Do You Believe in Fate? – A Road Trip to Bluff UT

Talking God / Bluebird Basket - weaver Peggy Black, design Damian Jim

Talking God / Bluebird Basket – weaver Peggy Black, design Damian Jim

Avoiding holiday traffic, we decided to leave Phoenix right after Christmas to drive up to Bluff, UT to touch base with Georgianna Kennedy Simpson who agreed to write a chapter in the Byting Willows book and visit Twin Rocks Trading Post to inquire about the commission of some Dine’ baskets for the upcoming Byting Willows exhibit.

A week in advance we checked the basket section of the Trading Posts website to select baskets as potential loaners and there it was, a Talking God / Bluebird Basket. My favorite design out of all of the 1,500 that were created between 1995 – 2004. I could not believe my eyes! Do you believe in fate? I do! This particular basket was woven in 1998 by Peggy Black and then sold to a collector in Santa Fe. As he is downsizing his collection he approached Twin Rocks Trading Post to sell it for him.

The basket design enables the viewer to either focus on Bluebird (see photo above) or if turned upside down on Talking God. Bluebirds represent peace and happiness and are a manifestation of Talking God. Talking God himself is regarded as the grandfather of the gods and the tutelary of the Night Chant. He also acts as mentor, warning or telling mythical creatures the answers to test questions. But Talking God is also characterized by his playfulness. Peace, happiness and playfulness represented in an ingenious design – whats not to like?

I am the kind of person that acquires one object from every exhibit that I curate as a memorabilia to remind me of that show. I was determined to buy a piece of art from the upcoming exhibit and have been eagerly awaiting the collaborators submissions. The re-appearance of this basket on the market threw me a curveball and yet I didn’t hesitate for one minute before writing an email to the Trading Post informing them about my interest in seeing the basket in person during our visit.

Then we are finally off to the Land of Navajo Tacos and Gas Station Burritos. First stop on the road: Alpine Pizza in Flagstaff – a tradition is forming as we are heading out to Bluff on a regular basis. The car is packed with all kind of snacks including breakfast items as the only breakfast option in Bluff during off-season is K&C Mart selling breakfast burritos and chimichangas. We try to be as self-sufficient as possible.

When we meet with Georgianna, she surprises us with a wonderful first draft of her chapter. The book is starting to come to life! We brainstorm ideas and discuss her writing an additional chapter so that she can dive deeper into the history of Dine’ baskets and the Trading Post entrepreneurship that lead to the Renaissance of Dine’ baskets.

Twin Rocks Trading Post, Bluff UT

Twin Rocks Trading Post, Bluff UT

Steve and Barry Simpson, the owners of Twin Rocks Trading Post, have been nothing than supportive of this project and accommodated our wish list of baskets to be displayed and sold at the exhibit. Be ready to be amazed! Needless to say, after 16 years on display in somebody else’s home, the Talking God / Bluebird Basket changed ownership and will serve me as an inspiration throughout the project and beyond.

If you are curious what all the buzz is about – stop by 1Spot Gallery, Phoenix from February 20th – April 17th to see this amazing basket in person!



Multifaceted Deities


Sachmet – the Egyptian goddess of war and healing

Business trips are far less glamorous than one might think, especially spending extended time in countries which do not provide a safe environment to venture out and explore.

On a positive note, this leaves ample time to take a deep dive into the project at hand and accomplish some major progress 🙂

As we are finalizing the database part of this project, and having catalogued and categorized nearly 1400 designs (rugs and baskets), it is about time to start breathing life into each catalogue number by providing a brief description of the stories and symbols depicted, as well as other influences that might have led to a certain design.

Hence I am immersing myself into Dine’ legends and stories utilizing the website of the Twin Rocks Trading Post as my main anchor, as they have a superb section on anything and everything you ever wanted to know on this topic – thank you Damian for compiling and posting all of this on the website back in the day!

Reading up on Coyote, First Woman and Fire God amongst others, makes me realize how multifaceted these deities / beings are. They can be treacherous and at the same time something good might come out of their actions. They can personify good and evil aspects. They make great role models for humans, as it is easy to identify ourselves with them and their actions.

If I compare the Dine’ pantheon, if you so will, with the Greek and Roman pantheon, than it becomes very evident how black and white those gods are described. Very one dimensional, as most of them  personify one human aspect which is heightened similar to a superhero. They do not show much of a character development at all. The human emotions they portrait are greed, warmongery, jealousy etc., mostly character flaws if you ask me.

Looking at the Egyptian pantheon, Sachmet comes to mind, the goddess of war, which at the same time personifies a great healer – duality equal to what I read in the Dine’ legends – but Sachmet is an exception to the rule.

How did I end up sneaking an ancient Egyptian goddess into this blog? No idea – I guess it’s difficult to completely forget ones roots.

until next time…….