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    

Vintage Navajo Rug Beautiful!Circa 1910 Navajo Sandpainting Rug 82 X72 InchesAntique Navajo Rug / BlanketAntique Navajo Rug / BlanketEarly Navajo Rug W/ Spider Woman Crosses 6'5" X 4' Low ReserveGreat Old Navajo Rug--nr!Superior Vintage Navajo ""geomtric Rug"" Silver BraceletCa1900~klagetoh Storm Pattern~60"x36" Antique Native American Navajo Indian Rug Great Old Navajo Rug--nr!Native American Navajo Rug Serrated Diamond Motifs 34.5" X 24.5 No Reserve ! 30s Ganado Navajo Rug 49x37 American Indian Blanket Tight Woven RanchfolksVtg To Antique Navajo Double Saddle Blanket Rug As Found With Issues 43" X 55"1920s Churro Klagetoh Navajo Rug 50x32 Native American Indian Blanket RanchfolksAntique Navajo Indian Rug Geometric Design Large Soft Native Indian BlanketVintage Navajo 1940's Weaving Rug Blanket Home Spun Wool 62" X 32" Fabulous Navajo Navaho Indian Rug....a Teec Nos Pos Carnival Of Color....excondVintage Hopi Navajo Sterling Silver Bear Paw & Rug Pattern Bracelet Ca1930 Navajo Rug 57x40 Native American Indian Blanket Navaho Textile RanchfolksAntique Navajo Native American Dazzler Woven Rug 42 X 33" No Reserve !Churro Chinle Navajo Rug 44x33 Native American Indian Blanket Textile RanchfolksLukachukai Yeii Navajo Rug 72x49 Native American Indian Blanket RanchfolksAuthentic Navajo Blanket 1896-1903 U.n.m.n 60"x 42"American Southwest Navajo Wool Textile/rug - Ganado Rug 24 In. X 35 In.Vintage Navajo 1960's Home Spun Weaving Rug Blanket Vintage Colorful Navajo Saddle Blanket Natve American Rug7 Vintage Hopi Basket Rug Motif Designed 925 Silver Domed Concho Button CoversAntique/vintage Hand Loomed Hand Spun Wool Navajo Rug, Double Saddle Blanket ?Native American Style Navajo Rug / Blanket. Old Storm Pattern RugThin Tightly Woven Navajo Indian Rug Wall Hanging Saddle Blanket 80" X 45" RedNavajo Native American Indian Rug Blanket Weave Corn Yei Rug / Blanket! Rare!Navajo Chinle Rug, Small Size, Possibly By Louise Reed, 53" X 29"Vintage Navajo Hand Woven Indian Blanket Rug 63"x30.5" Small Navajo Rug * 30" X 22 1/2" * Very Nice Condition. No Damage Or FadesVintage Old Doll Skookum Pin Cushion Wool Blanket Composition Painted Face Navajo Rug Two Grey Hills Natural Colors 64" X 42" FeathersVintage Native American Navajo Mexican Hand Woven Wool Rug Blanket 84" X 60"Vintage Yei Antique Woven RugVintage Indian Rug / Tapestry Weaver: Luana Tso Style: Yei Navajo Navajo Pueblo Chief Holding Rifle Blanket Folk Art Pine Carving Nathaniel Tsosie Native American Rug Throw, 46 1/2" X 28St. Labre Indian School Ashland Montana Fleece Blanket Throw 34" X 48" Authentic Navajo Blanket 1896-1903 U.n.m.n 60"x 42"Handwoven Navajo Rug 1940's Semi-dazzler Black Red Gray 4 Ft X 30"Navajo Indian Designed Wool Rug! 24"by 36" -two Grey Hills Designed !wow Vintage Small Indian RugVintage Indian Native American Rug/ Wall Hanging Navajo Indian Designed Wool Rug! 24"by 36" -tec Nos Pos Design:beautiful! Mini Southwest Wool Rug Made In New Mexico