Rug of the Day: Burnham Pictorial by Ursula Begay

Burnham Pictorial by Ursula Begay

A charming Burnham Pictorial by Ursula Begay. Hover your mouse over the picture for a closer view.

Ursula Begay with her rug

Ursula Begay holds her weaving at the Crownoint Rug Auction. Click on the picture for a larger view.

Tempe, AZ Today’s entry is more a tapestry grade weaving than a rug.  The weaver, Ursula Begay is still in her twenties and her 60 plus weft count weaving’s theme could be described as “Love: Navajo Style”.  Young love is beginning between the couples at the right and left of the design and seems to be in full bloom for the center couple, although Ursula said that she didn’t have room for the heart between them so you’ll have to decide between the romantic and the practical interpretation.  Ursula (pictured at left with her weaving) is the daughter of weaver Sandy Begay.  The Burnham pattern is associated with the area of the Bisti Badlands where fourth generation trader Bruce Burnham’s grandfather originally traded and the incorporation of pictorial elements into more conventional Navajo weaving pattern geometries is deeply ingrained in the weaving of that area dating back into the 1890’s.  Ursula’s sense of color and design is distinctive and popular with buyers at the Crownpoint Rug Auction, where her designs are often sold.  Ursula also sometimes consigns her work to R.B. Burnham and Co. auctions.

Ursula’s weaving is about 18″x24″ and features both commercial and handspun yarns.  Ursula and her family are adept spinners and frequently combine their handspun yarns with commercial wools.  Their spinning is so well executed that is difficult to tell which is which.  They also frequently dye their yarns with aniline and vegetal dyes to achieve the colors that they are looking for in a particular design.  Trader Jackson Clarke II specializes in Burnham pictorials and you can see several more examples of this design at his Toh-Atin Gallery site.  The pictures were taken on September 14, 2007 with a Canon Powershot G7 camera.

Hagoshíí (so long for now)

Mary Walker

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