The Navajo culture and Navajo Arts and Crafts began more than 500 years ago. The Navajo people acquire their name from a phrase known as Teva Navahu, which means “highly- cultivated lands.” This phrase is used for their name because they are considered one of the largest Native American Indian tribes in the whole world.
Brief History of The Navajo
The Navajo are Indigenous people of North America who are believed to have migrated from the north into this region in the 18th century. Their exact origins are unknown but they may have come from the Athabaskan tribes of Canada or Alaska. They settled in three main regions in North America which were Northern Arizona, Upper Colorado River Basin in Southern Wyoming, and lower Rio Grande in Texas. The Navajos were one of the most feared, respected and misunderstood nations in modern American history.
The Long Walk
The Navajo Nation has struggled for centuries to retain its unique identity amidst hostility from outsiders who sought to destroy it. They have dealt with forced marches, military engagements, broken treaties and many other hardships that threatened their way of life. The Navajo people have gone through many hardships which threaten their way of life. The Navajo people were forced to march in the Long Walk, where they marched 120 miles from Fort Defiance to Fort Sumner in New Mexico.
This walk was led by Col. Christopher “Kit” Carson and the US military in 1863-1864. During this march, many Navajo people died from starvation, exhaustion and the cold. At the same time period, Navajo lands were being invaded by miners from the East who sought to take over their land for mining purposes.
In 1868, a new treaty was signed that led to the end of the Long Walk and allowed tribal members to return back home. During the 1870s, the US government forced the Navajo people to relocate into a series of reservations where they currently live today. While on their way to these reservations, more than 200 men, women and children died from starvation and exposure while in captivity.
The Navajo people have had some land disputes with American colonists over the years, but the biggest one came in 1882 when the US government passed a law that allowed for American settlers to enter and live on Navajo lands. This was met with opposition from the Navajo people who engaged in multiple conflicts and threatened to wage war against the US over their land rights. After much negotiation, a new treaty was signed which restored their rights to the land.
Today, the Navajo Nation continues to fight for its ancestral lands and have won multiple lawsuits against the US government which have allowed them to keep their land rights.
Navajo Arts And Crafts Have Been A Staple In The Southwest For Centuries
Navajo arts and crafts have been a staple in the Southwest for centuries. The Navajo Nation is the largest Native American federal territory in the United States, spanning 27,425 square miles of land across Arizona, Utah and New Mexico. This article will explore their history as a proud people as well as their arts and crafts that they have been crafting for centuries.
Navajo is a tonal language that belongs to the Athabaskan languages and is spoken mainly in the Navajo Nation. The Navajo dialects differ from one region to another and they retain their own distinctive character. The majority of the population speaks Navajo; however, some speak English as well. There are about 166,000 native speakers of Navajo and about 500,000 people who speak it as their second language.
Navajo Arts and Crafts
Navajo art is considered extremely beautiful and Navajo craft talent is unique. Through the arts and crafts, Native American cultures represent a unique, varied and colorful heritage. Many designs and symbols in their arts and crafts display the idea of their culture. The prominent Native American culture art is shown in the images of rain, lightning, crops, feathers, animals, and other nature designs.
Mainly, Native American crafts have been used in religious ceremonies for centuries. So as a functional part, the Native Americans used their craft to trade and fulfill their utilities in everyday life. However, the new technologies, markets, tools, and materials significantly influence the development of their arts and crafts industry.
The evolution of commercial sand paintings, silverwork, and painting on papers as new art forms are developed by the European developed markets and influences. In comparison, Navajo pottery and basketry are the oldest and more functional crafts of Navajos.
Navajo has been known as a nation of highly talented artists both in the art and craft industry. Their women weave unique blankets that express earth colors, warmth, and various designs. These blanket designs made by the Navajo women often represent Navajo spiritual significance and earth-like figures and patterns.
Whether you are attracted to the beauty and uniqueness of silver jewelry and turquoise or the earth colors of Indian pottery, you should have known something about American Indian arts and crafts to avoid unscrupulous retailers. To get the most of your money, you should avoid the retailers selling imitation American Indian arts and crafts.
For getting what you want, you have to look for the items that are marketed using the terms “Native American,” “Indian,” and “Alaska Native.” The products having these terms must be manufactured by a certified Indian artisan or a state member.
