The UMMAA curates a small collection of Navajo weavings made from late 19th to the late 20th century. Robert Warner, the former director of the Bentley Library, purchased this small, finely woven textile in 1970. Unfortunately, we do not have information on the weaver’s name. Woven on a simple upright loom, this rug exhibits the elegant symmetry characteristic of many Navajo weavings. If you look closely in the upper right corner of this photo, you can see a single woven white line extending out through the black band that frames the textile. This line is called ch’ihónít’i (“way out” or “road”). In English, this is often described as a “spirit-line” or “spirit pathway.” The purpose of the ch’ihónít’i is to create a break in the design, through which a weaver can spiritually separate herself from her textile before it is sold.
In honor of the University of Michigan’s 2017 bicentennial, we are celebrating the remarkable archaeological and ethnographic collections and rich legacy of research and teaching at the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology by posting one entry a day for 200 days. The entries will highlight objects from the collections, museum personalities, and UMMAA expeditions. The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology is also posting each day for 200 days on Twitter and Facebook (follow along at #KMA200). After the last post, an exhibition on two centuries of archaeology at U-M opens at the Kelsey. Visit the exhibit—a joint project of the UMMAA and the Kelsey—from October 18, 2017 to May 27, 2018.