Style: Sandpainting Weaving
History of Sandpainting Rugs
Weaver, artist and prominent medicine man, Hasteen Klah was considered to be the founding inspiration behind this beautiful, often spiritual style of weaving. Originally a blanket weaver, Klah eventually moved to sketching and paintings for Franc Newcomb, a trader’s wife, until he attempted his first Sandpainting weaving in 1919. His style would continue on through students Beaal Begay and Mary Cabot Wheelwright; the latter of which was the founder of the Wheelwright Museum.
View a Navajo reservation map of the origin of each of the regional rug styles - a new window will open
Elaborate Purification of Spirit
Often representing the graphic and sacred renderings of the Navajo’s religious world, Sandpainting Rugs are depictions of purification and blessing rituals. They depict dry paintings which are part of the ceremonies themselves. There is a unique view as to why the stories behind these ceremonies are shared with “outsiders.” As such, it took a long time before weavers and storytellers could find a happy medium for these pieces to be seen by all.
Dedication to the Craft and Ceremony
Weavers who created Sandpainting textiles are often considered to be among those with the strongest sense of individualism. Their confidence and ability to express colors, figures, and intricate designs must translate effortlessly to pay proper respects to tradition, history and religious beliefs. And because these rugs often were of large size, physical and mental endurance play a factor in their completion. It is also important for the weaver to understand, take part in, and properly interpret the sandpainting true to the dry painting design.
Representing Integrity, Power and Spirit
A beautiful, esoteric art form held sacred for secular reasons, Sandpainting Rugs are one of the most meaningful ways to preserve the Navajo heritage. Iconic in meaning and unmatched in their stylization, only a master weaver can perfectly encapsulate their inner strength, the spirit of the Navajo, and the cosmic universe as a whole. We take utmost pride in providing these remarkable and expressive works and hope you respect and love them as much as we do.
In the Spring of 2016 Nizhoni Ranch Gallery had an exhibit featuring the Woven Holy People - sandpaintings, yei, and yei be chei weavings. Take a look at highlights from this exhibit, view the program guide online, free. Click here.