"I weave the Traditional Navajo Way"


Navajo Weaving Diorama


Natani Values Homepage

This is a photograph of a diorama which was in the Wattis Hall of Man, inside the old California Academy of Sciences building (with the aquarium and planetarium) in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California.

A mannequin is pictured here sitting in front of this Navajo Rug in the style of a "Chief's Blanket, Third Phase", circa 1840s. She was posed holding her fork while measuring a length of red yarn, ready to be inserted into the weaving line. Note the "diagonal discontinuity" toward the left edge of the weaving line.  The wool warp and wool yarn from the Two Grey Hills Trading Post are Navajo hand-spun and hand-dyed. The wooden weaving tools are genuine and very old.

At the request of the Academy's Anthropology Department in 1978, Bruce C. Belknap adapted a traditional design for a saddle blanket about 40 inches square and wove this specific tapestry up to the present weaving line with these Navajo hand-made tools. The wool yarn in the basket is waiting to finish the weaving at any time. A personal ceremony was performed for releasing the partially woven tapestry to be viewed by the public.  Search the Anthropology Database (Full Records) for Catalog Number CAS 0425-0280.

Mr. Belknap first learned to weave the traditional Navajo Way from Working With The Wool by Noël Bennett and Tiana Bighorse; then increased his learning from Navajo weavers, including a stay with Sarah and Leo Natani and family near Shiprock, NM; and subsequently taught traditional Navajo weaving in classes during the 1970s at Monterey Peninsula College and the Monterey Peninsula Museum of Art.

Mr. Belknap has been making Navajo vertical style looms and his weaving tools from driftwood since 1973. He is a charter member of the original Ashtl'o Weaving Guild.