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 Western Circa 1900 Navajo American Indian Germantown Dazzler RugAntique Early 1900s Native American Indian Navajo Regional Rug Diamond Bands Yqz19th C. Old Sioux Native American Indian Beaded Blanket Strip Sinew Sewn BuffaloGraphic Vintage Navajo Rug In Excellent Condition - NrAntique Native American Indian Handwoven Navajo Weaving Rug Textile 16x22 #4 YqzAntique Navajo Indian Native American Ganado Chief Rug Blanket Big! 46.5" X 63"Vintage Native American Indian Handwoven Navajo Rug Carpet Weaving 33x48 #3 YqzVintage Navajo RugAntique Native American Western Indian Navajo Ganado Storm Pattern Rug 55"x32" Very Fine Two Grey Hills Navajo Rug--nr!Navajo Rug Old Vintage 58" X 35"Beautiful & Very Fine Navajo Rug In Serrated Diamond Pattern - Mint! No ReserveVintage Native American Indian Yei Figures Beige & Brown Rug Carpet Weaving YqzVintage Native American Indian Navajo Blanket Rug 17 1/2'' X 17 1/2''Vintage Sterling Tufa Cast Navajo Rug Design Cuff Signed G.nelson 54 GramsVintage Native American Navajo Indian Rug Blanket 17 1/2'' X 17 1/2''Vintage Hand Woven Navajo "two Gray Hills" Indian Rug- 70s Santa Fe FindGorgeous, Large Vintage Navajo RugVintage Navajo RugVintage Navajo Rug From Estate/32.5" X 52.5"/no ReserveNwc Button Blanket W Bear Clan Design, C. 1850-1900sVtg Navajo Indian Native American Yei Rug Blanket Nice Cond! 29" X 59" Shiprock?Teec Nos Pos Navajo Rug 28x19 Native American Indian Blanket Navaho RanchfolksVintage "yei" Navajo Corn Planting Rug, Very Good Condition! 36" X 31"1920's American Indian Navajo Rug Blanket-estate Find-51" X 102"30s Chinle Churro Navajo Rug 63x41 Native American Indian Blanket Ranchfolks Off Woven Navajo Yei Rug #12 Vintage Southwest Native American Navajo Woven Wool Yei Rug Kachina & BirdNavajo Wool RugGorgeous Navajo Rug Blanket Wool Antique Vintage Wool With Crosses 28" X 53"Miniature Navajo Rug 3 1/2" X 3 1/4" Tree Of Life & Birds Native American CoaSmall Vintage Navajo Pictorial Rug By Sharon Martin1930's 87"x 51.5" Chimayo Native Indian Blanket Rug Thunderbird Whirling Logs Woven Navajo Yei Rug #2Vtg 40s Chimayo Native American Indian Wool Saltillo Rug Tapestry Southwest 50sNative American Navajo Miniature Yeibachai Rug 4 1/4" X 3 1/2" Includes CoaVintage Southwestern Saddle Blanket Rug,61x29,indian,american,navajoAntique Chief's Red Wool Blend Beaded Blanket Rug 88"x78" Unknown TribalVintage Navajo Rug/weaving 31 X 30.5, Tight Weave, Excellent Condition, NrVintage Navajo Rug Yei Figures By Julie Smith ChinleJustin's Thunderbird Lodge Chinle Az 18" X 28" Navajo Wool Woven RugVintage Hand Woven Navajo "yei" Indian "sampler" Rug- 70s Santa Fe FindNative American Indian Design Blanket 72" X 60"Old Navajo Rug Blanket Cover, Handwoven Kilim Rug, Handmade Vintage Wool Mat!Vintage Early 20thc Western Navajo Indian Woven Wool Saddle Rug BlanketVintage Chimayo Native American Indian Wool Saltillo Rug Tapestry SouthwestVery Nice Hand Woven Navajo Yei Kachina RugVintage Navajo Tobacco Felt Geometric Shapes Rug Design Native American IndianTwo Grey Hills Navajo Weaving/rug By Regina Charley Original Old 1960's 34" X 17" Hand Woven Handmade Navajo Rug Ex. ConditonHand Made Native American Bison 16"×16" Woven Wool Rug/wall Hanging