Types of Looms
In the Southwest two types of looms have been recorded among the Pueblo and Navajo peoples: the backstrap loom and the upright loom.
In the case of the upright loom among the Hopi, the lower, or cloth beam is positioned a few inches above the floor or ground, and the upper beam is fastened to the ceiling beams directly above it, so that warps are fixed at right angles to the floor. Loom poles are six to eight feet long and 3 inches to 4 inches thick (180 cm to 240 cm by 7.8 cm to 10 cm). The lower beam may be held down by ropes passed through anchor loops set permanently into the floor. Weaving proceeds from the lower beam up. The weaver may unfasten the entire warp set from the loom beams when about half the blanket is finished, turn it upside down so that the woven portion is at the top of the loom, and weave upward to the center. Alternatively, the weaving area may be kept within convenient reach by lowering the top warp bar and folding and fastening the woven portion on itself.
The backstrap loom was limited to the production of narrow cloths, generally 18 inches or less in width. Also called a waist, stick, or belt loom, this device consists of two rods about 18 inches to 28 inches long, between which warps are fastened. One rod is secured to a strap passed about the weaver's waist as he sits. The other rod is fastened to a tree, house wall, or even the weaver's outstretched feet. Warps may thus rest parallel to the ground, but they usually slant slightly to markedly upward from the weaver's waist. Wefts are inserted beginning at the waist bar, and the finished cloth is wound about this bar as needed to keep the unfilled warps within easy reach of the weaver's hands. As in the case of the upright loom, warps are controlled by shed rod and heddle, and wefts forced down with comb or batten, in this case a small batten, little wider than the web. The reed heddle used with the backstrap loom by some modern Pueblo Indians is a Spanish introduction.
Stephanita Herrera of Cochiti Pueblo with a finished Navajo-style belt on a backstrap loom in 1935.
Narrow Upright Loom
(Used for making dance sashes.)
Diagram of the Hopi brocade technique. For the sake of clarity, the number of warps has been limited. (a) Brocade weft of colored wool. (b) Tabby of very fine linen or cotton thread that interlaces with warps in regular plain weave; in most sashes, the tabby is inserted after each brocade weft rather than after every two wefts as shown here. (c) Heddle for regular plain weave. (d) Supplementary heddle controlling pairs of warps that will be wrapped. (e) Shed rod for plain weave.
Hopi man weaving a sash, ca. 1898 CHS-4574. Courtesy of University of Southern California, on behalf of the USC Specialized Libraries and Archival Collections.
Narrow Upright Loom
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