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    

Large Vintage Native American Navajo Blanket Rug Textile Abstract Navajo Native American Indian Rug Blanket Textile Weaving Wool Colorful MaidenBeautiful Navaho Navajo Indian Rug W/stepped Crosses...48 1/2" X 40"..nrmint..nrVintage Native American Indian Navajo Hand Woven Textile Red Blue Navy Rug YqzAntique Navajo Rug Klagetoh Women's Wearing Blanket Native American Old WeavingNavajo Native American Indian Rug Blanket Textile Classic Single Saddle Blanket!Antique Navajo Rug Twill Diamonds Double Saddle Blanket Native American WeavingOld Native Navjo Indian Rug / Blanket Old Native Navjo Indian Rug / Blanket 6' By 10'Old Navajo Rug Blanket Germantown Classic 1800s Native American Textile As IsVintage Navajo Third Phase Chief's Rug Circa Pre 1930Vintage Native Indian Navajo Style Rug Woven Blanket Zapotec Mexico Southwest NrOld Native American Indian 35 X 26" Navajo RugNavajo Native American Navaho Transitional Blanket Arizona Rug 1870s 55"x 33"Antique Native American Navajo Blanket Rug Textile Abstract Gorgeous Vintage Native American Indian Hand Woven Textile Throw Rug Fringe YqzBig Bold Authentic 46x53"two Grey Hills Rug Navajo Native American Indian Rug Vintage Native American Chimayo Navajo?? Hand-woven Blanket, 82"x47", Nice!Hand Wover Navajo Indian Double Saddle Blanket, Cabin Rug- 70s Santa Fe FindVintage Native American Indian Woven Textile Red Blue Navy Rug Runner Fringe YqzVintage Navajo Native American Indian Saddle Blanket RugNavajo Native American Indian Rug Blanket Textile Navaho Blanket 56"x32" Large Native American Indian Navajo Wool "yei" Rug Blanket Navaho Indian Rug Tapestry . Estate Find!Antique Navajo Rug Ganado Wearing Blanket Native American Weaving Peach RedVintage Native American Chimayo Navajo?? Hand-woven Blanket, 81"x47", Nice!Navajo Or Navaho Rug Early 1900s Crystal Trading Post Runner Weaving IndianAntique Native American Indian Rug Blanket Navajo Genuine Navajo Indian RugNative American Rug/wall Hanging/blanket--navajo? 76 By 54--estate Find--cnrzNavajo Ganado Red Rug New Condition Navajo Rug Two Gray Hills New Condition 1970'sOld Antique Navajo Rug Blanket Textile 54"x 35" Poor Condition See Desc & Pics Native American Vintage Navajo Kilim Rug Weaving 48"x80"and Woven WoolNative American Indian Navajo Shaw Trade Blanket 58" X 19" Late 1800's Very Large Western Navajo Fringed Rug WoolClassic Navajo Yei Rug (shiprock Tradition)Navajo Indian Designed 20 "by 38 1/2"" Storm Pattern Style Wool Rug!!gorgeous!Wonderful Southwest Native American Indian Navajo ? Wool Rug St Labre Indian School Southwestern Blanket Still In PackageNavajo Rug, Two Grey HillsNavaho Wool Woven Eye Dazzler Rug Cream Brown Orange Black Market Fresh NrNavajo Indian Designed 20 "by 38 1/2"" Chief's Blanket Style Wool Rug!!gorgeous!