Atsidi Chon, one of the first Navajo silversmiths, went to Zuni to manufacture silver jewelry for sale in 1872. For the hospitality of a Zuni, known as Lanyade, Atsidi taught him silver jewelry. Lanyade was the only silversmith left in Zuni after the return of Atsidi.
Then the Lanyade taught other people of Zuni that how to make silver ornaments. Crafting spread all over the village in a minimal time, and Zuni evolved a unique style of lapidary work. The Zuni’s used small settings of preciously cut well match stones in their crafts and emphasized the turquoise rather than silver ornaments.
The Navajo people named the Dine came across three different worlds before emerging in this world known as Glittering World or the Fourth World. The Dine believed that human beings are classified into two classes. One the Earth people and the other one the Holy people.
The Earth people of the Dine are the essential part of the universe and do whatever they have to do to maintain and balance the harmony of their Mother Earth. In contrast, the Holy people of the Dine are believed to have the power to harm or aid Mother Earth.
It is believed that centuries ago, Dine learned from the Holy people how to live and conduct activities of their daily life. They learned that people lived in harmony with Father Sky, Mother Earth, and many other animals, plants, insects, and man. The Holy people developed four sacred mountains in four different directions.
Mt. Taylor to the south, MT Hesperus to the north, Mt. San Francisco Peak to the west near the Durango, and Blanca to the east, Colorado, and Navajo land. Four colors represent these four directions. Turquoise represents the south, Jet Black the north, Yellow Abalone the west, and White Shell the east.
The number four pervades in the traditional philosophy of Navajo. In the culture of Navajos, there are four seasons, four directions, the first four clans, and the four colors that represent the four sacred mountains. There are also four songs in most Navajo rituals. Also, many symbolic and wedding baskets use the number four for representing their culture.
To cure the people’s illness and other disorders in Navajo’s life, the medicine man uses prayers, songs, herbs, and ceremonies. A professional medicine man is an individual with unique powers and bestowed with the ability.
To diagnose the illness and to cure or heal it to provide harmony to the patient. Many people from different tribes come to Navajo for the treatment of their illness.
More than 50 different kinds of ceremonies may be used in the Navajo culture –
Navajos has 50 different ceremonies performed at various times or for a specific reason. The ceremonies may continue for several hours and as long as nine days.
Navajo Traditional Clothing & Hairstyle
Traditional Navajo men’s clothing includes white pants, cotton or a velvet shirt, short deer moccasins, a headband, and turquoise or silver jewelry.
Traditional Navajo women’s clothing consists of cotton or pleated velvet skirt with a matching blouse having long sleeves, knee or foot high deer moccasins, a shawl, silver sash belt or Concho, and Navajo jewelry.
Both men and women make a traditional hairstyle by wearing a tsiiyeel brushed with a long dried stiff brush of grass named be’ezo. Their hairs are tied in a bun behind the head with a white sheep wool string.
However, since the 1970s, women’s traditional Navajo skirts were made with a satin-type cloth material. And the skirts can be made from different types of materials, thus in a traditional Navajo skirt style.
Before the Mexican-inspired women’s skirt, a Navajo woman wore a woven wool rug dress known as biil. This dress is comprised of two rug panels formed of Navajo churro wool and expertly woven by the professional weavers of Navajo and then stitched to make a rug dress that is open from the head and arms. Each rug panel of the dress could take two weeks to several months, and it would depend upon the size and design of the rug dress.
Navajo people are Native Americans. They belong to the regions of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah. These Navajo people are still living in their old territories for centuries. These people are still living on a reservation, which belongs to them, and they have their government, laws, policies, security, and services in their small state.
Although these Navajos also have their American citizenship, they also obey American laws and respect their policies. In the past, each tribe or band of Navajo people were led by their tribal chief, they choose him in a tribal gathering, or you can say a tribal council.
In today’s world, almost every Navajo speaks English, and as per an estimation, nearly 20,000 thousand Navajo speak in their native language. In today’s world,
Navajo pottery designs, arts, crafts, and drawings have no resemblance. Navajo tribe is well known for jewelry making, basketry, weaving. Navajo pottery design is unique and special from that of other American Indians.
