As said before it was Bi-leen Al-pai-Bi-zha-ahd who ostensibly designed this rug, and some of the elements do have important antecedents in Navajo weaving. The central diamond is one of the two features immediately seen in plate XXX and as a motif it symbolizes the Navajo homeland. The geometric shapes and aesthetics certainly indicated to potential buyers that these rugs were Navajo. However, Moore also had a hand in these designs. Like many of the Navajo traders he realized that by selling exactly what buyers on the East Coast wanted he could greatly increase demand. The two T-shaped bracketing elements seen on each rug likely do not originate from the Navajo, but we see in this example that they come from the pile woven carpets of the Caucus mountains. J.B. Moore was particularly well-known for introducing 'Oriental' elements to Navajo rugs. Interestingly the swastikas seen here fall right in the middle of this cultural divide. The importance of the symbol as the Navajo ‘whirling logs’—a motif from the sand paintings of their Night Chant—did not come to light until 1917 when the Navajo medicine man Hosteen Klah began to weave and paint Navajo sand paintings for the first time. It was not until the 1920s that this connection between the whirling logs and the swastika was made, by which time the Asian motif had already been introduced and used for at least 40 years. Despite the façade published in Moore’s catalogues the weavers were really given very little freedom in their creations. The slight variations seen between these two rugs were one of the primary ways Navajo weavers made crafting the same designs over and over palatable.
Text and images may be under copyright. Please contact Collection Department for permission to use. Information subject to change upon further research.
By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to http://bowers.org/
2002 North Main StreetSanta Ana, California 92706TEL: 714.567.3600
Tuesday - Sunday10:00 am - 4:00 pmClosed on:MondaysFourth of JulyThanksgivingChristmasNew Year's Day
Please note the museum is now closed in accordance to state officials' recent COVID-19 update.