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Native American Culture

The Art of the Navajo People

The Navajo Nation is filled with people who create pieces of art that are collected and coveted around the country and the globe. Steeped in rich tradition, many of these art forms carry not just beauty but also deep meaning. Let’s take some time to learn the heritage behind each piece and it will become quickly clear why their art is sought after and brings with it large price tags. 

Navajo blankets are popular for display purposes but are often used to dress up a saddle pad. Initially, this art form was a matter of practicality and used for wearing, sitting, or as doors on dwellings. Researchers show the technique the Navajo people used was picked up from the early Pueblo people but it didn’t take long for the Navajo to add their own style to this art form. While Pueblo men generally did the weaving, Navajo women were the primary artists and they added things like the “spirit trail” or “weaver’s pathway” which is a line running off the edge of the blanket which allowed her spirit to escape this piece and move onto the next. 

Sand painting is an art form that may qualify as one of the most intricate styles in the entire world. In a traditional sand painting, each element represents a part of a sacred ritual performed to celebrate the gods. A true sand painting is done in the mornings or early afternoons led by a medicine man and after the completion of the sandpainting and the ceremony the sand art is destroyed. Because of their beauty, significance, and intricate detail, the sand painting has become another piece for collectors to seek and display in their homes and offices. 

The Navajo Nation is probably best known for its handmade silver jewelry adorned with turquoise. While this intricate jewelry has had its ups and downs in popularity recently the style has stayed in high demand. Traditional pieces include things like squash blossoms, concho belts, and Navajo pearls. In the western world, these pieces could be compared to diamonds and used as a status symbol of sorts for nights out on the town or at a rodeo. 

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