Intentional Flaw? Deliberate Mistake? Perfectly Imperfect?
Recently a new collector inquired about how much would a weavings value and collectability be diminished if the weaver made a mistake in the mirror image of the design. The answer is zero.
Navajo are deeply religious. They believe nothing is perfect, except for the Gods. They were given the gift of weaving by the Gods and taught by Spiderwoman herself - an important deity to the Navajo. To honor the Gods, Navajo weavers deliberately incorporate an imperfection.
Often times one must closely study weavings to find the deliberate mistake. Here at the gallery we enjoy looking for and finding the change up in the design. Even our eyes we miss them sometimes. It becomes a bit of a game. Some weavings may only have one, others have a few. When we find a weaving with several flaws we imagine the weaver may have been overly superstitious and wanted to ensure the Gods would be pleased and no bad luck would follow.
Some of the most important pieces collected have fairly obvious deliberate imperfections. One example is the 3rd Phase Chief Blanket which is on the front cover of Navajo Textiles by Nancy J. Blomberg. That 3rd Phase is part of the William Randolph Hearst Collection. Without working too hard we came up with 7 imperfections in the design.
Here is a weaving that we currently have available. Can you find an imperfection? At the bottom we will share what we have found. Warning - this is a tough one but give it a shot.
There is another deliberate imperfection called the Spirit Line or Spirit Pathway. Navajo believe that when weaving a rug, the weaver entwines part of her or his spirit into the rug. The spirit line prevents the weavers spirit from being trapped and allows weaver's spirit to safely exit the rug. Spirit Lines are found in rugs with a border - however not all bordered rugs have spirit lines. It is up to the weaver as to how they will incorporate their personal deliberate imperfection. Look to the top right corner of the weaving below for the Spirit Line.
Not a surprise we adore Navajo weavings and are honored we can share our collections with the world. While we have been in this business for more than half of a century there is still much to learn about Navajo weaving, past and present. Without a doubt Navajo have been given the gift of weaving by the Gods and for that we cannot be more thankful.
Here is the answer from the challenge above.
Here are a few more to try. Enjoy!
- Beth Barth