A Man Who is an Unusual Weaver, Allison Billy

Georgiana Kennedy Simpson from Twin Rocks Trading Post interviews Navajo Rug Weaver Allison Billy.

Allison is one of the few men in Utah, or in any part of the Navajo Nation, who is a weaver.  Traditionally a woman’s art, Allison talks about how he learned (from his grandmother), and when he learned –when he was nine years old.

Allison is a terrific storyteller, and listening to a rare person is always, well, a rare treat.

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When the Great Flood Deluged Navajoland

Many cultures have a story about a Great Flood

The Great Flood Hits Bluff

Most people around the world hold the story of the Great Flood as part of their basic belief system.  And, every tribe’s story is somewhat similar to our own tribe’s story of the Great Flood told in the Bible.

Water, in the legends, is a primary world, a preworld, a world that gives birth to the present one. Through the energy of water, man is forced or driven to rise to a higher plane. In many origin stories, The People are (as in the Biblical tale) indifferent to their plight, and thus only the worthy, the “listeners” — men, animals, birds, and insects —  are brought up into the next world.

The Great Flood, as known the world around, is a purifier which illustrates that the earth’s creatures are out of balance. In the Creek Indian legend, The People fish from their housetops until they are drowned. Later, they are turned into mosquitoes.

The Navajo version shows how Coyote stole two Water Monster babies and brought on the flood by stealing from the Water Monster mother. Water, in all of the stories, is a complement to Fire, a mysterious power that must be understood in order to be used properly.

Luana Tso, magnificent weaver, presents her own interpretation of the Hero Twin known to us mortals as Monster SlayerWith his brother, Born-for-Water, this brave warrior became a hero in legend to the Navajo.  Directed by their father, the Sun Bearer, and with some very nasty implements of war, the boys purged the most dastardly beasts to extinction. 

No wonder this bad-boy-hero-of-the-desert inspired the mellow weaver, Luana.  Might there be more untapped emotion beneath her tranquil surface than we guess? We would say a large YES!, and we can’t wait to see what Simpson weaving Luana conjures up next on her loom!

The Heart of the Southwest

Twin Rocks in the the center of all there is to see in the heart of the Southwestern US

All roads lead to Twin Rocks, in amazing Bluff, UT

Why come and visit us at Twin RocksEasy.  You’ll have a great time that is completely unique.

The Twin Rocks Trading Post sits just beneath the Navajo Twins geologic formation in the historic pioneer town of Bluff, Utah. Barry and Steve Simpson, local boys, share their passion for cultural tradition and artistic innovation with both artists and visiting collectors.

Open minds and imagination have resulted in a Navajo basketry renaissance. You’ll also discover one of the finest contemporary Native American turquoise jewelry collections in the world. (No kidding!) And, the Twin Rocks Modern Navajo rug is the first Navajo weaving design innovation in decades.

Pop in.  There’s always a lively conversation going on about the west of old, contemporary Indian art, and travel exploits.  (Tell us yours!)

This is our home. If you have any questions about the Four Corners regional culture and landscape, feel free to ask us.  If we don’t know, we’ll point you in the right direction. When you visit us in Bluff, we promise you a top-notch experience in Native American art and hospitality.

Our friendly team is happy to give you an authentic experience that is comfortable, informative and fun. Like many people we have met over the years, we hope you come through our front door as customers and leave as life-long friends. And, you can always give us a buzz at 1-800-526-3448.

Welcome to our part of the planet, friends. Life will never look quite the same way again.

Two Navajo Artists Find Grace in their Folk Art

Navajo carfts, and carvings, teach us about the old gods, the animals spirits and the place they hold in our lives.

Marvin Jin and Grace Begay, Navajo Artists, Find Grace and Fun

Based upon the Navajo Creation Tales, the extraordinary and unique sculptures of Marvin Jim reflect a time long ago, when animals and humans walked and worked together to create this new world.Traditional Navajo stories speak of conversations among all beings, of behaving in a manner of mutual respect, and of all beings having an equal position in the community. These legends are an essential part of the Navajo culture.

The tales are of universal interaction, compassion and tolerance — all the things necessary to live a balanced existence.

The animals played prominate roles in these myths. For example, Coyote is often portrayed delivering fire to humans, a selfish act initially, but one that proved selfless in the end. There was Turkey who kept his wits about him during the great flood. When everyone else grabbed  personal possessions, Turkey gathered life-giving seeds. These seeds made it possible for the people to survive.

The four great rams who dispersed the flood waters into a mirage world, making the earth livable are mentioned. Duck, who dove back into the troubled waters to fetch the forgotten medicine bag of First Man is also an important part of the stories. This act cost him his beautiful plumage, but gave rise to the sacred mountains which guard and protect the people.

Marvin has chosen to recreate these lessons through sculpture. Raised in the traditional Navajo way, this talented young artist, carves his “upright animals” to show that there was once, and will be again, a personal connection to the animal world.

There is a special grace and love in his work that make you feel happy.  Isn’t that a miraculous thing?

The Stories We Weave

Master basket weaver, Mary Holiday Black, has baskets in the Smithsonian and is represented by Twin Rocks Trading Post

Mary Holiday Black, Weaving Stories into Baskets

All Navajo baskets are made by using the coil method of weavingThe material is rhus trilobata, which is a fancy name for three-leaf sumac.

The foundation for all designs is the Navajo ceremonial basket.  This mystical ceremonial basket, with its wonderful curative powers in the hands of the medicine man, is still woven and used in traditional Navajo healing rites.

In the late 1960’s, a few Navajo basket weavers experimented with other pictorial elements such as yei’i (Navajo gods) and eagles.  As a result, Navajo basket artistry is experiencing an extraordinarily rich period of innovation.

The innovator and prime weaving teacher is Mary Holiday Black.  The work of younger fine basket artisans, such as Elsie Holiday, Lorraine Black, Alicia Nelson and Joann Johnson have exploded into a plethora of representational and geometric designs, making Navajo basketry one of the most exciting movements in contemporary Native American art.

Actually, one of the most exciting movements in any art form.  And it is right in our own Southwest backyard. Life is good!