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  • Navajo artifacts

    I've been reading a book about Kit Carson, and in it, the author had a few words about Navajo artifacts, that he got from a book called The Book of the Navajo, by Raymond Locke. Quote: Navajos hated to complete anything-whether it was a basket, a blanket, a song, or a story. They never wanted their artifacts to be too perfect, or too close-ended, for a definitive ending cramped the spirit of the creator and sapped the life from the art. So they left little gaps and imperfections, deliberate lacunae that kept things alive for another day. Too them, comprehensiveness was tantamount to suffocation. Aesthetically and literally, Navajos always left themselves an out.
    Even today, Navajo blankets often have a faint imperfection designed to let the creation breathe-a thin line that originates from the center and extends all the way tomthe edge, sometimes with a single thread dangling from its border; tellingly the Navajos call this intentional flaw the "spirit outlet." unquote.
    What I was wondering, was if there was anyone that might have some Navajo artifacts that have noticed this. Someone might even have a modern blanket with this imperfection."

    I just thought it interesting.
    Gary
    My name is Gary. I live in NE South Dakota

  • #2
    That is very interesting Gary, thanks for posting that quote and info. I hope someone here has and posts some known Navajo artifacts......I would like to see an example or two of the intentional "spirit outlet"......very neat.

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    • #3
      Fantastic thread! Here is a basket I bought years ago at a garage sale with a few others. I was told they were Navajo. I sold the others and did very well. This was the one I kept. Notice the whitish triangle at 4 o'clock.
      Like a drifter I was born to walk alone

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      • #4
        Interesting. I suspect the Navajo were not alone in this custom. It exists in many cultures... it's an important feature of Japanese painting for example, where creating a perfect piece of art was considered offensive to the gods.
        There may be other reasons for imperfections too. I don't know how true the following might be but...
        ... there is a story that during "Little Big Horn", Crazy Horse had sustained injuries arising from a fall from his horse. A reservation doctor - Cyril Paquin - was said to have been kidnapped from his home by a bunch of Lakota Sioux natives and taken to a camp where he was asked/forced to treat Crazy Horse. The treatment was successful and the doctor was given an intricate beaded belt with a pouch as a gift. The belt still survives today. One of the claimed authenticating features for the belt is that it was "altered" to make it imperfect and that a Sioux would then recognise this item as having been given as a gift. Otherwise, a white man (or even a native from another tribe) found in posession of such a belt would have been put to death.
        I keep six honest serving-men (they taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When and How and Where and Who.

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        • #5
          Thanks Ray for the picture.  That is interesting that they put the white
          triangle in, where most of us would have probably made them all black.
          Glad  you had that picture.
          Gary
          My name is Gary. I live in NE South Dakota

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          • #6
            Thanks Roger for the info.  Its interesting how more than one culture can seem
            to come up with similar practices for similar reasons. 
            Gary
            My name is Gary. I live in NE South Dakota

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            • #7
              In this area of Texas we say why do today that you can do tommorow.

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              • #8
                Very interesting topic. Thanks for sharing the information Gary and the pic is very cool Ray.    
                TN formerly CT Visit our store http://stores.arrowheads.com/store.p...m-Trading-Post

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                • #9
                  I must have Navajo ancestry, all of my projects go unfinished. Now I can tell my wife it's intentional, a "Spirit outlet", OK !
                  Cool info in this one.

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                  • #10
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                    Gary here is 21in.X 22in. Navajo made rug if you want to call it that. My cousin owns a store and this Navajo woman gives him one of these every year for the little extra he does for her. Maybe next time I get home I will take my camera and take pics of them all. They are all different in designs. The only thing I see odd on this is there is one small area with black instead of blue and the corners are in a loop on 2 corners and not looped on the other 2.

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                    • #11
                      Butch Wilson wrote:

                      I must have Navajo ancestry, all of my projects go unfinished. Now I can tell my wife it's intentional, a "Spirit outlet", OK !
                      Cool info in this one.
                        Good one Butch.  I bet that might work!!
                      Gary
                      My name is Gary. I live in NE South Dakota

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                      • #12
                        Dan,  Your rug has a similar "imperfection" as Ray's basket.  It would be
                        nice to know if all your blankets have similar imperfections.  Thanks for
                        sharing. 
                        Gary
                        My name is Gary. I live in NE South Dakota

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