According to Navajo Ben Gorman, this is a “traditional Navajo basket design with red, white, and black colors. The black design symbolizes the darkness (night) and clouds that bring the rain. The white part inside the black design represents the (four) sacred mountains…The outside white area represents the dawn and is tied together with the outside rim which represents a person’s thoughts, prayers, and values. The red part within the black design represents the life-giving rays of the sun”.
The pathway that leads from the center towards the rim faces east, “toward the dawn”, and can be felt by the officiant, even in the dark.
This is a classic Navajo ceremonial basket, which we have had for many years, so artist unknown. It represents the Navajo ideal of nature in balance.
It is hand-woven and entirely traditional in materials: the red is mountain mahogany root, or dyed with red ocher; the black is dyed with pinon pitch, or juniper ashes and black alder; the cream color is natural un-dyed sumac.
During a ceremony it might be filled with cornmeal, to hold ceremonial props or food, or to prepare a young girl for her kinaldaa’ (coming of age) ceremony, among other uses.
It is not a ceremonial object without a medicine man and a ceremony, so enjoy this handsome basket for its visual attraction, as part of a collection – or the start of one.