Way out in the desert, far from toy stores — if any store-bought toy were even affordable – Navajo parents and children had to fashion their own playthings from whatever was available and expendable: sun-dried mud, pieces of cardboard, and stray bits of wood. These home-made toys mostly reflected what was around the makers: horses, sheep, riders, hogans, etc.
Eventually, a collector and trader saw the potential in these crude but appealing pieces, and even wrote a book about them and the artists. Navajo folk art took off, and the adult artists began to express their dry humor as a serious form of art. Delbert Buck is one of the foremost folk artists in this tradition.
Navajo are famous horsemen, and evidently their riding ability extends to all sorts of steeds. But, not everyone can saddle up a giraffe! This smiling cowboy, attired in the usual black “rez” hat, decorated buckskin chaps over his blue jeans, and a highly decorative dress shirt, seems quite pleased with his ability to ride such an unusual mount. The tall giraffe looks frankly startled to find a saddle blanket, elaborate saddle and “silver” embellished accoutrements on its back, not to speak of a person holding buckskin reins.
Entirely carved, and painted by hand, the various colors and details are cheery and pleasingly decorative. Silly, colorful, well-fashioned, and thoroughly delightful, this will brighten a child’s room, or any room.