Gerard Begay’s Poncho: Returning to the Roots of Navajo Weaving

Gerard Begay's ponho modeled by Nicole K. Johnny, Miss Indian New Mexico

Gerard Begay’s poncho modeled by Nicole K. Johnny, Miss Indian New Mexico

Most of us think of the rug as the quintessential product of Navajo weaving but pieces like Gerard Begay’s poncho, woven for the just concluded Santa Fe Indian Market, go back to the times when Navajo weaving was woven mainly for use by Navajo people.  The rug as a floor-covering is a collaboration between traders and weavers that began around 1890.  Before then, Navajo weavers produced blankets, ponchos, serapes, dresses, bedding, horse accouterments, rope, bags and belts.  As these items became readily available through traders and stores, weavers shifted their attention to the burgeoning demand for rugs.  

In the few years, though, the market for wearable items like the bííl dress has become more important, attracting the talents of weavers like Gerard.  He’s a young male weaver, born to the Big Water clan and originally from Holbook, Arizona.  Although he works full-time for the Maricopa Community College district, he spends much of his free time weaving and has shown his work at the Heard Museum in addition to the Santa Fe Indian Market.  Gerard joins his contemporaries Marlowe Katoney and Tahnibaa Naataanii in producing work that appeals to younger collectors.  

Although Gerard has woven several bííl dresses, the poncho is his first.  Since it was being woven with the prestigious Santa Fe Indian Market in mind, Gerard wanted to do whatever he could to make his work stand out.  He spent days dyeing and rinsing custom spun New Zealand wool to get the shades of blue that he wanted.  Then, he located some Navajo-churro that looked good, but he had to spend hours re-spinning it by hand to get the degree of twist that he wanted for a crisp design and a smooth drape.  The result is a 48″x72″ beauty that is bound to make you look really good.  Although it attracted many prospective buyers at the market, Gerard still has it for sale and has consigned it for sale through Weaving in Beauty, meaning you can use that credit card y’all.  The poncho is $6000 with free shipping within the United States.  Gerard will consider reasonable offers.  There are some extra views of the poncho below along with the purchase link and a form to submit an offer for Gerard’s consideration.  You’ll look great this winter!

Click here to purchase the poncho at the asking price of $6000 or use the form below to submit a reasonable offer to Gerard.  

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Hagoshíí (so long for now)

Mary Walker


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