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 Native American Indian Navajo Rug Blanket Hand Woven 62 X 30 #6 YqzOld Navajo Navaho Indian Rug With Whirling Log & Greek Crosses....vgcond....nr1930's Old Vintage Ganado ? Navajo Rug 65" X 43"Antique 19th C. Plains Indian Native American Beaded Blanket Strip Cheyenne Vintage Miniature Navajo American Indian Wool Rug Dye Color Sampler DioramaAntique Native American Indian Navajo Yei Rug Blanket Hand Woven 62 X 30 #1 YqzAntique Native American Indian Navajo Yei Rug Blanket Hand Woven 58 X 29 #2 YqzRare! Old! 51 X 36" Native American Navajo Weaving Rug W/ Rich Reds / A+ DesignAntique Native American Indian Navajo Stripe Rug Blanket Hand Woven 65x32 #4 YqzVintage Navajo Woven Yei Rug/textile Tight Weave 66" X 47.25"Antique Orig Native American Indian Navajo Rug Blanket Serrated Diamonds #7 YqzAntique 19th-20th C Native American Indian Early Navajo 76"x 48" Rug BlanketAntique Navajo Rug Wow!Saddle Blanket 30x30 Navajo Rug Native American Indian Navaho Textile RanchfolksAntique Native American Indian Navajo Eye Dazzler Rug Blanket Hand Woven #5 YqzAntique Native American Indian Navajo Rug Blanket Two Grey Hills Hand Woven YqzSuper Rare Stunning Antique / Vintage J Capps And Sons Indian Trade BlanketVintage Navajo Woven Textile/rug Natural Colors 73" X 43"30s Klagetoh Navajo Rug Native American Indian Blanket Navaho Wool Ranchfolks NrAntique 1890"s Navajo Blanket Eyedazzler Asymmetrical! V.g. Cond. 44 X 66 "Ca1930 Canvas Tight Navajo Rug 47x32 Native American Indian Blanket RanchfolksBeautiful Vintage Navajo Rug Or Blanket 62" X 46"Vintage Navajo Woven Textile/rug Natural Colors 67.5" X 42"Native American Rio Grande Chimayo Blanket Circa 1940's Commercial 4 Ply Wool30s Serrated Optical Ganado Runner Navajo Rug Indian Blanket 66x33 Ranchfolks30s Churro Canvas Tight Chinle Navajo Rug 49x37 Indian Blanket RanchfolksIndian Saddle Blanket Rug Woven Navajo?Pendleton Wool Native American Crib BlanketNavajo Vincent Platero Rectangular "rug Design" 925 Earrings Retail:$329+ Antique Native American Indian Navajo Hand Woven Horse Blanket Storm #3 YqzVintage Navajo Rug 9 Diamond Black & White Striped Red WeavingTuba City Storm Navajo Rug Native American Indian Blanket Navaho Wool Ranchfolks1920s-30s~native American Navajo Indian Ganado Saddle Blanket 53" By 34" Rug~eucVintage Antique American Indian Style Woven Wool Rug 30" X 44" Geometric Navajo?Neat! R.m. Bruchman Label Pictorial Native American Navajo Yei Weaving Rug Mat 30s Tight Woven Churro Ganado Navajo Rug Indian Blanket Textile 44x30 RanchfolksVtg Southwestern Native American Indian Hand Woven Tribal Rug / Wall Hanging YqzAntique Native American Indian Pendleton ?? Blanket Geometric Arrow Design Fine!Native American Indian Style Blanket Vintage Mexican Style 1930s 40s LargeVintage Antique American Indian Style Woven Wool Rug 35" X 45" Geometric Navajo?Navajo BlanketVintage Navajo RugC1900~native American Navajo Indian Ganado Saddle Blanket~39"x17" Rug Runner~ Colorful Navajo Navaho Indian Yei Rug/blanket/weaving...near Mint...60 X 40..nr Vintage Authentic Ortega's Chimayo Nm Wool Hand Waven Blanket / RugRare! Old! Interesting 51 X 80" Native American Or Southwestern Weaving RugVintage Large 44 X 73 Navajo Rug/blanketVintage Navajo Chinle Woven Textile/rug 48.5" X 34.5"Vintage Navajo "storm" Rug, Unusual Step Border-24 X 35, 3 Spirit Lines, Ex CondVintage Navajo Rug 4 Corner Diamond Design Black Red WeavingSaddle Blanket Navajo Rug Native American Indian Navaho Textile Ranchfolks NrNavajo Rug Per Pawn Tag- No Coa-origin/artist Unknown-sold As Is - No Returns--aNavajo Indian Rug - Two Women With Pipe DreamsOld Rare Vintage Pendleton Indian Design Camp Trade Point Blanket RobeVintage Navajo Rug Star Pattern 43"x31"Vintage Fred Harvey Navaho Yei Loom Rug Weaving Indian Native American TextileVintage Handmade Handloomed Rug Blanket Native American Design WallhangingOld Vintage Navajo Rug Eye Dazzler Jagged Speared Design WeavingVintage Navajo Woven Textile/rug 53.25" X 32.5"Navajo Rug Large 55" X 85" Yei