Anything I write about Navajo rugs could be wrong. Do not quote me as any kind of "authority," as I am not.
It takes a weaver a long time to make a quality rug: she may have to raise the sheep,
shear the wool, spin and card the wool, dye the wool, and then weave the rug. It can
easily take a year or longer to make a rug--- it takes a hell of a lot of work!
Some weavers use vegetal dyes; others use "commercial" dyes.
A weaver's loom size limits the size of her rugs: very large rugs are rare.
A finely crafted rug of a size suitable for hanging on one's wall (such as five feet long and three feet wide) will cost several thousand dollars: and it is a bargain considering how much labor is involved.
Never, never, never buy a Navajo rug via the Internet: always examine a rug in person. Never buy a Navajo rug via e-bay auction--- some are listed as "Navajo Style" which means they could come from China, Brazil, or gods only know where. It is a good idea to buy rugs directly from the weavers via a few trading posts on the Navajo Reservation (such as the Hubbell Trading Post near Ganado, which has EXCELLENT rugs for sale), or at the Crown Point Rug Auction (held every month at the Crown Point Elementry School, New Mexico). The rugs at Hubbell's Trading Post often have attached to them a photograph and brief biography of the weavers who made them.
The Navajo Way (hozro) does not include competition, and it rejects excessive pride. When at the Crown Point rug auction, I happened to tell a weaver how much I loved one of her rugs, and she blushed profusely (softly saying "thank you") and looked around hoping no one heard me gushing my praises of her work. The weavers certainly take pride in their art, and they (almost always) deserve praise.
|Various Yei figures.|
|One rendition of the Burntwater pattern. Each weaver will render any given pattern differently than the other weavers: while the general patterns and hues are the same or similar, different artists have different ways of expressing the pattern in their rugs.|
|The Eye Dazzler pattern.|
|The Tree of Life pattern. Every weaver will make a different Tree of Life rug, due to each artists' tastes and styles.|
|The Ganado pattern is one of my favorates, with its distinctive red.|
|Wide Ruins pattern.|
|Yeibichai as I understand it (I could be wrong!) is the last part of the Talking God / Night Way. Male Yeis have blue faces, and female Yeis have white faces. The males hold gourd rattles in one hand, and feathers (or wooden staffs) in the other. This rendition is not an accurate rendition of the sand painting: it has been deliberately changed to preserve the power of the authentic sand painting.|
|Teec Nos Pos is another one of my favorates.|
|First Phase Chief pattern.|
|The Chinle pattern. The word "Chinle" is a bastardization of the word Ch'inli' and means something like "the downstream side of the canyon."|
|Third Phase Chief pattern.|
|A "Rug in a Rug" Pictorial. Notice the rug shows a weaver working on a rug. She has different colored material rolled up in balls next to her. Just imagine how much work this took, and you will understand why these rugs are so valuable.|
|Second Phase Chief.|
|Two Grey Hills|
Rotating / Whirling Logs sand painting, as a rug. The first thing one will notice is that this rendition is not the same used in an actual healing Way: it has been altered on purpose so that it is NOT an accurate rendition of the actual sand painting. After the end of World War Two, modern artists (and I suppose also Singers) now make the image look less like the swastika than it traditionally looked.
If you are interested in the Rotaing Logs story of Navajo Genesis, In the Beginning: The Navajo Genesis by Jerrold E. Levy might have the story--- I have the book but I have not read it yet.
Other books are Navajo Medicine Man Sand Paintings by Gladys Amanda Reichard, and A Guide to Navajo Sandpaintings by Mark Bahti (with Eugene Baatsoslanii Joe). For the Navaho religion, Sacred Words : A Study of Navajo Religion and Prayer by Sam D. Gill might be a good choice, but it is not for the "casual" reader.