Spirit Outlet

One of the many lovely things that happened to me when I was in Santa Fe last weekend was receiving a book titled, Blood and Thunder, The Epic Story of Kit Carson and the Conquest of the American West by Hampton Sides. I started reading it on the plane on the way home and came across a passage that I would like to share…

In describing the Navajo Indians, Sides writes

“…And they were never finished. Navajos hated to complete anything - whether it was a basket, a blanket, a song, or a story. They never wanted their artifacts to be too perfect, or too closed-ended, for a definitive ending cramped the spirit of the creator and sapped the life from the art. So they left little gaps and imperfections, deliberate lacunae that kept things alive for another day. To them, comprehensiveness was tantamount to suffocation. Aesthetically and literally, Navajos always left themselves an out.
Even today, Navajo blankets often have a faint imperfection designed to let the creation breathe - a thin line that originates from the center and extends all the way to the edge, sometimes with a single thread dangling from its border; tellingly, the Navajos call this intentional flaw the “spirit outlet.”

© 2004 Jane Fulton Alt; Winged