Ojos de Dios and the Native American

Ojos de Dios and the Native American

My artwork, perhaps especially when I weave 8-sided designs, looks like Native American art, and so I have to be very careful in how I represent my work, as, I believe, all weavers of Ojos de Dios yarn mandalas should be careful. Let me state clearly, that, although I’ve largely been inspired by Native American artwork, I have no known or provable Native American ancestry, nor any affiliation with any Native American tribe.

In like fashion, I believe it is important for all weavers of Ojos de Dios to never label their artwork in such a way that anyone might confuse your work with arts or crafts created by genuine Native American, unless, of course, you genuinely are of American Indian blood. Likewise, I think it’s good to give credit to Native American influences and inspiration in as much as that is the case.  One might note that it is not only courtesy to avoid all claims of unfounded Native American origin, it’s the law, and a person falsely representing work as Native American when it is not can face serious fines.  For more, see The Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 .

Collecting Native American art is a wonderful thing, and I strongly encourage it, as myself, I find Native American arts and crafts to the amongst the most beautiful artworks available.  If you are looking for American Indian made Ojos de Dios, I only know of ONE current weaver, a Lupan Apache from southeastern Texas, Julia Nava.  You can find her artwork online at a Cyrstal Buffalo website.  I was once able to find some of her pieces on eBay, when a shop owner who had carried her work went out of business, and sold off remaining stock.  I have some good photos of that collection HERE.

For anyone looking for genuine Native American arts and crafts, the Dept. of Interior, Indian Arts and Crafts Board has an online Source Directory, with listings by states.


When traveling around our great American Southwest in recent years, I did run across a few galleries and trading posts with either Hopi or Navajo ojos, but compared to the great quantity of such offering back in the 1970′s, there were very few indeed to be found.

My own first findings of Eyes of God was in the Guadalajara Mexico central market, where there was a stand of Huichol items for sale, including several colorful 4-sided (with four added on 4-sided smaller ojos) in a pattern I later imitated, and you can see an example of my most recent creation along those lines here.

This is definitely not Huicholi colors, but I believe I got the design proportions close to what I saw back in 1966.  I was commissioned to make this ojo for a HBO movie, but it ended up not being used.

A few months after I purchased a couple of these ojos, I saw an amazingly similar yarn mandala as part of an exhibit sent from Tibet.  I wrote up that experience on my website, Ojos-de-Dios.com HERE.  I plan on telling that whole story in more detail on this blog in my next post, hopefully coming soon.

Myself, I’ve often maintained good relations with individual Native Americans, received tips on weaving Ojos de Dios yarn mandalas in at least one case, and have even sold my work to Native Americans in recent years.

As far as I can determine, the Navajos and other tribal people in the United States, as I did, took up the mandala work of the Huicholi peoples, and expanded it into their own designs.  I believe also that native people of the USA, in a much larger area even the our great Southwest, took up the weaving of Ojos de Dios, and hung them in their own homes.  Apparently certain tribes in South America also have their own versions of yarn mandalas, which I assume evolved separately from the Huicholi peoples or any North American tribes.  There’s a good write up of the Huicholi Ojo de Dios in Wikipedia.

Until next time, Peace and Love to all,


2 Responses »

  1. I enjoyed reading this and found Ms. Nava’s ojos to be quite lovely and so different from yours. The variables amaze me.

  2. I have spotted more artwork by Julia Nava on eBay. It appears that a private collector is selling off a few pieces.
    This article is highly useful. I learned your techniques from your tutorial, (a very worthwhile purchase), and like yourself, I have no affiliation with any culture that produces Ojos de Dios, but I enjoy creating my own versions very much.

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