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    

Antique Circa-1900 Western American Indian Navajo Wool Rug ... No Reserve!Native American Indian Navajo Single Figure Yei Rug Blanket Circa 1930's 1920 Churro Chinle Navajo Rug Native American Indian Blanket Wool Ranchfolks Nr Antique Navajo Rug Ganado Red Cross Huge Wool Blanket Native American CentipedeNavajo Native American Indian Rug Blanket Textile Weave Weaving Wool Germantown!Antique/vintage Navajo Hand-made Rug 62" X 41" Must See....niceVintage Antique Navajo Hand Woven Rug Blanket No ReserveAntique Navajo Rug Grey Tan Red Brown Rare Homespun Wool Blanket Native AmericanAntique/vintage Navajo Hand-made Rug W/red 69" X 47" Must See....nice1800 Navajo Indian Rug 80x54 InchesVintage Antique Dazzler Navajo Hand Woven Rug Blanket No ReserveNavajo Native American Indian Rug Blanket Textile Weave Weaving Wool Banded TranCirc1900 Germantown Loom Sampler Navajo Rug Indian Blanket Textile Ranchfolks NrAntique Native American Indian Navajo Rug Two Grey Hills Natural Wool No Dye YqzGreat Antique Navajo Rug, BlanketGallup Yei Navajo Rug Native American Indian Blanket Navaho Wool Ranchfolks Nr1920s Valero Star Runner Navajo Rug American Indian Blanket Wool Ranchfolks NrVintage Native American Navajo Wool Blanket Rug Wall Cover Pink Gold 85" X 120" Small Antique Navajo Rug, RunnerAntique/vintage Navajo Hand-made Rug W/red 62" X 37" Must See....niceVintage Navajo Hand Woven Rug Blanket No ReserveNavajo Indian Rug - Wide RuinsNavajo Rug VintageVintage New Mexico Chimayo Woven Vest Native Indian Style Southwest Blanket RugNavajo Indian Rug 4 In 1 Storm Patterns3 Piece Lot Vintage Native Navajo Indian Style Rug Blanket Weaving Southwest NrVintage Chimayo 100% Wool New Mexico Hand Woven Blanket 37” X 68” Antique Navajo Rug, BlanketAuthentic Navajo Rug A 24" X 35" Hand Woven BeautifulVintage Large Mexico Native Saltillo Full Blanket Woven Rug Southwest Old Nr9.99Navajo Double Saddle BlanketVtg Navajo Hand Woven Wool Rug Bessie Many Goats Fred Harvey Two Grey Hills Southwest Native American Style Wool Rug 57.5"x 25.5" Authentic Navajo Rug B 30" X 45" Hand Woven BeautifulColorful Indian RugAntique Early 20thc Navajo Yellow Grey & White Wool Indian Rug 49 1/2" X 32 3/4"Unusual Antiqu1870s 1880s Navajo Third Phase Baby? Saddle Blanket German TownRare Beautiful Antique 1870s 19th Century Navajo First Phase Saddle BlanketAntique Granado Red Navajo Rug - Circa 1930's From Hubble Trading Post 56" X 74"American Indian Style Rug - Large Mexican Rug - 80" X 47"Vintage Small Hand-carded Wool 1920s Navajo Rug Nice Design!!Navajo RugNavajo Indian RugVtg 4 Lot Indian Native American Skookum Doll Beacon Blanket Painted MoccasinsA+ 76" X 42" Southwestern Or Navajo Rug Weaving Wearing BlanketSmall Navajo Indian Rug Ganado RedNavajo Indian Rug - Two Women With Pipe DreamsNavajo Indian Designed 20 "by 38 1/2"" Chief's Blanket Wool Rug!!gorgeous!Miniature Native American Fine Weave Navajo Rug Early 1990’s#6 Trade Blanket Lot Beads, Horn Hair Pipe Turquoise Trade Item, Dance Item, Chimayo American Indian Rug Tapestry Natural 27x59" Pre 1935Navajo Indian Rug Single Saddle Blanket Twill WeaveVintage Navajo Yei Rug Native American Indian Navaho RugRegistered Collection Hand Loomed Navajo Rug Vintage Native American Navajo Wool Blanket Wall Art Earth Tones 23 X 60" Birds Navajo Indian Rug Pictorial Of Hogan, Basket And Weaving ToolsBeautiful 30s Navajo First Phase Style Hand Woven Rug Blanket 35" X 32"Navajo Indian Regional Chiefs Pattern Rug 48 Inches X 35 1/2 InchesVintage Navajo Yeis Indian Rug Carpet Mat Southwest United States Us U.s.