Luana Tso

Luana Tso

Luana Tso - Rug Weaver: Luana Tso has had a dream for many years now, and it is woven into each one of her Navajo rugs. She has three sons, and for each she dreams of a college education. This bright hope for her children's future keeps her at her loom from eight to fourteen hours a day, weaving traditional patterns, all the while trusting that her efforts will develop a new tradition for her posterity: higher education.

While Luana was attending eighth grade at Chinle Junior High School her parents divorced. As the oldest child in the family she was suddenly removed from school to help her mother at home, raising her three sisters and three brothers. She helped with the children and the housework, and while she was at home her mother also taught her her how to weave. Her first rug was a fairly large one, Luana remembers, commenting that larger rugs are actually easier to incorporate designs into. She says it was either a Two Gray Hills or a Ganado pattern: either one an imposing undertaking for a young girl. However, the weaving process came naturally to Luana and that impressive beginning foreshadowed things to come.

Luana always thought about going back to school and getting a high school diploma, but instead she married and began her own family. Her husband and sons became the most important part of her life, and she not only enrolled each son into a preschool program, but attended preschool with them. "I just wanted to see my kids get their schooling," Luana says, "Nobody ever helped me that way, so I wanted it for my kids."

When her sons entered grade school she volunteered in their classrooms, and as they went on to high school she supported all of their activities. "That was always my dream, to finish school, to go on to school, and get as high as I can, but I never have," Luana explains, "so I want my kids to have it now."

Luana became close to other children while helping in the schools. She became known as the mother who sewed, wove rugs, and made cookies- not necessarily in that order. More than her own three sons now call her mother, a title she holds sacred.

"For a while I wanted to be a working lady," Luana confesses. "I wanted to be able to drive around and dress up pretty. I tried it one year. My housework piled up and I didn't like it. I went back to rugs. I like being my own boss. When I am weaving I can be with my kids, play with them, see them as they're growing up."

All the while she was raising her children, nourishing their minds with infinite possibilities, Luana was developing her own skills and talents. Besides weaving, Luana had a gift for sewing. Her friends and neighbors would bring her a picture of a dress from the catalog or a magazine and asked if she could duplicate it for them. "Yeah, I can do that," Luana would tell them, and she would, enjoying the entire process.

Luana has also tried her hand at sand painting, weaving baskets, silversmithing, and making moccasins. But of all her pursuits, rug weaving is the most rewarding, bringing both a sense of achievement and financial rewards, so she's focused on it as a means to an end. Expressing her gratitude for the ability to weave, Luana says it has been important for her to be able to earn money for her children.

"Half of me is handicapped because I couldn¹t go to school," Luana laments. "I can read, but I can't write very well." But she also admits that her mind is "constantly going, thinking of 3 or 4 things at a time."

Although she could make more money mass producing one design, Luana loves being creative an is always trying something new. She enjoys a challenge and - as she does as a seamstress- likes requests and doing custom designs. She buys books with pictures of rugs, and studies other's work. She gains a lot of satisfaction in creating unique patterns, and it is a thrill when her sons say, "Mom, that is a really pretty one!"

Luana terms herself as a traditional Navajo, but she does not adhere to the strict practices of her culture. "The Elders say not to weave with your hair down and not to weave at night. The loom is supposed to be in a certain position in the room. They have songs and prayers for every little thing," she explains, but then adds, "I don¹t like to be told what to do."

Still, Luana weaves a "Spirit Line" into her rugs that have borders. "A little of myself goes in there," she declares. "That's why we leave an opening on the side of the rugs, so our thoughts don't get closed inside the rug."

Luana's oldest son is close to earning is bachelors at Arizona State University, and she mentions with some pride that he's thinking about going on and earning his masters degree. "That¹s where all my money goes," Luana states, but it is without regret. She is achieving her dream and every strand of wool she weaves into her rugs takes her closer to fulfillment.

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This site was last updated on September 20, 2020.

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