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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


March 22, 2003 - Issue 83


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Marilou Schultz

credits: Rug photographs courtesy of Marilou Schultz

Marilou SchultzMarilou Schultz was born to Tábaahá (Edge of Water People-maternal clan) and born for Tsi'naajinii (Black-Streaked—Wood People) on November 6, 1954 in Safford, Arizona. "Weaving has always been and continues to be passed on in my family. For basic survival, my great-great-grandmother and great-grandmother were weavers and my grandmother (in her late 90's) still wove until a couple of years ago." Marilou learned basic weaving techniques by watching her mother and recalls childhood memories of "waking up to the sound of her [mother's] batten beating away at her rugs somewhere in a distance, sometimes inside the house or, during the summers, outside."

For financial support, Marilou has been weaving rugs since her early childhood days as an elementary student continuing through her young adult years in college. Somewhere during this period, weaving became much more than her financial support—it also evolved into a creative medium where she could express herself. Contemporary styles with pastel colors are a part of Marilou's repertoire and she uses only handspun organic dyes. Because the process is so important to her, Marilou emphasizes, "I have been experimenting with various dyeing techniques and creating rainbow-dyed earthtone colors which are unique in my weavings. The special dyed wool is used as the background color to petroglyph designs which are embedded in a traditional design. These weavings I named 'Diversity' and these non-symmetrical special weavings are numbered which signifies my signature."

Wide RuinsMarilou has also used her own dyeing techniques and from this have evolved the colors she has labeled Moqui Indigo and Moqui Red. Using these when she creates traditional Storm Pattern and Old Ganado styles, she incorporates streaks of black wool in the indigo and red that is not always visible, particularly in slides and photographs. Both the traditional upright loom and floor looms are among the technologies that Marilou uses to create her rugs and tapestries. She continues, however, to develop the plain, weft-faced, and float twill weaves that are part of her heritage. Two-faced weaves and raised-outline techniques have recently been added to her skills as a weaver. Marilou notes, "these techniques are special to me because they have been passed on in my family for more than four generations."

"I weave because of my love of weaving and the challenge ... I always like to go one step farther than my last weaving whether it be in designing, dyeing, and/or technique which entail experimentation. There are challenges with each piece of weaving and each piece that I create [is] one of a kind. Some challenges in weaving are being able to create intricate designs in the space determined by the dimensions of the warp versus simple designs, color coordination, appearance, and designing and to have an open mind to lend one's self to creativity."

Recently Marilou taught weaving to a few elementary students and their mothers. One student entered her finished rug into the Heard Museum's Student Art Show. She was so proud. "This was something special ... I wanted to give back to the younger generation."

For more information visit:

Navajo Rugs by Marilou Schultz

Diversity Rug

"Diversity" Rug

A traditional "Wide Ruins" style is the background with a non-symmetrical design with petroglyphs embedded in the Wide Ruins.

There is always a partial "Storm Pattern" in my Diversity since I wove many Storm Patterns (being from the western part of the reservation) prior to weaving other styles. I weave the "Diversity" rugs upside down because I want the pointed design to come to a point when placed the reverse way when taken off the loom.

My "Diversity" weavings are woven using very fine (140 - 150 wefts to the inch) variegated wool of earth-tone colors. Each piece is numbered with a roman numeral with my signature symbol and only the collector knows where they are in the rug.
This particular Diversity has a turtle to the right of the partial Storm Pattern. I include symbols from various rugs and embed them with petroglyphs designs.


Third Phase Chief Blanket

Woven using Indigo, Red, Black, & White fine wool. The width is wider than the height since the blanket is wrapped around an individual when worn. I used indigo inside the nine geometric shapes whereas in the image it appears black. There's a little bit of black, on the stripped bands and the small squares in the geometric shapes.

Third Phase Chief Blanket

Burntwater Rug

Burntwater Rug

This rug is woven with medium size wool therefore the designs appear bigger and are bold-designs, not detailed (small fine/sharp) as my other weavings. The weft count is about 80 - 82 wefts to the inch.

The rug is woven using dark olive green wool which is dyed using sage in a special pot. It took me over a year to get the shade of green that the collector wanted for her rug. The green had to be a particular shade so that I could match the rust and the light green. I enjoyed weaving this rug because I knew that it was going to a special home.

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