The work is rare, it is unique, and, while sitting at Twin Rocks, Robert Taylor tells us how he makes amazing jewelry out of silver AND gold.
Get lucky, and hear it from a pro.
People often say that “Bluff is a feeling.”
Perhaps it’s the friendly, small-town feeling.
Maybe it’s the way you’re transported when you see the nearby petroglyphs, and you imagine how people lived here over a 1,000 years ago.
It might be the serenity and calm you sense when you discover the Milky Way on a clear night, the sky more brilliantly lit with stars than you, perhaps, have ever seen it. Or the freedom you experience as you take in the magnificent panorama of the nearby Muley Point overlook.
The Navajo word, “Hozho”, may explain it best. Hozho is the most important word in the Navajo language. It means peace, balance, beauty and harmony. To be “in Hozho” is to be at one with, and a part of, the world around you.
Consideration of the nature of the universe, the world, man, the nature of time and space, creation, growth, motion, order, control, and the life cycle, all expressed in terms quite impossible to translate into English.
We hope you feel this connection and come to discover Hozho when you visit Bluff.
Navajo Ceremonial Baskets: Sacred Symbols, Sacred Space
This well-documented work, beautifully illustrated with over 100 full color photographs of baskets, weavers, and related objects, details the history, origins, and meanings of these creations.
Included are detailed color photographs of vintage and modern baskets, portraits of award-winning basket weavers and their work, a section honoring a new generation of Navajo weavers, tips about the etiquette and safekeeping of ceremonial baskets, in-depth interviews with Navajo medicine men, and colorful takes of Kicking Rock Man, Changing Woman, Monster Slayer, and their role in the origin of the baskets.
Don’t wait, get this book! It has it all going on, and it’s also available on e-readers.
The Navajo Indian reservation is home to many amazing creatures.
One of them is called The Howler. It is a mysterious being believed to have killed dogs and livestock. Elders in the community call these predators Skinwalkers, and others call it the Navajo version of Bigfoot, particularly news people.
The reservation even has a special law enforcement agency that only responds to paranormal reports such as ghosts, witchcraft, UFOs and even Skinwalkers, or if you prefer, Bigfoot. (Nah, nothing like a Skinwalker…)
Díyín diné’é (The Holy People)
The Diné are ancient people with a multi-textured history and tradition. They believe they were created from Mother Earth and Father Sky. They are a part of the land, a part of their weaving, and a part of their Mother’s beauty.
And, every Indian nation has its unique story of catastrophic contact with the expanding European settlement of the continent.
The Cherokee, Choctaw, and Seminole nations walked a Trail of Tears in 1838 when forcibly removed from their homeland. Tens of thousands of Indigenous people have died in forced “relocations” and environmental desecration that drove them from their homes. General Carleton’s failed utopian agrarian experiment at Bosque Redondo with the Navajos during resettlement, like others, was a disaster.
The Navajos were taken from the protection of the four sacred mountains. Many say that the Navajo people ceased to perform many ceremonies during the time of their captivity at Fort Sumner. And, many remembered those four hard years of the “Long Walk” as an event with as much significance to the Navajos as the Civil War was for other Americans.
Twin Rocks is honored to learn from their resilient and humorous spirits and from the beauty they create.
The film uses artwork / firstpeople.us : “The Creation” – Richard Hook “A Navajo Wedding” – Alfredo Rodriguez Photo credit to: Harold Carey Jr. / navajo-arts.com, old-picture.com, Google.
We are overjoyed when he visits, and are blown-away by his art and his technique.
But, because people have made pottery since about the beginning of time, it’s a pretty sure bet that they brought pottery with them during their migration. The Navajos made both plain and decorated pottery, and the plain is usually considered to be their old-style.
After the railroads arrived in the Southwest during the 1880’s, the Navajos began weaving more rugs and making less decorated pottery — the rugs were very popular with the travelers who journeyed through our countryside. (No surprise there. They truly are unsurpassable.)
Today, there’s no need to push your way through a museum to see the old-style pottery. It is still popular today, and you can see fine examples of it at trading posts and galleries. (At Twin Rocks, we like to consider our collection particularly terrific!)
Navajo pottery is often pear-shaped, conically bottomed, and colored in a reddish brown. It is serviceable and made waterproof by coating it with resin from pinon pine. (Put your nose to the rim and inhale — the smell still lingers, and it is heavenly.) Once the resin permeates the clay, the pot can be placed in hot coals with no loss of the resin or its sealing properties.
The decorations are simple beading or applique. If the pot has the clay beads or fillets, a space or spirit break is included. It might appear as if the potter forgot to include one fillet — no, it is a mystic and intentional part of the design.
