The Storm Pattern, A Symbolic Navajo Weaving Design

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The Storm Pattern is a well-known regional style in Navajo weaving which originated in the western part of the reservation near Tuba City and Kayenta, Arizona. The trader there, J. B. Moore, published several catalogs and sales leaflets at the beginning of the twentieth century. His “Plate IX”, obviously a Storm Pattern but not labeled as such, was first printed between 1903 and 1911. The storm pattern became an iconic design and is one of the few Navajo rug styles that tell a story. It is said to be highly symbolic and associated with the all-important rainstorms in the growing season.

The Storm Pattern is not built around a central diamond like many other Navajo rug styles. It instead has a recognizable geometric composition featuring a strong, often rectangular central element connected by diagonal stepped lines to elements in each of the four corners.

According to Navajo mythology, humans and all living things came into this world from the underworld through the Lake of Emergence, symbolized by this center design element in the Storm Pattern. The squares in the four corners represent the Navajo’s four sacred peaks:
  • East: Sierra Blanca (Sis Naajini) in Colorado
  • South: Mt. Taylor (Tsoodzil) in New Mexico
  • West: San Francisco peaks (Dook' o' oosliid) in Arizona
  • North: Mt. Hesperus (Dib' Nitsaa) in Colorado

The connecting zigzag lines from the four corners to the center are intended as lightning bolts. They carry blessings back and forth between the mountaintops, bestowing good spirits on the weaver and her household.

Storm Patterns often include symbols at the top and bottom of the rug representing the water bug, who has a place in Navajo mythology and associated with the sacred desert resource of water.  Just inside the water bug often appears his companion, the snowflake. Some form of the sacred arrow is usually portrayed along the sides of the rug.

The Storm Pattern is easily recognized by its design elements as described above, but it can be woven in an unlimited variety of colors and detail.

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Storm Pattern by Sarah Tisi

1 comment

  • Ella April 8, 2024 at 4:52 pm

    Just thankyou for learning always a connection to the journey.

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