- Margaret Moore Booker
Tribe of Native Americans who call themselves Diné (“the people”) and whose Dinetah (homelands) are situated on a c. 15 million-acre-reservation in northeastern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico and southern Utah. The Navajo have rich artistic traditions in the Southwest dating back at least five centuries. Greatly influenced by Pueblo Indians of the region, the Navajo made textiles, basketry and pottery for utilitarian and religious purposes. Traditionally, it was the Navajo women who made pottery and wove textiles, while the men were silversmiths. The latter, who learned this art from the Spanish, led the way in the development of silver and turquoise jewelry in the Southwest. Their forms and decorative styles influenced other Native American jewelers.
The Navajo excel at weaving. Their earliest works were woolen blankets made on an upright loom and meant to be worn. After trading posts were established on the reservation in the early 1870s, the traders encouraged the Navajo to weave heavier textiles that could serve as rugs. Often given materials and designs by the traders to follow, the Navajo weavers made their own adaptations that evolved into the exquisite rugs they are famous for. A wide range of patterns and colors and a number of distinct regional styles exist (...