Anasazi culture potshards are ground and used as a tempering agent. The pot is built by coiling, shaped by hand with a corn cob and fired in an open pit. The Wedding Vase, and other styles of vases, are the most popular and they make unique gifts. Navajos also create large jars, but they’re rare — usually the pots are under 12 inches tall.
The love of Navajo pottery has recently surged, a happy event for all. Appliqued decorations include yucca plants, cactus, horned toads, animals, humans, and flowers. Collectors love them, and so do we!
Author Ellen Meloy lived in Bluff, and she left the earth far too early.
She captured our home here as few other writers have. And so, why use our words, when we can give you hers about this, our desert home.
“…in the desert there is everything and there is nothing. Stay curious. Know where you are—your biological address. Get to know your neighbors—plants, creatures, who lives there, who died there, who is blessed, cursed, what is absent or in danger or in need of your help. Pay attention to the weather, to what breaks your heart, to what lifts your heart. Write it down.” ~E.M. November 2004
When travelers come into Twin Rocks, they often ask us directions, the history of the land, about Navajo people. They want to know how we can live here, the epicenter of nowhere and everywhere. We should simply print out Ellen’s words and hand them out to our guests.
We could also say that her advice works just as well if you live in New York or L.A. You are still part of the natural world, and it makes sense to know your heart’s address, no matter where you live.
When researching her last book, she wrote, “…During my recent journeys this history (of land) felt foreign and unnervingly off-the-Map, even as I lived in its heart. Gaze out from the mesa, and you will meet my duplicitous lover. You will see eternity, a desert that like no other place exudes the timelessness of nature as the final arbiter. Scrape off our century, and you will find its usurper, pressed into a nugget of inorganic matter, the single greatest threat to the continuity of life. The history inscribed itself on the Map’s most alarming folios; ignoring it was no way to earn Home.”
Come visit us at Twin Rocks. Read one of Ellen’s books. Understand that when you come here, you, too, will see eternity. What a blessiing, Ellen. Thank you for your words.
The Crew at Twin Rocks.
Navajos have many forms of protection from people, events, and spooky beings. So, we at Twin Rocks, thought we’d start sharing a few tips with you, and show you art that’s been created to boost the protective energy.
The word “ambush” has a pretty interesting beginning. The word itself is an old word that means a shelter that’s formed by two trees or shrubs whose branches intermingle. Thus, it’s a good place to lay in ambush for someone, or to keep from being ambushed.
This leafy ambush is a setting that occurs repeatedly in myth. And, from the ambush, people have learned or invented protective rituals including herbal magic, frames, hoops, pokers, prayersticks, and pieces of carved wood.
A hero, hoping to shoot a ram or other animal that he did not recognize as a god, lay behind the ‘ambush trees.’ When the animal appeared, the hero was numb until it had passed. If the animal turned out to be a god, it would reveal himself as a deity to the hero. Then, the god would begin to teach the hero ceremonial lore and wisdom. In the once-were-coyote episodes, the intertwined trees become a shelter for the hapless hero who was bewitched into becoming a coyote.
The ceremony, or chant, to cure this is called Hoops of the Night Chant. The hoops are made of the ambush woods, which appear again in the pit-baking, and they’re associated with the wood samples of a healing herb.
In this remarkable basket woven by Jonathan Black, the rams offer protection from deities who might be waiting to ambush an unsuspecting person. Thank you, beautiful rams!
As always, Tony’s books are filled with Navajo lore, and they are spell-binding. At a moonlit Indian ruin—-where “thieves of time” ravage sacred ground in the name of profit—-a noted anthropologist vanishes while on the verge of making a startling, history-altering discovery. At an ancient burial site, amid stolen goods and desecrated bones, two corpses are discovered, shot by bullets fitting the gun of the missing scientist.
Modern mysteries abound in ancient places, and Navajo Tribal Policemen Lt. Joe Leaphorn and Officer Jim Chee must plunge into the past to unearth the astonishing truth behind a mystifying series of horrific murders.
Tony Hillerman was the former president of the Mystery Writers of America and received its Edgar® and Grand Master awards. His other honors include the Center for the American Indian’s Ambassador Award, the Silver Spur Award for the best novel set in the West, and the Navajo Tribe’s Special Friend Award. He lived with his family in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
When you are in Hillerman Country, stop by our Twin Rocks Cafe. Pick up one of Tony’s books. Where better to read about the heart of Tony’s settings than in Bluff, sitting on our porch, watching the magic roll over the mesas…