Voice of America: Navajo weaver keeps tradition

"Pearl Sunrise is a Navajo weaver. Her mother and her grandmother were also weavers. Sunrise's multiple oak tools were made by her father and grandfathers. Today, she is one of the most recognized weavers in the United States. "I started weaving when I was a little girl, because my mother was always weaving and I was just her helper."

The intricate secrets of an elaborate weaving tradition, together with the spiritual meaning of colors and designs are now part of her life.

Pearl Sunrise was born and raised in a Navajo reservation where she learned as a child about the care of sheep, wool treatment and spinning. But most important, she says, weaving taught her about keeping one's harmony and balance. "There is like a whole life value that teaches you in your creative process and your connection to your ancestors. Every step of the way in creating a rug, the wool, you have to keep yourself in balance in order to work with it."

Following the old Navajo tradition, Sunrise only uses natural dyes. Some of the colors and designs have spiritual or ceremonial meanings. And all Navajo rugs have an imperfect detail weaved into it, such as a museum rug at the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture in Santa Fe. "The great spiritual being is perfect but we are just kind of a remake of the being, so, we can't be perfect and that irregularity that we put into our creativity honors that.""

Get the Story:
Navajo Weaving Traditions Endure (Voice of America 8/8)