Navajo Beadwork: Architectures of Light

Overview


Sunset. Fire. Rainbow. Drawing on such common occurrences of light, Navajo artists have crafted an uncommon array of design in colored glass beads. Beadwork is an art form introduced to the Navajos through other Indian and Euro-American contacts, but it is one that they have truly made their own. More than simple crafts, Navajo beaded designs are architectures of light. Ellen Moore has written the first history of Navajo beadwork—belts and hatbands, baskets and necklaces—in a book that examines both the ...
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Overview


Sunset. Fire. Rainbow. Drawing on such common occurrences of light, Navajo artists have crafted an uncommon array of design in colored glass beads. Beadwork is an art form introduced to the Navajos through other Indian and Euro-American contacts, but it is one that they have truly made their own. More than simple crafts, Navajo beaded designs are architectures of light. Ellen Moore has written the first history of Navajo beadwork—belts and hatbands, baskets and necklaces—in a book that examines both the influence of Navajo beliefs in the creation of this art and the primacy of light and color in Navajo culture. Navajo Beadwork: Architectures of Light traces the evolution of the art as explained by traders, Navajo consultants, and Navajo beadworkers themselves. It also shares the visions, words, and art of 23 individual artists to reveal the influences on their creativity and show how they go about creating their designs. As Moore reveals, Navajo beadwork is based on an aggregate of beliefs, categories, and symbols that are individually interpreted and transposed into beaded designs. Most designs are generated from close observation of light in the natural world, then structured according to either Navajo tradition or the newer spirituality of the Native American Church. For many beadworkers, creating designs taps deeply embedded beliefs so that beaded objects reflect their thoughts and prayers, their aesthetic sensibilities, and their sense of being Navajo—but above all, their attention to light and its properties. No other book offers such an intimate view of this creative process, and its striking color plates attest to the wondrous results. Navajo Beadwork: Architectures of Light is a valuable record of ethnographic research and a rich source of artistic insight for lovers of beadwork and Native American art.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Moore does not succumb to modernist aesthetics. Her book provides a refreshing and welcoming change. . .” —New Mexico Historical Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780816522866
  • Publisher: University of Arizona Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author


Ellen Moore is Curator of Education at the Roswell Museum and Art Center.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Preface
Acknowledgments
Pt. 1 Entering the Beadworkers' World
Introduction 3
1 The Ethnographic Process 16
2 Underpinnings: Themes of the Book 27
Pt. 2 Beads Then and Now
3 Beads in Navajo Life and Oral Tradition: A Continuum from Past to Present 41
4 Oral History of Navajo Woven and Stitched Beadwork 50
Pt. 3 Creating Design
5 Architectures of Light: Tsodizin, Nitsahakees 85
6 Bringing the Design to Life: Nahat'a, Iina 144
Conclusion 174
Epilogue 182
App. A: Glossary 183
App. B Beadwork Techniques 187
Notes 189
Bibliography 215
Index 237
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