Writer and Amazing Storyteller, Georgiana Simpson

http://www.amazon.com/Navajo-Ceremonial-Baskets-Sacred-Symbols/dp/1570671184/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1375746323&sr=8-2&keywords=Georgiana+Simpson

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.

Old Style Navajo Concho Belt by John Yazzie

Georgiana Kennedy Simpson of Twin Rocks Trading Post of Bluff, UT describes this Navajo Concho Belt.

Geogiana (Jana) Simpson knows her stuff.  Her dad, about to turn 100 years old, is a trader who is still going strong in Gallup, NM., where Jana grew up.  Like the Navajo artists, she learned her trade while she was growing up.

Thank you, Jana, for beinging so many innovations to Twin Rocks, and recognizing beauty!

The Navajo Sacred Basket and the Basket as Art

Native baskets are made by women, and a few men who lives as women

Baskets are the Province of Women… and a Few Men.

Basketry is generally a woman’s art that is also pursued by the nadle (he-to-she) or men skilled in the arts and lifestyle of both men and women. Basketry is not classified with textile fabrics (yistl’o), but with sewing (nalkhad).

Making baskets is a sacred act – many are used for ceremonial purposes.  Today, there are several amazing artists at Twin Rocks who have created an art form that is a fusion of tradition and cutting-edge contemporary art

Traditionally, while the basket is in progress, the sewer is untouched and avoided by the members of her family. The basket material, too, is placed beyond the immediate reach of the household.  The basketmaking is finished as quickly as possible.  Usually, the craft and art is passed down through women in the family, and learned at a young age.

In days past, if the basketmaking went on too long, sickness and rheumatic stiffness might affect both the wrists and the joints of the sewer.  This was remedied by a singer/medicine man who, in the course of a ceremony, clothed both arms of the patient with the skin of a fawn (bi’yazh).  Then, a hole was broken into the south side of the hogan through which the patient extended her hand and wrist. As soon as the wrist appeared on the outside, her younger sister took it between her teeth, pressing them lightly into the skin.  This removed the stiffness (nasdo’).

There are families of weavers we at Twin Rocks have been honored to work with in their passion to experiment with materials, colors and designs.  What they have created is mind-boggling.  We believe that creating a new art form is also a sacred act, and we applaud these men and women for their vision!

Elegant and Seductive Navajo Pottery

Navajo Pottery is practical and beautiful, making a prize for a collector

Navajo Corn Yei Vase by Kenneth White

The Navajo have made pottery in the Southwest since their arrival here sometime around the 16th century.

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!

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 Most Beautiful Place on Earth

Come to Twin Rocks Trading Posts and visit Arches National Park

Arches National Park is one of the natural treasures near Twin Rocks.

The First Morning

“This is the most beautiful place on earth.

“There are many such places.  Every man, every woman carries in heart and mind the image of the ideal place, the right place, the one true home, actual or visionary.  A houseboat in Kashmir, a view down Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, a gray gothic farmhouse two stories high at the end of a red dog road in the Allegheny Mountains, a cabin on the shore of a blue lake in spruce and fir country, a greasy alley near the Hoboken waterfront, or even possibly, for those of a less demanding sensibility, the world to be seen from a comfortable apartment in the tender, velvety smog of Manhattan, Chicago, Paris, Tokyo, Rio or Rome — there’s no limit to the human capacity for the homing sentiment.  Theologians, sky pilots, astronauts have even felt the appeal of home calling to them from above, in the cold black outback of interstellar space.

“For myself, I’ll take Moab, Utah.  I don’t mean the town itself, of course, but the country which surrounds it — the Canyonlands. The slick-rock desert.  The red dust and the burnt cliffs and the lonely sky — all that which lies beyond the end of the roads.”

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The above was written by Edward Abbey, and it is from his book about our red rock country, Desert Solitaire.  His use of words is incomparable.  The perfect description of how we feel about this, the part of the land we carry in our hearts.  The part that grabs travelers as they pass through.

Come to Twin Rocks in Bluff, UT and discover the art that emerges from this magical place.  You will be captivated and amazed. But you won’t be surprised. Art that comes from land with this sort of beauty is breathtaking, purely imagined, and the inspiration is clear.

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The Tree of Life Weaving Makes Life Beautiful

Click Here and Scroll Down!  http://www.twinrocks.com/products/8316-southwest-rug-navajo-rug-indian-rug-rug-weave.html

The Tree of Life — Interview with Navajo Weaver, Rena Begay, Master Weaver of Tree of Life

Unusual Tree of Life Weaving with Birds

Unusual Tree of Life Weaving with Birds

The Tree of Life is one of the most unique and interesting among Navajo myths and legends.

It is the story about where the people came from and their beliefs in the progression and movement of life.  It also sings about their connections with natural surroundings and the involvement of their gods in daily life.  It is the story of who the Navajo people are today and the rhythm of their lives.

Most Tree of Life weavings have a stalk of corn in the center.  And, at the base of this stalk, there is a symbol for the emergence of the people into this world.  It is a story about the center of life.

Is it any wonder that it is beautiful?

