In many ways, the story of Navajo rugs is intertwined with the story of Native American blankets. Weaving among Native Americans first began with the Pueblo people more than 1,000 years ago. Between approximately 1050 and 1300, they produced a wide array of blankets using vertical looms. Cotton was the material of choice, but in the 1500s, the Spanish brought churro sheep to America and forced the Puebloans to weave with wool.

After a Pueblo uprising drove the Spaniards out around 1680, the Spaniards returned in greater numbers in 1692. Their brutality prompted many Pueblo people to take refuge with the Navajo. Thanks to this mingling of cultures, the Navajo learned wool weaving from the Pueblo people. Navajo textiles soon become respected and well known for their quality and artistry.

By the late 19th century, the preferences of white tourists dictated what Native American weavers produced. For example, weavers noticed that many Navajo blanket owners were simply putting their blankets on the floor and using them as rugs. With this in mind, Navajo weavers began making rugs in addition to blankets, using a heavier type of weaving and abandoning stripes for borders. Abstract designs gave way to pictorials like cowboys and horses.

Similarly, blanket customers began using their purchases for decoration rather than on bedding, so many weavers switched from homespun fiber to inferior but cheaper prefabricated yarn. With the adoption of Germantown fibers and aniline dyes, the palette of available colors exploded, and Navajo blankets suddenly became extremely multi-colored.

Even as Native Americans were evolving what they produced to better appeal to the tourist trade, less-expensive manufactured fabrics were pushing their products aside. But in the 1920s, Navajo weaving enjoyed a renewed level of attention that continues to this day.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

First American Art

First American Art

The companion website to First American Art: The Charles and Valerie Diker Collection of American Indian Art, which… [read review or visit site]

LACMA Luxury Textiles

LACMA Luxury Textiles

Textile collectors shouldn't miss this microsite from the LA County Museum of Art, a great reference on European an… [read review or visit site]



Most watched eBay auctions    

C1885-1890 Childs Blanket 52x32 Spanish Churro Indigo Bayeta Wool Rug RanchfolksNo Res -- Very Early And Unusual Antique Navajo Rug With Amazing Colors !!Vintage Native Navajo Indian Rug Woven Blanket Southwest American Weaving OldCa1890s Miniature Transitional Navajo Rug Blanket 32x25 Native Indian RanchfolksExcellent Early Navajo Pictorial Rug Saddle Blanket W/whirling Logs & More1915-1925 Unusual Two Grey Hills Churro Navajo Rug 68x44 Wool Blanket RanchfolksPendleton Woolen Mill Indian Friendship Beaver State Indian Blanket Pres.hardingJ B Moore Crystal Navajo Blanket - "spider Woman Crosses"Vintage Navajo Rug /blanket 16" X 34"--native American Weaving-- No Reserve- 1940s Vintage Navajo Indian Rug 15" X 34" Santa FePendleton Woolen Mill Indian Friendship Beaver State Indian Blanket Pres.hardingEarly Native Navajo Indian Rug Blanket Sampler With Whirling LogNative American Navajo Vintage Wool Rug Wall Hanging 19 X 19 1/2 Geometric Cheap- 1920s Vintage Navajo Indian Rug 28" X 52" - Cutter - Santa FeVintage Navajo Rainbow & Corn Figure Yei Rug 34 X 44, Very Tight Weave, Ex Cond40's 50's Large Chimayo Native Indian Trading Blanket Rug 51"x 79"Large Navajo Native American Rug Blanket 61.5" X 32" 1900-1920's HandwovenPristine Wide Ruins Navajo Rug Wool Vegetable Dyed 32" X 58" Navajo Native American Indian Rug Colorful Antique Chinle Blanket -low Start!Authentic Vintage 1920's Twill Navajo Saddle Blanket Klagetoh Grey Navajo Rug 32x52 Antique Early 1900's Navajo Rug - Yei Figures, Native American 33" X 14"Old Native American Indian Navajo RugCirca 1930s Navajo Blanket/rugRare Ca 1890 Native American Indian " Warrior In Canoe " Hand Made Rag Rug -niceVtg Native American Navajo Hand Woven Textile Wool Rug Wall Hanging 28" X 13.5"Navajo Indian Designed 20 "by 38 1/2"" Chief's Blanket Style Wool Rug!!gorgeous!Native American/indian Design/style Rug-31"x 23"-100 % Wool-nice! Look! Eeuc!!!Large Colorful Vtg Navajo? 84” X 49” American Indian Wool Blanket/rug? Mexican?Vintage Trading Post Navajo Rug Native American Weaving Arrows 22 X 21Antique Chimayo Indian Weaving Rug With Center ThunderbirdRare 1920 Native Navajo Indian Rug ' Double Rolling Log 50" X 70" Navajo Rug