Past Exhibitions

Spider Woman’s (NA ASHJE’II ’ASDZÁÁ) Gift

May 14, 2007 through September 2, 2007

Spider Design
Navajo Wearing Blanket with Spider Design, 1860-1888 Gift of Mrs. Philip Stewart photo by Blair Clark

Chief Blanket
Navajo Second Phase Chief Blanket with Spider Woman Crosses, 1855-1865 47" x 72" Gift of Florence Dibell Bartlett Photo by Blair Clark

Santa Fe, NM—A striking array of Diné (Navajo) textiles and baskets will soon be on display at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. Spider Woman’s (Na ashje’ii 'Asdzáá) Gift: Navajo Weaving Traditions, a long-term exhibition, features weavings from the 1850s through the 1890s—the Classic and Transitional periods. A weaving demonstration, gallery talk, and hands-on activities are planned for the opening, which takes place Sunday, May 14 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.

On the Diné reservation situated between the red rock canyon walls in Canyon de Chelly, Arizona, stands an 800-foot sandstone rock formation named Spider Rock. According to Diné oral history, this is where Spider Woman makes her home. For centuries, her gift of weaving has provided a constant means of sustenance for the Diné in the Southwest.

Spider Woman taught the Diné weaving designs that refer to natural “life-way” elements and cosmology. These designs, evident in early basketry, are imbued with special meaning and have been passed down throughout many generations of Diné weavers.

Culled from the museum’s collections, Spider Woman’s Gift features Diné baskets and textiles that share particular design elements and patterns, including Spider Woman crosses, other stylized cross designs, empty-centered squares, and stepped terraces. Traditional Classic textiles on view include women’s dresses and blankets, child’s blankets, sarapes, and First-, Second-, and Third-Phase Chief blankets.

Woman’s Wearing Blanket
Navajo Woman's Wearing Blanket, 1875-1880 Gift of Mrs. Philip Stewart Photo by Blair Clark