Weekly Photo Challenge – Culture

Ganado Red

Ganado Red

Ganado Red

The Navajo have been weaving
for centuries.
Cross-legged on the ground,
women sit in front of frames.

Hands moving in rhythm,
pull the weft through the warp,
beat the threads with a wooden fork.

How do you know it’s Navajo?
These rugs are woven from
end-to-end. No fringe.

You deserve some backstory for today’s poem and Photo Challenge. This is a shot of the Navajo rug that hangs in the hallway to our bedroom. It has an honored place on the wall opposite the double doors that open to the entryway to the rest of the house. A spotlight washes down its surface in the evening. The shot captures only a small portion of its design, but you can see the exquisite detail of the artist’s hand.

I never met the artist, but fell in love with the rug when Peter and I stayed in a beautiful bed and breakfast in Albuquerque, New Mexico, several years ago. The owner had stored a pile of folded rugs in the hallway next to our room and I asked her about them. She responded that a local Navajo man would come by her establishment from time-to-time selling the rugs made by the women in his family. She said could never say “No” to him.

The one you see in this photo is particularly fine and large – it’s about 3 x 6 feet. I asked her about it and whether she would be willing to sell it. She thought for a minute and said: “I’ll have to ask my husband. It was birthday present. But we have so many, I think we probably can part with it.” She left the room and came back a few later and asked, “Does $350 sound reasonable?”

“Yes,” I replied. We checked out that morning and continued on our way with our new treasure. I’m not exactly sure of the style of this one, but I suspect it’s Ganado. Within the Navajo Culture, different styles have emerged. The characteristics of Ganado rugs include a grey background, either a single or double diamond shape in the center and bright red patterns (called Ganado Red). This rug includes all of these properties.

Many cultures embrace textiles as part of their unique expression.  In the traditional Navajo Culture women raise sheep, shear their wool, spin it and weave it into beautiful pieces of art. And because I live in the Southwest, I had to include it here.

For more information about the Weekly Photo Challenge, click here.