What Would The Weaver Think: Antique Navajo Weaving as Fine Art

1910 Yei Bi Chei

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Tempe, AZ  One day about 100 years ago, a Navajo weaver near Shiprock, New Mexico spent the better part of a year weaving the rug that you see above.  It’s woven with Navajo Churro yarn and the quality of the weaving and the design symmetry tell us that the weaver must have been a highly regarded and skilled artist who whose work in every respect meets the requirement that fine art be an object that is created as an expression of aesthetic excellence.  In Navajo culture, this is called hózhó, the beauty and harmony that surround the well-lived and balanced life.   It is an ethic that drove the weaver to eschew any effort to call attention to herself.  These weavings are not signed and except for a very few individuals, we don’t know who they were.  Their work was used in homes all over the world and an amazing amount of it still survives, although it isn’t often in the great condition that the rug shown above is in.   Today, it is recognized as the fine art that it is and this week it’s being celebrated at the River Trading Post in Scottsdale.  Collectors Larry and Deborah Meyers will have their textiles at the River until Friday, March 2, so this is an opportunity that won’t be around long.    

You can also see wonderful examples of textile art at the Old Territorial Shop just down the street and the Arts Walk tomorrow will start a weekend celebrating Native American fine arts that includes the Heard Museum Indian Market.  I’m going to one busy little rug geek for the next few days.  Hey, sleep is a crutch.  

Detail of 1910 Yei Be Chei

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