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 Native American Navajo Indian Wool Rug, No Reserve!Antique Vintage Navajo Native American Indian Tribal Saddle Blanket Rug 33"x62" Antique Navajo Native Indian Germantown Geometric Handwoven Rug Saddle BlanketAntique Western Native American Indian, Navajo Double Saddle Blanket Rug, NrAntique Vintage Navajo Native American Indian Tribal Saddle Blanket Rug 41"x72."Antique Vintage Navajo Native American Tribal Saddle Blanket Runner Rug 34"x74"Antique Early Navajo Indian Germantown Geometric Handwoven Rug Saddle BlanketAntique Early 20thc Double Saddle Blanket Navajo Indian Whirling Log Textile RugAntique Navajo Rug Ganado Red Cross Huge Wool Blanket Native American CentipedeAntique Early Navajo Indian Germantown Handwoven Rug Dazzler Old Saddle BlanketOld Navajo Navaho Indian Rug/weaving...serrate Diamonds...vgcond...69 X 40...nrColrorful Navajo Navaho Indian Rug/saddle Blanket...excond...banded Stripes...nrVintage Hand Woven Lightening Bolt Diamonds Navajo Rug 67.5" X 38.5" 1952 NrNeat! Vintage Navajo Weaving Rug By Stella Bitsui W/ Original Crownpoint LabelExceptional Vintage 1950's 84" X40" Hand Woven Navajo Sawtooth Rug & Wood HangerAntique Old Native American Navajo Indian Saddle Blanket Rug Germantown Tassles1900 Churro Serape Wearing Blanket Navajo Rug Native American Wool Ranchfolks NrOld Navajo Rug, 2'8" X 4'10"Very Fine Pendleton Woolen Mills Robe Shawl 66" X 68" Blanket With FringesVintage Ganado Red Navajo Indian Rug Blanket From Hubbell Trading PostNavajo Woven Rug Antique CollectibleNavajo Ganado RugNavajo Native American Indian Rug Blanket Weave Classic Single Saddle Blanket - Old Antique Large 40"x77" Storm Pattern Navajo Native American Indian RugOld Navajo Indian Blanket Rug With Water Bug Design1890s Churro Rio Grande Pueblo Wearing Blanket Non-navajo Rug Wool Ranchfolks NrEarly Navajo Eye Dazzler Blanket, Great Dyes And Design, American IndianOld Navajo Rug, 3' X 4'2"1890 Churro Transitional Wearing Blanket Navajo Rug Indian Textile Ranchfolks NrVintage 1930s Gallup Throw Navajo Rug 37"x18" Native American Indian Blanket #3 Navajo Native American Indian Rug Blanket Weaving Tree Of Life / Figural WeavingLarge Navajo Rug 4' X 9' Storm Pattern VariantVintage 1930s Gallup Throw Navajo Rug 34"x16" Native American Indian Blanket #1 Navajo Ganado RugVitg. Chimayo Wool Rug/blanket Lovely Weave 58 By 80 InchesVintage Large Rug Wool Native American Navajo? Antique Vintage Corn & Birds! Very Nice 1960's Vintage Navajo Yei Rug / Weaving In Great ConditionVintage Navajo Rug Black Grey White Colors Free ShippingVintage 1930s Gallup Throw Navajo Rug 35"x16" Native American Indian Blanket #2 Ca1915 Churro Navajo Floor Rug American Indian Blanket Wool 136x75 Ranchfolks NrAuthentic Vintage Navajo Wool Yei Rug 20'' X 35'' Southwest ColoradoAntique Authentic Navajo Red Hand Woven Rug Blanket Eye Dazzler Estate FreshGenuine Navajo Indian Rug, Tightly Woven ...two Grey Hills Nm Design Navajo~indian~native American~hand Woven~wool~23" X 39" Yhrow RugYei Navajo RugVtg Old Southwest Indian Textile Rug Diamond Pattern Museum Acquisition Pre-1930Vintage Old Circa 1925-1935 Navajo Pictorial Rug With Bow, Arrows And Feathers..Cir1915 Churro Ganado Navajo Rug Native American Indian Blanket 84x44 RanchfolksLarge 76 By 40-1/2 Inch Navajo Rug Ca 1960sAuthentic Navajo Handmade Halloween Pictorial Rug Joann BegayAntique 60" X 33" Native American Indian Woven Rug Saddle Blanket? Hair Navajo?Navajo Regional 4 Square Mini Rug 8 Inches X 6 1/2 InchesNwt Western American Tribal Navajo 2' X 3' Handwoven Wool 'chinle' RugGorgeous Tightly Woven Navajo Navaho Indian Rug/weaving...wide Churro Gallup Navajo Rug Native American Indian Blanket 20x17 RanchfolksNative American Navajo Indian Rug Weaving Vintage Pictorial Folk Art Lazy StitchNwt Limited Edition Iron Horse Trail Pendleton Blanket #303 Of 1000Authentic Vintage Serrated Diamond Navajo Rug 16.5'' X 32'' Southwest ColoradoVintage Navajo Rug Black Grey White Red Colors Free ShippingNavajo Indian Designed 20 "by 38 1/2"" Ganado Wool Rug!!gorgeous!