bracelet which shows many of the symbols I just read about. Thank you for putting this information available to your customers. Things like this is what separates Garland’s from other dealers, putting the extra effort in to making customers more informed, so we can make better choices when we purchase. Thank you indeed.

Frank Forman


October 20, 2018

wonderful. thank you.

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Although the best way to test the size and fit of a piece of jewelry is to try it on in the store, we know that is not always an option. In an effort to help you choose the piece that is right for you, we have included measurements of each piece on the website. Here is how our measurements are defined:


Finding the right size bracelet for your wrist has always been a tricky endeavor, since, unlike rings, there isn't a standardized, universal sizing chart for wrist size. One reason for this is that we all have different shaped wrists, some of us have round wrists, while others have more oval. Bracelets, like wrists, also have different shapes.

So, while bracelet sizing will never be an exact science, we've done what we can to ensure the greatest chance of a comfortable fit. The best thing you can do if you don't know your wrist size is to take a soft measuring tape and loosely measure the circumference of your wrist at the point you plan on wearing it. Try not to have the measuring tape dig into your skin, as this will result in a smaller than ideal size. Once you have the circumference of your wrist, compare it to the chart below to find the correct bracelet size. If your wrist measures in-between two sizes, we recommend rounding up to the larger size. (ie: if your wrist measures 6.375"- you should shop for size "Medium" bracelets.)

 Wrist Circumference

Corresponding Bracelet Size











6.75" - 7"











You may want to drill down further on the bracelet sizing to make sure the cuff is a comfortable fit. You will notice on our website that we generally list four measurements for bracelets:

Keep in mind that certain bracelets can be adjusted slightly to fit your wrist, but those with inlay or stones all the way around will be damaged if bent. In any case, it is always best to check with with us to see if a particular bracelet is adjustable.

Lastly, have no fear! If you order a bracelet that doesn't fit, send it back for one that does! We want this to be a positive experience, you should never wear something that isn't 100% comfortable. More on our return policy here.


Sizing belt buckles is pretty straightforward. The height and width are self-explanatory, and the belt width describes the maximum belt width the buckle will fit on.

Concha Belts

We try to include the height and width for the conchas, as well as the buckle (if different), and the width of the belt they are on. The length of the concha belts can be less important, because these belts are often made quite long to accommodate many waist sizes, and then can be shortened to fit the wearer. If you are concerned whether or not a belt will fit you, just ask. We are happy to size most of our concha belts before shipping.