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Saturday, June 2 • 10:30am - 11:00am
(Textiles) Pointing in the Right Direction: Identifying Technological Features to Orient Navajo Textiles

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This talk includes the findings of a technical study on Navajo handwoven textiles. Our research identifies key markers in fabric construction to aid in determining the textiles’ original orientation on the upright frame loom during weaving and, by extension, the actual top, bottom, front and back of the textile. These physical markers could easily be mistaken as damage, wear, repairs or other condition issues, making their identification particularly important. Additionally, identifying the orientation is significant for proper placement of museum labels; appropriate positioning for documentation and exhibition, and to aid researchers and weavers studying collections. Key features may also be potentially useful for identifying the work of individual weavers across an assemblage, and to discern the weaver’s hand even after items have been traded and collected. While there is an extensive literature on Navajo weaving and textiles, little to no attention has focused on documenting and interpreting these technological markers in order to establish the textiles’ original orientation. Rather, publications on technology have focused on distinguishing Navajo from Pueblo, Spanish American and Mexican textiles, and determining a chronology based on construction, materials, and design. To address this gap in the literature, our technical survey includes a sample of Navajo dresses, blankets, ponchos, and rugs, all woven on a frame loom and ranging from the mid nineteenth to twenty-first centuries. We provide discussion and visual examples of a number of telltale technological traits and evaluate their effectiveness in pointing a viewer in the right direction. From this project, we provide a workflow and documentation form to use in discerning the top from bottom, and front from back in Navajo textiles.

avatar for Betsy Burr

Betsy Burr

Assistant Conservator, Western Archeological and Conservation Center, National Park Service
Betsy Burr is from Minneapolis, MN and began her training in conservation at the Minnesota Historical Society in Saint Paul. She received her MA in 2016 from UCLA in Conservation of Archaeological and Ethnographic Materials where she completed her thesis on dye analysis of archaeological... Read More →
avatar for Dr. Nancy Odegaard

Dr. Nancy Odegaard

Conservator, Patronato San Xavier
Nancy is the Conservator Emerita at the Arizona State Museum on the campus of the University of Arizona in Tucson where she is also a Professor Emerita of Anthropology. Since 1983, she led the effort to preserve the collections of the museum through loans, exhibits, excavations, research... Read More →

avatar for Delana Joy Farley

Delana Joy Farley

Museum Curator, Southern Ute Museum
Delana Joy Farley is Dine from Littlewater, NM on the Navajo Nation. She is a third generation weaver and also a museum professional. She graduated with a BA from the Institute of American Indian Arts in 2006 and also with an MA from New York University in Museum Studies in 2008... Read More →
avatar for Ann Lane Hedlund

Ann Lane Hedlund

Museum Curator, Retired, Arizona State Museum
Ann Lane Hedlund served from 1997 to 2013 as museum curator at Arizona State Museum and anthropology professor at University of Arizona, where she also directed the Gloria F. Ross Center for Tapestry Studies until her 2013 retirement. Dr. Hedlund is a cultural anthropologist who collaborates... Read More →

Saturday June 2, 2018 10:30am - 11:00am MDT
River Oaks Meeting Room Marriott Marquis Houston
  6. Specialty Session, Textiles