En route, we stopped at the Hubbell Trading Post, a National Historic Site that's the oldest still operating trading post within the Navajo Nation. It was purchased by a John Lorenzo Hubbell back in 1878, and the Hubbell family ran the place until 1967 when they sold it to the National Park Service. A cool place that emoted tons of historical old west character, and I was especially drawn by a back room that housed an amazing plethora of Navajo rugs (along with a crowd of aficionados from LA and other metro burgs). OMG. I had never been so enchanted and captivated by the beauty and simplicity of a woolly creation. BUT, my hopes were dashed when I realized that these amazing works of home-spun art were commanding prices in the thousands of dollars. The cheapest piece was $200, but it was literally the size of a place mat. I've always wondered if you could get a better deal if you went straight to the source.
11/12/99 Hubbell Trading Post, Ganado, Apache County, NE Arizona
11/12/99 Hubbell Trading Post.
So that's where the chickens come into play. On the counter in the front entry were a couple of fun wooden sculptures. A cute little sheep, covered with natural sheep wool, and a chicken, painted in subtle purple & red, with a raffia or hay tail. At $30, the chicken was a no-brainer purchase (compared to much heftier priced Navajo rugs). Since then I've been stuck on cluck and enamored of all things chicken.
Purchased from Hubbell Trading Post 11/12/99. By Edith & Guy John, Navajos from Sweetwater, AZ.
Bought this one online, and it's signed 'L. Herb'. Maybe a Lulu Herbert creation?
Signed 'J J, 5-2000'
Signed 'Lawrence H.'
Signed 'DT', purchased from Death Valley National Park Visitor Center.
These Chickens are inimitable creations in the Navajo folk art tradition. Here's an apt recant of their origins from www.thecollectorsguide.com:
"A discussion about Navajo folk art would be incomplete without mentioning chickens . . . those crazy chickens! The Herbert family has been largely responsible for an unimaginable menagerie of animals. The father, Woody Herbert, started carving Brahma bulls, ravens and horses in the mid-1980s. His legacy is carried on by his talented children, their husbands, wives and children. Wilford and Lulu Herbert Yazzie are probably best known for their chickens and ravens. Edith Herbert John's work is best recognized in her chickens, owls and pigs. Their brother, Leslie, has demonstrated the greatest variety, carving everything from turkeys to skunks to large coyote families.
Many more artists exist in this movement and our pleasure is watching the constant and rapid innovation in the Navajo folk art. As with other forms of Native American art, it brings great pleasure to the owner. Perhaps its best contribution is the laughter and smiles it inspires while it pushes you to look deeper into the Navajo viewpoint."
And then my poultry obsession just expanded from there.
Ceramic chickens on my kitchen counter. From Lowe's, of all places.
A psychedelic hen from Cost Plus.
A pensive hen from Cost Plus.
An 'ironite', 'Hulga' hen I purchased from a sadly going out of biz shoppe in Murrieta.
Brass-plated roosters. A gift from Hank Alain (RIP) & his wife Lucy to my parents back when they were all still living in Taiwan. Probably dates back to the early 90s. Part of a set depicting the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac.
A homecoming gift from my mom & dad when we first moved to our new home in June of 2006.
A bootiful metallic rooster on our kitchen counter, from Armstrong Nursery in Temecula.
Now, I want the real thing - i.e., real hens in a real chicken coop. I'm inspired by the poultry postings of Clare (Curbstone Valley Farm http://curbstonevalley.com/blog )/, Rosie (http://leavesnbloom.blogspot.com/), and Noelle (http://www.azplantlady.com/ ).