Art and American Indians

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Spider Woman's Gift: Nineteenth-Century Diné Textiles

Edited by Shelby J. Tisdale

At Canyon de Chelly, in the heart of the Navajo Nation, stands an eight-hundred-foot sandstone rock formation known as Spider Rock. According to Diné oral history, this sacred place is where Spider Woman makes her home. For centuries, her gift of weaving has provided the Diné with a constant means of sustenance.


Shelby J. Tisdale is the former director of the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture/Laboratory of Anthropology in Santa Fe and former director of the Millicent Rogers Museum. She is the author of Fine Indian Jewelry of the Southwest: The Millicent Rogers Museum Collection (Museum of New Mexico Press).


"This is a beautifully illustrated book that showcases the nineteenth-century Navajo textiles owned by the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The close-up photos of several pieces convey the soft, luxurious feel of the wool; the vibrancy of the red, white, indigo, and black colors; and the fineness of the weaving technique—all characteristics of these pristine textiles that have survived for more than one hundred years. . . . But this is more than a glossy 'coffee table book' and should be of great interest to scholars and those who are interested in Navajo history and culture. . . . (T)he combination of richly colored photographs, the emphasis on parallels to early basket designs, and scholarly interpretation from both a Navajo and Anglo perspective make this slim volume unique."


New Mexico Historical Review

"A beautiful color-photo illustrated text of fine examples of Diné textile and basketry weavings taken from the collection of the Santa Fe Museum of Indian Arts and Culture created between the 1850s and 1890s. (Joyce Begay-Foss and Marian Rodee) provide insights and perspectives on many of these beautiful textile works. . . . All color photos of weavings and basketry are stunningly and meticulously presented. . . . A fine, respectful presentation of priceless textile art works that have been carefully presented and preserved from a rich and colorful history."


Midwest Book Review

"This compact catalogue richly illustrates more than three dozen of the finest nineteenth-century serapes, blankets, biil (dresses), and baskets selected from a portion of the Museum of Indian Art and Culture's large and comprehensive collection of Navajo textiles woven between 1840 and 1880."


Journal of Anthropological Research

Published By Museum of New Mexico Press

8.5 x 10.5 in. 96 pages 65 color plates