Culture and Heritage of Native Americans
Each Navajo rug is hand-woven of 100% wool yarn on traditional upright looms by members of the Navajo Nation. Materials range from hand-carded, handspun, and natural color or vegetal dyed wool, to commercially cleaned, carded, spun, and dyed wool. Miniature Navajo rugs are likewise hand-woven of 100% wool that is generally respun commercial yarn so that it is much thinner.
They are woven in the same manner as the full sized rugs and most are of tapestry quality (over 80 wefts per inch). All Navajo weavings offered for sale on our site have been woven by contemporary weavers in regional and non-regional styles. They have intact edging and selvage cords and corner tassles, and are without stains, fading, holes, or insect damage. In cases where the weaver may be unknown, we unconditionally guarantee that the weaving has been made by a member of the Navajo Nation and by traditional methods.
Members of the Tohono O'odham tribal nation (formerly known as Papago Indians), live along the Arizona, Mexico border. Their present tribal lands, established in 1874, consist of a three parcel reservation of 2,854,881 acres (approximately 5,000 square miles), in the Sonoran Desert in south central Arizona and into Mexico, an area comparable in size to the state of Connecticut, but with a population of 27,500 members. Basket making is a long-honored tradition of the Tohono O'odham people who make baskets from various materials such as willow, yucca (most common today), and horsehair. Traditionally, the men harvested the materials and women were the basketmakers. Some families began making the natural material harvesting a family event leading to a transition where now there are some men who are basketmakers in their families as well.
Decorative basket patterns include fret designs, turtle back designs, coyote tracks, dragging coyote tracks, cross designs, stars, squash blossoms, dust-devils, human figures, saguaro fruit picking scenes, the well-known "man in the maze" pattern, and representations of antelopes, bats, bees, ducks, humming birds, rattlesnakes, and turtles. Some designs are done in the negative using devil's claw as the the background and yucca or willow for the design
Navajo Ceremonial Baskets
The present day tribal lands of the Navajo Nation consist of 17,686,465 acres (over 27,000 square miles) in northerneastern Arizona, southeastern Utah, and northwestern New Mexico. Approximately the size of West Virginia, the Navajo Reservation is larger than ten of the 50 states in America. The reservation was created in 1868, and has since been expanded to its current size. It features over a dozen national monuments, tribal parks, and prehistoric sites. Population on the reservation today is over 180,000. Sumac is the material that Navajo weavers gather to make ceremonial baskets. Thin sumac branches are used for the rods around which the split sumac is woven. Baskets are used in most of over fifty different kinds of sacred ceremonies practiced in the traditional Navajo culture and depending on the length of the ceremony, up to seven different baskets may be needed.
(Regarding the Navajo ceremonial or "wedding" basket) "The basket is viewed as a map, through which the Navajo people chart their lives. The central spot in the basket represent the sipapu, where the Navajo people emerged from the prior world through a reed. As the people emerged, all was white. The inner coils of the basket are white to represent this lightness, or birth. As you travel outward [in a circular direction] on the coils you begin to encounter more and more black. The black represents darkness, struggle and pain; the darker side of life. As you make your way through the darkness you eventually reach the red bands, which represent marriage; the mixing of your blood with your spouse and the creation of family. The red is pure. During this time there is no darkness. Traveling out of the familial bands you encounter more darkness however, the darkness is interspersed with white light. The light represents increasing enlightenment, which expands until you enter the all white banding of the outer rim. This banding represents the spirit world where there is no darkness. The line from the center of the basket to the outer rim is there to remind you that no matter how much darkness you encounter in your world, there is always a pathway to the light." (As told to Steven P. Simpson by an informant, 1993)
My name is Shakir and on this blog I will be giving you a lot of information and research on the customs my people, the native americans, have and how they live today...
We can start by talking a little more about the meaning of our art to be able to understand and learn more of this culture. Let's start by Corn Maiden or blue Corn Maiden as it is also known, according to legend, was created by the hand of the Great Spirits to help humans on earth, giving them peace and happiness as well as given the opportunity to grow your faith in the Great Spirits relying on their ability to plant and care for their crops, a beautiful legend.
Another striking representative of our culture and art is the Frog Fetish, this is achieved with the rock carving technique preserving the essence of the animal in the rock, this represents fertility within the Zuni culture and is also related to water such as in times of drought you pray for rain. We can also mention the White Marble Sheep that represents patience, charity and wealth and the Zuni used it for trading between tribes. The Horned Toad Fetish an animal that represents longevity and self confidence in your spirit and your strength.
On the other side and a little more ceremonial, we have the Navajo doll, made entirely by hand with natural materials and bright colors as well as stones, feathers are also used among other materials for decoration. Each Navajo doll are created to represent a spirit and what it will be used for, these are representative of the good and evil spirits who often are asked to answer the prayers offered.
Definitely this culture have a very ancient and spiritual art. Through the artistic expressions we learn a little more, with great respect for what it means for them.