Weavers | Weavings | Wool | Jewelry | Pottery | Clothing | Baskets | Pipes & Firestarters | Home


Black Mesa Weavers for Life and Land:

Elvira Horseherder and Family, Big Mountain

MBM-332. Elvira Horseherder holding the "Day and Night" weaving woven by her and two of her daughters, Velina (age 19) and Valine (age 15), July 26, 2003, at the Hardrock Chapter. 34 in. x 28.5 in. This is a striking image of stars on a field of red and a deep blue sky, woven in black, deep red, white, dark blue, and a light thread of emerald green that separates day from night. It evokes the old-style biil (Navajo dress) as well as the skies of Dine' Bike'yah. SOLD

Five weavings received from Elvira Horseherder and daughters, Big Mountain, AZ (December 2003):

MBM-348. Elvira Horseherder, elder, Big Mountain. "Rainbow" healing ceremonial weaving, 76.5 in. x 46.5 in. (6.4 ft. x almost 4 ft). As Elvira wrote, this weaving tells the story of "Two boys who travel with rainbow, and how they travel a long, long time ago." It's from the Hozonji (Blessing Way) origin story of the twin sons of Changing Woman, the hero twins, who travel to their father, the sun, who tests them in many ways, and finally helps provide them with weapons of flint and lightning with which to slay the monsters on Earth and make the Earth 's surface safe for people to live on. Photos cannot do justice to this extraordinary weaving, almost 4 ft. x more than 6 feet, woven of handspun churro wool from her own flock and commercial wool. Of immense power, this unique and rare weaving would be selling in a gallery or trading post for at least $6,000 and likely more. We offer it here well below retail, at $3,500 ($2,500 to weaver; $1,000 is a tax-deductible donation). [Returned at weavers' request 4/1/04.]

Detail of MBM-348, the Hero Twins.

MBM-348 in two photos on floor of my livingroom.

MBM-349. Elvira Horseherder, elder, Big Mountain. "Pottery design, with blocks and stars," 47.25 x 37.25. Another of Elvira's superbly woven rugs that photos cannot do justice, this is woven of handspun and commercial wool, in a subtle and powerful range of colors, including black, pale grey-green, deep red, light grey, warm chocolate brown, dark brown, deep brown, burnet sienna, deep rust, warm tan, light pink, deep olive green. Elvira makes them all come together in a weaving of great harmony and balance, impeccaby woven, and sturdy enough to put on the floor. $1,500 ($1,000 to weaver; $500 is a tax-deductible contribution). [Returned at weaver's request 4/1/04.]

MBM-350. Angie Cody, Elvira's second oldest daughter, wove this "Old Grandma Style" reminiscent of the "Gallup throws" from the early 20th century. This soft but sturdy weaving is woven of handspun churro wool, 38.75. in. x 18.25 in., in white, black, grey, red, rust, and brown. Soft and sturdy. $450 ($300 to weaver; $150 is a tax-deductible donation). [Returned at weavers' request 4/1/04].

MBM-351. Erma J. Nells, another daughter of Elvira Horseherder, has woven this brilliant and bright classic double sadddle blanket she calls "Rainbow," 60.5 in. x 30.5, in light sky blue, gold, white, black, mars red, with arrow/prayer feathers in the four corners, and two rows of a medium cobalt blue at the bottom, which suggests an ascension from evening to dawn. Straight and true, $650 ($450 to weaver; $200 is a tax-deductible donation). [Returned at weavers' request 4/1/04.]

MBM-351 detail.


MBM-352. Erma J. Nells, daughter of Elvira Horseherder. This wonderful, soft "Old Grandmother Style" double saddle blanket is woven of all handspun wool, soft and strong, 62 in. x 31 in., in natural white, chocolate brown, black, warm tan, dark brown, and aniline-dyed orange-red and mars violet. $950 ($700 to weaver; $250 is a tax-deductible donation. [Returned at weavers' request 4/1/04.]


MBM-352 detail.


Elvira Horsehder at Hardrock Chapter, July 27, 2003.


Elvira Horseherder and "Ganerations" weaving, at Teesto, June 2000.


MBM-317. Elvira Horseherder. Powerful pictorial Chief's Blanket design, 58 in. x 48 in., dedicated to the destroyed Sundance ground on Big Mountain, which was bulldozed in July 2001. Woven of handspun natural grey/multi, black, white, and dyed Churro wool. Elvira sent a note with this weaving, which said: "This is the dance about the Sundance ground; it need to be danced again. And pray too, for healing mind." Black, natural light antique grey, cobalt blue, mars red, mars violet, medium antique grey, salmon pink, turquoise, grey-bluew; brown/taupe, deep salmon--a complex design of muted and strong colors, with cloud symbols, prayer feathers, "butterfly" sacred queue/hourglass symbols, and a central Ye'i (Holy Person) figure holding two feathered prayer wands. Also in the weaving are several woven in prayer/protection knots and color shifts. This large blanket is shown here draped over my living room couch--it is straight and even on all sides. SOLD.

