The Weavers Path*
[October 29, 2004]
"When Navajo designs have borders, they typically include a "Weaver's Pathway," sometimes called the "Spirit Line." It's a small line of contrasting color that passes from the inner field, penetrating the borders, until it reaches one edge. When non-Navajos notice it, they often see it as a flaw, because it violates all the symmetries of the pattern.
Noël Bennett, a longtime student of Navajo arts, explains the Weaver's Pathway as a means of escape. The artists fear that as they focus their energies on the work, the borders of the rugs (or blankets or pots or baskets) could entrap the artists' spirits, and they might lose their ability to create any more beautiful works." - Weaver's Pathway
If you look closely at the upper right hand corner of a Navajo textile, you may notice a small but visible strand of contrasting colored yarn. This line, intentionally placed by the weaver, usually extends from the inner design field to the outer border. In English, this line is often called the spiritline, the Navajo weaver’s pathway, or the spirit pathway.
Spiritlines immediately fascinate textile buyers and weaving enthusiasts, who often consider the pathway as a potential entrance?intothe symbolic world of Navajo weaving. The term for the pathway in the Navajo language is alternatively ch’ihónít’ior‘atiin, which translate as a ‘way out’, or ‘road’ respectively. This break in the design pathway is meant to allow weavers to separate themselves from the woven product created to sell. Whether understood more as a way in or out of the textile, the pathway is now filled with a range of social meanings, making it a dynamic and vital part of contemporary Navajo weaving deserving careful ethnographic study. Taking a closer look at why weavers might want to include the weaver’s pathway and why many textile buyers desire weavings with spiritlines in them presents an opportunity to examine the circulation of specific indigenous aesthetic practices and knowledge and the materiality of the pathway itself. For some purchasers, a single strand of yarn, purposely woven into the textile by a weaver, materializes and then releases the weavers’ intentions and thoughts as she weaves. For others, the pathway can offer the material proof of a symbolic world within the woven objects that they acquire. And as these ideas about connections to inner worlds circulate, brand new layers of significance are continually being added and affirmed to the spiritline, reshaping the way people think about and relate to Navajo weaving more broadly.
"The present "late-time", or "dark" epoch, is just such a time of technological sophistication, in which the egoic model of humanity and human society is the universal basis of mind. Gross materialism gives human beings no option in the mind except that of the trapped and threatened animal. Therefore, a fiery mood is abroad, full of gross desire, frustration, fear, despair, and aggressive reactivity. The egoic motive of self-preservation is approaching its most destructive mood--the mood that appears in the moment of ultimate entrapment. In that mood, there is no longer any will to preserve "self" or world or any others. There is simply explosive fire, based on the deep motives of egoic self-preservation, but reduced to action that is most primitive and entirely destructive of both "self" and "not-self". In the collective mind of humanity in the present and growing extremes of entrapment, the explosion of great nuclear bombs merely represents the archetype of anger itself. And it is for this reason that the possibility of a nuclear holocaust, in the extreme moment of the now rising political confrontations, is an irrational--and, therefore, entirely possible, if not inevitable--event."
Read more - Ego's Entrapment