Contemporary Navajo Weaving: “Ganado”
Navajo Ganado Weaving: This prize winning weaving was made with hand spun, hand dyed Churro wool by Elsie Bia, measures 71″ x 98″
Ganado Navajo rugs are known for their striking “Ganado Red” color usually contrasted with black, white, and grey elements. Designs are traditionally a single or double central diamond representing the weaver’s home and the four sacred mountains portrayed in a triangular geometric in each of the four corners.
History of Navajo Weavings
The Navajo people believe that in the beginning at the time of creation, Spider Woman taught the Navajo people the art of weaving and Spider Man taught them how to make their sacred loom.
Everything a weaver needed was there – fibers and dyes from plants, design elements from nature – lightning, stars, the sun, terraced clouds, trees, animal tracks, the four sacred mountains, the four cardinal directions. Inspiration came from sandstone striations on vermilion cliffs, from white of day and black of night. Modern experts say the Navajo learned to weave from the Pueblo people, yet the Navajo know that it was Spider Woman who helped them create a web of beauty with their sashes, mantas, serapes, breechcloths, blouses and blankets.
The first descriptions of Navajo textiles appeared in Spanish accounts from the 1700s. Later reports came from U.S. military and government personnel.The Navajo first wove with native cotton and yucca fibers. Indigenous people cultivated cotton as early as 700 AD in the Salt-Gila region and by the 1100s in Canyon de Chelly. Over time weavers replaced these plant materials with the silky wool of churro sheep, introduced by the Spanish in the 1500s . From increased contact with Spanish and Mexican neighbors, the Navajos’ original color palette of natural wool and vegetal dyed yellow, was augmented by the brilliant red of raveled English bayeta cloth, Spanish indigo dye and Saxony yarn.