Country/People Navajo Native American (Southwest USA)
Looms: up right
Border Sample Navajo Weave
Yå’ ´åt’eeh / Hello
Loom: Navajo rugs are recognized and appreciated throughout the world for their distinctive geometric patterns. The Navajo loom is a an upright loom. Weavers sits on the ground in front of it and weaves from the bottom to the top. The warp (vertical threads) itself is prepared off the loom and then placed onto the loom form. Because the Navajos at one point were nomadic, this was an important key aspect to their weaving. They could remove the weaving in progress from a loom and travel to a new place where they would build another loom and place the weaving back onto it (Mirrix). Anthropologist believe the Navajo first arrived in the American southwest in the early 1300s, but a clear record of their weaving history cannot be documented until the 1600s, with the arrival of Spanish conquistadors, and with them, sheep, in particular Churra sheep with wool that is easily spun and woven into long threads of yarn (Explore).
The woman pictured here dresses in traditional Navajo clothing: a long-sleeved blouse (often velvet) called a jeiji’eé´ and a skirt (usually cotton or velvet) called a tl’aakal. Around her waist is a belt/sash with silver conchas (medallions.) The Navajo work silver and turquoise as part of their spiritual, as well as decorative, aspects of life. Her hair is styled in a tsiiyéél, brushed back with a be’ezo or stiff, long, dried grass and tied with white sheep wool string.
The Border at top and bottom as samples of the type of weaving done on a Navajo loom. The Navajo called themselves Diné meaning the people, and Diné Bikéyah (land of the Navajo), extends 27,000 square miles. It is larger than 10 of the 50 states in the US! Today, different regions of the Navajo region have established identifiably distinct color and design patterns for their rugs. I purchased two rug square samples of Navajo weavings when visiting the Navajo Reservation in Arizona on my way to Monument Valley and the ancient cliff dwellings at Canyon de Chelly, way back in1969. I also purchased a model of the Navajo loom. As you can see, I’ve been an admirer of Navajo weaving for a long time. See photos below.
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