6/5/2012 10:00:00 AM Largest Navajo rug unites family in Winslow Approximately 60 members of the Joe family gather to view iconic rug
Family members of Emma hold the huge rug. Todd Roth/NHO
Emma Joe holds the rug, for which she carded wool at 7-years-old.Todd Roth/NHO
Todd Roth NHO
WINSLOW, Ariz. - Since Allan Affeldt and Tina Mion recently brought the world's largest Navajo rug into the public eye, the news of it has traveled fast. On May 26, the last living individual who worked on the rug was able to touch and feel it after many decades.
Emma Joe, daughter of the rug weaver who carded wool for two years in preparation for the weaving ordeal, was reunited with the rug. Emma is 94-years-old and blind. The world's largest Navajo rug was once again opened at La Posada Hotel for Emma to hold in her lap. Later she would walk on it with the aid of family members. It was her wish to be with the rug one more time before she dies. About 60 family members gathered in the Santa Fe Railroad Winslow Depot (soon to be a museum for the rug) to witness Emma's reunion with the iconic rug and celebrate with her, as a family. Emma's brother, Kee John Joe from Greasewood, was present and gave a prayer as well as giving Emma moral support.
A Navajo art expert explained some of the weaving steps and symbols incorporated into the rug. Many of the symbols were not traditional Navajo but were Anasazi designs, predating Navajo culture and copied from ancient pottery dug from the ground. These designs were specifically obtained for this rug, making it unique in decoration as well as in size. The expert saw "stars" "owls" and "horned toads" as well as the black and white border design, straight off Anasazi pottery.
Emma's family ranged from octogenarians to crying babies. The gathering and reunion was not a public event, but a family affair organized by the generosity of Allan and Tina, La Posada owners. Their hospitality and graciousness enabled Emma and her family to have a unique and blessed reunion.