Master Navajo Rug Weavers

Master Weaver: Ellen Begay 1964-2011

Ellen was a very kind and gentle soul with an infectiously beautiful smile.She lived her entire life with serious health issues, but always maintained a positive attitude and outlook on life.Born for Bitter Water and Tangled up People (The Clans of her parents) She lived her entire life in the Nazlini area.

Ellen never repeated a rug design or duplicated one of hers or of anyone else.  Each rug was a new masterpiece. Since Ellen had health problems since she was a young girl, she would weave perfection into each rug as if it may be her last. It was not uncommon for a 4 x 6 rug to require up to a year or a year and a half to compete. She and Lucy's designs defy regional style definition, they were unique.

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Master Weaver: Frances Begay

Frances started weaving in 1982 when she was 26 years old. Her grandmother Mary Begay taught her how to weave and her Aunt Sara Begay taught her the Crystal design.

My grandma thought I could carry on what she taught me. Weaving makes me think of tradition and spirit. I always think of my late grandmother and Aunt when I weave. They were a major influence in my life.

It is exciting to see my weavings for sale on the internet and then to see that someone appreciates what I do and buy them for their home.

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Master Weaver: Elsie M. Bia

Elsie, “My favorite designs are Burntwater, Wide Ruin, Ganado Red and Teec Nos Pos.  Weaving rugs is a Navajo tradition and it is passed down by my family, and I Love to weave.  It is my only income and it helps me a lot.  Awards: 3 Best of Category Awards; 6- 1st Place Ribbons; 2 – Artist Awards and many smaller awards.

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Master Weaver: Helen Bia

Helen Bia started weaving when she was 15 years old and was taught to weave by her mom, Mary Y Bia and her older sister Lucy B Begay.Helen has won many awards from the Gallup All Indian Inter-Tribal Ceremonial.  Her weavings have also been in exhibitions at the Desert Caballeros Western Museum. 

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Master Weaver: Irene Bia

Irene started weaving when she was 13 years old and was taught to weave by her mother and paternal grandmother. Helen has won many awards from the Gallup All Indian Inter-Tribal Ceremonial.  Her weavings have also been in exhibitions at the Desert Caballeros Western Museum. 

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Master Weaver: Cara Yazzie Gorman

Cara has won numerous awards at the Gallup All Indian Inter-Tribal Ceremonial and has hand many of her weavings exhibited at the Desert Caballeros Western Museum in Wickenburg, Arizona.

Cara was taught to weave by her Grandma, Nabaglenabah Tsosie – down in Canyon de Chelly by Spider Rock area.

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Cara Gorman

Master Weaver: Katherine Marianito

In 2010 Kathy picked up more awards at the Gallup Inter-Tribal All Indian Ceremonial, including a First Place and Best of Category.  At the Indian Market, her work is always sought-after by collectors, as she is one of the few Navajo weavers using silk and alpaca in addition to traditional Churro yarn. 

Kathy never forgot her mother’s words about how these lessons on the loom would stay with her, so she would always have her own income.  “I never forgot how to weave or to do things my own! My very own hands, my designs… that’s how I got started.” 

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Master Weaver: Lucie Marianito

Lucie Started Weaving in 1966 when she was 20 years old. She was taught by her grandma, Eunice Guy, and her mother, Laverne Marianito. All of my sisters weave and I believe are famous. When I am weaving I forget about my worries – they go away. Weaving reminds me of the good old days, when my grandmother would weave in a little shade outdoors. 

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Master Weaver: Judy Marianito

Judy started weaving when she was 31 years old. She was taught by her older sister Lucie Marianito. All of my sisters weave and I believe are famous. My mom, Laverne Marianito, was a major influence for me. My favorite design is the 1st and 2nd Phase Chief Blanket.  Weaving is part of my life and keeps me going.  I like to think that there are people that like my weavings, appreciate the work and enjoy the beauty of it.

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Master Weaver: Julia Upshaw

Julia started weaving when she was 19 years old and was taught to weave by her mother, Laverne Marianito, a major influence in her life. Julia has won many awards from the Gallup All Indian Inter-Tribal Ceremonial. She won the highest award for the Silk Serape she is wearing. 

