Return to Arts and Crafts†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† NAVAJO RUG

 

Navajo weaver

Navajo Weaver (19th century)

 

 

The Navajo Rug shown below was woven on a traditional Navajo loom, entirely by hand without mechanical devices by famed weaver Eleanor James of Wheatfield Arizona, a member of the Navajo tribe.The design of the rug is based upon the Whirling Log legend explained in my description for James C.Joeís sand painting.†† Navajo women learned weaving in the 17th century from their Pueblo Indian neighbors who had been practicing this craft since 800 AD.  Spanish settlers had brought their Churro sheep to the region in the early 1600s and introduced the Navajo to wool.By the early 1800s, Navajo weavers used wool exclusively, and became well known among both their Indian and Spanish neighbors for finely woven, nearly weatherproof blankets that became popular trade items.Because they are not sacred objects in themselves and have, in fact, always served a practical end in the Navajo culture and trading post, rugs showing sacred sand painting images have always been somewhat controversial within the Navajo community, and many weavers still decline to make such representations.As shown in my rug, Yei pattern rugs feature images of the gods (Holy People), drawn from Whirling Log ceremonial sand paintings, and yet they donít recreate an entire painting, only the Yeis, who were supernatural beings who assist the ritual.In Eleanor Jamesí rug, typical of master Navajo artisans, the Yeis are highly stylized figures with elongated bodies, short straight legs, and heads facing the viewer.†† Eleanorís rug, shown below, illustrates this relationship best, demonstrating the highest degree of this Native American craft.