In Navajo drawings, Navajo sand painting has no resemblance. Sand paintings of these native Indians are among the most beautiful Mandela’s. These sand paintings are made either in the morning or early noon. And these are destroyed when the ceremony ends.
Sandpaintings look beautiful with soft and matching colors and minerals of sand. The variety of beautiful lines and colors add beauty to drawing. When the observer looks towards it, then he found himself in another world. The charm of this sand painting attracts people to itself.
Navajo sand paintings are still very unique and admired all around the world. Navajo drawings and sand paintings are mostly used in their Native celebrations. As they are painted on the sand by creative designers, they will have vanished as the celebration ends.
These paintings and drawings have their charm and beauty, and they add life to any decoration and celebration. Navajo drawings and artwork are rapidly expanding its forum, and its sales are increasing each day. Navajo drawings and artworks are now being sold out globally. Nowadays, it is limited to drawings and pottery works, but its designs could also be seen in the shape of clothing brands.
Navajo Pottery Designs
Navajo pottery designing is considered to be the most beautiful and expensive art form in today’s world. Other than their beauty, potteries are also important for fictional purposes such as storing water, ceremonial events, cooking, and eating purposes. Navajo pottery designs obtained excellent value in the market due to their decorative purposes, extraordinary craftsmanship, and unbelievable geometric designs.
It truly appreciates and is astonishing to think about the artworks of Navajo Native Americans over the past ten centuries. They got the last legacy due to their creative art designing skills and ethical work.
Although pottery work exists before Navajo Native Americans, Navajo people increase the credibility of this pottery work and their creative and ethical work in pottery designing. Soon the whole world recognized this craft, and Navajo crafts were well known in every part of that region.
Navajo pottery work also has a brief history. These Native Americans had started designing potteries around 700 BC. From that early age until today, there tremendous and creative of designing pottery is still popular and admirable. Let’s mention some of the well-known pottery designs of Navajo in bullets.
Navajo Etched Pottery
It is unique pottery. Navajo etched pottery is famous for being the corner region of the Navajo Nation. This famous etched pottery is one of the unique and premium forms which artists use to show their creativity and expertise in this field.
Sioux Indian Pottery
This handmade pottery is manufactured in a city named Rapid. It is Native American handmade. Sioux rain ox pottery with all of its color varieties and designs truly represents the people of Sioux and their culture. This is one of the famous pottery designs among Navajo pottery designs. To make this pottery, natives use local red clay and import white clay to make this pottery.
Pueblo pottery is made by the native indigenous Pueblo people, along with their antecedents. Pueblo pottery is central in the lives of pueblo peoples for centuries. These Puebloans belong to southwestern New York and the Northern part of New Mexico. Their art is a mystery in itself and admired not only in America but also worldwide.
Native American Pottery
Native American is a pottery art form with at least 7500 years of history. It has ceramics of fire with clay used in it. Many historians are represented through this historical pottery and can be seen in famous museums of South America.
These were some of the well-known pottery designs popular and promoting Navajo pottery values around the world.
Navajo Arts and Crafts Window Rock
Navajo arts and crafts enterprise is a company located in Window Rock, Arizona. Anyone in search of Navajo jewelry heads towards this region. One can also call it a store run by the native government to sell their most talented artist’s work, giving the proper payment for their valuable work.
Somehow art lovers visit this Native American land to buy their crafts and designs while thinking of their best prices and sometimes buying it from the villagers, who don’t know their valuable work. These crafts and designs are best of their quality. There everybody knows that these designs are made by native Navajo’s with the local sources and wools.
This Navajo arts and crafts store also sells out raw materials such as wools to other native Navajos to produce the same work or any other beautiful craft for themselves. In their store, they sell products and repair the product on the spot if you find any drawback.
Now they have got another building a bit far from where they store their material. If a man wants to repair his product purchased from the store, he may get it repaired within a week. Let’s get a review of some Navajo crafts.
Traditionally among natives, Kachina dolls are made from cottonwood roots representing their old culture and dressings and given to women dancers as gifts and children during their celebrations.
Among natives, Hopy is best known for its Kachina carvings, but at the same time, other native tribes also produce excellent carvings. Kachina doll makers are also sophisticated with valuable raw products in this modern age, including rubber, leather, colorful paints, and feathers.
