Lessons Learned at the Navajo Rug Show

Navajo weavers aren’t attempting to weave the perfect rug. In fact, they actually weave an imperfection into each one they make — on purpose. From what I understand, this way the design does not compete with the perfection of nature. They also believe perfection, if it were able to be attained, would stunt creativity. The beautifully woven rugs, saddle blankets and yei rugs (prayer rugs used for ceremonial purposes) all had an imperfection – a single line that went from the center of the rug to the edge. It was also explained this is a “spirit line” that allows the weavers spirit to escape the rug.

I learned all this and more at the Navajo rug sale at Snow Park Lodge at Deer Valley this past weekend during a weaving demonstration. The Adopt-A-Native-Elder Program, a non-profit organization, sponsors the rug show to create a market for the Elder’s arts and crafts and what makes this show so unusual is 100% of the proceeds go directly to them – the weavers.

It seems to me this way of approaching weaving and life -with expectations that it wont be perfect -is a healthy way. Instead of striving for perfection, eschewing that goal altogether and striving for creativity, improvement, or enjoyment is much more rewarding. Not expecting to ever be perfect opens up a whole range of possibilities. One would be more open to advice and feedback, to learning and trying new things.

I walked away from the Navajo rug show with a greater appreciation of the Navajo culture and the people. I thought it was very special that the Elders attended not only to demonstrate their craft but to explain the symbols. Some of the rugs have specific patterns handed down for generations and the Elders shared the unique qualities with the new rug owners, even pointing out the spirit lines – the imperfections.

Now if you see a typo in one of my blogs, you’ll just have to wonder if that little flaw is there on purpose.

To learn more about the Adopt-A-Native-Elder Program and support the Navajos of Utah, Arizona and New Mexico with humanitarian aid and to support their crafts go to www.anelder.org.

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