Art and American Indians

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Weaving a World: Textiles and the Navajo Way of Seeing

Roseann S. Willink
Paul G. Zolbrod

Navajo weavings, long regarded for their remarkable aesthetics, have never before been investigated from the standpoint of the weaver's process and intent. This book explores the patterns and irregularities often overlooked or considered "flaws" in these beautiful textiles, and it seeks to identify the mythic symbols and historic and personal stories they contain. The inclusion of objects and the use of color, pattern, and weave variations are found to be significant symbols of the way a weaver thinks about the world. A weaver may pray her way into the center of the rug, where the most intricate work and color will appear. Patterns may portray a vision of the world animated by spirits and holy people, recounting the creation of the heavens, the earth, and the loom itself. Weaving a World includes seventy rugs from the celebrated collection of the Laboratory of Anthropology in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and documentary photographs of today's weaving culture on the Navajo reservation.


Raised in Pueblo Pintado on the Eastern Navajo Agency, Roseann S. Willink has served on the faculty at the University of New Mexico since 1971. She has written widely on Navajo language and culture.

A native of Pennsylvania, Paul G. Zolbrod was an English professor at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania, for thirty years before relocating to New Mexico. In 1984 he published the monumental work Diné Bahane': The Navajo Creation Story (UNM Press), the most complete version to appear in English.


"(A) truly illuminating study of patterns and symbols found in Navajo textiles and their significance."


ALA Booklist

Published By Museum of New Mexico Press

10 x 8.25 in. 132 pages 100 color plates