In 2000, a couple from Scottsdale, Arizona walked into Garland’s Navajo Rugs in Sedona, Arizona, one of the most respected dealers in Navajo Textiles in the country. As they were coming through the front door, a Navajo weaver was making her way out.
“I stopped and held the door for her,” the man said. “She had a big smile on her face and said thank you. She seemed to be floating on air. My wife was taken with her smile and commented on how happy she was. It was great to see someone enjoying life that much.”
They walked into Garlands and saw Dan, the owner, looking at a marvelous weaving on the floor.
“I never saw anything like it,” the man said. “I’d seen a lot of multi-pattern weavings before, but this was really different. We talked to Dan for about twenty minutes and bought the rug. That’s when he told me that the woman who was smiling as she walked out the door was the weaver. I will never forget her face and that rug has kept us smiling for the last 17 years.”
They never met Sarah Paul Begay formally, but she made a huge difference in their lives. The piece occupied a place of honor on a wall in their home and, when they decided to move to a smaller place, they decided it deserved to be in a home where people could enjoy it as they had.
Sarah is from Indian Wells in Northeastern Arizona on the Navajo Reservation. She was born in 1956 and learned to weave from her grandmother, who was a stern teacher, making her learn the old way, spinning and carding her own wool. She has been honored with ribbons at the Santa Fe Indian Market and other shows but doesn’t make a lot of rugs. They are very intricate and take a long time to complete. One weaving that she wove at Garland’s reportedly took four years to create.
Multi-pattern weavings are certainly not new, but the way that she made this piece was very effective, taking away from neither pattern. The traditional Two Grey Hills pattern is separated from an early Crystal area weaving design from the early 1900’s by Yeibichai dancers, moving diagonally across the pattern. The borders are intricate and divided into two sections, each separated from the weaving they go with. Her initials are found in the lower right corner.
She has woven a few pieces of this type, but none better and I have to agree with the people who purchased the weaving the day it was finished, it is simply awe inspiring. It deserves to be in a place of honor.
The weaving is 82” x 58”, woven with hand spun wool and priced at $23,500.00. It will be a featured piece at our Indian Market Show in Santa Fe next week.
The show starts on Tuesday, August 14 and runs through Sunday, August 19 from 10am until 6pm daily.
On Tuesday, at 2pm, I will be giving a talk on the history of the Navajo people and their weaving. On Thursday at 2pm you will be treated to the story of Sallie Wagner Lippincott, whose collection of Navajo Wide Ruins weavings, Chimayo Weavings, and more will be for sale. She was a key figure in helping to make Navajo weaving what it is today. On Friday, from noon until 2pm, Lynda Teller Pete and Barbara Ornelas will be signing their new book, “Spider Woman’s Children, Navajo Weavers Today.” If you would like a signed copy and can’t be in Santa Fe, send us an email or give us a call before noon on Friday and we will have them sign you one.
And, the tip of the day for Santa Fe that has nothing to do with Indian Market is: Meow Wolf! If you haven’t heard of this amazing immersive adventure, hold on to your seats. I have been there with 75-year-olds and 7-year-olds and it is a ride they all enjoyed. It is a collaboration of artists and designers who created a self guided adventure through time and space that is simply amazing and fun. It is full of surprises as you walk through the adventure, at your own pace and choosing your own path. If you are that type of person, you can try to solve the mystery story that goes along with the movie like settings. My grandkids and I were having too much fun to try and figure it out, but Kris was determined and solved the mystery. You can easily spend a couple of hours there and it is so entertaining that they sell season tickets! Trust me on this one, it is an artistic accomplishment that is lots of fun!
Thank you for following our blog. It’s going to be a fun week in Santa Fe!