I was watching History Detectives on PBS when the final segment was discussing a Navajo rug. To the Navajo people, weaving is not only just a craft to make rugs, but instead it was a spiritual practice that connects the weaver to the earth and the sky and there are several symbols portrayed in the rugs. In California, a man discovered a rug and was perplexed by it. A history professor from Arizona State University, Eduardo Pagan, and went to see what the man had discovered.
On the rug there are two swastikas at the bottom, several feathers and crosses, which are both often featured in Native American art. Also and most obviously there is a figure in the center. However, many swastikas predate Nazi Germany and are prevalent all over the world. To the Navajo swastikas are referred to as the whirling log and symbolize the four cardinal directions. According to a medicine man on the Navajo reservation to help figure out the symbols. The central figure is a warrior holding thunderbolts, in Navajo culture warriors use thunderbolts to destroy and the feathers on the warrior’s head are a warrior’s plumes. This character is known as Monster Slayer, a character who battles evil forces in the Navajo creation story. The Monster Slayer is often drawn in sand drawings, and many of those symbols are forbidden from being weaved because they are too sacred.
I think it was very powerful to watch this video because most people would think nothing of the symbols on these rugs, but they are important. The symbols on the Navajo rugs tell stories often those of the Navajo nation’s creation.