Navajo Sand Painting
Sand painting could be included in both Navajo drawings and crafts. This craft has been part of the Navajo culture for centuries, but this sand painting has been commercialized as an art form. During the last five decades, these sand painting crafts have been used in Chantway ceremonies of Navajo people to help build a feeble patient back into peace and harmony and balance that ill patient.
Hatathli, the Navajo medicine man, warned his natives that copying religious symbols in different celebrations and ceremonies will cause illness to harm the artist; for this cause, sand painters often change the symbols used in their designs or crafts. Sand painting comes under unique Navajo arts and crafts.
Before the religious ceremonies on native lands, sand paintings were designed between dawn and sunset on the same day. Till the 1950s, sand paintings were not recorded due to this myth, or one can say due to their inert belief. After this time, designs of sand paintings starts evolving around. The artists use to grin rocks to form sand paintings in their local environment.
For sand medium, a special type of thinned and white glue is used. It requires excellent skills to produce a beautiful sand painting. Patience is also required to design a sand painting because you can only apply new color if the previous one is dry. And you will get a beautiful craft at the end as a result of your patience and handwork. This craft of sand painting adds life to the crafts of Navajo Native American peoples and increases their credibility.
One of the well-known and prominent crafts among Native Americans is Silverwork. Earlier silver pieces were replicas of European ornaments, especially Spanish ornaments. These include; earrings, wire bracelets, bridle decorations, and beads. The silverwork is one of the contemporary crafts carried by Navajo Native Americans.
The Mexican silverwork experts played an excellent role in teaching the Navajo Native Americans about silverwork craft. This Navajo art and craft of silverwork also add value to Native American craft designing. Stamp and Chisel’s work was the primary Native American decoration on the silver.
In silver works, few techniques like the overlay were not discovered until 1930. Before 1850 few American native tribes worked with metals when silver was first time learned. Later the use of silver in jewelry making was largely influenced by trading posts.
Navajo Arts and Crafts for Kids
As per a survey, Navajo artwork has a tremendous influence among kids. Because these artworks could be seen in their classrooms. As per the survey results, persistence image in their minds. A clear or keen image of their childhood and ancestors reveals their past and cultural values to them.
In these schools, they are also being taught about drawing paintings and designing crafts. Peer images of drawing ability and designing crafts are appearing among the Navajo kids, and they also polish these abilities while competing in different competitions of art-making. Let’s mention some Navajo art and crafts for kids.
Nez Perce Shirt
This is a craft mostly made by kids using beads, furs, locks of hairs, and feathers. This craft has a cool and decent look. It is also preferred by tribe leaders in native lands at their times because it’s an early draft.
Dance by Black Hawk
This is a picture a valuable picture in which women folks are performing their cultural dance. It is a Navajo drawing. Black Hawk draws it. Due to its amazing art in the painting, native kids love to copy this craft of Black Hawk.
This craft also has a lot of fun to do for kids. Generally, the basket in it has a diameter of 35 inches. Many American Indian kids and artists make this. For the first time, it was made by a lady named Carrie Bethel. It was also a necessary craft for native Indians to carry their stuff.
Over time this basket designing turned towards art as the designers started using various colors and dyes to design these baskets. This craft attracted many viewers due to its unique and admirable dye using. This is amazing Navajo art and craft for kids by its first designer Carrie.
Navajo blankets, rugs are the finest art of Navajo Native Americans. Although this craft has an old history for the first time, it was introduced in the 1800s. Mostly the Navajo Native Americans produce practical items such as blankets, dresses, and cloaks. They attained fame when they were allowed to sell out their products out of their country by weavers.
Wooden Fish Mask
It is one of the best craft for kids to make. These masks are mostly used in ritual ceremonies and are a type of art. This fashion could be seen in today’s parties. It is also a myth that a person wearing a mask of any animal will get its spirit. This craft is suitable for kids.
These native peoples also place Navajo arts and crafts for sale in the stores and markets in their native lands, and many visitors buy these beautiful crafts for their loved ones.
Arts and Crafts from 5 Different Cultures
Navajo art and crafts and their designs have no match, and it depicts their old traditions and values. These Indian Native Americans keep their history and traditions through this crafting and designing because it begins with their ancestors. In today’s world, if these people are recognized, their crafts and artwork are reasons.
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