The Native Arts portion of the Smoki Auction was held this evening. There were nearly 300 pieces in the catalog and it was almost 9:00 before I got back to the small locally owned cabin where I’m staying. It is raining every day here right now, which the area really needs since we got almost no rain last winter. The rug portion of the auction is tomorrow and I need to be back at the museum by 9, so this will be a brief post.
I looked at most of the older rugs in the auction today. This particular auction is usually popular with vintage rug collectors and well over 150 of the rugs in the auction are older pieces. There’s one chief blanket that dates back to the 1870’s or 1880’s and has raveled bayeta wool. It has had a lot repairs done by some who really cared about what they were doing and there’s a little place where either the original weaver or the person who did the repair wove a small section of twill. Bruce Burnham and Gary Jensvold think that it was the repair person, but I think it was the original weaver. Tomorrow, I want to get a warp and weft count on it. As D.Y. Begay has written, if you know Navajo history, it is impossible not to get emotional when you see these pieces. The conditions after the Long Walk were very difficult. Living conditions were very hard and food was scarce as the Navajos tried to adjust to the trading post economy. The Navajo sheep had been decimated, and the days of the wearing blanket were numbered because of the introduction of machine made Pendleton weavings.
There are some other really great weavings in the auction and one small one that is in really, really bad shape. There are holes in the wefts but I think that there are only about four broken warps, which were handspun. I would love to fix it up. We’ll see how much it bids up tomorrow, but right now I need to get to bed.