I like to weave!  I just like to weaveI have been weaving all my life.  It is hard work and a challenge, but that is ok with me.  Weaving is part of life and keeps my feet on the ground."

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Master Weaver: Grace Nez

Master Weaver: Grace Nez March 5th 1937 – February 16, 2013  A tribute to a wonderful lady - Master Weaver Grace Nez. She is also the mother of some of the most beautiful ladies and Master Weavers we know. One of the most talented Navajo weaving families, if not “the” most talented weaving family working today!!!

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Grace Nez

Master Weaver: Helene S. Nez

Helene Nez learned weaving from her mother, Master Weaver Grace Nez.  She started weaving when she was 19 and is now a master weaver herself.  Helen said, "Sandpaintings are my favorite design.  In the sandpainting, the rainbow is special to the Navajo because it represents rain.  Rain washes away pain and gives us moisture for life."

Helene has won 6 Major Awards at the All Indian Inter-Tribal Ceremonial from 2006 to 2014.  Most of her weavings take up to 2 years to make, otherwise she probably would have more honors. Her weavings have also been on exhibit in the Desert Caballeros Western Museum in Wickenburg, AZ. 

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Master Weaver: Cecelia Nez

Cecelia Started Weaving in 1993.  She was taught by her sisters and her Mother Grace Nez 

Cecelia has won “BEST OF SHOW” which is the highest honor awarded, for a beautiful Teec Nos Pos  weaving, from the Gallup Inter-Tribal Ceremonial in 2014She not only won, 1ST PLACE IN THE CATEGORY OF TEEC NOS POS, but also, BEST OF ALL WEAVINGS, and then BEST OF SHOW! …  which means that her weaving was the best of all entries in all categories for the year of 2014!!

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Master Weaver: Linda Nez

“My favorite designs are Teec Nos Pos. I really enjoy my work. It is like a therapy for me when things are bad, weaving for me is like taking a walk in the mountains. When I take a walk in the mountains I see the birds and waterfalls and such which makes me feel better. As I weave and chose colors to work them into my design, that reminds me of nature. Weaving reminds me of good things. I like to watch the colors grow in my weaving as I would watch the water flow in a waterfall.” said Linda.

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Master Weaver: Cindy Nez

Cindy, her mother and 6 sisters are all award winning and highly respected Master WeaversCindy, “I have always lived on the Navajo Nation, as most of my family.  I have worked with other art forms like painting, basket making, Kachinas, etc. but my heart is most at home when weaving with the wool.  I have designs come into my mind all the time and look forward to each new one that may come into my imagination and then hopefully to my loom.” 

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Master Weaver: Marian Nez

Marian Nez born in 1967, is Helene and Cindy's big sister. She was taught to weave by her mother and grandmother. A master weaver, she has won many awards and her weavings were exhibited in the Desert Caballeros Western Museum in Wickenburg. One of the best Navajo weaving artists alive and still weaving today.

Marian was one of eight sisters along her mother, weaving in an eight sided Hogan, with her mother and her loom in the center.  They were all clearly inspired by one another, competing with their design and color innovations.  Steve considered it a weaving Think Tank for innovating Navajo Weaving designs!  All were a great tribute to their mother and grandmother's talent and teaching. 

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Master Weaver: Melinda Nez

Malinda is the main sheep herder in the Nez family.  She started weaving late in life, after her mother and 7 sisters, are all award winning and highly respected Master Weavers, encouraged her to weave as well.  Melinda started to weaving smaller rugs and is now right up there with TALENT on par with the rest of the family.   

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Master Weaver: Selena Yazzie

 I was seven years old when I started weaving – just by helping my grandmother in this way.  When I was ten years old, I completed my first rug.  During the summertime, I wove rugs to purchase my school clothes and supplies.

My favorite designs are: Two Grey Hills and Eye Dazzlers. Weaving kept me busy – physically and mentally.  It provided me with income to raise my children.  I enjoy weaving, it allows me to create various patterns with many different colors.  Sometimes, I think to myself, did I make that?  I am proud of myself – I am an artist!

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