We celebrate today with a blanket based on Hopi basketry. Stand strong on this day and every day.
Like beloved Pendleton blankets, Hopi baskets are passed from generation to generation and offered as gifts from friend to friend. These intricately woven baskets and the ceremony associated with them inspired our Basket Dance Blanket. Its design celebrates Hopi craftsmanship and traditions. A Hopi basket is offered as a sign of kinship, friendship and sharing.
The Basket Dance
Autumn is the time of the Basket Dance, a harvest ceremony performed by women of the Lakon Society of basket weavers. The women first gather in a kiva to fast, pray and chant. They then emerge chanting and dancing while raising and lowering baskets to the four directions of the compass. Traditionally the women toss many baskets to onlookers afterward. This harvest dance of sharing and generosity ensures rain and bountiful crops the next spring.
“Hopi” is a shortened form of Hopituh Shi-nu-mu, or, “The Peaceful Ones.” The Hopi reservation covers almost 2.5 million acres of northeastern Arizona, near the Four Corners area east of the Grand Canyon. The Hopi reservation is completely surrounded by the Navajo reservation. Its 14 villages sit on three rocky mesas; First Mesa, Second Mesa, and Third Mesa. The Hopis have lived here for over a thousand years. They follow a yearlong calendar of rituals and ceremonies, and carefully maintain their traditions.
The first blanket is our newest American Indian College Fund blankets, Gift of the Earth, which celebrates Hopi pottery.
Gift of the Earth
The Hopi have a sacred relationship with the ancient caretaker of the earth, Masaw, and respect every gift given to them. The clay they and their ancestors have sourced from the land for centuries is treated with the utmost regard. Because of this, the Hopi people maintain a beautiful and unique pottery tradition on the mesas in Arizona. Craftsmanship and creativity drawn from generations of knowledge flow through the potters today as they work. This blanket draws on the design elements from these brilliant pieces as a testament to learning from the past while moving into the future.
The golden hues of early Hopi pottery might have sparked the tales of fantastic wealth that lured early Spaniards to the Seven Cities of Cibola.
Smooth, symmetrical vessels might appear to be wheel-thrown, but are formed by hand through “coil and scrape.”
The most common shapes are shallow bowls and flat-shouldered jars.
Paints are made from natural materials, such as tansy mustard and beeweed.
Hopi pottery is open-fired with sheep dung and cedar.
Today, most pottery is made on First Mesa.
Like all our College Fund blankets, sales of Gift of the Earth help support scholarships to Native American Scholars. Learn more here: The College Fund.
Our second Hopi-inspired blanket for 2017 is The Peaceful Ones.
The Peaceful Ones
They call themselves Hopi, a shortened version of their true name: Hopituh Shi-nu-mu, the Peaceful Ones. Members of this Southwest nation follow the Hopi Way, based on the instructions of Maasaw, the Creator and Caretaker of Earth. The Peaceful Ones strive to be mannered, polite, and peaceable in all interactions. Their path will eventually lead to a state of complete reverence for all things. This design is based on an embroidered Manta, the garment worn by Hopi women in ceremonies that follow the lunar calendar. Through their traditional ceremonies, the Peaceful Ones hope to bring tranquility and harmony to the entire world.
Interesting facts about the manta:
The manta is a rectangular cloth, fastened at the right shoulder and held by a sash.
Mantas were originally woven of undyed cotton. Over time, dyed threads and geometric patterns added beauty to the garment’s simple shape.
The practice of wearing blouses or shift dresses under mantas came much later, under pressure from missionaries.
Once the everyday wear of Navajo, Pueblo and Hopi women, the manta is now worn during important ceremonies.