Bugs and birds, flowers and butterflies create flights of fancy in Rena Begay’s “Tree of Life” rugs.

Bugs are about who the Navajo people were in the first creation story. Butterflies represent personal creativity, and birds are our  connection with the gods.  Flowers are our way of remembering that life is beautiful, and a climbing vine refers to the upward moving way.

These are simple, gorgeous images woven in wool that recall our most basic hopes, wishes and needs.   Look closely at this rug… Remember that life is good and smiles upon us all.  A true miracle.

The Mysteries of Navajo Medicine

Navajo Medicine Men making a Healing Sandpainting

Navajo Medicine Men making a Healing Sandpainting

To most American Indians, medicine had/has a different meaning than we give it.  It comes with an entire array of ideas and healing concepts, as well as remedies and treatments.

An explorer, George Grinnell, wrote something that we’d like to share with you:

“All these things that we speak of as medicine, Indian people call mysterious.  And, the word mysterious is used to mean that their healing properties is beyond anyone’s power to account for.”

Isn’t this what the power of prayer or positive thinking amounts to?  Positive thoughts that we send up to the skies, or hopes and dreams that may or may not come true. And if they do come true?  It comes from the center of the great mystery–probably whichever form of religion we ascribe to.

He continues:  “We say that Indian people call whisky ‘medicine water.’ Translated, it is really called mysterious water, meaning water that acts in a way that’s not understandable.  And, in the same way, some tribes call the horse ‘medicine dog,’ and the gun ‘medicine iron‘.  Both are a mystery.

“People who we call a medicine man may be a doctor, a healer of diseases.  If he does something like juggle, he may be a worker of magic.  Either way, he is a mystery man.

“All Indian languages that we know of have words which are the equivalent of our word ‘medicine’, sometimes with curative properties.  But, the Indian’s actual translation of ‘medicine,’ used in the sense of magical or supernatural, would be ‘mysterious, inexplicable, and unaccountable.'”

Medicine is a mystery, almost any Western doctor will agree. Sure, there are formulas to make the medicine and give it. But, in the end, the same medicine works differently on everyone.  And that is a mystery.  We all understand that, and the best doctors will agree that, in the end, there is a magic inside the patient, whether we call it will, fate or chemistry, that will cause healing.

As an afternote, and a description of how much the term ‘medicine’ covers, John James Audubon, the great American painter and naturalist, said, “I think it’s notable that the Missouri valley Indians called the steamboat “great medicine.”  Truly, moving across a mighty river, with or against the current, certainly is mysterious.

So, let your mind roam the world of mysteries and wonders.  See how much comes down to the word “medicine.”  It’s just about everything imaginable!

Miss Navajo is Much More than a Sexy Bathingsuit

Miss Navajo Nation will carry on the tradition of Beauty and Pride in Womanhood

New Miss Navajo Nation, 2012 – 2013

We at Twin Rocks are proud of the young women who are our treasured neighbors, artists and storytellers.  We’ve published photos of Miss Navajo over the years, and we’d like to share with you a different cultural perspective on Beauty.

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Welcome (ya’at’eeh)  This, from:  www.missnavajonaton.com:

In keeping with Navajo culture and tradition, the role of Miss Navajo Nation is to exemplify the essence and characters of First Woman, White Shell Woman and Changing Woman and to display leadership as the Goodwill Ambassador.

Miss Navajo Nation represents womanhood, and she fulfills the role of ‘grandmother, mother, aunt, and sister’ to the Navajo people. And so, she can speak as a leader, teacher, counselor, advisor and friend.’

In March 1999, the Branch Chiefs of the Navajo government agreed that the tone of the fundamental principles of the Navajo government should be the preservation of the Navajo culture. It shall be the mission of the Office of Miss Navajo Nation to encourage every Navajo to assist in the preservation of Navajo culture, and Miss Navajo Nation will represent the importance of Navajo women with respect and honor.    From the Current Miss Navajo, Leandra Thomas:

“My name is Leandra Thomas. I am Naakaii Dine (Mexican/Spanish people) born for Tsi’naajinii (Black streak people). My maternal grandparents are Kiiya’aanii (Towering house people), and my paternal grandparents are Honagha’nii (Ones who walk around). I come from a small community called Steamboat Canyon, Arizona. I received my bachelor’s degree from Northern Arizona University in elementary education. I am pursing my master’s degree in bilingual multicultural education, also from NAU.

“I have two loving parents, Anderson and Bernice Thomas. I’m the youngest of four, with three older brothers Andy, Arlo, and Leander. The teachings that are instilled within me come from my family, grandparents, relatives, and our livestock. (Yes, she said livestock — we can certainly learn from other animals.)

“As an educator and a student, I feel the students are the ones who will be carrying on our Dine teachings. Our elders are the ones who share the stories, and from them we learn about our Navajo culture and language. Therefore, throughout the year, my focus is on our youth and our elders. Together, our Navajo Nation is able to reach great heights, and together we are able to walk in beauty.”

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Together… That’s how we all walk in Beauty.  Thank you, Leandra, an extraordinary young woman.  You make us all proud.