Rain Prayer--Basket Design

MBM-99. Elvira writes about this large and extraordinary weaving: "I make this rug to pray and sing. It's called the basket design. It stands, feet and head. There is no water. Dry land here. And dry air too." The ceremonial Dine' basket (ts'aa') is like a living being, a visualization of the universe.

In this weaving, it is as if you are looking down on a basket that has been "unrolled"--flattened, as it were--and changed from a circular three-dimensional into a rectangular two-dimensional space: in the center are the stacked black rain clouds. Outside the clouds and mirroring them is the brown/tan of the Earth where we live in the white of dawn. Around it is the red of the protective rainbow. The entire central image is like a living being, standing with its head at one end, its feet at the other. In the four corners are the four sacred mountains that surround Dine' Bike'yah (Navajoland), and at the outer border is the encompassing cosmos.

Handspun and commercial wool, 48 in. x 27 in., 22-24 wefts/inch, in tan/grey, light grey, deep red, black, and natural white. SOLD (April 2010)

Elvira's Weaving

"I make this rug to pray and sing.
It's called the basket design.
It stands, feet and head."

Its spine is the risen
and descending clouds,
black with rain.
The Earth summons them,
a rainbow enfolds them,
they are gathered as plants singing,
they are winds.
In the white dawn there are people.
These are her generations.
In the four corners are mountains
and the unbroken adamantine
edge of stars.

"There is no water. Dry land here.
And dry air too."
Elvira weaves to bring back rain
from dust.
These are her thoughts.


(©7/9/00 Carol Snyder Halberstadt)

MBM-165. Elvira Horseherder's family, perhaps by one of her granddaughters, a "pottery design," 24 in. x 17 in., handspun and native processed wool, warm rust, white, black. This weaving has been donated by a buyer. It has some weaving imperfections but still has a lot of feeling. SOLD


#MBM-31. Powerful, large, and dramatic all handspun natural wool, described by the weaver as "a generations weaving--each [stepped] rectangle is a child, a grandchild, and their grandparents and great-grandparents, going back to the beginning and moving around the center, and continuing... and the feathers, they're prayers for the generations..." 50 in. x 32.5 in., black, white, carded grey/tans. SOLD.


#MBM-31. Classic single saddle blanket, all handspun natural wool, grey, black, and natural white, 30 in. x 30 in. SOLD (at the Cultural Survival bazaar). Elvira Horseherder donated the net proceeds from the sale of this weaving to the general fund of the Black Mesa Weavers for Life and Land. Ahe'hee', Elvira.

Vina Horseherder

MBM-169. Vina Horseherder is Elvira's second younger sister, and a daughter of Big Mountain elder, Ruth Benally. A busy mother of an infant daughter, she recently sent me these two weavings, and wrote: "I have 29 sheep and 2 horses, 2 cows, and dogs, so I love my animals..." She also wrote, "I always herd the sheep, that's why I never have enough time..." But she does have enough time to weave these very finely woven weavings. This is a traditional banded star design blanket in all native processed wool, 26.25 in. x 20.25 in., with an unusual and very pleasant use of a slate blue, grey/tan, black, white, light ochre, rust brown, and deep red. (Returned to weaver at her request.)

MBM-168. Vina Horseherder. Lovely and very well woven all handspun churro wool blanket with a wonderful warm gold/brown from natural vegetal dye (wild carrot), deep rust, carded grey/tan, natural white, with dark brown edge cords, 21.25 in. x 15 in. (Returned to weaver at her request.)


MBM-30. Lively and unique pictorial with two pottery jars, all handspun and natural dyed wool, by Alfreda Horseherder, age 22 (a daughter of Elvira), 29.5 in. x 20.5 in. SOLD.

#MBM-29. Cheerful and bright mat woven by Reuben Horseherder, age 8, a grandson of Elvira, 14.5 in. x 10 in., all commercial wool. SOLD.


Write to: Black Mesa Weavers for Life and Land, Inc.
P.O. Box 543, Newton, MA 02456
or email: carol@blackmesaweavers.org to place an order, or for more information.

Copyright © 1998-2010 Carol Snyder Halberstadt, Migrations. All rights reserved.

Return to Migrations home page.