Spider Woman Crosses, 1996, Peggy Black, ET513.F-13
Photo:  Kirstin Roper, © NHMU

Spider Woman Cross Symbol

Na'ashjé'íí Asdzą́ą́ (Spider Woman) showed the Diné (Navajo) how to find their way in the world, taught them to weave, and provided the framework to live and weave in beauty, which is the essence of being Diné. While the designs in Diné baskets and rugs are personal expressions of individual weavers, there are also patterns and symbols that hold cultural and historic significance and some that specifically honor Spider Woman. The Spider Woman Cross motif was common in early rug designs and continues to appear in rugs and baskets today. The Spider Woman Cross is a symbol that was given to the earliest weavers to help them remember Spider Woman’s teachings and wisdom. Although placement of the cross varies, it is considered dangerous to place the cross within a diamond or a square. Because Spider Woman is not of this world, such a pattern could entrap her spirit.