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H贸zh贸:Walk in Beauty Din茅 (Navajo) Weavings and Sand Paintings from the Tufts University Permanent Art Collection


Published in conjunction with an exhibition by students in American Studies Independent Study Fall 2013 | Professor Joan A. Lester

40 Talbot Avenue Medford, MA 02155 artgallery.tufts.edu artgallery@tufts.edu 617-627-3518 Š Tufts University Art Gallery


Hózhó:Walk in Beauty Diné (Navajo) Weavings and Sand Paintings from the Tufts University Permanent Art Collection

The desert evening colors are the sunset Of my grandmother’s loom, Woven with love and patience. Woven with Spider Woman’s tales and Lingering scents of soapweed and lanolin The desert evening colors are the sunsets Of my grandmother’s loom Woven with old and new patterns, Woven with a capering foxé Like a rainbow dancing, against The massive canyon wall The desert evening colors become the sunsets Of my grandmothers loom, Just before the fleeting indigo passes Just before the fleeting indigo passes.

We would like to thank the

-Bernice Baya Levehuk, Diné

collection to Tufts in 1997.

Tufts Art Gallery for all their efforts, especially Laura McDonald, John Rossetti; Tufts Art Gallery and American Studies for their financial support, Amber Frommherz, Tufts ‘11, our Dine advisor, without whom we would not be able to create this exhibit; and Karl Gilmont, who donated his Southwest Native American


Hózhó:Walk in Beauty

We created this exhibit Hózhó: Walk in Beauty, Diné (Navajo) Weavings and Sand Paintings to respectfully and accurately present aspects of Diné’s life using the historical context from which these specific objects emerged. Our focus was on the voices of the Diné people: presenting only their words and perspectives inside the case, incorporating Diné vocabulary, and following the suggestions and criticisms of our Diné advisor. Nonnative voices have been limited to photo and object identifications and exhibit titles.


DinĂŠ (Navajo) Weavings and Sand Paintings from the Tufts University Permanent Art Collection

It is our hope that this exhibit will encourage other students to embrace the university art collections as a means of connecting with the art and lives of people worldwide.


Na’ ashjèii Asdzáá: Spider Woman

Spider Woman instructed the Navajo Woman how to weave on a loom which Spider Man told them how to make. The cross poles were of the sky and earth cords, The warp sticks of sun rays. The healds of rock crystal and sheet lightening. The batten was a sun halo, white shell made the comb. There were four spindles: One a stick of zigzag lightening with a whorl of cannel coal. One a stick of flash lightening with a whorl of turquoise, A third had a stick of sheet lightening with a whorl of abalone, A rain streamer formed the stick of the fourth and its whorl was white shell — Diné song Rug Weaver, Begay Family, Window Rock, Arizona


“I dedicate this art to all the guardians of Spider Woman’s spirit and the weavers of the Dineh nation.” — Shonto Begay

“Mother honors Spider Woman, the mythical weaver who taught the First Woman how to weave. As a baby, her weaving future was insured when her mother rubbed her tiny arm and hand with the web of a spider.” — Willie Peshlakai

Shonto Begay (reproduction of a painting)


Dahliist’ Łó: Ready to Weave

“You have to have an intimate relationship with the land…so that you understand the language and the different shades and the different forms… It’s the same with the rugs. You have to understand the type of fabric, the type of materials, where they come from, how you feel them, how you see them.” — Esther Yazzie


Sources of Navajo Native Dyes

“I first had to learn how to shear sheep to get wool for weaving a rug. Then I had to learn how to card and spin the wool. Then I taught myself how to dye the wool for making different color rugs.” — Mary Peshlakai


Iina: Weaving is Life “Spider Woman gave Changing Woman one last instruction. Every rug that has a border must have an opening, a light colored piece of yarn woven into the dark border. If you don’t leave an opening, it will close in your life and thoughts.” —Diné bahane’: Navajo Creation

“They pass out papers and say you weave one like this. Your grandmother that passed away, she never ever did copy one… She used to say I’ll weave my own pattern.” — Clarenda Begay

Pictures of old-style rug designs by Lorenzo Hubbell hang in his trading post for Dine weavers to copy.


“The paintings have good feelings. I like to copy them, yes they are alive. The feelings that are there are good.” — Helen Kirk

“Hubbell was very kind to us and he really spoke Navajo too. He was good friends with my grandmother. He really helped us.” — Grace Henderson Nez

“Navajo rug weaving isn’t just visual art but rather the feelings and wisdom that go into it.” — Gloria J. Begay Woven by Clara Davis, St. Michaels, From the Ganada region, based on one of Lorenzo Hubbell’s designs.

“Weaving is iina. Weaving is a way of life, it is beautiful, it is our thinking, it secures our well being, it consoles our feeling and it perpetuates our Navajo traditions and womanhood.” — D.Y. Begay


Yei ii Bichii: Images of the Holy People “I was raised by my great grandfather, a medicine man... I got to know my people’s culture, my heritage. The Yeii Bichii are spiritual messengers to the Dine. I modify my images to the satisfaction of the tribes’ spiritual leaders.” — David K. John “Through sacred legends, the Yei advise The People on how to conduct their lives. Old Way Navajo like my family follow these instructions carefully.” — Willie Peshlakai

Hathlai (Medicine Man) preparing a dry painting Nelson B. Watchman, Sheep Springs, Arizona

“Rainbow People are considered as spirits of the Gods by the Navajo. They put them in their sandpaintings for strength and protection. This painting is made from natural colors of sand and rock.” — Lina Willie

“Blessing Seed—the four sacred plants: corns, beans, tobacco, and squash. Used in the blessing way, to help make better plant grow.” — Sadie Akee, Tuba City


“Oh, that’s my rug, from long ago. — Lillian Taylor

Lillian Taylor and daughter…2014

“I feel a sense of power when making Yei ii bichii. They are spiritual healers. Gods that protect. I never portray them as they really are.” — Ric Charlie

“They place Yei ii bichii dancers on the rug. We could use those as our designs but it is our religion. It is holy to us. It is through the Holy People that we’ve come into existence and that is the reason I don’t use yei as part of my designs.” — Grace Henderson Nez


Béésh Łigalii Yisidí: Silversmithing

“My grandfather was a silversmith. He began teaching me when I was a young boy. I am happy with what I do and will pass it on to my children.” — Harrison Bitsui Sandcast silver Jewelry, Private Collection

“I make jewelry out of silver. Every piece is made with the meanings of my traditional ways—the Navajo way of living.” — Tommy Singer


Silversmith creating sandcast jewelry Nelson B. Wachman Sheep Springs, Arizona

Molds for molten silver


Family of Lillian Taylor at the Heard Museum Native American Art Show

Hozho: Walk in Beauty  

Dine (Navajo) Weavings and Sand Paintings from the Tufts University Permanent Art Collection

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