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Native American Textiles Glossary Index


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Analine dye

is a family of synthetic dyes made originally from coal-tar derivative; first synthesized 1857. Earliest known aniline-dyed yarns in Navajo textiles were raveled from commercial cloth and date to the 1860’s. Aniline-dyed, machine-spun yarns were readily available in the Southwest by 1870's, powdered aniline dyes by the 1880's.



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Commercial yarn

is machine spun, usually industrial dyed yarn.


Crystal

is a rug style with banded patterns in vegetal colors; characterized by use of wavy lines; established in the 1940’s; named for community in east-central part of reservation. Early Crystal rug style contrasts sharply with contemporary crystal style. It has bold, central pattern and border, usually gray, black, white and red.



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Dye

is any colorant fixed permanently to fibers. Synthetic dyes, including anilines, are chemically manufactured native dyes. Native dyes come from natural, non-synthesized animal, vegetable, and mineral sources; vegetable dyes make use of plant materials such as leaves, flowers, fruits, twigs, bark, roots, etc.



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Ganado

is a rug style with dominant central panel, usually a diamond or double diamond, and at least one border, dark red, gray, black, and white color scheme; established by early 1900’s named for community in south-central part of reservation.



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Handspun yarn

is a yarn produced by hand from raw wool, usually in the form of a single ply.



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Lazy line

is a yarn produced by hand from raw wool, usually in the form of a single ply.



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Raised Outline weave

is a variation of tapestry weave in which two colors of weft alternate in pattern areas; wefts skip two warps instead of one color junctures, thus creating a raised outline around each motif.



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Saddle blanket

is a small textile used under a saddle to prevent it from galling the horse. Standard single saddle blankets measure 30 inches square. Double saddle blankets 30 x 60 inches. Frequently used as small rugs.


Serrate design

is a sharply pointed zig-zag pattern made by diagonals, often used to create diamond shapes.



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Thread count

is a number of threads in given segment of fabric, usually recorded as warps or wefts per inch; indicates density and relative fineness of fabric.


Two Grey Hills

is a rug style with dominant central panel, often a diamond or double diamond, and one or more borders; natural gray, brown, black, and white color scheme; established in the 1920’s; named for community in east central part of reservation.



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Vegetal dyes

is any dye made from a plant source. In Navajo weaving, vegetal dye usually refers to dyes made from plants native to the Southwest.



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Warp

is made up of yarns that are strung on a loom. Weft yarns are woven over and under the warps. In completed Navajo rugs, the warps are hidden by the wefts.


Weft

consists of the yarns that are woven over and under the warp yarns, which are attached to the loom. In completed Navajo rugs, only the weft lines are visible.


Wide Ruins

is a rug style with banded patterns in vegetal colors; characterized by numerous serrate diamond motifs and frequent but subtle use of beading; established in the late 1930’s.



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Ye' ii

is a (Navajo) special class of supernatural with close spiritual relationship to Navajo people and their natural environment; often depicted in stylized anthropomorphic form. Ye’ii rugs show front facing figures, standing singly or in rows.


Yei' bi-chai

is a special class of supernatural beings with close spiritual relationship to Navajo people and their natural environment; often depicted in stylized anthropomorphic form. These beings are portrayed in weavings facing sideways.


Ye’ii Bicheii Ceremony

Nine day winter ceremony in which the ye’ii dancers appear literally. Ye’ii bicheii means “grandfather of the ye’ii (holy people)” and refers to one of the dancers, also called the “Talking god”; Ye’ii bicheii rugs depict semi-realistic figures in profile, usually standing in action poses.



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